Slightly Unlevel

I’m exaggerating. I know I am. But sometimes little things seem bigger than they are.


RV’s are mostly equipped with some form of leveling jack.  Extend the jack until you’re level and forget about it.  Kind of.

A part of living in an RV is the process of leveling your unit whenever you pull into a new campsite. RV manufacturers make this task easier by providing a variety of leveling jacks — varying in complexity and cost.

If you have a Norcold refrigerator the jacks are crucial — those RV refrigerators won’t cool properly unless the RV is almost dead-level.  Household units have a little more forgiveness, but they too like to run level.

Whether the jacks are simple crank-up mechanical units or automatic hydraulic ones they all serve the same purpose. Our jacks are fine. They’re hydraulic. They are manually deployed, meaning I have to push a button and hold it in place until the jack deploys and reaches a place I’m happy with. Doing so sets off an alarm — alarms are a good idea because no one wants to drive down the road with their jacks extended — so I don’t mind the alarm — but it’s gawd-awful loud! And it sounds all the while you are making leveling adjustments.

34865 GBD

RV’s are mostly equipped with some form of leveling jack.  Extend the jack until you’re level and forget about it.  Kind of.  Moving mornings can be fun listening to your returning-home neighbors raising their jacks with a battery operated drill-motor. 

We usually get the coach fairly well leveled out without much difficulty. Merely part of the routine. But that doesn’t mean there is never this slight sensation of un-level.  Sometimes it’s barely discernable, other times it comes upon you unaware after a few days in place. Say you’re on asphalt, and it’s hot outside, and the asphalt softens up underneath your jacks; suddenly you’re 1/4 inch out of level — it’s barely enough to notice — but you do notice it; and it makes you crazy.

It’s not as if the floor is uneven — it’s not.  The floor is a flat surface of plywood underlayment covered over with carpet and tile.  There’s not a thing wrong with the floor!  It just seems like it. One’s body knows the floor isn’t level.

I remember a few houses ago we were looking at possible homes and we found one on Kinnikinnic River Parkway.  I loved that house. I wanted to BUY that house before we toured the inside — the location was perfect, the house looke cute from the exterior.  I loved it. There was a double lot, an in-ground pool, across the street were parklands — you’d never have neighbors on the other side of the road. It was wonderful!  Except…. the price for this double wide lot and home was sort of low for what you got.  Really low.  The price didn’t make sense.  I could tell myself that we didn’t need an in the ground pool, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t lusting after that in-ground pool!

Then, we went inside.  The floors were un-level.  I mean as you walked from one side of the living room to the other you knew you were walking downhill.  Not by 1/4 inch, but by several full inches.  It turns out that the house had been built on soft soil and the entire building was flexing and moving.  NO matter how much I liked the details of that house I crossed it off our list of possibles.

I’m not sure if that experience woke me up to un-level floors but I know I notice them. Our 24 x 24 living room in the old school had uneven floors.  I know the building had been engineered for that span but after 80 some years the floor joists were tired of holding that floor all those years.  We never had any problems, but at some time we would have needed to take a long hard look at that span.  This past month when we were mall walking in Milwaukee I was noticing the mall floors weren’t flat.  I could sense the un-level at the entrance to certain stores that had been remodelled, and the anchor stores always seemed to be just a bit higher than the mall.   bubble-level

We have one of those little bubble levels in the coach. You know the kind: put it on the floor and get the bubble centered in the little center circle.  They work quite well.  Except…. The entire coach is not a flat plane.  Slides extend and retract — Anything that moves is going to be subject to changes.   Our kitchen counter is located in the front passenger-side slide — and when it’s fully extended it is slightly downhill towards the outside when the coach floor is perfectly level.  That means that cooking gets a bit tricky.  I tend to level the coach so that instead of a level floor, we have a level kitchen counter.  I can deal with 1/4″ unlevel when I’m walking easier than I can deal with a pot wanting to slide off the induction burner and onto the floor.  The one bad part of about an induction burner is that it’s smooth glass! Things slide on it!   So, if I have to level one surface and leave another unlevel you can guess which I’ll choose.

Floors are something that most of the time we don’t think a lot about.  When they keep us from falling through to the basement they do their jobs.  If they are reasonably level we get used to them.  Mostly.

When we first took delivery of Serendipity we drove back to the dealer (some 80 miles one way) about 2 weeks after buying her because it seemed like the leveling jacks were leaking.  The dealer put a pressure gauge on the jacks and checked them out for 24 hours.  Not a smidgen of a pressure leak.  We stayed on their property for a couple days with the jacks extended to see if we could replicate the sensation of the jacks settling and nothing happened. They really don’t do that.  Not even today.  But these bodies we walk around in are amazingly sensitive instruments.  When we left Milwaukee on Wednesday, and I retracted the jacks I noticed that our passenger side rear jack (which was resting on an 8 x 12 wooden block) had settled into the asphalt about 1/4 inch.  I knew it had, I had been sensing the unlevelness, but heck it was October, it had been warm during our stayin Milwaukee, but not what I’d call HOT!  You’d not think that it was warm enough for asphalt to soften up that much — but it had.

On a trip like we’re making right now we’ll make six multiple night stops over the course of two weeks.  We’ll get the coach mostly level each time. It’s easy to get her level side to side — that distance is only 8 feet.  Getting her level from to back — when we’re 40 feet long can be a little more challenging.  All campsites aren’t level.  If the campsite is on an incline, and the incline is going the wrong way, it can be impossible to level the coach front to back.  There are limits to how far the jacks extend and there are limits to how far you want to raise the rear of the RV.   After all, the parking breaks work off the rear axle.  With this RV we never want the rear wheels off the ground — even if the jacks will raise the rear that far.  We have literally seen diesel pushers with rear parking brakes that have raised their rear wheels off the ground, then the weight of the coach has caused jacks to collapse, leaving the jacks inoperative in the extended position:  not a good thing.

It’s just something to deal with.  Keeping your floor level.  Some people need to keep a level head — we need level feet! All part of RV’ing.  Thanks for stopping and let’s talk again tomorrow.


One thought on “Slightly Unlevel

  1. Well, I’m reading and nodding my head over and over as I read here today. We have definitely noticed that it is more difficult to get our new-to-us 39′ RV level than it was to level the previous 31′ RV. It also seems that the jacks on our newer RV don’t extend quite as much as the ones on our first RV, too. We carry more leveling blocks now to help when needed and even bought a set of the double-wide blocks at Camping World for the rear tires if we ever need them. We always opt for a site that is rear-high, if possible, if there are no sites that are more level, just so we can keep all four rear tires securely on the ground. We also replaced the seals in our front two hydraulic jacks early on. Hubby took off the units and took them to a local hydraulic guy who replaced them for about $100 each and had them done in less than two hours. One RV mechanic tried to tell us that couldn’t be done. Wrong! haha Good stuff here today, especially for those newer to RVing.


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