The winter months can draw on and if you have not ensured
your van is ready for the frost and months of idleness then you could be facing
big problems and even expensive repair bills.
We have listed a few simple pointers to help your winter pass as trouble
free as possible.
The first two sections below (Internal Pre-Winter Guide-lines and External
Pre-Winter Guide-lines) should be followed if you are not going to be
using your van during the winter, the last section (Care for your van if
using over the winter period) should be followed if you plan to carry on using it throughout the colder months.
Internal Pre-Winter Guide-lines
The Water System – completely drain the hot and cold water system in
the van, you can do this by ensuring all the taps are open and removing the
drain plug, normally on the outside of the van (see owners handbook). This
process can take up to an hour so please be patient.
A good time to drain the system is before you leave your last outing of
the year, the journey home should ensure all water is drained. Once back ensure
that the bung is replaced in the drain plugs but leave the taps open, to stop
the build up of pressure in the system.
2. If your van has a water filter fitted either fully
remove it or leave a note to replace it next season. If you fit the new one
before the winter period it could get damp and damaged by the frost.
3. Drain all water carriers completely and leave the plugs
off to avoid unwanted smells.
4. The Toilet – Completely drain the water holding tank
into the cassette and remove the cassette for draining and cleaning.
Once the cassette is fully cleaned out and rinsed use Thetford’s
Maintenance Spray or similar to coat the cassette seal and blade. This will help
avoid corrosion over the winter months (this is available from your local
dealers). Using alternative chemicals may result in permanent damage to the
seals. Leave the blade open to avoid sticking, this also helps prevent the
cassette from being stolen.
5. Plug all water inlets and waste outlets to avoid smell
and creepy crawlies coming in.
6. To take care of
your upholstery, remove all cushions, pillows and bedding and if possible, store
them in your home. If not remove the seats and back cushions and place them, end
on end in the centre walkway of the caravan.
7. Open all internal
doors and cupboards to allow the air to circulate.
8. Thoroughly clean
out all cupboards and ensure that no crumbs, opened packets remain in the van.
Storing tinned foods and non-perishable items should be OK over winter.
9. Thoroughly clean
the fridge/freezer with bicarb of soda or anti-bacterial liquid.
Leave the door propped open to avoid pressure build up and a stagnant smell.
10. Ensure all
windows and vents are locked shut and unobstructed and are secure from mice,
spiders etc. Close all blinds/curtains for extra security.
11. Remove your
leisure battery if you can and keep the charge topped up every 5-6 weeks, please
note if you van has an alarm these normally are run off their own separate
batteries, so removal of the leisure battery should not affect the security,
(you will need to check out your own van to ensure this is the case)
12. If you can
remove all gas cylinders do so and store in an adequately ventilated location.
If not ensure that all cylinders are fully turned off and the gas
compartment is locked. Remember when storing Butane gas, it begins to freeze at
temperatures below 4 degrees C. Propane does not.
13. Multi-pin plug sockets should be protected from the
weather, but not fully sealed as this can encourage condensation. Some moisture
repellent sprays, such as WD 40 can damage plastics so we suggest a Tri-Flo
product or Vaseline applied around the sockets.
14. If the radio is of the removable type, take it out over
winter and store in the house.
15. Carry out periodic inspections of your van over winter
to ensure that no damp is in the van and to ensure it is holding out against the
Suggestion by another UKCampsite.co.uk member : I've had a static van for around 40 years and do most of what you suggest for a tourer. Another essential thing that helps very much is to leave bowls of salt throughout the Van. Sometimes if the winter has been really bad the bowls have water over the top of the salt level but mostly its just damp. Very inexpensive way to keep the van dry and everyone I've told this to now swears by it. Never had a damp van yet.
External Pre-Winter Guide-lines
1. You can increase the tyre life, suspension and the
running gear on your van if you take the weight off the wheels for just a few
weeks of the year. To do this support the axles with axles stands and remove the
wheels and bolts for storage (Please note some insurance companies may not cover
this in the policy). If this is done store the wheels out of direct sunlight and
in a place where contact with oils and greases is avoided and cover with natural
materials such as Hessian, not plastic.
2. If your van is fitted with shock absorbers clean the
rods and coat in Vaseline, don’t forget to remove the Vaseline at the
beginning of next season.
3. Ensure that the handbrake is left off, to avoid the
4. Ensure that the awning is washed and clean and
completely dry before storing for winter, if you do not do this it could result
in mouldy patches on the awning, or worse. It is better to store the awning in
the house rather than the van if you can.
5. Thoroughly cleaning and polish your van makes it easier
after winter to keep the van looking shiny. There are many products on the
market to use and a suggestion is Fenwick’s Overwintering. Using a product
like this or similar protects your
caravan during winter storage, it helps to protect against algae, mould, fungus,
airborne pollutants, acid rain and bird lime.
6. You can cover
your van and if you do this use a breathable cover because if it is not, the
cover will do more harm than good.
7. Coat window seals with olive oil to help prevent
Care for your van if using over the winter period
1. At the end of each outing always drain the water system,
toilet system and water heater. Remove the water filter as damp can turn to
frost and cause permanent damage to the filter.
2. If you wish to leave water in the system over winter use
pipe lagging to protect the water pipes.
3. As Butane Gas freezes at below 4 degrees C, you must use
4. Keep the leisure battery charged and if in the same
place for long periods, move the electric hook up cable to avoid it freezing.
5. Ensure that all mechanical parts of the van are in top
working order, including the brakes, the jockey wheel, the levellers, handbrake
6. Ensure any moving parts are well oiled and maintained.
7. Find caravan sites to use throughout the winter with our open all year campsites search.
Following these guide lines will help in the safe and happy storage of your
van over the winter period. Please note UKCampsite.co.uk cannot be held
responsible for any advice given - if in doubt please consult an expert.