Winter caravan care - preparing your caravan
When the nights draw in and the leaves start to fall, those long sun-kissed days spent relaxing on caravan sites seem a distant memory. No matter how well you look after your touring caravan throughout the rest of the year, just like the rest of us, it needs that extra bit of maintenance during the cold months.
The caravan’s big enemy over the winter is damp. For this reason, you should start by completely draining the hot and cold water systems by opening all the taps and taking out the drain plug - normally on the outside. This can take up to an hour, and one way to do it is by opening the drain just before you start your final trip of the summer, so the caravan will be completely drained by the time you get home.
You can then drain all the water carriers, along with the toilet’s water holding tank, before removing your water filter and the toilet’s cleaning cassette – which should be cleaned, rinsed and treated with a maintenance spray to stop it rusting.
While it’s (securely) parked on your drive, it’s a good idea to pay regular visits to the caravan over the winter to make sure damp and frost isn’t setting in.
The internal doors should be left open to allow air to circulate, the fridge freezer should be emptied, scrubbed with bicarbonate of soda, and the door left open, while all food cupboards should be thoroughly cleaned, making sure there are no crumbs left lying around to provide tasty snacks for unwanted guests. Speaking of which, make sure all windows are locked and any water or waste pipes are plugged up – making sure ‘they’ don’t have any way of getting in.
You should also remove the battery, coat the window seals with olive oil, and give the caravan a good clean on the outside using one of the many over-winter products on the market which will help protect against mould, algae and other unpleasant things that can build up.
However, just because it’s winter doesn’t mean that your caravan has to be mothballed for the next few months. Caravan holidays are still possible during the colder months,and with a little bit of careful planning winter caravanning can be good fun.
There are a few basic things to remember, however. If you’re planning to take your caravan out during the winter, remember to keep the battery charged and move the electric hook-up cable away to stop it freezing.
It’s best to drain the water system after each trip and remove the water filter as any damp caught in it can turn into frost that can cause serious damage. However, if you do choose to leave water in the system over the winter, make sure you protect the water pipes with lagging. Use propane gas for the cooker rather than butane – which freezes below four degrees Celsius.
As part of the process of winterising your caravan, also make sure any moving parts are well maintained and oiled, and any mechanical parts are kept in top working order.
Like everything else to do with caravanning, it’s all about the freedom to travel where and when you like, and the winter months can open up new possibilities and new destinations.