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A Guide to Caravan Winter Maintenance

We know that as the summer season draws to a close, the task of clearing out your caravan can feel like the last thing you want to do. Follow these simple steps for a pitch perfect portable home when the weather warms up again.


Clearing out your caravan

  • Remove anything that might not be so savoury a few months later and make sure that all valuable items are removed and stowed away somewhere safe.

Cleaning your caravan

  • Clean the kitchen, bathroom and fridge with bicarbonate of soda or an anti-bacterial cleaner which will help stop a build-up of mould while your caravan’s out of use.
  • Cleaning the kitchen thoroughly should prevent any mould, although for the fridge it is also essential to leave the door ajar.
  • If your caravan has a cassette toilet, this should be thoroughly drained and cleaned before storing over winter.

Avoiding a damp caravan

Moisture can cause real problems for your caravan if it builds up over the winter: damp can damage your soft furnishings and interior walls. There are a number of precautions you can take.

  • Drain the water system by opening taps and removing the drain plug on the outside of the van. Don’t forget to replace the plug, but you can leave the taps open, (for mixer taps ensure the lever is in the central position to allow both hot and cold to drain).
  • Drain the toilet’s water tank and remove the shower head, ensuring any excess water has been shaken free.
  • Store any removable cushions / mattresses in your own home if possible. If not, leave them in the centre of the caravan rather than around the edges where they are more susceptible to the damp.
  • Leave bowls of salt in a few places around the van – they can help absorb excess moisture from the air.
  • If you can, open doors and windows from time to time to allow air to circulate.
  • One of the more effective ways of achieving full drain down is to empty the system on your last stay on site and leaving any drainage points open before towing home. The final journey allows the last drops of water to leave the system.

General maintenance

  • Think about a service, now could be a good time to get your caravan serviced, while the garages are not too busy. It means your vehicle will be ready to roll as soon as you fancy heading off.
  • Oil any moving parts, such as the handbrake, before putting the van into storage. And ensure the handbrake is left off (if possible) to stop the drums sticking.
  • Taking the weight off the wheels for a few weeks by removing them and using axle stands can help extend the life of your vehicle’s suspension and tyres.
  • If you want to cover your caravan, use a breathable cover that allows the air to circulate.
  • Always use proprietary caravan cleaning agents that are designed to be kind to the various materials used in caravan construction. A pressure washer, while powerful, can direct spray under trim and damage bodywork and seals.
  • Charge the battery before storing for a long period and avoid storing the battery in a location where freezing can occur. Freezing will cause irreversible damage to the battery plates and container as the acid inside expands.
  • it is essential that the gas valves on top of the cylinders are closed or the regulators (if a clip-on type) are disconnected from the cylinders and caps or cloths are fitted over the ends of any open pipework.
  • To help preserve the exterior of your unit and ease the chore of cleaning before the first spring outing you may wish to consider either a breathable cover or the use of a protective coating, such as Fenwicks Overwintering fluid.
  • When choosing a cover it is important for it to be breathable, soft enough not to damage the caravan surface and tough enough for longevity. The alternative of a waxy protective coating has the advantage of low cost and if left on all winter it is relatively easy to wash off in spring because of the natural degradation of the coating. All caravan covers have a limited life, but some inferior products can last little more than one season. The main problem is ultra-violet light degradation. Consider the cover as sacrificial – it’s better the cover degrades rather than your GRP panels discolouring.

Storing your caravan – House-It

You will also have to decide where to store your caravan while it’s not in use: for example the choice could be between your own property and a dedicated storage site, where you will have to pay a small weekly fee.

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