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Caravan in winter


cdb1984
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This is our first winter with our van (hobby 610 premium)

 

We do use it during winter occasionally but what is the general consensus as to what to do when it’s not being used?  I’ve drained it down so the van is nice and dry. I have left it plugged in on the driveway and run the air conditioner on reverse cycle for 8 hours a week to dehumidify it. (Not damp in any case but more a a precaution) and I have been leaving the underfloor heating on to make sure it doesn’t get too cold in there. 
 

Is there anything else we should be doing? I’m also a bit worried about the possibility of rodents getting in.

 

any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated:) 

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We put all the bedding and towels in vacuum sealed bags, and remove all foodstuffs and liquids (shampoos, shower gels, wash up and laundry liquids). The van is connected to the mains at home with the charger on (I switch it off occasionally to rest the thing).  If we have a penetrating frost I put a 500 watt heater on for a few hours. 

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Maybe leave cupboards open a bit to allow ventilation.  Possibly take any detachable soft furnishing into a dry storage place.  

We have our van at home and apart from draining liquids do nothing more than open doors a bit.  Never had any issues with any caravan.  

Heating and running air con won't do any harm of course but it's debatable whether needed. 

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Given how many vents caravans have, it’s doubtful if using the air conditioner to dehumidify actually does anything but burn power. 
I have mixed feelings about keeping any heating on. I used to do this many years ago, but haven’t been able to for some years, without any issues. However, only yesterday I tried a Floe drain down kit and was quite surprised just how much water I got out.  It was realising that the pipe work layout created trap areas that could only be drained by breaking joints or blowing out that convinced me to invest in the Floe.  
it would seem to me that if you can keep heating on for frost protection it can’t harm anything but your wallet, but could save you lots of money and potential agro from frost damage 

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We use ours, but often late November and December will see it not moving.

 

We just drain it down. I should probably take the liquids in plastic bottles out in case they freeze solid but I've not had it happen yet. Never heat it and don't use damp traps.  I think if you can at least get inside it once a month you should be alright.

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Ventilation is all that is needed. Drain the domestic water system and toilet rinse tank, Slightly open fridge and freezer box doors to allow them to vent, and open cupboard doors to allow air to circulate them. Move soft furnishings away from walls. The fixed ventilation designed into modern caravans as adequate to allow air changes, provided cupboards are not stuffed.

We half close all the blinds (including roof blinds) to cut down the amount of radiated heat from sunlight, as we have found it warms up a bit too much even on quite cool days. This is to avoid the daily internal air temperature changes.

We have done the same for almost 50 years of caravan ownership. We never use a heater or dehumidifier, as we believe it's simply a waste of energy.

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If it is standing for more than a month, it is as well to move it at least a quarter of a turn of the wheels to help prevent flat spots. Unless it is very windy and assuming the caravan is on the flat release the handbrake in very cold weather as the brakes can seize, although the risk is low. 

Leave all cupboard and bed hatches slightly open to help airflow.

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Much good advice above although I am wary of leaving any sprung items permanently tensioned for a long period. 'Return' springs/tensioners on blinds and cupboard hinges may lose some of their inherent 'springiness' if left permanently tensioned.

Life is not a rehearsal . . .:)

Porsche Cayenne S Diesel & Knaus StarClass 695. Previously Audi S4 Avant & Elddis Super Sirocco

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2 hours ago, Lost in the wilderness said:

However, only yesterday I tried a Floe drain down kit and was quite surprised just how much water I got out.  It was realising that the pipe work layout created trap areas that could only be drained by breaking joints or blowing out that convinced me to invest in the Floe.  
it would seem to me that if you can keep heating on for frost protection it can’t harm anything but your wallet, but could save you lots of money and potential agro from frost damage 

Out of interest, has anyone experienced problems with the residual amount of water which would otherwise be left in the pipes? Surely if opening the conventional drains open wasn't enough many more people would have problems?

 

Also, any issues draining down the van on the last outing of the season and leaving the taps / drains open on the journey home? The movement would surely help promote moving this water out of the pipes.

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8 minutes ago, ChertseyMike said:

Out of interest, has anyone experienced problems with the residual amount of water which would otherwise be left in the pipes? Surely if opening the conventional drains open wasn't enough many more people would have problems?

 

Also, any issues draining down the van on the last outing of the season and leaving the taps / drains open on the journey home? The movement would surely help promote moving this water out of the pipes.

 

Movement helps but does not get all the water out.

I have found that after returning home with the drains and taps open, the floe system still removes well over a litre of water.

Removing the shower head and blowing down the hose does pretty much the same thing.

Edited by hp100425ev
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1 hour ago, ChertseyMike said:

Also, any issues draining down the van on the last outing of the season and leaving the taps / drains open on the journey home? The movement would surely help promote moving this water out of the pipes.

 

That's all we do and never had any issues. Once had two taps damaged but I think that was when I forgot to drain the system at all.

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1 hour ago, Wildwood said:

If it is standing for more than a month, it is as well to move it at least a quarter of a turn of the wheels to help prevent flat spots. Unless it is very windy and assuming the caravan is on the flat release the handbrake in very cold weather as the brakes can seize, although the risk is low. 

Leave all cupboard and bed hatches slightly open to help airflow.

 

Rotating wheels is a waste of time. If flat spots do occur when standing for extended periods, they will soon be ironed out next time the caravan is towed any distance, Dealers won't move any caravan standing for maybe months on their forecourts, either.

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5 hours ago, cdb1984 said:

I’m also a bit worried about the possibility of rodents getting in.

 

any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated:) 


CDB1984, we had reports of mice on our storage site a few years back, and I did find a sponge that appeared to have been nibbled. So I sprayed some peppermint oil around possible access points, and also sprayed Jeyes fluid on ground around the steady legs and wheels. A couple of other ‘vanners I spoke to onsite had trouble with mice this last winter, but  my preventative measures seem to have been successful.

 

         image.jpeg.7ad268dce515bec0d120a8379c240ad2.jpeg              image.jpeg.380bfcae90f0e72c72038ccfc438b9b9.jpeg


 

Re your request for tips and advice - this is the check-list that I use. Of course, not all items will apply to your particular van or situation … … 

 

1.     Thoroughly clean all surfaces, cooker & fridge

2.     Open locker doors for ventilation

3.     Open fridge & freezer doors

4.     Pull cushions & mattress away from walls

5.     Check that vent holes are not covered

6.     Remove batteries from items not in use

7.     Close window blinds ¾ 

8.     Fully close curtains & sky-light blinds

9.     Empty water system using Floe

10.  Leave all taps, fully up & in midway position

11.  Clean and store the water pipe, uncoiled

12.  Drain aquarolls & waste hog and leave the caps off

13.  Clean the toilet cassette, oil the seals and leave blade open

14.  Drain toilet flush tank

15.  Seal 13-pin plug with spray or vaseline (not WD40)

16.  Switch off the main switch on control panel

17.  Remove radio fascia

18.  Vaseline battery terminals

19.  Disconnect gas cylinders and cover pig tail end

20.  Check tyre pressures

21.  Leave handbrake off

22.  Fully extend the hitch

23.  Check all windows & roof-lights are shut

24.  Ensure covers are tight on water inlet & flue

25.  Fit winter covers to fridge vents

26.  Cover external drain pipe ends

27.  Leave van sloping for rain run-off

28.  Check movers are off the wheels

29.  Fit the wheel lock & hitch lock

30.  Lock main van door & all outside lockers

31.  Spray mouse repellant near vents and steadies

32.  Remove all valuables & documents

33.  Remove all tea, coffee, sugar, food, etc

34.  Remove all throws, sheets duvet, pillows, etc

 

Hope this helps, Jim.

 

 

Edited by -Jim-
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In many years of ownership only ever just opened vents never blown down completely.  I think the problems occur if any expansion has no where to go. i.e. if you leave the pipes full of water.  If you drain down normally  then maybe there is water trapped but any expansion through freezing will travel along the empty bit of the pipe. Well that's my theory :rolleyes:

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Unless there is a small amount of water present in the water inlet non return valve! On my Truma inlet there is a very small and fragile bit if plastic that looks like a spiders web and it holds the neoprene flap in place. If water is present and  it freezes it breaks a couple of the thin webs and the neoprene flap, that prevents water flowing back into the aqua roll isn’t held in the right place, so water does flow back. Of course you cannot buy just that tiny piece, it’s a whole new inlet assembly.

 

I imagine you can work out how I know that :(

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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3 hours ago, ChertseyMike said:

Also, any issues draining down the van on the last outing of the season and leaving the taps / drains open on the journey home? The movement would surely help promote moving this water out of the pipes.

My normal procedure prior to travel, is to open the yellow drain down, then open all taps fully. Despite this, I still got a lot of water out using the Floe system. 
On my van (Bailey Unicorn 4) the water  inlet point has a “T” on the inside. The pipes from this T then drop down to floor level. On the R/H side, it goes to boiler and cold taps, but on left side, it goes to a valve / pressure switch and pressure tank. The far side of this lot then rises up to the underside of the seat frame and runs to the onboard tank.  Clearly this zone is a water trap area, and susceptible to frost damage. In my opinion a very poor layout, and something I plan to address in the future   

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1 hour ago, CraigP2005 said:

In many years of ownership only ever just opened vents never blown down completely.  I think the problems occur if any expansion has no where to go. i.e. if you leave the pipes full of water.  If you drain down normally  then maybe there is water trapped but any expansion through freezing will travel along the empty bit of the pipe. Well that's my theory :rolleyes:

Have to say that's pretty much my theory too. I understand that these blow down devices are not hugely expensive so perhaps worth it for the piece of mind that getting as much water out the system as possible gives. Just not convinced that potential for damage is high so long as the drain down is used correctly.

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Have always used a Floe to purge the system of any standing water. The one year my mate forgot to do it was a particularly severe  winter and guess what,  come Spring he fired up the water system and found two major water leaks from burst pipes/seals.

I always get nearly 2 litres of water out - better safe than sorry!

Dehumidifiers are a waste of time, money and effort!

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I have often thought over the years when folk have asked about winterising the van,  it must make a difference which side of the M4 you live , as  where I live the last time we had more than a week of snow was in 2010 whereas further north they can see snow for most of the winter.

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8 minutes ago, joanie said:

........ whereas further north they can see snow for most of the winter.

You cannot be serious!!!! 

I am in South Cumbria and in the past five years we've not had enough snow to make a snowball. 

There is snow on the mountain tops but very few roads and houses on the tops. After having a superb Norwegian sledge for ten years for our grandchildren, this summer I gave it away as we don't see enough snow to use it. 

Graham

Unless otherwise stated all posts are my personal opinion 

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2 hours ago, WispMan said:

You cannot be serious!!!! 

I am in South Cumbria and in the past five years we've not had enough snow to make a snowball.  !

There is snow on the mountain tops but very few roads and houses on the tops. After having a superb Norwegian sledge for ten years for our grandchildren, this summer I gave it away as we don't see enough snow to use it. 

:lol::D that's done it now,  it may be a white Christmas after all !

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Open the taps drain the hot and cold water tanks, open the fridge check the tyres are pumped up occasionally and that is all we've ever done-oh and pop the shower head on the floor so it drains. Never had any issues .

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21 hours ago, Lutz said:

 

Rotating wheels is a waste of time. If flat spots do occur when standing for extended periods, they will soon be ironed out next time the caravan is towed any distance, Dealers won't move any caravan standing for maybe months on their forecourts, either.

I know this is something I have been told, but have never experienced it. For those who do not know it might be a frightening experience and for me I would prefer to avoid it. I have also heard suggestions that it can lead to cracking of the sidewalls but I am not sure if this is true.

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I’m with Lutz on this one. Think how long new cars (as well as second hand caravans) stand immobile on garage forecourts, or indeed in storage on an airfield or similar, prior to being shipped to dealerships. 

 

By all means rotate the wheels if you feel it to be advantageous but I certainly won’t be bothering to do so. 

 

Do any of the tyre manufacturers recommend their products should should be rotated to avoid these possible perils?? That should tell you how likely “flat spots” or sidewall cracking is.  

 

One thing is for certain though, it cannot do any harm. :D

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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On 03/12/2021 at 14:30, CraigP2005 said:

In many years of ownership only ever just opened vents never blown down completely.  I think the problems occur if any expansion has no where to go. i.e. if you leave the pipes full of water.  If you drain down normally  then maybe there is water trapped but any expansion through freezing will travel along the empty bit of the pipe. Well that's my theory :rolleyes:

:Plus1:

 

For those who remember glass milk bottles with foil caps on the doorstep in the depths of winter… if the milk froze, its expansion never broke the glass, it simply expanded upwards, lifting the weak spot foil cap from the bottle.

 

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/222154194103512466/

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