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Reader Question: Is It OK To Use Leveling Jacks On Asphalt If You Put Boards Underneath?

Leveling jack depression in asphalt
What can happen when you use leveling jacks on asphalt
Photo courtesy Runnion Equipment Company

Question:

Rebecca asked through the DoItYourselfRV Facebook page,

Hello fellow RVers. We will be staying in a WalMart parking lot soon for the first time. My etiquette question is: can you put down leveling jacks if you put boards underneath? Thanks.

Response:

The Overnight Parking Etiquette Guide published by the Family Motorcoach Association (FMCA) states that you shouldn’t use hydraulic jacks on soft surfaces (including asphalt).

If you’ve got an RV with electric or hydraulic leveling jacks, you might think that it’s OK to use these jacks anywhere – including on asphalt.

Crane and boom-truck operators use leveling jacks on asphalt all the time. But in many cases these companies have a legal obligation to repair any damage caused at the work site. They also use heavy-duty jack pads to distribute the weight of the jack over a large surface area.

See Also: 8 Tips You’ll Want to Know to Park Politely When Asphalt Boondocking

If RVers end up damaging the asphalt, they can simply pull chocks and be on their way, leaving the facility to deal with the damaged parking surface.

The FMCA says that,

Most of the complaints lodged regarding RV parking on business parking lots have to do with aesthetics and perceived abuse of the privilege. There are a variety of competing interests that were balanced to arrive at this industry-sanctioned code of conduct. As you can see, this Code of Conduct is nothing more than an RVers’ “Good Neighbor” policy.

Jack Pad Comparison Chart

Although it’s not a good idea to use leveling jacks on someone else’s asphalt surface, you might want to park on your own asphalt parking pad or on soft ground.

Jack pads will help distribute the weight of your leveling jacks, and prevent the jacks from sinking into the ground or doing damage to the parking surface.

E. Don Smith at Motorhome Magazine said of his own homemade wooden jackpads,

Our homemade pads were constructed out of pressure-treated 2-by-10-inch lumber cut to 12-inch lengths that were then laminated on top and bottom with half-inch pressure-treated plywood and screwed together with construction screws. For those of you who rely simply on pressure-treated lumber cut to length, you will find that as the lumber dries over time the boards will split. This can be eliminated by the use of plywood (also pressure-treated) top and bottom, and of course the plywood adds some thickness as well.

If you’d like to buy professionally engineered jack pads, Motorhome Magazine made a comparison chart of several different brands.

The ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being ‘Poor’ and 5 being ‘Best’. (Click for larger view)

Leveling Jacks comparison
Jack pad comparison chart courtesy of Motorhome Magazine

Source: Runnion Equipment Company and Motorhome Magazine

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