Wecome To RVs and OHVs

This blog is all about RVs (recreational vehicles) and OHVs (Off Highway Vehicles), camping, and survival
and how they work together to provide wholesome family fun and great learning opportunities.
Many posts are intended to familiarize novice campers and RVers with RV systems and basic camping and survival
skills. But even experienced RVers and campers will enjoy the anecdotes and may even benefit from a new
perspective. Comments, questions, and suggestions are encouraged.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Overhead Cabinets

Most RVs have many overhead cabinets.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  Having plenty of storage is a wonderful thing.  However, I've seen overhead cabinets in several RVs pull loose due to age and/or overloading.  Sometimes water intrusion into the ceiling and/or wall will have promoted dry rot that weakens the mounting points, but often they were just weakly mounted in the first place.  Storing potato chips and napkins isn't likely to cause any problems, but avoid heavy items like canned goods, spare batteries and tools.  Even though individual items may not be especially heavy, the cumulative weight may exceed the intended design.  I've seen cabinets that looked like there were only screwed into the 3/16" plywood wall paneling with no attempt find studs in the wall for better support and additional strength.   Installations such as this are lucky if they are strong enough to support empty cabinets!

As always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Re-attaching loose cabinets is NOT an easy or fun job so you will want to avoid it if at all possible.  Begin by only putting light items in overhead cabinets.  Then monitor the cabinets so you can tell if they are starting to come loose so you can deal with it before they fall off.  Even light weight items will add up if there are a lot of them.

If you have an overhead cabinet that is coming loose, the first thing to do is to empty it out to minimize the damage and gain access to repair it.  Once is is empty you may be able to push it back into place and re-anchor it to the wall.  Sometimes the cabinets are secured via screws inside the lower shelf.  To get to them use a screw driver or putty knife to lift the edge of the paneling on the top of the bottom shelf until you can remove it completely.  That will expose the framework inside the shelf, including the back piece through the cabinet is screwed to the wall.  If the cabinet has pulled completely away from the wall you'll need to back out the old screws to be able to get it back in place.  Screwing the old screws back into the stripped holes is probably a waste of time.  If they were originally screwed into studs you may be able to repair the hole by inserting wooden repair plugs before re-installing the screws.  If the screws only went into the plywood, you'll need to relocate the screws to a sturdier location.  Try to find studs to screw into.  If you can't find any studs you might get some additional strength by using moly bolts.  You'll need to drill a big enough hole in the wall for the moly bolt, but tight enough so it will hold the sleeve so you can tighten the bolt.  The face plate on the sleeve usually has little prongs that dig into the surface to help keep it from turning so the sleeves need to be tapped into the holes.  The sleeve on moly bolts spreads open as you tighten the bolt, gripping the back side of the plywood and spreading out the load a little bit so they don't pull out as easily as ordinary screws.  If you have enough depth in the wall you might try Wingit brand fasteners.  They perform the same function but use a different design that spreads out behind the wall board.  They are very strong:  rated to hold 300 lbs each.  However,  you have to drill a 3/4" hole in the wall to install them.  Moly  bolts usually only need about a 3/8" hole.  Wingits usually come with 3 1/2" or 4" bolts.  Sometimes those are too long and might begin to penetrate the outer skin.  If that is the case you can buy shorter bolts, but be sure they're long enough to engage the nut in the end of the part of the Wingit that goes in the wall after they go through the cabinet.  .  If there is any question about having room to install larger fasteners like Wingits, consider trying smaller ones first.  Then, if you do have to move to bigger ones, you can always drill bigger holes.  But if you drill the bigger holes first, you can't repair them without replacing the entire section of paneling. With either Wingits or moly bolts, the strength of the installation is still dependent on the strength of the wall board they're mounted in so it is still a good idea to try to find some structural member behind the wallboard into which you can drive good screws if possible.  I like Grabber screws and they come in a variety of sizes.  Choose a length that will extend into the wall about 1 1/2".  Another possible fix is to secure a sturdy screw strip to the wall so it will be next to the top of the bottom shelf.  Make sure to anchor it into structural members so it will hold strongly.  Then you can screw up through the bottom of the cabinet to hold the cabinet in place.  Doing this will sacrifice a little bit of shelf space in the cabinet, but is a pretty darn good way of making sure the cabinet says in place.  You could install the screw strip under the shelf which would be even safer, but then it is visible all the time, unless it is behind a valance over a window.  If the top of the front of the cabinet has pulled away from the ceiling, you may need to do the same thing to reattach the top of the cabinet securely.  Wingits are not recommended for installations in ceilings and moly bolts probably have the same limitations so you may have to install a strip you can screw the top of the cabinet to.  If you have to install screws through the front of the cabinet where they will be visible you may want to purchase plastic screw covers to disguise them.  These consist of two pieces of plastic:  the base, which is usually a translucent white and a  snap-on over, which should be a color that closely matches the color of the cabinets.  Put the screw through the base so the head of the screw holds the base tightly against the cabinet when the screw is tightened in place.  Then snap  the cover on the base.

For particularly heavy cabinets or if you plan to put a heavy load in an overhead cabinet, you may want to explore ways to support it from below.  If it is over a counter, you may be able to install decorative wooden spindles between the counter and the bottom of the cabinet for a sturdy support.  For cabinets over furniture, you may be able to add a support against the wall all the way to the floor.  Depending on the design and strength of the ends of the cabinet you may need to add shelf supports under the cabinet and anchored to the wall support.  If you have to resort to this solution you can mitigate the appearance of the supports by covering them in fabric or wall paper or painting them to match or complement the wall color.

Good luck!

1 comment:

  1. Very useful post! Overhead cabinets can cause serious injuries if proper care is not taken care of. So it is necessary to check if they are properly fixed or not.