Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Remember To Prepare Your Caravan For Winter!

It's now November and the winter is beginning to set in. Short daylight hours and cold temperatures mean that for the most of us, caravanning has come to an end for this year. Most people will not use their caravans now until next spring, so for the four or five months that your caravan is stood stationary, it it vital that you prepare it for winter storage.

The first thing to do is to decide on a location to store your caravan. At home is ideal as you can keep an eye on it over winter, but we are not all fortunate enough to have the room to accommodate a caravan. The best storage place is undercover and inside. A large garage or barn is great as it keeps the harsh winter weather from causing damage. Should you have no other option other than to store your caravan outside, it is advisable to invest in a specialist winter cover (or tarp) to help keep your tourer in top shape over the winter months.

Before committing your caravan to storage, ensure that you give it a good clean both outside and in. Cleaning outside will remove any dirt and marks from the previous seasons' holidays and leave it clean for next season. When cleaning inside, be sure to clean out any food remnants (such as crumbs etc) as these may attract unwelcome guests of the rodent kind over the winter months! Also take this time to repair any damage caused over the previous years holiday (such as tears in the upholstery, marks on the woodwork etc...) as this is less work for you at the beginning of next season.

Now comes the difficult part; the actual winterisation of your caravan. Let's start with the outside:
- Decide where is best to park the caravan and lower all four corner steadies.
- It is advisable to jack up the caravan (using axle stands) so that the wheels aren't supporting the full weight of the caravan - this prevents flat spots on the tyres.
- Drain off any water systems. Most systems should have a draining plug or screw. If not, with the pump switched off and the water supply disconnected, turn on all of the taps inside until no more water comes out of them.
- Ensure that the gas system is switched off.
- Remove the leisure battery (if you have a 12v system) as this will preserve it over winter. Ideally, keep it at home in a cool dry place and charge it periodically (ideally every two weeks or so). If the battery is left in, it will almost certainly be flat by the start of the next caravanning season.
- Make sure that all windows and vents are closed.
- Apply all security devices (such as wheel locks, hitch locks...)

Jobs to carry out on the inside:
- Clean down everything inside, not forgetting to vacuum under the bunks and under furniture.
- Remove all food items that aren't sealed as these may go off and may attract rodents.
- Pull out all bedding from underneath the bunks and either store it on top of the bunks or ideally at home.
- Open all cupboards and doors (and bunks where possible) to allow air to circulate inside. Also, propping open your fridge with a towel or similar will prevent mould growing inside.
- Ensure that taps are left in the half open position to ensure that they don't stick over winter. This will prevent them from breaking.
- Pull the upholstery seat bases away from the walls - this reduces the risk of them being damaged by condensation. You can even take them out and store them at home if you have the space to do so.

Advisable tasks to carry out over the winter months:
- If your caravan is stored at home or in a convenient place to use the Electric Hook Up, try to leave the heater on periodically to circulate some warm air. NEVER leave the heater on unsupervised.
- Charge the leisure battery periodically to keep it topped up. It should read 13-14volts.
- If the caravan isn't jacked up (using axle stands, NEVER the corner steadies), try rotating the wheels periodically to avoid flat spots on the tyres.
- Keep checking for signs of damp.

If you follow this guide, your caravan should survive the winter months. Be sure to make regular checks on your caravan but you should have no trouble with it. You should also find a winterisation guide in your caravan's manual.


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