After an adventure-filled summer of travel and some unforgettable fall foliage road trips, the time has come to winterize your RV.
Proper RV winterization will save you lots of money that would otherwise be spent footing repair bills. Plus, a winter-ready rig will also last longer into the future and provide you with excellent service come spring.
Preparing your RV for outdoor winter storage takes some careful and thorough work. Still, this handy guide will provide you with everything you need to get your rig ready for hibernation.
Put simply, you can store an RV virtually anywhere as long as the spot is safe. You take the necessary steps to protect the rig from harsh elements, invading pests, general wear and tear, and criminals.
While most people prefer to store their RV indoors or in a storage facility, not everyone has the space or budget. Most home garages aren’t spacious enough to accommodate a camper, while storage unit prices can be as high as $450 per month in some locations.
If you opt for outdoor RV storage, whether in your driveway or backyard, use these seven steps to keep your camper in tip-top shape while you’re not using it.
After many adventures, your RV is probably covered in dirt and dust, inside and outside. If not cleaned before long storage, dirt marks and stains can become a permanent fixture. So, before you store your RV outside, it’s a good idea to give it a thorough scrub using mild soap and water.
Remove perishables, wash curtains, dust windows, and vacuum all areas, including corners and crevices. Ensure your ceiling, floor, bathroom, kitchen, and living room are free of grime to prevent mildew or fungus growth. On the outside, wash the roof, windows, doors, sides, and wheels. Be sure to dry your RV and close the window blinds to avoid sun exposure to the carpet, drapes, and upholstery.
Your RV’s plumbing system is the most vulnerable to damage caused by freezing temperatures. Any water left in the pipes will expand as it turns to ice, causing your pipes to burst. The first step is to drain your cold and hot water lines, black and gray holding tanks, and water heater.
One brilliant RV outdoor storage tip is to add antifreeze to your plumbing system. This is a non-toxic fluid meant to be put directly into the plumbing system. It’ll remain liquid even when temperatures dip well below freezing.
Before you put your RV away, you need to protect its engine and electrical systems. First, turn off the RV’s main breaker, disconnect any electronics or small appliances plugged into the outlet, then remove any dry cell batteries from remotes and devices like smoke alarms, clocks, and pet temperature monitors.
Next, remove all lead-acid batteries from your RV and store them in a warm, dry area on a trickle charger. Add fuel stabilizer to both your gas tank and generator, then fill the tanks to the maximum. Make sure you run the engine and generator for five minutes to give the stabilizer time to work the system. Also, top off engine oil, brake, and transmission fluids.
Storing your RV for months at a time increases the chance that pests will infest and nest in it. Rodents can cause extreme damage to your RV by chewing through almost any material, while termites can damage wooden surfaces like the subflooring and interior walls. The easiest way to keep your RV pest-free is by reducing the possibility of them entering your rig in the first place.
Look for any cracks and gaps where they can wiggle their way in, then plug the holes with caulk or expanding spray foam. Next, consider using rodent repellent or traps. Don’t forget to remove all foodstuffs, deodorants, shampoos, toothpaste, and medicines, as they may attract insects and rodents.
When you decide to go for RV outdoor storage, you need to consider threats–snow, rain, falling tree limbs, and theft. Without walls, a roof, and a lock to protect it, it may be vulnerable to vandalism. Park your camper away from trees to increase safety, preferably in an outdoor shed or large carport.
To further safeguard your investment, install a security camera, an alarm system, high-powered outdoor lighting, and get a specialty lock designed for your RV. Before picking an RV outdoor storage spot, look up city or county codes and your homeowner association rules to avoid getting in trouble. They may have laws against keeping a motorhome, trailer, or campervan in your driveway.
When storing a camper inside isn’t an option, get a cover specifically tailored to your RV. A well-fitting weather-resistant cover will protect your rig against extended exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays that can damage the paint finish. It will also shield your camper against dust, debris, wind damage, tree sap, and bird droppings.
The best RV cover for winter is a breathable material so that moisture doesn’t condense beneath it. Moisture can cause rust and trigger mold and mildew growth. To preserve the health of your tires and extend their lifespan, inflate them to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure, then cover them.
Another RV outdoor storage tip is to raise the rig onto jacks. Jacking the weight will help protect your tires from developing flat spots. Tires with flat spots become useless and will have to be replaced when you take your RV out of storage. If your rig comes with automatic leveling jacks, then raising your RV will be straightforward.
Just remember to retract and extend your levelers about once a month to keep them in excellent condition. If it doesn’t come with the equipment, invest in RV stabilizers. When you raise your RV, make sure each tire is slightly touching the ground for more stability. Another alternative is to drive your RV up onto pads.
An RV is an expensive and valuable investment, and nobody wants to save up and buy a camper only to see it wither away with improper care. Therefore, knowing how to store your home on wheels during the cold months properly is critical.
If you plan on storing your camper outdoors all winter long, use the above RV outside storage ideas to protect your rig from cold temperatures, accumulating snow, rain, rough winds, pests, stains, UV rays, moisture, and criminals.