We Did Not Expect To Hear That

Photo by Tyler Quiring on Unsplash
Except when it is 4 am, and a crow decides that it needs to put on a concert for all his buddies.

We were surprised by how long it took for us to adjust to all of the new sounds that we noticed in our 5th-wheel. The first month was full of many sleepless nights as we tried to adjust to the full-time life in an RV.

Our first night in Baliey, the name of our fifth wheel, we parked in a gravel lot just off the interstate. Being a little anxious about the check engine light that we had on the truck probably did not help either.

Every sound seemed to be amplified that night. The traffic from the interstate sounded as if we had parked on the shoulder. Though we parked Bailey least 1000’ away from the interstate.  The sound of a closing of a car door was as if someone slammed it. The noise made by person walking through the gravel lot seemed as if they were walking under the window. For the rest of that night and for the months to follow every unfamiliar sound seemed to wake us.

Using the familiar sound of crickets from our noise machine did help us fall asleep at night. However, it still took some time for us to get acclimated to all the sounds. The following are just a few more sounds that we had to get used to.

The Furnace

While the sound of the furnace running is not too terrible, it is no worse than the one in our house. During the day it was never that noticeable. However, since it is five feet from me at night. With the only sound barrier between it and us is the floor, some so-called carpet, and a layer of foil covered bubble wrap, did little to block the sound of the furnace. It wasn’t so much the sound of the fan kicking on or the clicking of the ignitor that would wake me. It was that boom whoosh that you get when gas is ignited inside a tube as well as the steady rumble that it has while burning.

Hot Water Heater

Our 5th-wheel came with the Atwood tankless water heater with the cold weather kit, in the future we will do a full review. While it was cold outside we kept hearing an unfamiliar sound coming from under the sink. We thought we had our first rodent in the RV. We kept inspecting for the telltale signs of our unwelcome guest but never found any. Then one night, while disconnecting our waterline because it was already below freezing and it was only going to get colder. Then I heard the water heater kick on without the water running. That rustling sound that we heard was just the water heater firing off the burner so the water did not freeze in the heating element.

Water Pump

The rapid thump thump thump sound that the water pump makes when you run the water is not too terrible, but it did take a little while to get used to hearing. The first night we forgot to turn the pump off when we went to sleep. Our water pump quickly reminded us that it needs to be off, if not it will wake us with its buzz thump. I thought we had a slow leak since the pump cycled so frequently. However, over time the frequency decreased and we have left the pump on through the night.


The popping sound from our auto-leveling jacks was by far the most annoying sound that our RV made. As you walked from one end of Bailey to the other, there would be a popping noise that would follow you. But that was not the only time we would get it. As the temperature difference between day and night increased so did the popping. We no longer needed to walk around Bailey to hear it. We did not even need to be inside; the sound of it popping could be heard over 50’ away.  The worst part of it was when it started doing it while we were sleeping. We had many restless nights because of the popping sound made by our auto-leveling system. Thankfully there is a simple way to correct the issue we had, that blog is coming soon.

A/C Unit

It was our second night in our fifth-wheel, and the first time we had it fully powered.  We were exhausted from our drive, and we just did the basics to get us set up for the night. With a forecast calling for the temperature to drop below freezing. The last thing on our mind was to check to see if the A/C was on. We had the furnace and the heater in the faux fireplace on trying to get the inside of  Bailey to a suitable temperature as we got ready for bed.

No sooner did we fall asleep when front A/C unit kicked on jolting us from our slumber. Both of us were in a daze as we tried to figure out what was happening. Bailey had finally warmed up enough that the thermostat for the A/C unit in the front thought it was too warm and that we needed to cool down. It surprised us on how loud that unit was.

It wasn’t so much the sound of the blower moving the air since our A/C units are ducted together, that was hardly noticeable. What was unexpected was the sound of it vibrating the ceiling.

When the summer heat arrived, we tried to become accustomed to the unit vibrating the ceiling. But found that the A/C unit in the back was quieter and did not vibrate the ceiling as much. We only used the front A/C during the days that the temperatures got into the 90’s. Also, we found that the front A/C was quite loud outside. The fan on the front A/C unit sounded as if it was a small turbine engine. You could hear it from at least 200’ away.


Getting accustomed to the noise from traffic can take some time. Whether it is the sound of a vehicle rumbling down the road, a group of cyclists clinking and clacking as they ride by, or the shuffling of feet as people jog by. To this day the sound of an unfamiliar vehicle or if the joggers or cyclists go by at a different time, the sounds can wake us from our slumber and has been one of the things that we have not become accustomed to hearing.


One of the things I enjoy is sitting and listening to is all the sound from the wildlife. At times the wildlife can be quite relaxing. With the exception when it is 4 am and a crow decides that it needs to put on a concert for all his buddies. Dance around on the roof of the slide out singing its song kraw caw caw over and over and over.  Or you get that pair of squirrels who decide to make your roof their playground. Then you get to hear them scurrying round and round from one end of the Bailey to the other. While there are a few annoyances caused by wildlife, for the most part, it is enjoyable to listen to them. Though there will be the occasional animal call that will make you shutter the first time you hear them.


The sound from the wind is quite noticeable in our fifth-wheel. The few wind storms that we have been through have been an experience. It does not matter where the wind blows against Bailey; it could be the front, the back, the sides, or the corners. If the wind is strong enough, it will cause Bailey to whistle and squeak as the wind finds its way through the gaps and cracks in all of the seals. If you get slideout toppers, you will get to listen to them buzz, flutter, squeak, and pop in the wind.  The few sleepless nights that they have caused out weight the benefits we perceive they provide. We will discuss our slide out toppers in the future and detail their install.


Once you get use to it The sound of rain gently tapping on the roof is quiet relaxing. However, it can take some time, especially if you have experience with rain as we have. We went to sleep one night listening to the gentle sprinkling on the roof of Bailey. Little did we know that later in the night the sound similar to a small waterfall would wake us during a late night downpour. When Melissa went down to the living area finding water running from the ceiling of the slideout down onto the table and all over our laptops. Luckily we had them closed and powered off.

Even after installing our slideout toppers the rain still makes us uneasy. As most people have found out when water gets into places that it should not be, it can wreak havoc. By causing woods to rot, metals to corrode, and let’s not forget molds and mildew that can thrive in moist conditions.

As time goes on, I am sure that we will become more accustomed to the sounds. Just as we have with the different home and apartments that we have lived in over the years.  The great thing about living in an RV is that if we find an area to be to our disliking then is all we have have the option to move on to the next area.

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Don McElfresh

Don McElfresh

Marine Veteran with a background in engineering. With over 20 years experience in leadership roles in retail and news media. Started full-time RV living in March of 2018 to get back to enjoying life through hiking and photography.

2 Responses

    1. Thank you, Connie! I can’t wait for Don to go around capturing the sounds for a video in the future. The crow dancing was one event we joked about all Summer, it was crazy to be able to hear the birds nails on the slideout. ~Melissa

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