Although there are plenty of opportunities for caravanning during the winter, many simply do not have the time or prefer to holiday during the warmer months.
If your caravan won’t be in use over the winter there are a few precautions you need to take to winterise it. This will ensure your caravan survives the cold, saving you from costly repairs.
Winterising your caravan water system
One of the first areas to focus on when winterising your caravan is to drain the water system. By opening all the taps and removing the drain plug you ensure there is no water left in the system that could freeze when the temperature drops.
It can take an hour or so for the system to completely drain but when it’s finished, replace the plug but leave the taps open. This will prevent a build up of pressure in the system.
For gadget lovers, or those who want greater peace of mind, drainage devices could be an option. These use an adaptor to fit to your caravan’s water inlet, building up pressure in the system to blow out any remaining water that could be stuck in the pipes.
Before you use it you should drain the water system as much as possible, opening taps as you would normally. You can close these again before connecting the system. Using a 12V compressor (or even a foot pump), the drainage device will blow air through your caravan water system, removing any water left in the pipes.
You should always check the manufacturer’s guidelines when doing this, as caravan water pipes are usually only tested to a certain pressure and going over this could cause damage.
Once the pressure in your system has reached the correct level, you can drain your taps. A top tip is to start with the hot taps just to make sure the air has gone through your water heater.
Be careful when doing this as the water may come out with some force and you don’t want to splash your clothes or furniture.
You should allow the compressor to build up the pressure in your system each time you empty it. But don’t forget to turn your taps to the cold side to empty too, as these use different pipes. It’s also worth draining the water heater one last time just to make sure.
Drainage devices like this are a pricier option than manually draining your caravan water system but they do a good job, providing you with peace of mind knowing that there’s no water left in your system over winter.
It’s also a good idea to empty and clean the toilet. Using Thetford’s maintenance spray, or a similar alternative, on the toilet components will prevent corrosion during cold months.
Winterising the inside of your caravan
Other important things to remember when winterising your caravan include opening all inner doors and cupboards to ensure a good airflow. This should help prevent damp and bad smells.
All cupboards, refrigerators and freezers should be thoroughly cleaned with an anti-bacterial liquid. As an extra precaution you may wish to leave a dehumidifier inside the van over winter, though this will need checking and changing regularly.
If you can, remove upholstery and store it inside. Similarly, if you can remove gas bottles and store them in a secure and well-ventilated location you should do so. Some caravan storage sites will not accept your caravan if there are gas bottles inside as this may break fire regulations. Don’t forget to remove the leisure battery and keep it charged up regularly to ensure it retains a good life.
Finally, remove any valuables from your caravan and ensure all doors and windows are locked.
Winterising the outside of your caravan
When winterising your caravan there’s a lot to be said for just giving it a good clean. Thoroughly washing and drying your awning will ensure it does not get mouldy over winter, while giving the caravan a good clean and polish will keep it in tip-top condition and make it easier for you to get back on the road when summer rolls around. There are plenty of caravan cleaning products available specifically for winter care.
The handbrake should be left off to prevent it sticking. If you do this though, caution should be taken if there’s any chance of the van moving.
Shock absorber rods can be cleaned and coated with Vaseline to keep them in good condition. However, you must remember to remove the Vaseline before you use the caravan.
It’s a good idea to replace your wheels with winter wheels. This will stop it from moving anywhere but also prevent damage to your existing tyres. When standing for a long time with the weight of the caravan on them, tyres can become worn, seriously reducing their life. The cost of a set of winter wheels can be well worth it for the extended life you’ll get from your normal tyres.
You may also want to use a breathable caravan cover to keep your van in good condition, free from dirt, water, frost and UV light.
Throughout the winter
As well as keeping your leisure battery charged, it’s a good idea to periodically check your caravan for security and any signs of damage. You will be able to make any adjustments to the security as you see fit, as well as give it an extra polish or clean should the weather outside be frightful.
Going to the effort of winterising your caravan can save you a lot of money in costly repairs, extending the life of your caravan and leaving you with peace of mind.
Sign up to the newsletter
For the latest Caravan Talk news and special offers subscribe to our newsletterSign up