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Caravan & Motorhome Winterisation Tips

Monday 21st October 2019
By Team Camplify
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By Team Camplify
Of course, we think the best thing to do with your caravan or motorhome in winter is rent it out on Camplify and make winter your earning season.

But in between those times, or if you opt to only rent your vehicle out in other seasons, it’s important to prepare properly for winter. Whether you have a static caravan or a tourer, a motorhome or a campervan, read on for our vehicle winterisation tips.
Vehicle in winter

Winterisation Tips For Static Caravans

Static and touring caravans require many of the same procedures when getting ready for winter, but there are some things specific to statics that you’ll need to make sure of. Follow this list to properly prepare your static for winter:

1. Drain all water

Water is the biggest threat to your static in winter. Cold weather can lead to the caravan water pipes freezing – and possibly bursting – leading to a flooded caravan or an expensive plumbing bill.

Ensure that the water pipes and systems in the caravan are empty. Start this process by shutting off the main water supply at the stop cock (you might also have drain down taps under your caravan; check the manual to see).

Once the water is turned off, turn on all taps inside the caravan. Turn on the shower and turn on any exterior water taps. Leave them running until all the water has finished flowing. You can add a little antifreeze to each plughole to be doubly sure that any water left in the pipes won’t freeze in a cold spell

Next, drain the water heater (check your caravan manual to see where the drain down valve is on the water pipe). Flush the toilet so that most of the water is emptied from the cistern. Add antifreeze to any remaining water.

2. Disconnect the gas

This one’s easy – simply disconnect your gas bottle and move the canister to a safe place. If you like, you can turn one of the cooker hobs and try lighting it to be 100% sure there’s no gas left in the pipe.

3. Disconnect the electricity

Turn the mains electricity off at the mains switch (your manual will show its location). Unplug all appliances.

4. Do a full clean

Fully clean out the caravan including food cupboards, especially food packets (tins are fine to leave as they won’t attract mice). A full clean should include a vacuum of all rooms and of mattresses, and a wipe down and drying off of all surfaces, window seals and cupboard interiors. You’ll also need to empty and scrub the fridge freezer, leaving the door slightly open (and the unit switched off) so that air can circulate. If you like, add a saucer of vinegar or lemon juice inside the fridge to neutralise any smells.

5. Prevent mould and damp

Like water, mould and mildew is a big concern for static caravans left over winter. Mattresses, bed covers, cushions, curtains and fixtures and fittings can all fall foul of mould, meaning damage on interiors in the best instance and damp in the caravan shell or woodwork in the worst.

First, deal with sitting room interiors. Sofa seat cushions and other soft furnishings should be removed and stored at your own home over winter. If you don’t have room, then take cushions off the sofas and prop them up so that air can circulate.

Next, remove all bedding (sheets, duvet covers and pillowcases). Wash it and ensure it’s thoroughly dried, then store it in sealed vacuum bags. Do the same with all duvets.

Open all cupboard doors (kitchen, sitting room, bathroom and bedrooms). Double check no food has been left behind and that the insides of the cupboards were dried properly after being wiped down.

You might also like to place a few saucers of salt or bags of silica gel around the caravan, to absorb any moisture in the air.

6. Check the windows and blinds

Check if any of your caravan’s rubber window seals need to be replaced. While you’re doing this, check that any blinds or fly screens are fully retracted, so there’s no damage to the spring mechanism.
VW in snow

7. Discourage animals and insects

Obviously it’ll be cold over winter, so this is the time that mice, spiders and other creepy crawlies look for an indoor space. As above, clear your food cupboards properly of all packets and all food not in tins, and do a thorough vacuum to get rid of all crumbs. You’ll also want to prevent insects crawling up pipes into the caravan, so put plugs in all sink plugholes, cover the shower tray and close the toilet lid.

8. Protect your static from the elements

Clean and wax the caravan exterior so that rain, frost and snow are less likely to take hold.

9. Heating

Keeping your static heated over short periods will ensure air flow inside the caravan and help prevent damp. It’s up to you how you do this: you can leave the heating system connected and on a timer, or you might opt to leave it running, possibly on a battery.

10. Keep your static secure

It goes without saying that your caravan should be locked and fully secured. But you should also check windows are secure and fully sealed, fire extinguishers are full and safe, and that your insurance is fully up to date. As you’ll be sited in a park suitable for static caravans, overall security shouldn’t be an issue, but remove portable goods from the caravan such as games consoles and laptops (some static caravan owners also choose to remove the TV). You can also keep the curtains open so that any potential thieves will see there’s nothing to steal.

More tips on caravan security are in our winter tourer storage tips below.

Winterisation Tips For Touring Caravans

Many of the tips for winterising static caravans apply also to tourers, but there are a few extra things to consider. Follow this checklist to ensure your touring caravan is properly prepared for winter.

1. Drain all water

As with statics, water is the biggest threat to your tourer or motorhome in winter. Fully drain down any water system to protect against frost; open all taps; and open all drain valves and remove any drainage plugs. Remove any filters, clean them and store them in a safe place, to be sterilised and replaced in spring.

If you have an on-board pump, run this clear of water (check your manual for details on this).

2. Disconnect the gas

Remove any gas bottles and store safely, as above. Remember that if you’re putting your caravan into winter storage you’ll need to check the storage company’s gas cylinder policy, as many don’t allow cylinders to be stored on board for a prolonged period of time. To be fully safe, we recommend keeping the gas cylinder out of the caravan, preferably in your garden at home.
Tourer outside a home

3. Check all electrics and batteries

Check any caravan-to-car connectors and hook-up leads for signs of damage, then wipe the contact points with a product like Vaseline or WD-40.

Remove any battery unit and take it home, to charge every so often over the winter season. If you’re leaving a battery in your van, either disconnect it fully or use its isolation switch to make sure it’s isolated from all appliances. Or you can turn off all electrical appliances and pull out the plugs.

As with statics, you might want to periodically run a heater or heating system on a timer powered by a battery or an electricity source.

4. Empty and clean the toilet

Whether your tourer has a vacuum-style toilet or a portable cassette one, make sure it’s fully emptied and the waste cassette properly cleaned before you put the vehicle into storage. You’ll need to use a cleaning solution suitable for cassette toilets – not bleach.

5. Protect from the elements

Clean and wax your tourer if you’re going to leave it uncovered over winter. But if you can, it’s a much better idea to get a caravan cover to put over your vehicle. This needs to be breathable, waterproof and able to let air in but keep rain and snow out. Don’t use a plastic cover where no air can get it, as this will build up condensation.

If you’re storing your caravan at home, consider building a simple porch shelter to keep it dry. There are plenty of instructions online and this article from TruckCamper has 19 RV shelter ideas to give you inspiration.

6. Think tyres

It’s not a good idea to leave a tourer/motorhome in a static position all winter, or for any prolonged period of time – this will put pressure on one area of the tyre and make it become cracked or damaged. Move your tourer a little every month or so, so a different part of the tyre tread is used every time. Doing this also has the advantage that you’ll be checking on your tourer regularly and powering up its engine.

If you want to be completely safe, replace your tourer wheels with metal winter wheels. This will help make it more secure from theft too.

7. Tackle mould and damp

Tourers are generally a lot smaller than statics, so are quicker to damp proof for winter. Removing and storing all bedding and soft furnishings will help a great deal in preventing damp and mildew; also make sure you leave cupboard doors open and the toilet/shower door ajar.

Curtains are also much easier to remove for winter and you should certainly do this for net curtains as they attract damp easily. Remove net curtains and wash, dry and store them along with your other furnishings.

8. Fully clean the vehicle interior

Remove all perishable and packet food, clean and dry cupboard space and surfaces, hoover all parts of the floor and furniture, and remove, wash, dry and store all bedding.

9. Check the windows and blinds

The same as with statics – check all seals and make sure that blinds and fly screens are fully retracted. If you’re moving your tourer every so often to prevent tyre damage, you can do this at the same time, especially if there’s been heavy rain.

10. Storage and security

All the advice above about keeping your static caravan safe from theft and damage applies to tourers – make sure your van is locked, windows are secure, valuables are removed or out of sight and fire extinguishers are in the right place.

But there’s a bit more to think about when it comes to keeping tourers safe from theft. They’re obviously smaller and more portable than statics, therefore easier to steal, and so you should invest in the most extensive security system you can afford.

Clamp the wheels (or replace with winter wheels), use a hitch lock and window locks, attach a security post and add an alarm and tracking device, along with a notice of these on the van exterior. If you’re keeping your tourer at home, you could also consider adding a CCTV camera to your drive – and always keep your caravan keys and documents well hidden inside your home in case of burglary.

You may opt to keep your tourer on a winter storage pitch instead – if so, ask the park owners what their security measures are, and still follow as many as possible of the tips above.

Finally, remember that if you’ve installed a tracker on your van, it will need to run off a battery or other power source even when you’re not there.
Make sure your vehicle is secured, even if parking outside your home

Winterisation Tips For Motorhomes and Campervans

Almost all the above tips apply to motorhomes and campervans as well as to statics and tourers.

But there’s one vital extra element to check on motorhomes when putting them into storage – the engine and other cab parts to keep the motorhome on the road come spring. The ventilation grills in the cab are where most draughts will come in, so make sure these are all closed (in the cab part only, not the grilles in the living part as these are safety devices against gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Also make sure you leave the motorhome parked in gear with the handbrake off to prevent rear drums freezing. Finally, check and double check your motorhome’s coolant system and make sure it has enough antifreeze, so there’s no engine damage in very cold temperatures.

To find out how Camplify can work with you and your RV, register today here.

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