We hate painful goodbyes. Especially when we’re saying it to our caravan. A cosy home on the road for the best part of the year, winter farewells are emotional. Not to mention long.
If we want to see our faithful van in good shape next year it’s essential we don rubber gloves and greasy overalls and make sure it’s fully winterised. Or else the 'hello' next spring will be much more painful…
Drain the pipes
THE most crucial advice: turn off the water supply and drain all the pipework. This includes the water carriers and your toilet. Keep your taps in the open position and any mixer taps should be kept midway. Apply the same process to your gas pipes: Switch off the gas and burn off any residue left in the pipes via your cooker.
Remove all soft furnishings such as pillows, cushions and mattresses and store in a warm, dry place. Other handy tips are to leave bowls of salt around the van to soak up moisture and leave a chopped onion in similar places to combat fausty smells.
Another unusual tip is to lightly grease your window seals with olive oil to avoid them sticking when you open them in spring.
Vacuum and scrub every inch of carpet and every corner of every cupboard, paying special attention to the fridge freezer.
There are major benefits: you’re less likely to attract rodents, the van won’t smell when you see it next spring and you’ll have time to check you’ve removed ALL valuable items you’ve amassed over the summer. This includes the leisure battery, which you should charge every 4-6 weeks. If your caravan alarm runs off the battery then invest in a small solar charge panel to keep the battery topped up and the alarm active.
The same applies to the outside, and you may want to consider an overwintering coat which helps reduce the build-up of algae and tough grime. The awning: remove it, clean it and make sure it dries out before storing to avoid any mould.
Winter wheels or clamps?
Giving the wheels a rest is crucial for caravan recuperation. This can be done in a number of ways; axle stands take the weight off the suspension and trailing arms, allowing you to clamp your relaxed wheels. You can also remove the wheels entirely and replace with steel brackets known as winter wheels. Check with your insurance company first, however, as many policies are void if you’ve not applied clamps.
Here’s the fun bit; clean and grease all exterior moving parts up with Vaseline, paying close attention to the shock absorber rods. Remember which areas you’ve greased as you’ll need to pressure wash it off next season. If you can, take the handbrake off to avoid the brake drums sticking.
In more ways than one: caravan covers are a contentious subject, with many vanners experiencing scratched chassis and windows, so research covers wisely and look for breathable materials with a soft inner layer.
Most importantly, talk to your caravan insurance company. Every policy has different expectations of you when it comes to security, storage and anti-theft devices. Failure to live up to these will be much more painful than that winter goodbye…