As winter rolls around many people will be putting their caravan into hibernation for the colder months. It’s only the hardcore caravan enthusiasts who tend to venture out on trips when the wind is howling and the snow looks likely to fall.
But, when it comes to putting your caravan to rest for the winter, there are a number of things that you will want to do in order to ensure your caravan is safe from damage and protected against the elements.
Here at Caravans for Sale, we thought that we would offer you some advice to help you when it comes to preparing your caravan for the winter. From draining your water systems, to where you should store your caravan, this guide will hopefully come in handy at this time of year, when the frost begins to bite.
One of the most common ways that your caravan can incur damage over the winter period is through water freezing. If you leave water in the system over the colder months then it can freeze and cause damage to the pipes.
When draining the water from your caravan you will want to begin by opening all of your taps. If you have mixer taps then you should ensure that the lever is in the central position as you will want to drain the cold and the hot water.
You should also open all of the drain valves and remove any of the drainage plugs, which are usually on the exterior of the caravan. This draining process can take up to an hour so it is a good idea to be patient. Some people find it useful to remove the plug after their last trip of the season, allowing it to drain on the journey home. When you arrive home you will want to replace the plugs, but leave the taps open to prevent a build-up of pressure in the system, others find it useful to use a caravan drain down kit.
If you have an internal water tank then this should also be drained or removed along with any filters. Any onboard pumps should be run dry as well. Basically, you are trying to remove any traces of water from your caravan.
This includes any water that is located in the toilet. If you have a cassette toilet then you will want to thoroughly drain it and clean it before you store the caravan for winter. You should then drain the flushing tank. You can do this using the drain tube - if it has one. If it doesn’t then you should simply flush as much water as you can through the system and into the cassette waste tank, which can then be removed and emptied out.
It’s worth taking care when you’re preparing your caravan for winter and it’s advised that you clean the valve blade that seals the toilet from the waste tank. You can do this with a seal lubricant or silicone lubricant. You should not use petroleum jelly or any vegetable oil. Once clean, leave this valve partially opened in order to prevent it from sticking shut. All other rubber seals should be cleaned and lubricated for winter to ensure that they remain fully functional and in good condition.
When preparing your caravan for winter, your gas systems require as much care and attention as your water systems. It’s very important that you close the gas valves on the top of your cylinders and disconnect your regulators. You should fit cloths or caps over the ends of any pipework that’s left open.
Gas cylinders should be stored carefully out in the open and away from buildings. There are also a number of other things to bear in mind. For example, they should be kept away from open drains (at least two metres away to be precise) and they should also be kept away from heat and corrosive, toxic or oxidant materials.
If you’re storing your caravan in a storage unit then you should check with the management about their policies on gas cylinders. Some won’t allow you to store your cylinders with them for any length of time, so you may have to find somewhere else. Alternatively, some units may have a dedicated gas locker.
It is very important that you switch off any engines and electrical equipment before you begin handling the gas cylinders.
During the winter, if possible, it is a good idea to hook your caravan up to a 230V electricity supply. This allows you to power up your heating every now and then, whilst also managing to keep your battery nice and healthy. However, if you are unable to do this, as you don’t have easy access to the supply, then you can take other measures to take care of your electrical systems.
If you’re leaving your leisure battery in the caravan, then you should ensure that it is isolated from all 12V equipment. You can do this by using its isolation switch or by simply disconnecting it.
You must also switch off and unplug any electrical items that are in your caravan. If you leave anything plugged in and on standby mode then they will end up draining your caravan’s battery. If you have a TV aerial booster, make sure that this is disconnected too for the same reasons.
Even if your battery is disconnected it will still discharge over time, unless it is periodically charged. Once it becomes fully discharged, its storage capacity will never be able to be fully restored. Therefore, if you are able to, remove the battery and take it home with you, charging it every five or six weeks.
You want to ensure that you take extra care on the interior of your caravan to ensure that it is in the best possible condition come spring. It is important that you do your utmost to help air circulation as this prevents the buildup of damp and mould. Regarding this, it is worth using latches to keep the fridge door propped open and any blinds should be left open as well.
While preparing your caravan for storage, you might as well take some time out to give it a deep clean. Not only will this prevent the build up of mould and mildew, but it will also ensure that you don’t leave anything in any of the cupboards or down the side of any seats etc. We would recommend getting your vacuum cleaner out and giving the caravan a once over.
Stand any cushions in the upright position and away from any of the walls for added airflow, and you can also cover your upholstery with a breathable material in order to keep dust off. However, if you have the space at home, you should store your cushions there ensuring they are somewhere warm and dry.
As well as making sure that everything inside your caravan is in good working order come the end of winter, there are a also a number of measures that you can take to ensure that no damage comes to the exterior too. Take good care of the outside of your caravan before the winter begins and you will be grateful come spring that you don’t have to fork out for any costly repairs.
It is always a good idea to give the whole outside of your caravan a thorough clean. Even if you are going to use an overwintering wax coat or a cover, we would still advise that you give the caravan a good scrub. Not only will this ensure that your caravan is nice and clean, but it will also mean that you can spot any damage and get it fixed before winter. This will help prevent any further damage. Make sure you clean up any signs of mould. If left, these mouldy stains could cause permanent marks on the outer shell of your caravan.
When it comes to cleaning your caravan it’s a good idea to use substances that are specifically designed for use on caravans. These products will not damage the different materials that are used in caravan construction. It’s also best to avoid using pressure washers as they can damage your caravan pretty quickly.
If you’re going to leave your caravan in one place for a long period of time then you will want to think about the impacts this can have on the tyres. It’s never a good idea to leave the tyres resting on the same piece of tread for long periods of time. You should think about turning the wheels every six weeks or so, just to prevent any lasting damage occurring. Sunlight can also be damaging to rubber, so it is worth ensuring that no direct sunlight is on your tyres during the winter months. Some people may use plastic bags that cover the wheel for this purpose - don’t do this as it may cause condensation to build up which can be bad for your wheels and tyres.
You can also ensure that your wheels remain undamaged during the winter by taking some of the weight off of them. For example, you can remove the wheels and support the axles with axle stands for a period, storing the tyres somewhere safe and dry. If you do decide to do this, however, it is worth bearing in mind that some caravan insurance policies will not cover you in this instance.
If your caravan has an awning, then you should ensure that you give it a good clean and dry it out thoroughly before it is stored.
A breathable cover can offer your caravan extra protection over the winter months, as can an overwinter coating or fluid. If you are going to use a cover then it must be breathable, soft and tough so that it can last the entire winter. The other option is a waxy protective coating that can be applied before winter at low cost and cleaned off in spring with ease. Covers will not have the longest lifespan, mainly degrading due to natural UV light. If you use your cover all year round then it will, obviously, last less time than one which is only used in winter.
If you are purchasing a cover, you will want to ensure that you buy one that is the correct size and sufficiently covers your caravan, with the door in the correct place. You do get what you pay for when it comes to these covers, so we would recommend that you don’t cut costs too much as a cheap one may not do its job properly.
Windows should be clean before the cover is put on as the cover could scratch easily. Contrary to what some people say, don’t use cling film to protect your windows, as this can lead to your windows becoming damaged.
Most people will either store their caravan at home or inside some form of storage facility. These facilities tend to be specialist storage sites or campsites, will offer you added security during the colder months and will allow you a bit more space on your driveway.
If you’re looking for somewhere to store your caravan then you may wish to contact the Caravan Storage Site Owners Association. They represent caravan storage site owners’ across the UK and work towards minimising caravan theft by promoting the highest levels of security. They have a wide variety of sites available to you up and down the country, which are all graded according to their security.
If you do decide to store your caravan somewhere other than at your home then you will want to ensure that security is the top priority. A cheap storage option may end up being your downfall, you want to make sure that you come back to find your caravan still there come spring.
Be sure to avoid leaving your caravan beneath a tree. Falling branches can cause damage as can leaves and bird droppings. Before you pay the storage facility be sure to take a look at exactly where your caravan will be stored to avoid any potential damage. As well as checking the plot on which your caravan will be stored, you will also want to look into the other things on offer. Will your caravan have access to battery charging facilities for example? All of this is worth checking out beforehand.
Hopefully, we have helped you understand how to winterise a caravan, and given you tips and tricks on the areas you should focus on how to keep your caravan dry over winter.