Updated: Oct 24, 2019
If you don't use your caravan over the winter and are planning to leave it standing for several months it is very important to follow this best practice advice on overwintering. There are a few jobs which should be done before putting your caravan into hibernation to keep it in tip-top condition ready for next year.
It helps if you have a driveway large enough to accommodate both your caravan and car. However many people use winter caravan storage facilities when their caravan is not in use. If you intend to use storage facilities make sure you check them first to see how secure your caravan will be when stored there, and also advise your insurance company.
The first thing to do when overwintering your caravan is to remove all the contents from inside the caravan including all the caravan cushions and the mattress from the fixed bed. If they are left in the caravan they could become damp so if you have room in your house it is best to remove them.
After giving the inside of the caravan a good clean and polish (including all the appliances) you have nearly finished the inside. While overwintering your caravan make sure you leave the fridge door open to prevent mould building up inside. It’s recommended to leave all the taps in the open position and put plugs in the drain holes. That's the inside prepared for the winter.
Make sure all tanks are empty, that includes both hot and cold water. Many caravan owners opt to leave the drain taps open. Don't forget to empty your toilet flush tank as well. If any water is left in these tanks and the weather becomes really cold, the water will freeze and expand which will split the tanks.
Next when overwintering your caravan, remove the toilet cassette and give it a good clean. Warm water and a tiny amount of washing up liquid usually does the trick. Always make sure you use cleaning materials recommended by the manufacturer as unsuitable cleaning materials may cause some damage. Dry the rubber seal and then lubricate it. We usually use olive oil for this but you can get a specialised maintenance spray. Make sure you leave the blade open, then replace the cassette back into place.
Give the outside of the caravan a good wash and polish. After the caravan is dry, you can spray it with an overwintering fluid (again, check with your caravan manufacturer which are OK to use). This will give the caravan a protective coat and prevents any excess build up of grime and makes cleaning the caravan easier when it comes out of hibernation. An alternative would be to use a caravan cover.
Next, jack the caravan up and put it on to winter wheels. This takes the pressure off the tyres and prevents flat spots forming. If you remove the battery, make sure it is stored in a warm and dry place and is charged up every four weeks.
Top tip regarding gas
For overwintering you should also shut off the gas and reduce pressure in the pipes by burning off the excess. Some caravan owners have needed to buy a new regulator because of damage caused by a build-up of a treacly goo when pressurised gas gets very cold.
Top tip to prevent damp
If you can leave mains power to your caravan over winter you can run a Compact Dehumidifier on a timeswitch so it runs off Economy 7 at night. This really helps keep the caravan fresh.
Now all that is left is to fit the security devices. If you are leaving your caravan in a driveway – or anywhere visible to passers-by - it’s wise to fit as many as possible. This might include a hitch lock, wheel clamp on one wheel and the integrated Alko wheel lock on the other. You can also fit corner steady locks on the rear.
Finally, for added security you could put a heavy-duty chain around the chassis and fix it to an anchor point which is concreted in to the driveway. This may all sound a bit excessive, but is worthwhile as it really deters attempted thefts.
Top tip for minimizing green algae
If you get fed up spending hours cleaning off green algae and the general winter build-up of dirt on your caravan, many owners recommend using an overwintering fluid, for instance Fenwick’s Overwintering Caravan and Motorhome Storage Fluid. The objective is to give your caravan an invisible ‘protective jacket’ for the winter months.
After giving your caravan a good wash down, simply spray the overwintering fluid all over the caravan using an ordinary garden sprayer, or a sponge and this will then provide invisible protection all over your caravan.
When your caravan comes out of hibernation in the spring, you simply need to give it a quick wash and you will be amazed how easily the build up of dirt washes off and there is no sign of green algae.