If you have no plans to use your motorhome over the winter then you need to plan ahead when putting it into hibernation. The purpose is to ensure that your motorhome is safe and secure from the elements, from burglars and to reduce the risk of mildew and condensation forming so that it will be easy to prepare it for the new season, just a few months away.
Alternatively, if you use your motorhome throughout winter then why not read our “Winter wanderings” article.
First of all, where do you store it – at home or in a storage compound? Try to avoid obvious risk factors like beneath trees where branches could fall on it or on an area with a high water table. Remember it’s only the motorhome that’s hibernating, not the clever thief! So look at the security measures in place in a storage compound and check that they meet your motorhome’s insurer requirements. If you plan to store it at home, you could add extra security measures like a drivepost or locked gates to inhibit your vehicle from being driven away or install security lighting.
An insurance policy for a motorhome may have specific terms and conditions for an unattended vehicle? This might relate to the security you have fitted to your ‘van. Caravan Guard do ask for extra security on motorhomes insured for over £40,000. That can be a Thatcham Category 1 approved alarm system or an approved tracking device (a tracking device is a requirement on motorhomes insured for over £55,000).
If you do have electronic security such as an alarm or tracking device its vital to ensure the battery that is powering them is kept charged –this might mean you have to occasionally charge the battery. Some tracking devices will alert you if power failure has occurred but by then it could be too late.
Draining down the water system is of paramount importance; it helps to tilt your motorhome so the drain valves are at the lowest point. Check the manufacturer’s handbook if you are unsure where the valves are but turn the pump off and open all taps half way, including the shower. Remove the shower handset, give it a good shake and leave the head and tube on the shower tray.
While you’re in the shower room clean the shower and the basin, put plugs in the drains to stop any smells entering the interior and drain the water from the toilet. You’ll find out how to do this in the manufacturer’s handbook.
Remember the external shower too! You’ll need to drain the water heater, the on-board tank and the grey water tank. Don’t forget the external pump; you can keep this in the motorhome, and remember to drain any internal pump. If you have a “wet” heating system, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for over wintering.
A little bit of housework is called for; clean the fridge using the manufacturer’s guidelines and empty it; leave the fridge door slightly ajar. Give the hob, oven and grill a final clean. Empty and clean out all the cupboards and make quick run round with a vacuum cleaner, not forgetting the upholstery and curtains.
You can either take off the soft furnishings if you have somewhere warm or dry to store them at home or move them so that air can circulate round them.
DIY stores sell moisture absorbing crystals which help to reduce the risk of condensation but they do need changing quite often.
If you are hooked up to mains, you could, depending on the type of heating installed, consider running it on a very low setting to take the chill off.
Gas cylinders are best removed and stored in a ventilated and cool place.
Don’t forget to remove any valuable documents like ownership handbook, insurance certificates and so forth.
Finally lock up, check when the insurance is due, book a service and plan next year’s trips. If you can visit your motorhome from time to time, put a few dates in the diary to do so. Oh and don’t forget where you’ve put the keys!
Have you got any further tips for winter storage? Post your suggestions below.