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Winterising your caravan

The winter months can draw on and if you have not ensured your van is ready for the frost and months of idleness then you could be facing big problems and even expensive repair bills.  We have listed a few simple pointers to help your winter pass as trouble free as possible.
The first two sections below (Internal Pre-Winter Guide-lines and External Pre-Winter Guide-lines) should be followed if you are not going to be using your van during the winter, the last section (Care for your van if using over the winter period) should be followed if you plan to carry on using it throughout the colder months.

Internal Pre-Winter Guide-lines

1. The Water System – completely drain the hot and cold water system in the van, you can do this by ensuring all the taps are open and removing the drain plug, normally on the outside of the van (see owners handbook). This process can take up to an hour so please be patient.  A good time to drain the system is before you leave your last outing of the year, the journey home should ensure all water is drained. Once back ensure that the bung is replaced in the drain plugs but leave the taps open, to stop the build up of pressure in the system.
2. If your van has a water filter fitted either fully remove it or leave a note to replace it next season. If you fit the new one before the winter period it could get damp and damaged by the frost.
3. Drain all water carriers completely and leave the plugs off to avoid unwanted smells.
4. The Toilet – Completely drain the water holding tank into the cassette and remove the cassette for draining and cleaning.  Once the cassette is fully cleaned out and rinsed use Thetford’s Maintenance Spray or similar to coat the cassette seal and blade. This will help avoid corrosion over the winter months (this is available from your local dealers). Using alternative chemicals may result in permanent damage to the seals. Leave the blade open to avoid sticking, this also helps prevent the cassette from being stolen.
5. Plug all water inlets and waste outlets to avoid smell and creepy crawlies coming in.
6. To take care of your upholstery, remove all cushions, pillows and bedding and if possible, store them in your home. If not remove the seats and back cushions and place them, end on end in the centre walkway of the caravan.
7. Open all internal doors and cupboards to allow the air to circulate.
8. Thoroughly clean out all cupboards and ensure that no crumbs, opened packets remain in the van. Storing tinned foods and non-perishable items should be OK over winter.
9. Thoroughly clean the fridge/freezer with bicarb of soda or anti-bacterial liquid. Leave the door propped open to avoid pressure build up and a stagnant smell.
10. Ensure all windows and vents are locked shut and unobstructed and are secure from mice, spiders etc. Close all blinds/curtains for extra security.
11. Remove your leisure battery if you can and keep the charge topped up every 5-6 weeks, please note if you van has an alarm these normally are run off their own separate batteries, so removal of the leisure battery should not affect the security, (you will need to check out your own van to ensure this is the case)
12. If you can remove all gas cylinders do so and store in an adequately ventilated location.  If not ensure that all cylinders are fully turned off and the gas compartment is locked. Remember when storing Butane gas, it begins to freeze at temperatures below 4 degrees C. Propane does not.
13. Multi-pin plug sockets should be protected from the weather, but not fully sealed as this can encourage condensation. Some moisture repellent sprays, such as WD 40 can damage plastics so we suggest a Tri-Flo product or Vaseline applied around the sockets.
14. If the radio is of the removable type, take it out over winter and store in the house.
15. Carry out periodic inspections of your van over winter to ensure that no damp is in the van and to ensure it is holding out against the frost.