It’s that time of year when all of the magazines tell us how to safely store and winterise our motorhomes. I’ll do exactly that in a minute, but before I do, I thought it better to have a go at encouraging you to use it throughout the winter months because a motorhome sat on your drive for weeks or months on end is a sad sight and certainly doesn’t do it any good.
There is a lot you can do in the winter, and you learn by reading the forums that plenty of Funsters take UK city breaks during the winter.
Stopping at cities like Bath, Canterbury, Oxford and Harrogate. The Lake District is also popular, and while you will never be alone at the lakes, the fewer number of tourists in the darkest winter makes it so much more magical.
Getting away for the Christmas holidays is popular for both touring around in places like Scotland who really know how to bring in a New Year and parking up on friends and families’ drives.
You are much less of a burden on friends and family when you have your bedroom on the drive. It’s also a little escape pod too if you want to get out of playing late night charades or twister.
Then there are those countless numbers who head south for the sun. Some attend the large permanent rallies run by big clubs in Southern Europe, but most just do their own thing, staying wherever they can find a bit of sun, which invariably means Spain, Portugal or Morocco.
If you use your van in the UK over the winter, don’t get caught out by surprise frosts. It’s easily done; you arrive home late and tired on Sunday after a weekend away, lock the van and go into the house. While you sleep, the temperature plummets and things freeze up.
Check the forecast and if there is a danger of frost, leave the hot water and the heating on low. You can drain down the next day.
If you really can’t get away, there are a few things you need to do. Follow these steps to keep your van safe over winter.
Wash the Motorhome.
Then apply a good coat or two of wax. Even those motorhomes stored inside will benefit from this.
Completely drain the water system.
Some have taps or bungs outside. Older motorhomes should be emptied by the pump and some modern ones have a simple switch or lever to completely drain the tank. Ensure the Fresh and waste tanks are completely empty. It’s best to leave all taps in the ‘on’ position. Though if micro-switched, make sure the master battery switch is off, and taps switched off before you switch the power back on.
Drain your water heater.
You may need to read your handbook for this, as there are many types. It is important that it is completely empty as frost will damage it and replacements are very costly. If you don’t know how to do this, take a photo of your water heater and post it in the forums, someone will be able to help.
Remove any inline water filters.
Wet filters can freeze and may damage your system. Some filters are best kept wet when stored in a frost free environment.
Empty the toilet.
A used cassette that had been fermenting for three months will not be pleasant to return to. Wash it with hot soapy water inside and out, when its dry, put some olive oil on the blade of the cassette and then leave it in place with the blade open.
Fully charge batteries.
If you are definitely not moving your van for months, hook them to an intelligent battery charger/conditioner. Don’t forget to check the electrolyte levels in lead-acid batteries and top up if necessary. Some people remove the habitation batteries and store them somewhere warm and dry,
Turn all the gas isolation valves off. Turn your gas bottles off.
Give it a thorough wash and dry, then leave it with the door open. It does not have to be open much, but no matter how clean it is, do not leave it closed or the smell and triffid growth that occurs in three months will astound you!
Dry Cell Batteries.
Remove batteries from wall clocks, smoke alarms and detectors, etc.
Thoroughly clean food cupboards.
Motorhomes get laid up at about the same time that mice come in from the fields looking for somewhere warm and cosy. It’s difficult to stop them getting in, but do not invite them to stay by leaving them a food source such as a bag of pasta, rice or cornflakes in a locker. This will only encourage them to stay for the winter!
Chocolate Biscuit Test.
If you check the van regularly, then leave a tiny piece of chocolate biscuit on the floor. Whenever you see it, smile, you are free of vermin. Pop in and it’s not there and you know you have a problem. If you leave your van in storage and don’t visit it for weeks on end, leave a few baited traps instead of a biscuit. Ones that kill instantly are best,don’t use live catch traps unless you can check the trap every day. Check out this article about keeping mice out of your motorhome.
Check the roll out awnings
Give them a good wash and then ensure that they are fully dry before leaving them rolled up for the winter.
Check Tyre Pressures
Pump tyres to the maximum pressure rating as stated in your handbook or on the tyre wall. An extra couple of psi won’t hurt and will account for losses, but check periodically. Consider covering the tyres to keep out the harmful UV rays. Some people say this is a waste of time in a UK winter. But even if it is, it keeps alloy wheels nice and clean.
Cover all outside vents
Some vents like fridges may have specially made covers, so use these. A bit of polythene and tape to secure all vents from leaves, spiders, insects and the weather is a good idea.
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