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Leveling Our RV: We Opt for No Cost, Low Tech, Easy, and Efficient

Leveling our RV, whether we are in our travel trailer or motorhome, is a simple procedure. It's quick, easy, and I didn't spend any money to buy leveling blocks. You may want a more high-tech way to level your rig, but this basic method works efficiently for us.

Leveling RVs

Cheap and Easy Leveling of Our Motorhome with Recycled BoardsCheap and Easy Leveling of Our Motorhome with Recycled Boards

It doesn’t seem to matter how hard you try to park on a flat site, if you have any kind of RV, will have to level it eventually. Some RVers make it a complicated, time-consuming ritual, every time they park. Some RVers seldom level, and do so only minimally, when they do. What should you do when it comes to leveling, and why?

The main reason for leveling an RV is for the absorption RV refrigerator to function properly without damaging it. An RV absorption refrigerator needs to be somewhat level for the ammonia to percolate and flow through the coils to cool properly. If the RV is off level too much, the ammonia cannot flow properly. When the ammonia doesn't flow properly, the unit can overheat, causing irreparable damage to the cooling unit. This would mean either replacing the cooling unit, at a cost in the range of $ 500 or more, or replacing the whole refrigerator, at the cost of $1000 or much more.

Other reasons for leveling are mostly for comfort. Some people find it annoying when cooking and the liquid runs to the one side of the fry pan. (I find it convenient when the fat runs to the far side of the pan while cooking.) Some people just feel unbalanced when in an RV that isn’t level. Some people don’t like the slight movement of being n the RV when it isn’t leveled and stabilized.

Another Recycled Board Put to Use as a Leveling Block for our MotorhomeAnother Recycled Board Put to Use as a Leveling Block for our Motorhome

That’s another point some people get confused about. What is the difference between stabilizing jacks and leveling jacks?

Leveling jacks are most likely hydraulic or electric. They are designed to actually lift the RV into a level position. Some systems are quite sophisticated and level with a press of a button.

Stabilizing jacks are more often manually operated, most often with a hand crank. Stabilizing jacks are designed to hold the RV stable, and prevent movement of the RV while it is parked. Stabilizing jacks aren’t intended to actually lift the RV into a level position. They can be damaged if they are used to lift too much weight. It’s always a good idea to know which you have.

With those reasons in mind, Attwood, Andersen, Barker, BAL, Camco, Valterra, Lippert, HWH, TriLynx, Level Quick, Ultra Fab, and many more offer quality products to make the job easier. They offer scissor jacks, ratchet jacks, electric jacks, hydraulic jacks, landing gear jacks, wheel blocks, wheel locks, wheel chocks, Lego style leveling pads in blue, orange, yellow, black, and red, in single and double configurations and more. With a little bit of search you can find almost any type of leveling or stabilizing product you may want.

When I level our travel trailer, I start by leveling it side to side. I park the trailer where I want it to be when I’m finished. I check the level that I have mounted on the hitch and estimate how thick my leveling blocks need to be on which side. I lay the leveling blocks along the side of the wheels that need to be elevated. I pull forward and have Coleen put the leveling blocks into place. When she is ready, Coleen guides me back onto the leveling blocks. I check the side-to-side level, add or subtract leveling blocks as needed, then chock my wheels. I uncouple, pull my tow vehicle away, and lower or raise the tongue jack until the trailer is level front to back. The RV is now level and I’m ready to lower my stabilizer jacks if I feel they are necessary. This technique works for fifth wheels also, with the addition of adding leveling blocks under the landing gear jacks if needed. I am old school and cheap -- I use recycled boards for leveling my trailer.

When leveling our motorhome, I also start with the RV in the position on the lot that I desire it to be in when I’m done. I note which wheels need raising by looking at levels I have adhered to the dash for side to side, and above the driver’s door for front to back. I pull forward, place the leveling blocks I think I’ll need behind the proper tires, then back onto the leveling blocks. Again, I’ll check my levels, and pull forward and add, or subtract leveling blocks as necessary, until I’m satisfied. Here again, I use recycled boards for my leveling blocks.

Leveling your RV can be simple and inexpensive, or can involve some elaborate leveling equipment. I haven’t yet had an RV with an automatic leveling system. The day may come when I just flick a switch, press a button, or signal with my remote, and the leveling job is done as I stand by and watch. In the meantime, my simple leveling method works for us.


Editor's note: My husband, Bob Nilles, wrote this article after we had taken a walk through an RV park. We had noticed several RVers trying to get their rigs level, and they were having quite the time of it. As we walked, we also noticed lots of different things used as leveling blocks, some of them rather pricey. One thing Bob didn't tell you is that now that we have replaced our absorption refrigerator with a regular, 110-volt electric one, leveling our motorhome is even easier -- we look for a relatively level place to park, and call it good!

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