‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads. And mama in her kerchief and I in my cap, had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap!
When out on the roof there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutter, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of a new-fallen snow gave a lustre of midday to objects below, when what to my wondering eyes should appear, my beloved RV had not been winterized… OH MY DEAR!
Even if you are not storing your RV in the frozen tundra regions of the country, taking a few precautions and getting your rig ready for even a short storage period is important to help extend the life of the batteries, prevent UV degradation, and reduce failures further down the road. Below are some tips for winterizing your RV and getting your rig ready for the long winter ahead.
If you own a motorized RV it’s recommended you fill the fuel tank before storage which will reduce the condensation that could lead to rust and a clogged fuel filter. It’s also a good idea to add a fuel stabilizer; check with your chassis manufacturer for their recommendation. Make sure all fluid levels are full and the proper antifreeze ratio is correct. It’s also a good idea to place a strip of cardboard under the windshield wipers to keep them from sticking to the glass.
Inflate the tires to proper tire inflation, and if you are storing a rig on blacktop or a surface that is suspect to chemicals, place a piece of plastic or plywood underneath to prevent “leaching.” It’s also a good idea to cover the tires to reduce UV degradation.
There has been much discussion on the weight applied to tires during storage and developing a “flat spot.” Tire manufacturers have recently changed their opinion and there has been no concrete evidence of such an effect. I still think it’s a good idea to use your leveling jacks to relieve the pressure though. Consult your owner’s manual for leveling jack procedures and recommendations for storage.
Even in above freezing temperatures it’s a good idea to either get rid of all the water in the tanks, lines, and water heater, or add RV antifreeze. Removing all the water can be done manually by opening all the drain valves, turning on the pump and opening the faucets, and taking the drain plug out of the water heater. However it’s best to purchase an air hose adapter that screws onto the city water fill and and then open all the faucets, toilet, shower, and take out the drain plug on the water heater. If you have a water filter under the sink, don’t forget to remove that as well.
Otherwise, you can add RV antifreeze throughout the system. Just remember to switch the water heater by-pass or you’ll need 6 or more gallons of antifreeze to fill that as well.
Get rid of any food item in cupboards, pantries, and in the refrigerator. Even items like canned goods and dry packaged food can freeze and explode or attract rodents. It’s best to remove everything. If your RV is being stored in a non-secure location, remove the TV, DVD player, tools, and any other valuable items that are easy to unhook and run away with. Prop open the refrigerator and open a can of DampRid to control moisture and condensation. Make sure all roof vents are closed as well. Remove any batteries from clocks, smoke detectors, and other accessories.
Shut the valve of your propane tank at the tank itself to ensure no propane can travel through the rig to an appliance. Cover the valves and regulator if they are exposed to the elements.
If you are storing your RV and have access to electricity, your batteries will receive a charge from the converter; however they can still sulfate if not properly charged if stored longer than one month. It is recommended to conduct a multistage charge once a month; however this requires a special type converter or large inverter. Note: if you are plugged into electrical power it’s a good idea to turn all the circuit breakers off except the converter.
If you are not plugged into electricity, your batteries will lose charge and start to sulfate quickly. In this case it’s recommended to remove them and store in a warmer, dry place with a proper charger. A good option is using a Battery Minder either plugged into an electrical source, or the model with solar panels if you will have access to the sun.
Be careful not to park your rig next to a tree due to the sap and danger of damage from a limb falling. If you are not storing the rig in a covered storage it’s a good idea to use a cover. The newer covers are made of lightweight material and are fairly easy to install. The cover also helps keep moisture out and protects against UV degradation to the roof material and sealants. Make sure all compartments are shut tight and sealed properly. Make sure the awning is clean and completely dry before rolling it up for storage.
Check all vents, look for any gaps, and take precautions for rodent control. There are several methods, some like moth balls placed around wheels and inside compartment, although the smell may last for a long time after storage. Some like using the traps or even bait. A new product on the market is Mouse Free – a spray containing a mint extract that has received great reviews.
Remember, taking a little bit of time getting your RV ready for storage now will help reduce annoying repairs and maintenance later on down the road. Now tuck your RV in for a long winter’s nap and count down the days until spring!
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