Why Do Motorhomes Have Ladders? Everything You Need to Know


Motorhomes are very large vehicles, and being an owner requires using a ladder for reaching places high above the ground for repairs and regular maintenance. Besides making fixes and cleaning there are many more reasons that motorhomes have ladders, some of which may even surprise you.

RV Ladder
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Why Do Motorhomes Have Ladders? 

  • Inspecting and cleaning the roof
  • Accessing rooftop appliances and vents for maintenance
  • Accessing rooftop storage
  • Enjoying panoramic views

Let’s dive into the details of why motorhomes have ladders, different types of RV ladders and some of their uses.

Reasons for Having an RV Ladder

Cleaning And Inspecting The Roof

One of the best reasons why motorhomes or RVs have ladders is to make it easier for you to inspect and clean the roof.

This is very important, as proper rooftop maintenance will extend the life of your RV or travel trailer’s roof. Regular inspections of the roof seams and sealant around the vents can prevent leaks and interior damage.

It’s also important to clean the roof of your RV regularly. The RV lifestyle regularly brings adventurers through dusty and muddy roads, brushing against trees and branches which leave scratches and organic matter on the roof. All of this dirt and grime will mess up your RVs aesthetics and rooftop appliance function over time if left to rot.

Access To Rooftop Storage

Another nice thing about having a ladder on your motorhome is that it gives you easier access to your rooftop storage. Being such large spaces Many people use the roof of their RV or Travel trailer for storing large items like kayaks and canoes. 

Motorhome ladders can also provide storage of their own when they are fixed to the rear of the RV. It’s common to see bicycles, coolers and other common use items hanging from a ladder off the back of a camper.

There are many aftermarket ladder racks that will convert a fixed ladder into extra motorhome storage giving you ladder double duty. Just be sure your ladder is secure before climbing on it or hanging weight from it.

Covered RV Trailer
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Convenient Snow Clearing

RV ladders are a big help in clearing snow on top of your motorhome. Accumulated snow on top of your RV not only adds weight, but it can also cause damage to your roof especially if they’re left there for the season.

Leaving the added weight of a snow load can damage the roof of your RV and cause premature leaks. Clearing the accumulated snow is a job that should be done once the snow accumulation gets above a foot. 

Always be careful when climbing a ladder in the winter months as ice may build on the steps making them slippery and dangerous.

Rooftop Appliance Repair

The life of an RVer is filled with repairs and maintenance. Rooftop appliances like air conditioners, fridge vents, air vents and antennas all fall victim to the wrath of UV rays, high winds and torrential rain. 

Having a sturdy ladder on your camper is essential to make the roadside repairs as necessary. Depending on the style of ladder you choose for your motorhome or trailer replacing the roofline lights or cleaning your windows can also be made easier. See more about different types of ladders below

RV Roof Appliances
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Panoramic Views

RVs are made for us to enjoy the outdoors and bask in the beauty of nature. What better way to experience just that by getting a panoramic view of the surroundings. Climb up your ladder to get on top of your camper and place a mat on your roof. Sit there while drinking a hot cup of coffee as you enjoy the alpine snow, or perhaps see how the tropical sun sets peacefully on the beach.

Aesthetics

Sometimes, it’s not all about the functions but also of the style. That can be applied pretty well to camper ladders. It can add elegance and beauty to your RV especially if it’s clad with appealing features. Maybe you have it trimmed with a chrome skin, or perhaps have it gold-plated? Be creative!

Types of RV Ladders

Fixed RV Roof Ladder

Fixed RV ladders are usually attached to your camper’s back wall. They are not adjustable because they are fixed and bolted straight onto the reinforced back panel and often curve over onto the roof.

Having a fixed ladder on the rear of a motorhome is the most common setup from the factory. These ladders tend to be made of lightweight aluminum and provide a durable option when new. Because they are fixed to the back they require no extra effort for setup and takedown or any extra storage space.

The drawback to fixed ladder is that they tend to stop mid way down the trailer or motorhome making them difficult to climb. This issue can be solved with a fold down extension. They also tend to get damaged by being out in the weather year round and by owners backing them into trees and branches.

Other problems that arise with fixed RV ladders is that they are not useful for accessing other parts of the RV other than the roof. They can not be removed and used to reach high parts at the front or sides of the camper. 

RV Rooftop Ladder Extension

RV roof ladder extension, also known as RV starter ladders, connect to the bottom of standard fixed ladders and extend down to the ground. This makes using the factory fixed ladder easier and safer. They vary in size and style but are all similar in terms of portability. They can easily be removed and installed on your RV ladder and typically have hinges so they can fold up for travel.

These are only useful in conjunction with a fixed ladder and can reduce the ability to connect other racks and storage to your fixed ladder. They are very useful if you plan to use your factory fixed ladder.

Telescoping Ladder For RVs

A telescoping RV ladder is one of the most popular types out there because of its convenience and function. A 12.5’ telescoping ladder can extend above the roof of your RV while also storing inside an external storage compartment or on your rear bumper. 

Each step also locks into place when extended. This means that you don’t have to fully extend it. This allows you to size it to the job you are doing and rids you of the hassle of worrying about compatibility. 

This is the type of Ladder we use on our RV and absolutely love it. The old fixed ladder was bent when we purchased our motorhome so we elected to remove it and make the switch.

We use it for accessing the roof and cleaning the high areas of the camper for cleaning and replacing the marker light bulbs. best of all it compacts small enough to fit in the exterior storage compartment.

This is the telescopic ladder we use which we purchased through Amazon. It’s stood up very well and I’ve even used it to hang laundry lines at camp sites and do maintenance around the house.

Though is does compact quite small it will take away from storage space if you decide to keep it in a compartment. And because it is not fixed, proper attention should be taken to secure it with a rope or with somebody holding it when climbing up or down.

Always make sure the steps properly lock while extending telescoping ladders so that it won’t collapse and cause injury.

RV Folding Step Stool

A collapsible step stool is a useful item to keep in your RV if you want something that’s easy to use and can be stored even in the smallest and tightest places. These also come in handy for indoor use as well to access high storage compartments.

Folding ladder for RVs work well in conjunction with fixed ladders because they can give you a boost to the first step of the fixed ladder. Depending on the size you choose they can also help you reach higher parts of your camper’s exterior to clean the windows. 

However, they’re not the best when it comes to durability. You also need to carefully inspect its hinges and make sure that it’s clear from cracks and dents, knowing that regularly folding them can lead to wear-and-tear.

Though a folding step stool won’t get you onto the roof on its own it is still a great tool to have onboard for a small boost to the upper cabinets or to get your laundry line a few feet higher into a tree.

RV Fire Escape Ladders

RV fire escape ladders won’t get you up onto the roof but are invaluable in emergency cases. These are specifically designed to help you escape your RV in case its interior gets caught on fire or an accident prevents you from accessing the door.

RV escape ladders have strong hooks that grab the frame of an open emergency window (the windows with the red handles) and provide passengers a means of climbing down to the ground.

These emergency ladders are very strong yet fold up into a small package and can be stored in any easily accessible location. 

Inspecting Your RV’s Ladder

Inspecting your RV ladder is very important to do before climbing it. It’s necessary that you ensure it is in its optimal shape to avoid injuries and accidents. The RV ladder shouldn’t have any form of damage. If you see any damage on your ladder, then it’s best to replace the entire setup as soon as possible.

Ensure it’s structurally sound by checking for dents and cracks. Also check for loose parts and missing components from damage that may have been caused during transportation or use.

RV Rear Ladder
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The steps should provide proper traction and be dry and free of dirt and debris. Also, make sure that the steps are tight and secured properly to the side rails.This is very important because it is where the majority of your weight will be supported. 

If your ladder is fixed to the motorhome verify that all of the fittings and hardware are securely attached to the RV body. Also check any movable parts for excessive free play, especially if you have telescopic ladders for motorhomes.

Also see to it that the ladder steps and handles are free from grease, oil, or other slippery materials. Use a degreaser if you find any slight slippery surfaces. 

If your ladder is not fixed like in the case of a telescoping ladder, always ensure the ladder base is firmly planted on the ground surface and that it is not leaning to one side.

Step on the bottom step with both feet and try to shake it side to side. It shouldn’t wobble even if placed under load. 

Should You Remove, Replace, or Repair a Damaged RV Ladder?

If you have the money and budget, and you want to make the most out of your RV ladder, then we highly suggest you fully remove and replace it as soon as possible.

Not only does it ensure the best possible experience of using the RV ladder, but it also ensures 100% safety on your end.

However, if you are short of budget and replacement parts are available, then you may be able to simply repair it. Examples of these instances are missing hardware or feet or if the bolts and hinges have rusted. These parts are disposable and you can simply get a replacement for it.

But if the damage is too bad, such as having cracks and dents, then it’s highly recommended that you immediately replace it. Injuring yourself is much more costly than replacing a ladder.

RV Ladder Accessories

Cover

Covers are one of the best accessories you can get for your RV ladder. Not only does this protect it from external forces such as heat, cold, and rain, but it also serves as a nice add on for your camper’s aesthetics.

This comes in different shapes and sizes, but they’re usually featuring large zippered openings and are made from PU-coated nylon. They’re water and mud-resistant and can cover your entire ladder.

Ladder Rack

A rack is another useful accessory for your RV ladder. You can install this on your ladder and use it to carry outdoor equipment such as bikes and kayaks.

Your ladder becomes multi-functional because now, they aren’t just meant for climbing up and down, but they also serve as extra storage. If you want to make the most out of your RV space, then getting a rack for your ladder is surely one great addition.

Pole Mount

An RV ladder mount is another accessory you might want. This lets you easily install an antenna, satellite dish, or flagpole on your camper ladder in a firm way. These are usually fixed on the camper or 5th wheel ladder.

And again, this makes your ladder multi-functional because it has other important uses aside from letting you climb up and down. These vary in size, but they usually measure around 14 to 20 inches in length and 2 to 5 inches in diameter.

Conclusion

With all these being said, you can clearly see that RV ladders are very important for your motorhome.

Not only do they give you an easier time fixing your rooftop appliances, but they also help you maintain your camper in the best and most convenient way possible. Not to mention giving you a 360-degree panoramic view of Mother Nature.

Just make sure you do your best to maintain it and keep it in its best form to avoid accidents and injuries. You might also like to add a few handy accessories to give you an even better camping experience.

Beau

Beau is an electrical engineer with a knack for DIY repair and construction. When he's not tinkering with his projects he's on the road travelling and enjoying an exciting lifestyle with his young family.

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