Well, the weather certainly has taken a turn these last few days, if you have finished with your leisure vehicle now until next season make sure you properly winterise your vehicle to protect your self from costly maintenance bills next spring!
We will explain what you can do to winterise your leisure vehicle correctly.
Step one is the water system this is where bills can get really costly with the average top costing more than £100 and a combi boiler with frost damage is over £1000 hence this is where we need to be really thorough.
Turn the water pump off at the control panel. If you have an exterior submersible pump ensure that this is un-plugged.
Open the drain valve at the water heater.
For the Truma Ultrastore , Alde combi and Truma combi this is inside on the floor beside the heater. The yellow or red lever needs to be in the vertical position.
For any other water heater please refer to your owner’s manual.
If you have an internal cold water tank then there may also be a drain valve attached to this. If not, you will need to start your water pump until the internal tank is empty.
If you have an external water filter for instance the Truma Ultraflow remove the water filter and dispose of this you will want to replace at the start of the next season.
Any internal water filters will need protecting from the elements or will need removing from the water system also.
Open all taps. If you have a single lever mixer tap then open this midway between hot and cold this allows air into the system and forces water out via the drain tap if your toilet works from the water system press and hold the pump button for a few seconds to allow any trapped water to flow back to the drain valve.
If you have an underslung fresh and waste water tank open all external drain taps and leave in the open position, we have also had customers pour a small amount of antifreeze down sink wastes to protect waste pipes and this will in turn, make its way down to the waste water tank and protect that also.
Pull out the shower hose and disconnect the shower head. Leave the end of the shower hose in the shower tray. Blow air through the shower head and store in a safe place.
If your caravan is a little older and you have Whale Elegance taps then we advise that you unscrew the faucet, blow air through it and store in a safe place.
If you are leaving your submersible pump in the caravan over the winter then we recommend that you wrap it in a towel or similar material to prevent frost damage.
If you have an internal water pump then start this for a few seconds, by turning it on at the control panel, to remove water from the pump.
Leave the drain taps open.
An alternative and very effective way to drain the entire water system is using a Flo Drainage Kit. This uses a compressor or foot pump (not supplied) to force the water out of the system preventing issues with stagnant or freezing water in the outfit’s plumbing.
It can also cope with moving trapped water if some of the hoses sag. It is compatible with caravans, folding campers, motorhomes and static caravans and is very easy to use. Various adaptors are available to suit your particular installation.
We offer a flo winterisation service so we can guarantee all water is removed from your vehicle.
The Toilet –
Completely drain the water holding tank into the cassette via the black tube accessed via the toilet door and remove the cassette to empty and clean. Clean the cassette with Thetford Tank Cleaner and rinse out. Use Thetford Maintenance Spray to coat the cassette seal and blade. Leave the cassette blade partially open during winter this will prevent the blade from sticking shut whilst in storage.
It is always good practice to thoroughly clean your caravan or motorhome prior to putting into storage for the winter.
To help preserve the exterior of your unit and ease the chore of cleaning it before your 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’s 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 you leave it 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 than your GRP panels discolouring.
If you use your cover throughout the year and so expose it to summer sun, consider a lighter colour to help reduce heat build-up. Also expect its life expectancy to reduce. Generally, you get what you pay for here, from cheap imported products right up to premium, custom-made items not only are the custom made a much better fit the quality and workmanship is superior. Do ensure it’s the right size for your van with the doorway in the right location and provision for the protruding external fittings such as a roof aerial and gas flue. Another life-shortening aspect of caravan construction to covers is the sharp ends of aluminium awning rails and roof joint strips. The cover needs to be protected at such points with robust material to prevent premature wear. Before fitting a cover, it is essential that the surface of the unit is clean and dry, otherwise even with the softest of covers a surface layer of dirt and grit will damage your paintwork as the cover moves against the side of the unit.
Take particular care to ensure the windows are clean as the soft acrylic material scratches easily.
Ignore any advice to protect the windows with cling film before fitting the cover as this is not wise and may cause cracking to the windows.
Vacuum clean and wash down your caravan’s interior throughout. As well as getting everything clean, it’s a great way of checking you don’t leave anything untoward in a cupboard or seat base remember to check microwaves and freezers. Creating best possible air circulation is the key to keeping your interior damp free.
Cleaning the kitchen thoroughly should prevent any mould appearing here, although for the fridge it is also essential to leave the door ajar – there is usually a special catch provided for this purpose. Use products designed for caravan use, rather than normal domestic cleaning fluids, as these may cause damage to surfaces and seals in a caravan.
Cushions are best left standing upright away from the caravan walls after vacuuming. This helps aid air circulation and prevents mildew occurring, especially in units with solid ply bed bases (as opposed to slats). A further measure to keep upholstery in top condition is to cover with a breathable material such as old cotton sheets to keep the dust off. Ideally if you have room, store cushions at home in the warm, which is also a deterrent against caravan theft.
Fixed beds are best left in the open position, this aids air circulation. Consider using a temporary support to remove the bed weight from gas struts.
For blinds with any kind of spring mechanism, it’s best to leave them open, otherwise the springs are gradually stretched over a period of time and subsequently fail to work efficiently. Consider making cardboard screens for each window or closing the curtains instead.
Leaving locker and wardrobe doors open optimises ventilation.
Make sure all rooflights and windows are fully closed.
Lightly coat hinges with thin oil or water dispersant such as WD-40 to protect against rust, taking care to avoid contact with door surfaces.
Purchase damp / moisture traps and place them front middle and rear of your caravan this will prevent mould buildup
Security and parking
Make sure your caravan is safely and securely parked.
- fit any and all locks this includes hitch and wheel locks.
- Arm any alarms or trackers you may have
- Ensure all the corner steadies down.
- Consider leaving the motor mover (if you have one) engaged to the wheels as a handbrake rather than the actual handbrake this will prevent the brake shoes sticking to the drum and result in costly running gear repairs.
- Fit an A frame cover to protect your 13 pin or 7 pin plugs.
- Turn off all master switches and system shutdown buttons this will prevent the battery from over discharging
- Check on your caravan/motorhome every 2 – 3 weeks open rooflights and windows to circulate stagnant air this may be a good time to put the heating on for a few hours to get some heat back into your unit. When leaving the van ensure you return the unit back to its winterised state.
Following this guide and your manufacturers handbook should result in your leisure vehicle being ready to go when we get to next spring.
Of course, if you need any assistance in winterising your vehicle, we can help in any way we can.