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Once you’ve finished using your caravan for the summer, what should you do? Is it ok to just lock the door and come back in the spring?

Well, there’s no end of information elsewhere so I’ve collated the best information here as well as adding my experience on what you should do to prepare your caravan for winter.

Did you know that before the winter kicks in you need to make sure your caravan is winter ready? It’s not something I knew about. The dealer where I bought our first caravan from probably told me all about it but at that stage I was just saying yes to everything. He was showing me how the cooker worked, how the fridge and heating worked. To be honest I forgot everything as soon as I hooked the caravan up to take it on my maiden tow.

I didn’t know anyone with a caravan, but a neighbour did have one and he mentioned something about winter coming and doing something to his caravan.
“I need to do something to the caravan then?” I asked, as I obviously wasn’t listening first time around. Surely it’s just like a car, I don’t do anything with a car and that’s outside all year around I mean what is it with these caravans?
“Yes, you need to drain down all the water. Water is your enemy!”, he answered to my rather naive question, but then we’re all beginners at some point right? Once I thought about it, it made sense. You have water in the caravan, obviously through the taps, to get to the taps it goes through plastic pipes. Water freezes and pipes can split / crack /warp etc.

The reason for draining the water down is that it could prevent frost damage to the pipe work. The sort of damage you won’t notice until you have a flood on your hands, or rather on your floor. It could also prevent damage to your water heater. When I’m told that sort of thing by a salesman I just assume he wants me back to the dealership so he can charge me £400 to winterise my caravan. But even I can understand that frozen water can damage stuff, it’s done it to pipes in my house.

But, it’s not just damage that you need to think about. Stagnant water, which comes about if water is sitting in the pipes for a period of time is particularly unpleasant. It provides an incubator for bacteria and parasites. So, what you don’t want is for that first swig of water in the new caravan season to taste vile and end up making you ill. However, if we get a little less “Daily Mail headline” about things, the likelihood is that you’ll run to cold water tap for a while anyway before using. Better safe than sorry though and these are all common sense precautions.

Where Exactly Is This Water?

Pipes go to both sinks, kitchen and washroom. Water is also in your hot water boiler as well as in the flush tank on your toilet.
I usually start by draining the hot water tank. You need to locate the drain tap which is an “in pipe” tap which in normal operation will be laying on the pipe horizontally. This drainage point is usually under one of your front sofa. It’s always been on the “drivers” side in my caravans. Before lifting the drain valve, open all the taps to allow air to assist in the drainage, place the tap halfway between hot and cold. Now lift it up so that it is at a 90 degree angle to the water pipe, this will open the valve. Water should now start pouring out onto the floor underneath your caravan. I usually go and take a look. Yep, it’s pouring out, that’s good, I am practical after all, now pat yourself on the back. Well done you, take a bow. No need to over do it, you’re not done yet.
I have previously removed the shower head (see video below) so I can blow down the tube to remove excess water (open all the taps) it takes some doing and you can buy something that does it for you. It’s quite good fun and gives you a small sense of satisfaction as you can hear the water clearing. Leave the shower tube drooping down to allow water to run out afterwards.
If no water is running out it is normally one of two things. Firstly, you’ve not opened the taps and secondly your caravan could be on an incline towards the back of the caravan. I know some leave their caravan and a slight incline during the winter to allow water to run off the roof. My advice, where possible, is to make sure the caravan slopes towards the front, as this is where most water tanks are. If your water tank is toward the rear, then incline it towards the rear, this will help to prevent water pooling.

Other Things To Consider

Now, I’m not saying I do all of these but in an article about winterising your caravan, it makes perfect sense for it to be here. By the way, all this becomes second nature when you’ve gone through it a few times. Some could be done every time you used the caravan, it’s all about developing good habits.

For example:

  • Move all the soft furnishings away from the exterior walls to help prevent damp
  • Leave cupboard doors open to assist ventilation
  • Use dehumidifier
  • Remove all bedding and clothes
  • Remove road wheels
  • Occasionally rotate road wheels
  • Remove food from cupboards and fridge
  • Clean fridge
  • Vacuum carpets
  • Leave hand break off. Prevents drum brakes locking
  • Remove the battery, bring him to charge

Conclusions

People differ in what they do come winter time. Many empty the water tank and even toilet flush water after every trip and I can see the value in doing that. At the very least you need to clear water of pipes before the frosts set in. Some insurance companies need you to have done this by 1st November, I believe CaravanGuard is one such insurer that needs this done.

Whatever you do and however you do it, it doesn’t take too long at all and as mentioned earlier, it does become second nature. How much of the above list you do, is of course, up to you. Some like to polish and cover the caravan before the winter. I’ve even read some put a small electric oil heater in the caravan to prevent it from going below zero in the caravan. I’m not sure i’d be happy with that even though our caravan is on the drive. Some also leave the heating on to ensure the caravan doesn’t go below zero, which could help. If you’re happy with the additional energy bills and your caravan is on your drive, but it’s not something we do, although the thought has crossed my mind.

Lastly, if you really don’t fancy blowing down the shower tube (yuck), or maybe you just don’t have enough puff, there are products available to help…Make sure you look at the right one for your system (Whale or Truma etc)

 

CV YouTube Video on How To Winterise Your Caravan

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CaravanVlogger

Experienced caravanners that are still learning!Our first caravan was a Knaus which we bought from Germany in 2006. After this we bought a Autotrail Motorhome, but sold that to build a house. Once that was done we went back to a caravan, a Sterling Eccles, which we recently part-ex'd for a Bailey Unicorn.
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