If you don’t plan to use your motorhome over the colder months then make sure you prepare it well for winter storage to protect it from the elements, and to reduce the risk of theft and damp.
A well-looked after motorhome left hibernating in winter storage will be easier to get ready for the new season ahead. Alternatively, if you use your motorhome throughout winter then why not read our six tips for motorhoming in winter.
Choose where you store your motorhome in winter carefully, remembering it’s only the motorhome that’s hibernating, not a determined thief or thieves!
If storing at home, if possible, park your motorhome so it’s not visible from the roadside. Park it nose-first against a wall so would-be thieves can’t attempt to tow it. Think about creating a barrier with locked gates or a drive post so thieves would have to break it down to drive the motorhome away. Good security lighting and a carefully placed CCTV camera could also be a turn off for criminals.
If storing on a storage facility, take a careful look at the security measures in place at your storage site and check that they meet your motorhome’s insurer requirements. As a minimum make sure the site has a 24-hour locked access control gates or barrier and high perimeter fencing.
Try to avoid obvious risk factors like storing your motorhome beneath trees, where branches could fall on it or on an area with a high water table. Consider a motorhome cover to save your motorhome from getting covered in leaves and tree sap. The cover itself could also act as a further deterrent with thieves less likely to know the make and model of what lies beneath.
There are other physical security devices to slow down a thief such as steering wheel locks, clutch locks, motorhome wheel clamps and gear stick locks. See our motorhome security guide for tips on how to protect your motorhome or campervan from theft: www.caravanguard.co.uk/motorhome-security-guide.
Check your motorhome insurance policy to see if there are any specific terms and conditions for when you leave your vehicle unattended, such as security devices and systems
At Caravan Guard we ask for extra security on motorhomes insured for over £45,000. 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 £65,000).
If you do have electronic security such as an alarm or motorhome tracking device it’s vital to make sure the battery that is powering them is kept charged. This might mean you have to occasionally charge the battery. Some tracking devices and alarms will alert you if there’s been a power failure but by then it could be too late.
Also make sure any tracking system subscriptions are up-to-date so your motorhome is being monitored and so you remain insured.
Avoiding frost damage
Draining down your motorhome’s water system is of paramount importance to avoid any frost damage when putting your leisure vehicle into winter storage. It’s also a condition of your motorhome insurance policy to drain down between November 1st and March 15th.
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. Open the outlets to your fresh and waste water tanks and open all internal taps, including the shower. You might want to use a device such as Floe, with an air compressor to blow out every last drop of water.
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 any 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 winterising.
Winter storage housekeeping
A little bit of housework is called for when laying up your motorhome in winter.
Empty and clean the fridge using the manufacturer’s guidelines, leaving the fridge door slightly ajar. Also give the hob, oven and grill a final clean.
Empty and clean out all the cupboards, getting rid of any crumbs to avoid vermin squeezing in to look for food and have a good run round with a vacuum cleaner, not forgetting the upholstery and curtains.
You can either take out the soft furnishings if you have somewhere warm or dry to store them at home or move them into the middle of your ‘van so that air can circulate around them.
Leaving blinds, curtains and cupboard doors open will show any potential thieves there is nothing worth breaking in for.
Don’t forget to remove any valuable electrical items, portable equipment or personal documents like the ownership handbook and motorhome insurance certificates.
Moisture absorbing crystals help to reduce the risk of condensation but they’ll need changing quite often.
If you’re able to hook up to an electric source, you could consider running the heating on a very low setting to take the chill off.
Gas cylinders are best removed and stored in a ventilated and cool place.
Finally lock up, check when your motorhome insurance is due, book a motorhome service and habitation check and plan your next trips.
Oh and keep your keys hidden in a safe place!
Regular maintenance checks
If you’re not going to be going on any winter adventures in your motorhome it’s worth carrying out some regular checks so it’s ready to go when you are and to catch any issues nice and early.
Once a month, start up the engine and allow it to run for up to 30 minutes to help keep the battery charged – or better still, take it for a short run.
To avoid pressure on a single area of your tyres and flat spots developing, move your motorhome a little bit each month or jack it up to rotate the wheels. Also release the parking brake and move it back and forth to prevent it from seizing up.
Check those security devices are still working, so your insurance remains valid, and look for any signs of damp or mould developing, giving windows and wallboards a wipe down if necessary.
Have you got any further tips for winter storage? Post your suggestions in the comments box below.