YY Holidays & Travel

Winterising Your Campervan

Watching the amber warnings on the weather reports a slight panic arises within me: ‘ah, the campervan, will it survive winter..?’

What is winterising?

When we got our first campervan, 20 odd years ago, we heard lots about winterising and, in our naivety, had to ask: just what the heck is winterising your van? Turned out to be good question. Winterising is about preserving your motorhome or caravan over the winter, which in the UK can last a good 4-5 months, to ensure you can get going again come the next summer.

If you own a Continental European campervan (Hymer, Niesmann & Bischoff, Burstner, Dethleffs or similar) it’s likely to have a double floor. This means the water tank, waste tank and relevant pipework will be protected, up to a point at least, from the elements. However, even with a European motorhome you’ll need to do some protection.

When do I need to do it? Now! Do it before our dear friend Mr Frost makes his first appearance.

What do I need to do? *Puffs out cheeks* It’s a long list so let’s take it one step at a time:

External Precautions:

Start on the outside. A good wash and a couple of coats of wax give the van’s exterior a layer of protection against the elements.
If parking up for the entire winter think about leaving the handbrake off to prevent the brakes from seizing – but chock the wheels.
Check your awnings: the roll out, attached to your campervan ones. Make sure the fabric is dry. Re-roll check the mechanism is oiled for smoothness of action.
Cover the outside vents – most fridge vents have special covers and it’s a simple job of popping them back on. Other vents might benefit from some polythene over them to protect against leaves and debris. However, do NOT cover any vents if you’re using the campervan or caravan as these vents are a safety device.

Winterising the Campervan

Courtesy Tim Parkinson

Tyres really suffer on a campervan – spending a long time in one place, the same piece of tyre rubber takes the strain. Check the tyre pressures and try at least to move the van a little to relieve the pressure points.

Remove the gas canisters if you have space. If not then shut off the supply and disconnect the bottles.For additional protection cover your campervan or caravan with a breathable cover. But it must be breathable otherwise it can cause damp amongst other things.

Consider removing the battery and keeping it charged at home (this prolongs its life). However if you have a security or alarm system fitted then the battery needs to remain in the van and be kept charged up.

Internal Precautions
Water Winterising Campervan

courtesy frederik thommesen

Drain down the water system, including the waste water tank and water heater. This is essential. Keep all of the taps wide open (in the on position) over winter.

This is the most important part of winterising. Cracked taps, split pipes and damaged water tanks can occur if you don’t drain the water system down.

Pop the shower head into the shower tray to let any residual water drain out.

Put the sink plugs into sinks.

Whilst we’re on the subject of water and taps, if you have a water filter fitted, either remove it and put a note to yourself to replace it at the beginning of next season or fit a new one next season. Jack Frost loves to cause havoc with water filters.

Empty the toilet cassette and give it a good wash round. Replace it but keep the hatch open. This lets air into the cassette. Keep the hatch open this helps to prevent it from freezing and getting stuck.

Leisure batteries can be fully charged outside of the van, somewhere warm and dry. Check the levels of the batteries and top them up if needed.

Prevent visitors & mould

Keep the fridge door on the vent position. We do this all year round after giving it a thorough wash – prevents mould growth!

Mice beware! Get the food cupboards spotlessly clean. Mice and rats love a warm hole for the winter but you don’t want it to be your motorhome or caravan. They chew through wiring and that can be seriously expensive to put right. Leave the cupboard doors open to allow air to circulate.

Vacuum thoroughly and remove cushions, bedding and soft furnishings. Take these into the house or at least take them off the bases and stand them in the aisles of your motorhome or caravan. This prevents mould forming on the fabrics and again allows air to circulate around the furnishings.

Close your windows and vents fully and cover the external fridge vents.

Check the rubber seals around the doors. It’s a good time of year to replace them if needed.

De-humidify the campervan with a dehumidifier every few days or alternatively leave a bowl of dehumidifying crystals in the van, changing them regularly. One suggestion from UKCampsite.co.uk is to leave bowls of salt around the van. Either way your main aim is to prevent damp collection as once you’ve got damp in your campervan or caravan it can be a costly business to sort out.

Well – there you have it. The 4 Points Leisure guide to winterising your campervan or caravan. It’s by no means exhaustive but we hope it’s pointed you in the right direction. Let us know what other canny ideas you use or have.

Of course, all the above tips are for your guidance only and as a reminder list, specific winterization instructions for your motorhome or caravan can be found in your owners’ handbook, and we are not responsible for your actions or omissions.

Jo & Richard

4 Points Leisure
The Glamping, Camping and Festival Accessories shop, with years of camping experience

 

Top photo: Martin Thomas

 

2 Comments
  1. Stan Green

    Jo and Richard, with respect, may I make few suggestions and corrections. You seem to be confused ‘camper-vans’ with ‘mobile-homes’. Having owned a succession of camper-vans (converted Ford Transit high roof), for three decades, have considerable experience of their use, find there if a vast difference.

    If you have any empathy for the environment and sustainability, a camper-van should not need over-wintering, but be used as a principle means of transport all year round, doing away with the need for a second car.

    However, gas guzzling motor homes are a different animal (may I suggest dinosaur), being grossly oversize for the UK highways, like towed caravans, especially country roads, where I regularly encounter them, having to back up, because the drivers of these beasts are so inexperience in reversing with mirrors alone, as to be virtually impotent.

    Unfortunately, I can see no solution to the snobs in mobile homes (from my experience), who look down upon the lesser camper-van users, because then have retirement cash to spend and do just as the choose.

    I have also found campsite owners turn away the likes of me and my van, because it is not tailor-made.

    • Jo Rigden

      Hi Stan, thanks for your valid comments. Campervans and Motorhomes can both be winterised, and cared for over winter, and that’s what we were aiming for with our article. Tips for those that choose to lay their vehicle up for the winter. However, great to hear you’re out and about in yours all year long. Have a great winter of camping.

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