While more RV enthusiasts are beginning to travel year-round, there will be times when you’ll opt for storing your RV during the cooler months. As you may well know, the process of storing your RV is a bit more complicated than simply parking it in your driveway or finding an RV storage unit. After all, an RV is a tiny home on wheels, so you’ll want a checklist of things to consider before saying ‘goodbye’ to your RV for a few weeks or longer.
Fortunately, the process is not too complicated if you have this handy checklist.
Inspect and Clean the Interior
You can simultaneously ensure your RV will be ready for the next season and also prevent pests by inspecting the interior. Before storing, take out all food, trash, bed linens, and other items rodents and insects might find appealing. Then unhook all appliances, and leave refrigerators doors and cabinets open just slightly for ventilation.
Clean all surfaces with an all-purpose cleaner, then go over everything again with a disinfectant. Same is true with inside the refrigerator, freezer, and cabinets. Vacuum and mop floors. If your RV has slide-outs, make sure they are in the ‘in’ position. If you have items to store, put them in boxes and leave them on the RV’s tables. That way they are within easy reach once it comes time for camping season again.
Protect Against Pests
Check the roof and appliance vents, clean them if needed, then cover them. You will want to shut off water and gas mains, as well. Also, cover the air conditioner filters after changing them. Then thoroughly check the under carriage of your RV. Ensure there are no spaces, gaps, or loose panels. Critters can get into your RV via any of these spaces.
Drain the Water System
Just as frozen pipes pose a threat to your water system at home, your RV’s plumbing can suffer the same fate if precautions are not taken. When preparing for winter storage, empty all fresh and wastewater at a nearby dumping station. Then, pump non-toxic, RV-specific antifreeze into the system to prevent freezing while in storage.
If your RV has a more complex water system you may want to consult your owner’s manual or get outside help to do this step. For instance, if you need special equipment or processes to drain the water heater, you may want an expert to do the job properly. Then make sure the water pump and drain lines are shut off.
Invest in an RV Cover
Whether you purchase a standard one or a cover that is custom-made for your RV, an RV cover is essential for winterizing your rig. Most are water-repellent and are great for protecting against bird droppings, fallen tree limbs, and preventing scratches, dirt, and dust while in storage.
Don’t settle for any cheap, basic tarp. These tend to only last one season and can fly away if your RV is stored outside. They also leave gaps, allowing moisture to seep in, build up, and cause damage to the vehicle.
Save the Batteries and Engine
Disconnect your RV’s batteries, take them out, and store them in a cool, dry place. Batteries will typically lose some charge while in storage, but cooler temps will slow the decline. Check them periodically during the storage period to make sure they have not lost charge or frozen.
Protect the engine by stabilizing the gas left inside. Gas can go bad over time and turn into a thick, sticky resin that damages engines. Use a fuel stabilizer to prevent this from happening. Make sure you add it according to the stabilizer’s directions and fill the rest of the tank with gas. Then start the engine as well as the generator, letting them both run for several minutes to ensure the stabilizer runs through the entire fuel system.
Prep Your RV Exterior
To help preserve the natural wear and tear of the outside of your RV, prepping the exterior for storage will help extend its life. Inspect the roof, sidewalls, doors, windows, seams, and access panels. Caulk or reseal any holes or cracks you find. This will prevent water and pests from entering and causing damage. Ensure you use the correct caulk or seal for the RV and/or climate.
Check the tires, and inflate them to the manufacturer’s psi, if needed. You’ll want to periodically check this throughout the storage period. Also, consider using a plywood block under the tires so your RV doesn’t roll. If storing outside, consider using tire covers to prevent UV damage.
Find a Good Place to Store Your RV
Storing it inside a unit that is temperature controlled is ideal. Most communities have RV storage options at affordable prices. But if this is not an option for you, find an outside area that is away from tree limbs and where wind and rain are not prevalent. Additionally, you’ll want to park it someplace flat and dry. If you can find a space where you can legally park your RV and use a portable shelter, that is a good alternative.