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Index : Caravanning and Motorhome Articles : Winterising Your Caravan when Not in Use - by CaravanGuard

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Winterising Your Caravan when Not in Use

If youíre not planning to use your touring caravan through the winter months then itís vital that you take certain precautions to ensure it will be well protected during the colder months, and be in great condition when you come to use it again at the start of a new season.

In this guest article Neil Walker, from caravan and motorhome insurance specialists Caravan Guard explains what precautions you should take.

Ensure the system is fully drained down

The most important consideration when preparing your tourer for winter is to make sure all water is removed from both the waste and fresh water systems as this has the potential to freeze and expand during sub-zero temperatures, causing your caravan pipes to crack or burst. Set any taps inside your caravan to open and make sure any exterior taps are too to make sure any water left can run out of the caravan.

Once thatís done you may also want to use a small amount of anti-freeze in the bathroom and kitchen plug holes to make sure any last drops of water left in U-Bends wonít freeze.

Itís also important that you drain and clean the caravanís cassette toilet, using lots of clean water to flush out the pipes, before draining it fully. You might then want to apply a little bit of maintenance spray (Thetford make versions of this) to the toilet seals and blade to ensure it doesnít stick or corrode over the colder months.

Damp is the enemy

Condensation and damp can build up on the inside of your caravan over the winter months, and in the short term can cause soft furnishings and carpets to get a little mouldy but in the long term can create much more serious issues if left untreated, with woodwork and the bodyshell itself being at danger in serious cases.

The best way to stop this happening is to place bowls of salt inside the caravan, which act as dehumidifiers over the winter months, prop any cushions up in the middle of the caravan, and ensure all mattresses have air circulating around them.

Internal doors, cupboards and draws should also be propped open to allow some air to circulate and you should completely clean out and empty the fridge freezer using a weak mix of bicarbonate of soda and warm water, before propping open so air can circulate.

Protect from the weather

It doesnít matter if your caravan is going to be stored at home or on a storage site, protecting your caravan from high winds and the worst of the weather should be your top priority over winter. If storing at home a caravan porch can achieve this for a relatively cheap price, and will guard your van from falling snow and rain.

If you store your caravan on a storage site (or donít want to build a caravan porch at home) then a breathable cover for your caravan is a great way to protect the exterior of your tourer. Itís really important that you buy a breathable one though as you want something which isnít only waterproof and keeps the elements out, but also allows air to circulate.

A plastic cover doesnít let air in and as such can cause condensation between the cover and the outside of your van, completely negating all your hard work!

Look after your wheels

Having your caravan stood in one place over winter can put a lot of stress on certain areas of your caravanís tyres, leading to them becoming warped, damaged or cracked. If you intend on keeping your van in one place and not moving it then you need to take some simple precautions to make sure the tyres are in full working order when you next come to use it in spring.

A simple way to spread the stress across the tyre is to move the caravan every now and again, as this ensures different parts of the tyre are taking the strain rather than focussing on one bit. Checking the caravanís tyre pressures are set correctly will also help with tyre preservation over winter.

Winter wheels are another option open to you. These replace your existing wheels completely with square metal holders, and have the benefit of increasing security by making it extremely difficult to steal the van (providing the actual wheels are securely stored away from the caravan).

Empty, clean, vermin free

If you arenít using your caravan then no one else should be, right? Well unless you take a few simple precautions a few furry critters could be making it their home through winter. Vermin such as mice and rats are attracted to food crumbs so ensure all cupboards are fully cleaned out and all foods removed.

You may also want to give the caravan itself a thorough clean before laying it up for the winter, applying a protective wax or polish (companies such as Fenwickís or AutoGlymís caravan specific products) to help protect the van through winter, especially if you wonít be using a caravan cover.

This is particularly important if you arenít using a caravan cover as it will give water and dirt nothing to hold on to, and make that first spring clean much easier next season.

Final things to check, and security

When your caravan is out of use during the winter months it is vital that doors and windows are shut and your security is engaged (this is usually a requirement of your caravan insurance also). If you have a tracker or alarm which uses the caravanís leisure battery power then you might have to connect an external power source to keep it running properly, or give it a sporadic charge over winter.

If you only have mechanical security devices which donít need electricity in order to function then it might be a good idea to remove your tourerís battery altogether and store it in your house or garage on trickle charge (or as recommended by the battery manufacturer) to keep it in good nick over winter.

You should also disconnect gas bottles and place them away from the caravan (usually in a shed or garage) to avoid them leaking over winter, ensuring any valves are securely fastened.

This article was provided by caravan insurance specialists Caravan Guard

Further Reading and Advice

Please also see this article on preparing your caravan for winter, also with some handy care tips if you are planning winter touring.

Index : Caravanning and Motorhome Articles : Winterising Your Caravan when Not in Use - by CaravanGuard



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