Summer has come to an end and the camping season is over for most of us. Before you put your trailer or motorhome in storage, make sure you take the time to protect it for the winter.
While it seems like a lot of work, the extra effort you put in now will protect your vehicle from deterioration. With a little bit of elbow grease, your RV will last for many camping seasons to come.
Our 10-step RV winterizing guide
- RV antifreeze
- wrench set
- screwdriver set
- wax / protectant
- tire blocks / jacks
- dehumidifier/absorbent material (silica gel or something similar)
- pressure washer (optional)
- tarp (optional)
Step 1: Drain the water from your pipes
When the weather cools down, water will expand and crack your pipes. To stop this from happening, drain all the water from the heater, the tanks and water lines. Open all of your faucets while draining to remove all of the water completely from the system. Then, pump RV antifreeze into all of your tanks, lines and drains. Due to Canada’s subzero temperatures, it’s important to use RV antifreeze. Make sure it’s rated to -50 degrees Celsius.
Tip: Don’t have the time to winterize your RV by yourself? You can pay an RV store to do it for you.
Step 2: Check your seals
Leaky roofs can cause major problems to the inside of your RV. The best way to avoid problems is to inspect your seals and ensure that there are no leaks. This includes examining your roof, slide-outs and windows to look for any holes or leaks.
Tip: If you see water damage inside your RV, look above or beside the damage to find the leak.
Step 3: Remove your RV batteries
Winter and batteries don’t go well together. Unlike traditional vehicles, most RVs use lead-acid batteries – meaning that they are not sealed. If you plan on putting your RV in storage, take out your batteries and put them in a cool, dry place or on a charger. Remember to turn off all of your breaker switches 1st, before you disconnect your batteries.
Tip: Always disconnect your battery from the negative cable 1st.
Step 4: Protect your RV’s exterior
Clean the outside of your RV and inspect it for any cracks. Use an RV sealant to fix the crack(s) and let it dry completely. Then, apply a wax to protect your vehicle from the harsh Canadian winters.
Step 5: Protect your awning
This one is quick and easy, but nevertheless, important. Stop mold from growing on your awning by cleaning it thoroughly and allowing it to dry completely. Awnings are made of a fabric that’s easily susceptible to dirt, sap and mold. Make sure to clean yours well and give it a much longer life.
Step 6: Unhook your propane tanks
Whether you’re storing your RV inside or outside, we recommend removing your propane tanks 1st. Store them in a well-ventilated area in order to prevent rust or damage. Walk around inside your RV and take a minute to seal off the burners and pilot light on your stove and check for other areas where the scent of propane might linger. Nobody wants an RV that smells like propane!
Tip: You can find caps at your local hardware store to help you seal off the valves on your propane tank.
Step 7: Lubricate your locks and hinges
Letting your RV sit untouched for months can cause the locks and hinges to get sticky or stop working completely. Save yourself a hassle the next camping season and lubricate all of your locks and hinges right now.
Step 8: Clean your interior
Cleaning the interior of your RV is just as important as the exterior. A clean and sanitized interior can make a world of difference when it comes to avoiding unwanted smells and rodents from entering your RV. Beyond the general vacuuming and cleaning, we recommend that you:
- clean kitchen sink
- remove all food from the fridge and cupboards
- leave fridge and cupboard doors propped open
- remove valuables to discourage thieves from entering your RV
- bleach all countertops
- clean off outdoor stoves
Tip: Put some peppermint tea bags, air fresheners or dryer sheets inside your RV to keep it smelling great while in storage.
Step 9: Tarp, cover and moisture prevention
Some people protect their RVs from snow and wind by covering them with a tarp. However, we recommend exercising caution with tarps. Most tarps are made of non-breathable materials, and this can cause moisture to get trapped underneath – leading to rust. We recommend choosing a breathable fabric cover to prevent water and condensation. You should also wrap your trailer connector in a plastic or canvas bag. After covering your RV, you can add an extra level of protection to your RV by:
- blocking the tires to prevent movement
- covering RV tires
- placing traps inside and around the vehicle to repel any unwanted critters
- putting a humidifier in the RV to reduce the moisture or add a moisture absorber
Step 10: Contact your broker
You’re almost done! Now’s the time to let your insurance broker know that you’re putting your trailer in storage. Your SGI CANADA Auto Pak may cover damage caused to your RV while in storage – as long as you meet the conditions of your policy. Your broker can help you work through the conditions. Contact them today to find out more.