Winterising Your Caravan & Motorhome
Submitted by Rick Parker on 3 October 2018 - 2:53pm
During the colder winter months there is a risk of burst pipes and frost damage to your Caravan, Travel Trailer or Motorhome – but not if you care for it properly.
Below are our recommendations on how to prepare your leisure vehicle for colder weather. We have provided recommendations for caravans, motorhomes and specific recommendations for Airstream caravans.
Please note: If your vehicle is kept in our storage compound at Tebay, it is still your responsibility to undertake the necessary winterisation.
Winterising your Caravan
Step 1: Drain water from the tank and appliances
Drain down the internal water tank and run all taps to remove all water possible out of the water lines. Leave the taps in the half open position and then remove the 12v fuse to stop the submersible water pump running.
If you don’t do this, water left in the pipes could freeze and expand when temperatures drop below zero, causing pipes to burst. You may also want to pour some antifreeze down the plugholes in the kitchen and bathroom just in case there’s any residual water.
Step 2: Toilets
After thoroughly cleaning them with plenty of fresh water, toilet cassettes should be emptied and stored indoors if space permits.
Step 3: Kitchen
Make sure the kitchen is completely clean to prevent any build-up of mould and to avoid attracting any vermin. Leave the fridge door slightly ajar to ensure that air can circulate.
Step 4: Battery
If you have a leisure battery fitted, it would be best to remove this if the caravan is to be left un-heated. Make sure to store this in a place where there is no risk of freezing. The ideal situation would be to leave the battery in a garage connected to a trickle charger.
If you have a tracking device or security alarm that relies on battery power, you may need to think about an external power source to keep these running, or leaving the leisure battery in place and giving it a regular charge.
Step 5: Protect furnishings from damp
In order to make sure you don’t have any issues with damp and mould when you return to your caravan in the spring, make sure you remove as many of the soft furnishings as possible and store these at home. If you can’t remove the seat cushions, prop them up on their sides so that air can flow around them. Leave cupboards and drawers ajar so that fresh air can circulate.
Step 6: Store your caravan under cover
If you don’t have a garage to store your caravan in, consider getting a caravan cover. Make sure that you get a breathable cover that will allow fresh air to reach your caravan but will still protect your caravan from the wind and rain. Before you cover your caravan, ensure that all windows and doors are locked and that any security devices are turned on.
Winterising your Motorhome
Step 1: Drain down water systems
Open outlets for both your fresh water and waste water tanks and your water heater.
Make sure you empty the toilet header tank if this is on a separate system and clear the rest of the flushing system, including the cassette.
Turn on all taps and leave them open, running the pump until all water has run through. If you have mixer taps, make sure they are in the central position.
Remove the shower head and make sure there isn’t any water left in the hose.
Step 2: Kitchen
Make sure the kitchen is completely clean to prevent any build-up of mould and leave the fridge door slightly ajar to ensure that air can circulate.
Step 3: Disconnect the gas supply
Remove the cylinders and store them safely.
Step 4: Check your base vehicle
Make sure that tyres are pumped up and that your oil and antifreeze levels are good. It’s also a good idea to give everything on the outside a good clean too and check the bodywork while you’re at it.
Step 4: Look after the batteries
Make sure the vehicle battery is fully charged before parking up for the winter. There are intelligent chargers which you can leave connected to the battery over the winter if you want to keep it in tip top condition. If it’s practical to do so, occasionally turning on the engine and going for a short drive will keep the battery in good shape.
It’s quite common for leisure batteries to fail over the winter. Ideally, disconnect the battery and store it in a place that won’t get too cold and connect it to a trickle charger.
Step 5: Look after the furnishings
Leave cupboard doors open to encourage air flow and remove any of the soft furnishings that you can and store these at home.
Step 6: Store your motorhome under cover
If possible, store your motorhome indoors in a garage to keep it in the best shape and for security purposes. If this isn’t possible, consider investing in a motorhome cover. This will serve as protection against the elements in the winter as well as providing an extra layer of insulation. If you do choose to use a motorhome cover, it’s still important to make sure that the exterior of the motorhome is clean before covering it.
Winterising your Airstream
Step 1: Drain water from the tank and appliances
The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure that no fluids are going to freeze in any of the systems. This could damage pipes or appliances and could invalidate your manufacturer's warranty.
- Disconnect the water supply externally.
- Drain the internal cold water tank:
Series 1 models: This is done using the tank’s yellow lever, usually positioned near the onboard water tank.
Series 2 models: Locate drain down lever below or above floor and turn through 90 degrees.
- Drain the domestic hot water tank in the Alde boiler. Move the yellow lever to the drain down point. This is usually positioned close to the boiler.
- Turn the water pump on at the 12v digital control panel.
Series 1 models: Select INT position on 3 way water system switch and then open all taps in turn until no water flows.
Series 2 models: Open all taps in turn until no water flows.
In the case of single lever taps, position the tap midway between hot and cold, then leave the tap in the open position.
- All showers should be switched to the 'on' position. Un-clip shower heads to internal and external showers (including pull out shower heads to wet baths, which should be pulled out fully).
- Depress any hand spray levers while holding down into the shower tray, until there is no further water flow. Remove all shower heads, shake water out and store.
- Flush the WC until water flow into the bowl ceases.
- Access the internal water pumps. Remove caps to filters near pumps and allow water to drain out. (If there is no water pump tray fitted, you will need to place a shallow container under the filter first to catch the water.) Leave the filter caps off.
- Access the wastewater bellypan compartment. Pull the gate valve and leave it in the fully out (open) position, to drain any water from wastewater piping.
- Dometic vacuum toilet (Series 1 models only): Remove the plastic cover to the side of the WC foot pedal, then unscrew the white threaded lock nut located underneath the pedal. Have a shallow plastic container ready to catch the water. Press the pedal again. Once water has drained out of the toilet bowl, screw the lock nut on again.
- All toilets: Remove WC vacuum cassette, empty completely, flush with clean water, leave to drain and then return to the trailer, or store indoors.
Step 2: Add antifreeze where necessary
Fill P Traps in galley sink, bathroom hand basin and shower tray with antifreeze, diluted to manufacturer's instructions.
Step 3: Remove the battery
Remove the leisure battery (or batteries) and store indoors in a cool dry place where there is no risk of freezing. Ideally, connect the battery/ batteries to a trickle charger during the winter storage period, to keep them fully charged.
Note: Removing the leisure battery may trigger the satellite tracking system, if fitted, so check this first.
Step 4: Make sure the kitchen is clean
In particular, you’ll want to clean out the fridge and leave the door wedged open to ensure circulation.
Step 5: Look after the furnishings
Leave the doors to all cupboards and lockers open to allow air to circulate fully.
Remove soft furnishings including seat cushions, mattress, curtains and store inside in a heated space. If this is not possible, stand the cushions/ mattress on their edges to improve circulation of air.
Note: If you have a Buccaneer caravan, follow the steps above for Airstream Series 1 models excluding the instruction for Dometic vacuum toilets.
If you have any questions regarding winterising your Leisure Vehicle please contact our service department: