Living and travelling in a campervan or motorhome, especially through the scenic routes of the UK and Europe, is an adventure of a lifetime. We’ve travelled full time in our motorhome for a long time now, in beautiful sunny weather and also in freezing cold snowy conditions.
But, how do you protect your motorhome in winter? Just like you’d bundle up in the chilly weather, your motorhome needs a little TLC to brave the cold months too.
Understanding the Importance of Winterising
Winterising your motorhome isn’t just a seasonal chore; it’s a crucial step to ensure the longevity and functionality of your vehicle. Let’s break down the essentials:
The risks of neglecting winter protection
- Frozen Water Systems: When temperatures plummet, any residual water in your motorhome’s system can freeze. This not only disrupts the flow but can also cause the pipes to burst due to the expansion of the frozen water.
- Battery Drainage: Cold weather can be a battery’s worst enemy. A drained battery in freezing conditions can freeze, leading to internal damage and reducing its lifespan.
- Rust and Corrosion: Moisture and cold weather can lead to rust forming on the vehicle’s exterior and chassis. Rust not only affects the aesthetic appeal but can compromise the structural integrity of the motorhome.
- Damaged Tyres: Cold temperatures can cause motorhome tyres to lose air pressure. Under-inflated tyres can lead to reduced traction on icy roads, making travelling hazardous.
- Seal Deterioration: The seals around windows and doors can become brittle in the cold, leading to leaks and drafts. This can result in a chilly interior and potential water damage.
Benefits of proper motorhome maintenance
- Preserving the Lifespan: Regular winterisation ensures your motorhome remains in top shape, potentially increasing its lifespan.
- Financial Savings: Addressing potential issues before they become major problems can save significant repair costs in the future.
- Ready-to-Go Spring Start: Come springtime, you won’t be scrambling to fix winter-inflicted issues. Your motorhome will be ready to embark on another adventure at a moment’s notice.
- Maintaining Resale Value: A well-maintained and winterised motorhome is likely to retain a higher resale value, proving beneficial if you ever decide to upgrade or sell.
- Peace of Mind: Knowing your motorhome is well-protected from winter’s harshness gives you peace of mind. Instead of worrying about potential damages, you can focus on planning your next journey.
How To Protect Your Motorhome In Winter – Step-by-Step Winter Guide
Choose a suitable storage spot
If you don’t plan to travel in your motorhome during the winter, then your motorhome’s winter home can make all the difference. Here are some considerations:
- Indoor Storage: Ideally, a climate-controlled garage or storage facility is the best option, as it protects the motorhome from the elements.
- Outdoor Storage: If indoor storage isn’t an option, look for a sheltered spot that minimises exposure to wind, snow, and direct sunlight. Consider investing in a high-quality, breathable motorhome cover that can protect against UV rays and moisture.
Interior winter preparations
Draining the water system
Water expansion when frozen can cause significant damage.
- Empty Water Tanks: Ensure both the fresh and wastewater tanks are fully drained.
- Pipe Protection: Use compressed air to blow out any residual water from the pipes.
- Antifreeze Application: Use motorhome-specific antifreeze in the waste tanks and pipes to protect them from freezing temperatures.
Cold weather can affect the efficiency and longevity of your motorhome’s appliances.
- Refrigerator: Clean it thoroughly and leave the door slightly open to prevent mould growth.
- Gas Appliances: Ensure they are turned off and disconnected. Check for any leaks or issues.
- Battery: Consider removing the battery and storing it in a warm and dry place. If left inside, ensure it’s fully charged, and check its charge periodically.
Exterior winter preparations
Cleaning and sealing
Before the motorhome hibernates, it’s important to ensure its exterior is clean and protected.
- Thorough Wash: Remove dirt, debris, and salt which can cause corrosion. Don’t forget the roof!
- Inspect Seals: Check for cracks or gaps in the seals around windows, doors, and seams. Seal any breaches with appropriate sealants.
- Inspect the Undercarriage: The underside of your motorhome can accumulate a lot of grime and is susceptible to rust. A good clean and check for damage can prevent long-term issues.
Tyres are the motorhome’s direct contact with the ground and thus crucial to maintain.
- Pressure Check: Cold can reduce tyre pressure. Ensure they’re inflated to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
- Tyre Savers: If your motorhome is stationary for long periods, consider tyre savers or rotating the tyres occasionally to prevent flat spots.
- Inspect for Wear: Check for any signs of damage or excessive wear. It’s a good practice to cover the tyres if your motorhome is stored outside, protecting them from direct sunlight and freezing temperatures.
While it might seem counterintuitive, a bit of ventilation can prevent condensation and mould growth.
- Roof Vents: Leave them slightly open to allow for airflow.
- Moisture Absorbers: Place desiccants or moisture traps in various places inside the motorhome to absorb excess moisture.
Additional Tips and Tricks
Lubricate Moving Parts
- Locks and Hinges: Cold can make these parts stiff. Applying lubricant can prevent this and also ward off rust.
- Slide-outs and Jacks: If your motorhome has slide-outs, retract them for the winter. Apply a silicone-based lubricant to the seals to keep them flexible.
- Close Openings: Ensure all exterior openings, such as exhausts and vents, are covered or screened off to prevent critters from taking refuge.
- Natural Deterrents: Placing mothballs or cedarwood blocks inside can deter pests. Some motorhome owners swear by peppermint oil as a natural mouse repellent.
- Dehumidifiers: Consider using a small dehumidifier to combat excessive interior moisture, especially if you have any dampness issues.
- Skirting: If you’re using your motorhome in winter, skirting around its base can act as insulation, preventing cold drafts and helping retain interior warmth.
- Unplug: Disconnect all appliances and remove plugs from sockets to avoid any electrical issues.
- Check Fuses: Ensure no fuses are blown, and it might be a good idea to have some spares on hand.
- Turn Off: Ensure the propane system is turned off at the tank.
- Safety Check: Check for any signs of leaks or damage. If you smell gas, get it inspected and fixed immediately.
- Fire Extinguishers: Check the expiry date and ensure they’re in good working condition.
- Safety Alarms: Test your smoke, carbon monoxide, and LP gas detectors. Replace batteries if needed.
- Regular Visits: Even if you’re not using your motorhome, visit it periodically. These check-ins can help spot potential problems before they become bigger issues.
- Snow Accumulation: If your area sees heavy snowfall, periodically brush off accumulated snow from the roof and around the motorhome.
Winterising your motorhome is not just a precaution; it’s a necessity. It ensures that when spring arrives, you’re ready to hit the road without any hitches. Remember, the joy of motorhome travel lies in spontaneous adventures, not unexpected repairs!
Why is draining the water system crucial in winters?
Draining prevents freezing of water which can cause pipes to burst.
Can I use regular antifreeze for my motorhome?
Always use motorhome-specific antifreeze to avoid damages.
How often should I check my motorhome in storage during winter?
Ideally, once every month to ensure everything is in order.
Do I need to start the motorhome occasionally in the winter?
Yes, starting it occasionally keeps the engine in good condition.
Are breathable covers better than plastic ones?
Yes, they prevent moisture build-up and provide better protection.
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I love everything about travel, from seeing new places, learning about new cultures and trying new foods! I believe that travel is one of the best forms of education you can get, I have learnt so much about myself and about the world from travelling all over. Travel is something I feel so passionately about, and I love the fact that we are now lucky enough to have this opportunity to do what we love as much as we can, it’s a dream come true.
Before we started travelling, I worked in local government in administration. I had been in this job for several years and had reached a complete brick wall where I was so fed up, but didn’t know what else to do. The only thing I knew that I wanted to do was to travel, and had wanted to do that for many years.
There were hundreds and hundreds of places on my wishlist that I wanted to go to, and I knew that going on a weeks holiday maybe twice a year if we were lucky wasn’t going to cut it.
After being in lockdown due to the Covid pandemic, and working from home staring at the same 4 walls every day, 2021 seemed like the perfect time for us to take the risk to finally do what we had dreamed of for so long.
It was a hard decision to completely change our lives, but so far it has been the best decision we have ever made!