If you’re not planning to use your motorhome this winter, it’s important to prepare it for winter storage by protecting it from the elements and reducing the risk of theft and damage from damp. Here Van Life Matters sets out everything you need to know about motorhome winterisation for storage.
Motorhome winter preparation is key to protecting your investment and ensuring your leisure vehicle is primed for its next outing come spring.
The following winter motorhome tips are specifically for those planning to store a motorhome for winter – for wanting to know how to winterise a motorhome for continued use through the colder months, find essential tips and advice here.
Best place to store a motorhome
You first need to consider where to store your motorhome over winter.
Options are usually storage at home or at a dedicated storage compound such as a campsite or specialist storage site.
Here’s what to look for when finding the best place to store a motorhome over winter:
- Hard-standing pitch: Avoid parking on grass for any extended period of time.
- Be wary of tress: Damage can be caused from falling branches and bird droppings.
- Security: Park bonnet-first against a wall if possible, so would-be thieves can’t attempt to tow it away and consider additional motorhome security measures.
- Motorhome insurance: Whether storing at a facility or at home, check if you’re able meet your insurers requirements.
If storing at a storage facility, look for one that has good reviews and sufficient security measures – as a minimum, you should ensure the facility has 24-hour locked access and high perimeter fencing.
Winter motorhome storage at home can be a convenient and low-cost option but you still need to consider the following security requirements:
- Preferably park your motorhome so it’s not visible from the roadside.
- Security lighting and CCTV are not only good deterrent but could prove useful should the worst happen.
- Locked gates or a drive post create additional barriers for would-be thieves.
There’s lots more information on how to protect a motorhome from theft here.
Motorhome covers: Everyone has their own thoughts on covers. While they protect your motorhome from bird droppings, leaves and tree sap, others suggest they restrict air flow and can leave marks where they rub against the body of the vehicle.
Winter motorhome maintenance
To minimise the risk of your leisure vehicle developing a mechanical problem while in lay-up, there’s a number of motorhome winterisation checks and procedures that are worth following:
- Coolant: Ensure the engine coolant contains sufficient anti-freeze.
- Fuel: Moisture can develop in the tank and fuel lines while in storage. Use a fuel stabiliser to maintain fuel quality and prevent corrosion.
- Tyres: To avoid flat spots from developing, try to move your motorhome at least once a month. Alternatively, park it on ‘tyre savers’ such as these.
- Handbrake: Leave your vehicle in gear, chock the wheels and release the parking brake to prevent it from seizing.
- Batteries: Both the vehicle and leisure batteries are at risk of becoming fully discharged while your motorhome is not in use, causing permanent battery damage. Ensure both batteries maintain charge while in storage by using a solar trickle charger or a battery maintainer. Voltage on both systems will need to be maintained individually.
- Take it for a drive: Motorhomes are built to be driven. To avoid any mechanical problems, it’s a good idea to take it for a drive at regular intervals while being stored, just far enough for the engine to reach its normal temperature. If you can’t drive it, start the engine up regularly and leave it to run until the fan comes on, and turns off again.
Ahead of cleaning your motorhome for winter storage, take out any valuable electrical items, portable equipment or personal documents.
You should also remove all traces of food, as even crumbs can encourage mould growth and attract vermin.
- Fridge: Empty and thoroughly clean the fridge, leaving the fridge door open to allow air flow while in storage.
- Hob, oven and grill:
- Cupboards: Clean out all cupboards, getting rid of any crumbs
- Upholstery and curtains: Take out soft furnishings, such as seat cushions, curtains and other fabrics, if you have somewhere warm or dry to store them. If you can’t, place seat cushions upright for improved ventilation.
- Interior rust protection: Metal parts such as hinges can be cleaned and lightly oiled to protect against rust but be careful not to get oil on any other surfaces.
- Vacuum: Vacuum the floor and upholstery before a final wipe down of hard surfaces.
SECURITY TIP: Leave blinds, curtains and cupboard doors open to show any potential thieves there is nothing worth breaking in for.
How to protect your motorhome from frost damage while in storage
To avoid frost damage to when putting your motorhome into winter storage, it’s essential you drain the water system.
To do this, open the outlets to your fresh and waste water tanks and open all internal taps, including the shower, to allow the systems to fully drain.
NEED TO KNOW: Some insurance policies make it a requirement to drain water systems over winter. Check your policy for more information.
Toilet and waste tank
When it comes to the toilet and waste tank preparation, the following procedure is widely advised:
- Empty: Ensure the toilet cassette is empty after its last use.
- Clean the bowl: Clean the bowl and cassette body with a specialist motorhome toilet cleaner. Don’t use domestic cleaning products on a toilet cassette as they may cause damage.
- Drain: For toilets that have a dedicated flush water supply tank, this tank needs to be drained using the drain tube accessed just inside the cassette housing external door. Don’t forget to remove any residual water in the cassette pump by pressing the flush button. For centrally-fed cassettes, press the flush button after draining the fresh water system.
- Clean tank: Use a specialist tank cleaning fluid in a warm water solution to soak and clean the inside of the cassette. Gently agitate and leave overnight.
- Clean the cassette valve blade and seals: Use a specialist cleaner before lightly coating them with lubricant to ensure seals remain supple.
- Drain and rinse: Drain and rinse well.
- Replace the cassette: Refit the cassette and leave the blade valve partially to stop it from sticking and allow tank ventilation.
Always ensure engines and electrical equipment are switched off when handling, connecting or disconnecting gas cylinders.
- Close/disconnect gas: Check all valves on gas cylinders are closed or, if clip-on type regulators are used, make sure they are disconnected and caps or cloths are fitted over the ends of any open pipework.
- Gas cylinder storage: If a storage facility does not allow you to store gay cylinders in your vehicles gas lock, you must store them somewhere that is well ventilated – preferably in the open air but away from buildings, drains, heat sources and corrosive materials.
NEED TO KNOW: Not all motorhome storage facilities will allow you to leave gas cylinders in the vehicle.
Motorhome condensation during storage
Moisture is a real risk during winter lay up because a damp atmosphere can create the conditions for mould and mildew to develop.
There’s a number of things you can do to minimise the risk:
- Increase ventilation: Open vents, sky lights and even a window to maintain air flow and be sure to use the extractor when showering or cooking.
- External thermal cab window screens: External thermal window covers provides insulation to the windscreen and cab doors, helping to prevent condensation by reducing the temperature difference between the inside and outside.
- Dehumidifier: A dehumidifier will reduce and maintain the level of humidity, minimising the risk of condensation. Desiccant dehumidifiers, available as self-contained disposable packs or re-usable traps with replacement desiccant, are a good choice for motorhomes. Plug-in refrigerant dehumidifiers are another option.
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