Now that fall is upon us, and it’s time to prepare your RV for winter storage. Even if you plan on using it once or twice during winter, you should get it ready to protect it from the cold. If you store your RV in a climate-controlled storage area, you should still prep it in the event that the storage unit loses power. The last thing you need is to have to repair broken pipes when you are ready to take that first trip in the spring. These tips for preparing your RV for winter storage will help you get ready for the cold, and don’t forget that there are always professionals you can hire to winterize your units for you! If you’re new to RVing, don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Drain the Plumbing
Empty the fresh water and holding tanks. Rinse the tanks and drain the hot water heater. Once you drain everything, turn on all the faucets to ensure you don’t have any water left in the system. Turn the taps off and make sure the water pump is off. You could pump non-toxic antifreeze through the system, but it’s generally not required as long as you get all the water out of the system. If you leave water in the hot water heater, you’ll need to add antifreeze to the system.
Batteries hate the cold. The cold drains a battery if you don’t use it at least once per week. Remove the house batteries and store them in a cool place. If you have a basement that doesn’t get below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, you could store them in the basement. Leave the engine battery in, as you’ll be starting the RV every couple of weeks throughout the winter.
If you have to leave the house batteries in, ensure they are charging when you run the RV every couple of weeks. You may have to let the RV run longer than half an hour to ensure all the batteries are charged.
Add a fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank if you have a motorized RV. Start the RV and run it for about 10 minutes. If the RV is diesel, add a fuel stabilizer for diesel—be sure the brand you choose keeps the fuel from gelling. If the fuel gels are in the cold, getting the gel out of the system could be expensive. Diesel tanks also build up condensation. Keeping the fuel tank full will help reduce condensation formation. It would be best if you planned on starting your RV every couple of weeks and letting it run for about half an hour.
Start the generator while the RV runs to ensure the fuel stabilizer gets through the generator system. Fuel stabilizer prevents the fuel from breaking down, preventing deposits from stale fuel from gumming up the fuel system.
Keep the Mice and Bugs Out
All Critters will seek a sheltered place to hide out for the winter. Many prefer to remove anything that would make an appealing home for such creatures from their units for the winter months. If that’s not feasible, some suggestions are to ensure tight seals on the storage bins. Put mothballs in the storage bins and lock them. Wash blankets and pillows and store them in plastic bags on the beds or closets. Large trash bags tied tightly might keep the mice from burrowing in your bedding. It’s important to note that damage from rodents may not be covered on your insurance policy.
Spray around the bottom of the RV with bug spray, just as you would spray your house. If the bug spray you choose doesn’t discolour the RV (test it in an inconspicuous place) spray around the doors and windows.
Put mothballs in the water heater and refrigerator compartment if they’re accessible from the exterior. Add mothballs to interior storage such as closets and under-bench storage. If you are using mothballs, be aware that they are toxic to cats and dogs, so safe handling is critical. When removing them from the RV in the spring, you must also dispose of the mothballs following your municipality’s waste program.
Be sure to remove all food from the RV, even canned goods. Give the RV an excellent vacuum to ensure no crumbs are left to tempt any critters.
Tires and Roof
Cover the tires with tire covers to protect them from the sun. Although the sun doesn’t have a lot of heat during the winter, the UV rays will still cause dry rot. Cover the top of the RV with a tarp to protect the roof. If there’s heavy snowfall and you’re concerned about the amount of snow on the roof of your unit, you can hire a professional to help you out.
Taking time to prepare your RV for winter storage properly will save you a lot of hassle (and money) come springtime, so be sure to follow these RV storage tips. For more RV care and maintenance tips, keep an eye on the Wayfarer Insurance Group blog or sign up for our newsletter!