With the onset of winter you most probably want to tidy up your caravan to keep it safe, secure, dry and ready for more fun in the coming year. When the weather gets better and the draw of the open road beckons you want to be ready to go and not have to start making repairs because winter has taken its toll on your beloved caravan. Spending a short while now will save lots of time and money when you next want to get away.
Where to Store
If you keep your caravan at home in the driveway then maybe it could be a good idea to cover it with some weather-proof covering or purchase one of the insulated caravan covers on the market. These covers can vary very much in price so do compare prices. Caravans are, of course weather-proof so don’t worry too much if you leave it to the elements but it is not ideal and come the spring will need a good wash, polish and elbow grease to get the shine going again. Another alternative is to place the caravan in storage, this could be in your garage, a campsite, a local storage unit or a farmer’s barn. Before deciding on storing your caravan away from home do visit the site and check out how and where the caravan will be situated. Note: Make sure you inform your caravan insurer where your caravan will be stored if different from where you told them at the beginning of your policy.
Bodywork and Exterior
A bit of work now will save much heartache come the spring. Give the exterior a good cleaning, making sure to remove any signs of mould from crevices which can spread if left unattended for a long time. If you have been out with the caravan during the cold weather make sure to wash the bodywork thoroughly to remove any traces of salt that gritters may have sprayed on the roads as this could lead to corrosion. Note: Be careful not to damage any trims and seals with powerful pressure washers. Give the bodywork a good coat of overwinter wax coating which will help to protect the caravan. Grease to all moving parts such as hinges, corner steadies, towing ball and hitch, jockey wheel and winder and brake cables. Take the weight off the tyres by lowering the corner steadies.
As the temperature drops mice will be looking for somewhere warmer to spend the winter don’t let them squat in your caravan! A mouse infestation could ruin your caravan as they will gnaw their way into the upholstery and mattresses and will leave droppings and urine trails which will leave a terrible smell. Not very nice, so let’s avoid this. Make sure that all gaps are properly sealed, if you find a hole or small gap fill it securely. Place strong smelling disinfectant around the corner steadies and wheels. A very good deterrent is peppermint oil, soak some cotton wool pads with peppermint oil and leave around your van, for us this is a clean and pleasant smell but mice hate it, good news for us! But make sure to top up the oil every 2-3 weeks. A very important point also is NOT to leave any traces of food in the caravan, hover the carpets and floors well.
Empty all the food from the fridge/freezer and cupboards and give a good clean out to make sure that there are no crumbs or sticky residues left that might attract vermin or turn mouldy, then wipe through the fridge and freezer with a damp cloth and some bicarbonate of soda. Grease the cupboard and door hinges. Leave the fridge door propped open slightly and the cupboard doors are also best left open. Wipe a thin layer of petroleum jelly along any curtain rails to protect them and enable the runners to move freely. Place any bedding and towels, which are staying in the caravan, into airtight bags and seal them shut or take them into the house until springtime. Remove any delicate electrical items and keep in the house for safe-keeping. Place the plugs into the water inlets and waste outlets to keep out unwanted visitors and smells. Lift the seat cushions and stand up to keep the underneath ventilated and keep all internal doors open. Check all window locks and roof vents are securely closed and pull down the blinds.
One of the most important things that must be done when storing your caravan during the cold, winter months is to ensure that ALL the water is removed from the fresh and waste water systems, if left the water can freeze and expand when the thaw comes and burst the pipes. Turn on all the taps and allow the water to run away. Once the water has stopped running there could still be a small amount left in U-bends so pour a small amount of anti-freeze into all the plug holes to ensure that there are no accidents.
Don’t forget to empty and clean the toilet cassette and apply a maintenance spray to the moving parts to avoid them seizing up. Leave the blade open to avoid sticking, and this will also help to stop the cassette from being stolen.
Make sure that all the gas cylinders are fully turned off and that the compartment is locked. If removal and storage in your garage is an option then this is best. Propane gas is fine at low temperatures but Butane gas should not go below 4 degrees C.
The electrics are slightly more of a tricky question to solve. If storing your caravan at home then the best solution is to plug in to the 230V electrics and in very cold weather have a small radiator on or run the heating from time to time. If this is not an option then removing the batteries may be a good idea as you will be able to give them a charge every now and then to ensure that the batteries do not discharge over time. BUT if you have an alarm or a tracker then this is also not an option and the only answer is to visit the caravan once a month to ensure the batteries have not died and everything is running smoothly.
The above is only a guide to protecting your caravan and we recommend that you refer to your caravan handbook for any specialist advice the manufacturer has to offer on your make and model of caravan. You may also like to think about the yearly service as workshops are more likely to be quieter at this time of the year.
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