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Winterising a motorhome

Winterising a Motorhome

Many people don't fully winterise their motorhome or caravan and suffer the consequences come spring. Jack Frost took many of us by surprise this winter, but no Beast from the East can keep a tourer down. If you've ever been caught out by the weather, you know that the frost and snow can damage your boiler and break your taps and pipework – and that's just the tip of the iceberg. But winterising a camper or a motorhome only takes minutes once you get the hang of it, and it can save you a small fortune on repairs that are serious but completely preventable. So, don't put it off. Winterising a motorhome is easy when you have a checklist, which is precisely why we're sharing ours with you right here and right now:

1. Wash, Wax, Wheels
Whether you're storing your motorhome or caravan indoors over the winter or leaving it at the mercy of the elements, you should make sure that it's clean and protected against water damage. This may involve treating any rust with sandpaper and a primer, giving it a good wash and a lick of paint, and applying a layer of wax.

The list of best practices also includes covering the entire vehicle, tyres included, to avoid exposure to UV rays. Another good way to enhance lifespan and avoid water damage is to park on a slope.

2. Drain the Motorhome Water System
If there's water in the system, it's likely to crack the taps and the water heaters when it freezes, because water expands when it reaches the freezing point. Whether you normally use a pump, a switch or a lever to drain your tank, make sure you use it before the first frost.

There are myriads of drain down systems that come with instructions, video tutorials and demos, so don't be afraid to opt for a drainage kit if you want to do it all in minutes rather than hours. Winterising a motorhome is a breeze when you use special Induratec 636 drainage systems for touring caravans, motorhome and boats, and winterising a camper is just as easy if you have Induratec 868 static caravan drainage systems. What's more, you never again have to pay someone to do it for you.

3. Check Taps, Pumps and Toilet Tanks
Many of us forget to leave the drains open, disconnect the shower hoses, drain every supply hose, check that the waste flushing tanks are empty, and leave a pail under every drain tap. All the taps will need to be left open too, and single-lever taps should always be left half-way between hot and cold.

This lets air run through the pipes, flushing out water. You could also try blowing compressed air into the taps, to make sure there's nothing left. While you're there, it wouldn't hurt to pour some antifreeze or salt down your internal waste pipes, to prevent them from freezing.

It goes without saying that your water heater will need draining too. So, even if you have an automatic thermostatic valve that releases all the water when temperatures drop, it's best to double-check. Finally, if you have an internal water pump, wrap it in towels or thermal insulation sheets.

4. Empty the Waste Cassette
Washing the toilet cassette is not something you can put off. Fermenting waste can be very unpleasant to deal with. So, wash it with antibacterial solutions as soon as you get the chance, and then pour some olive oil over the seal or give it a quick mist of special maintenance spray to make sure the blade runs smoothly next touring season.

5. Guard Those Batteries
Leisure batteries don't come cheap, so remove yours and take them indoors. This extends lead-acid battery life, especially if they're kept in relatively warm, dry and stable conditions. Hook them up to a good battery conditioner, check electrolyte levels, and top up if you need to. Then look after your dry cell batteries. Remove every battery in your clocks, alarms, detectors, radios and other small appliances.

6. Prevent Water Ingress, Damp and Mould

Crack open a few windows when it's warm outside. Keep a small heater working on the coldest weeks, if you can afford it. Store your furnishings and bedding indoors over the winter. Leave cupboard doors and internal doors open to prevent condensation. Spray your exposed electrical connections with a mist of water resistant silicone lubricant. Cover all your outer vents, protecting them with polythene or tape. But leave low-level fixed vent grilles alone, because they work as safety devices against gas leaks. Check that your roll-out awnings are fully dry. Check door seals and replace the rubber bits if needed. Then buy a hydrometer (they're cheap) to check your rooflights and your cupboards regularly. Then and only then can you truly claim to be winterising a camper.

7. Cover the Windows
Finally, you need a good water and frost-proof silver screen to cover your windscreen. Some caravan enthusiasts go above and beyond winterising a motorhome, sealing it from the inside as well. Don't be surprised if you see people putting up polystyrene, cling film, tinfoil or reflective radiator heat foils up over the window recess in lieu of special interior silver screens.

If you own a caravan check out our blog for winterising a caravan