Preparing Your Caravan or Motorhome for Hibernation
Posted on April 15, 2018 – Caravans & Motorhomes
All good things come to an end and, sadly, that also includes long summer days spent lounging on the beach. If you are a caravan or motorhome owner, now is the time to prepare your home on wheels to overwinter. Caravans and motorhomes will bring you joy for years but it is very important that you look after them or their life expectancy could be seriously affected. So gather sponges and detergents and, if you hate cleaning, think about all the wonderful days you have had in your summer residence and all those still to come.
Start with a bath
First things first, clean the exterior of your motorhome / caravan thoroughly. Not only the body but also awnings, wheel wells, tyres – street side and undercarriage side – etc. Any dirt missed might turn into rust over time so you want to make sure that your vehicle is immaculately clean and it can also hide problems that need addressing before your caravan is put away for the winter. If any mildew is already forming, make sure you clean it off and treat it. You don’t want to leave it to grow unchecked for 6 months!
Inside, give special attention to food stuck under tables and cushions, on carpets and in crevices as it will rot if left alone for months. When possible, use bleach as it will kill bacteria and fungus, with the added bonus of deterring uninvited wildlife guests.
Dealing with moisture
Moisture is your motorhome’s greatest enemy. It will corrode parts and allow mould to grow. Not only will mould give off a very unpleasant smell and destroy any soft furniture inside your home from home, but it can actually be a health danger: black mould can kill if inhaled.
Even the harmless type can be a nuisance as it can be very difficult to really get rid of and you may have no other choice but to hire a professional company to disinfect the cabin or have it entirely refitted if the situation is really bad.
To protect your caravan from moisture, first make sure that it is thoroughly dry before you store it. If you are going to use a tarpaulin, choose a breathable material so that condensation can’t form under it. Check that the seals around windows and doors are in a good state.
To limit humidity developing inside the cabin, you have the option of running a dehumidifier, but this means leaving an electrical appliance on with little supervision which you may not be comfortable with.
Alternatively, you can buy products like silica gel to absorb ambient moisture. Setting up a couple of containers before your caravan’s big sleep should do the trick. Check on it every couple of months for added peace of mind.
Tyres, bearings and moving parts
Preparing a motorhome or caravan for long-term storage isn’t that different from preparing a priceless classic car for a prolonged period of rest.
If possible, raise your vehicle slightly to take the weight off the tyres as it can damage them and create flat spots. If your motorhome is to be stored outdoors, you may want to invest in light-coloured tyre covers which will reflect heat better and make your tyres last longer.
As for the mechanical parts, the golden rule is ‘Apply lubricant liberally’. Check any moving part and deal with those that are seizing or show any sign of rust at once. These problems will only get much worse over the winter if you don’t.
One thing you want to avoid is your caravan becoming a five-star hotel for all the wildlife in your neighbourhood. Even if you live in a reasonably urban setting, you would be surprised to find out how many mice, insects and reptiles live side by side with you… until you find them all snugly assembled in your RV.
Unlike Australia, we are lucky not to run the risk of finding snakes curled up in a snug spot but rodents are not any better as they very destructive and can cause serious damage, so you need to block any opening they could come through. As a rule of thumb, if you can put a finger through it, a mouse can come in.
They’re also very good at enlarging openings so stuffing holes with fabric wouldn’t do for example. Brass or aluminium wools are a good choice as they won’t rust like steel wool would. Foam insulation material which expands is good for smaller holes.
We often talk about the many crannies and nooks that need to be cleaned to pass the MPI biosecurity inspection when you import a vehicle into NZ. Well, insects are incredibly gifted at finding ways in so don’t hesitate to buy insect traps, ant bait and rodent poison as though you mean to exterminate all the critters on earth once and for all, and place them near any part of your mobile home in contact with the ground and on the roof if there are overhead trees. Also check that all the vents are closed tightly.
Wasps, bees, and spiders seem to be attracted to the smell of gas so vent all lines and check your vehicle occasionally for any sign of nests or hives.
Simply from a safety point of view, you don’t want to leave full gas tanks unattended. Remove them and use caps on your propane lines which will keep them clean and also stop insects and dirt getting in them. As for the tanks, store them in well-ventilated areas.
The last thing you want when Spring is coming back carrying the smell of blossoms in the air is for it to be mixed with that of the rotten food you forgot in the fridge six months before... Remove all perishable items from your motorhome, clean all cupboards and the fridge, also because anything edible will attract wildlife.
If you are looking for a trustworthy company to ship your vehicle between New Zealand and Australia, give us a call on +64 9 307 1163 or request a quote online.
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