Tips for Protecting Your RV
At some point all RVs go into storage. This will lead to the exposure of all types of natural elements. Big and sturdy as motor homes and trailers seem, RVs will need some preemptive protection before hitting the storage lot or winter driveway. The easiest and most effective method to keep your RV secure is to use an RV trailer cover. This protects the RV from a number of detrimental elements. Other important suggestions include what to do with the plumbing and electrical systems, how to maintain the slides, preventing moisture and leaks, tire care and infestation prevention. In an ideal world one would never have to store an RV. But the sad reality is that RVs almost always spend at least part of the year in storage. Hopefully these tips will ease the storage process and keep your RV running at it's optimal best, no matter what happens in storage.
Over time fiberglass exposed to UV light will slowly oxidize, creating a dull and vulnerable exterior. Exterior paint is not just for show, it is a protective layer on the RV, shielding the RV from sunlight and other elements that will become problematic for the underlying metal and plastic pieces that incorporate the hull of the RV. Not only will this lead to expensive repairs that could easily have been avoided, it greatly reduces the resale value of the motor home; potential buyers will immediately notice the RV's exterior appearance.
Sunlight is not the only culprit. Sap from trees, acid rain, bird droppings, even normal dust build-up will deteriorate an RV's exterior. Cover less owners will need to spend considerable time washing their vehicles to keep up with the regular wear and tear associated with being stored outside.
Trailer covers are a somewhat expensive and long-lasting investment. Better to research your specific needs and compare to the covers available instead quickly picking out the cheapest option. Like most commodities, a cover on the high end will offer much more quality and variety than a less expensive brand, but there are trade offs. Understanding the features of an RV cover will help narrow the field, and allow some discretion on what your cover really needs to be without bankrupting you.
Getting the size right is obviously the most important element to knowing which cover to purchase. Most RV and trailer cover manufacturers will emphatically display what size RV its cover will fit. Don't just trust the manual, measure the RV yourself to ensure you'll get the right. Owners can also order custom-made covers just for their RV. Generally these are higher quality and include many extra features, but will also cost quite a bit more.
One, two, three layers of polypropylene fabric or polyester... the more layers the more protection and durability, but also more expense. You the owner will decide this if the extra cost is worth the additional layers. Costly covers will likely be stronger and more durable; light weight material is more manageable. Also ensure that the cover is UV and water repellent. Covers that don't repel water will allow it to seep in and potential cause mildew or mold to take hold in the RV.
Nicer trailer covers usually come with other features, such as tie-down straps that go under the motor home to secure the cover; vents to keep wind resistance low and prevent the cover from tearing; and zipper openings that allow access to compartments or doors without having to completely remove the cover. While convenient for loading the motor home without the hassle of removing the cover, it not necessarily an indication of quality, or lack thereof, in a trailer cover.
Buying a name-brand cover is almost always worth the extra cost. These companies must keep their quality high in order to protect the reputation cultivated over years of building revenue. They also offer wider ranges of sizes and strengths, allowing you to more closely customize your cover needs. Lower cost prices might be tempting but many of them offer unrealistic warranties. Like the old adage says, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Sizing and extra features combine to make the price for each cover. Trailers and campers on the smaller end may be as low as $80. However, $200 is a good ballpark figure for those who needs to buy anything substantial in size. A little research and comparison will be quite helpful when choosing a cover. User reviews are especially helpful if purchasing online, and cannot inspect the quality of the cover firsthand.
Robing such a large item like an RV is no easy task. To facilitate the process, have at least two people there for the job. One on the ground and one at the roof is a good start. Unrolling the cover on the ground first, untying or unbuckling any straps, and orienting it to the RV will smooth the process.
Check the Seals
A freshly washed motor home with a smooth protective coat of wax will do wonders to help keep your rig in optimum shape. A wax coat will protect the motor home from UV damage from the sun. It will also keep dust and dirt from building up on the exterior. The wax coating will also make future washing easier and faster. A tip—make sure to wash and wax the roof—the streaks of dirt that crawl down the sides of the RV are from the layers of dirt on the roof.
After washing the RV check and then double check all the seams, caulking and rubber seals—any good spot the silicone or rubber can wear away and cause cracks and drips. Then repair them. Don't wait until after pulling the RV from storage. Early and preventative repairs are far less expensive than the repairs that take you by surprise. Water damage is one of the costliest and most common repair that happens when an RV is in storage.
A major concern in RV upkeep is moisture accumulation. If moisture is allowed to develop it will lead to mold and mildew throughout the entire vehicle. Leaving the roof vents open is an ideal way to fight off the moisture, but you will have to install specialized vent covers. But the vents can then be left open for the entire duration of storage and will make a big difference in the smell and comfort of the RV. Their specialized design keeps rain out, and maintains a healthy air flow. Keeping the interior temperature of the RV similar to that of the air temperature outside is a key factor to inhibiting moisture and mold. Opening the doors to any storage spaces, including the fridge, will also help air out the vehicle.
Blinds and Curtains
Allowing sunlight to regularly filter into the RV is another way to keep mold from taking up residence. Store the RV with just its sheer covering the windows is much better than using the thick light blocking shades. If there is an unknown leak (not uncommon), any section closed off to light will be the perfect breeding ground for mold. Sunlight will help keep the motor home spotless.
Keeping the slides retracted when storing your RV is smart. All the mechanical parts, the rubber seals, roof parts and and slide toppers will stay in pristine condition as they are much less likely to deteriorate from exposure. Leakages will also be less likely. Before putting your motor home into its storage space take the time to clean underneath the slide as well; all the hoses, seals, mechanical parts and roof parts. Once that is done, apply some traditional rubber seal conditioner to the rubber gaskets and add some slide rail corrosion protector. Rubbing baby powder on the inner seals will keep them from sticking to each other when you go to open the slide again after its stint in
Though each part of the country will have its own unique catalog of rodents and insects, no matter where you store your RV there is bound to be some sort of fauna itching to inhabit your motor home. To ensure this unfortunate thing from happening, first check that all external openings are blocked or screened off. Insects love to populate rooftop vents, plumbing pipes, the inside of the exterior fridge panel and fridge vents, the furnace exhaust pipe and air-intake ventilation system. Screens made to fit most of these parts are sold at RV parts stores and outlets.
Even more disturbing than bugs are rodents. Rats and mice will nibble at electrical wiring like it's candy. These wires can be difficult to locate if they are enclosed behind the walls in the RV. Also, rodents will leave their germs droppings everywhere, the dust of which could make one very sick. Take great care to remove all the food supplies from your RV. Scented home goods such as soap, toilet paper, paper towels and toothpaste can also attract rodents and make good nesting materials. If there is not a good food source close at hand, rodents typically will not nest. Spray foam and steel wool are other possible solutions to sealing off any access points underneath the RV.
Turn off all electrical systems in the RV when placing it in storage. Usually there is a battery disconnect switch adjacent to the RV batteries. Doing this will ensure that there will be no way for the battery to become drained while in storage. A dead battery bank at the beginning of RV season is always painful. Only a fully charged battery will suffer through the winter freezes and still come out OK at the other end. A nearly-drained battery might not withstand freezing temperatures and cause problems and damage.
It might be worth the investment to install a solar panel onto your rig. If you happen to have one, do not disconnect it, but rather leave it attached to the power supply and it will keep the batteries charged the whole time in storage. Even a small panel with low wattage will make a big difference in the health of the RV batteries. They will be able to power up as if no time had passed.
Plumbing and Tank System
When it comes to piping and plumbing, temperature will play a big role in determining the extent of storage preparation. If the RV is to remain in storage for just a short time and the temperature will remain above freezing, only a little prep work is needed. Flush the tanks out, then add back a quarter tank of fresh water so that they won't dry out. Include a half cup of bleach to the fresh water and send it through all the pipes. Now the water pipes have been disinfected and there won't be anything that will grow in the water.
If temperatures go below freezing, then a different approach is needed. Drain all water from the plumbing system, even the water heater tank. Don't forget to drain the P traps as well. Once that is done and all the water is gone, add antifreeze back into the pipes, valves and Then I will add antifreeze into the piping, valves, and add a small amount into each waste tank. More in-depth details on winterizing your RV are available online. Make sure to remove any other containers with liquid in them from the RV, such as dish soap or water bottles. These could freeze and crack, making a mess and causing one of those pesky leaks that add to the moisture problem.
The best defense against thieves is to make your RV a difficult target. Trailers can have a hitch lock attached to the king pin, and owners can put chains on the wheels or use a wheel lock. Storing the vehicle in a guarded location is a fantastic solution to avoiding thieves. The general population is not aware that a majority of the motor homes and trailers use the same key for their storage lockers. But that fact has not escaped the notice of individuals up to no good. So change the locks out and that problem is quickly solved.
Upon first purchasing your RV, contact an RV insurance company and make sure that the proper insurance is placed upon your rig. Most storage lots will not cover any damages or losses due to theft. A little extra money for the insurance man is not much and gives you peace of mind.
Those horrific RV tire blowout stories one hears? Those are mostly due to the improper storage of tires. When tires are parked in one place for a long amount of time, they will weaken and lead to tire failure.
- Keep your vehicle in a cool, dry storage area and out of direct sunlight and UV rays.
- Unload your vehicle so that minimum weight is on the tires.
- Inflate your tires to recommended operation pressure plus 25%, but don't exceed the rim manufacturer's inflation capacity.
- Thoroughly clean your tires with soap and water before storing them to remove any oils that may have accumulated from the road.
- Move your vehicle at least every three months to help prevent cracking and flat-spotting, but avoid moving it during extremely cold weather.
- Place your vehicle on blocks to remove the weight from the tires. If the vehicle can't be put on blocks, make sure the storage surface is firm, clean, well-drained and reasonably level.
It may also be worth investing in covers for your tires. These keep metal rims and the tire rubber from deteriorating and forming build-up and gunk due to the outdoor elements. Some RV covers will hang low to the ground, covering the tires, but even so the tires are not really being protected. Individual tire covers will help keep tire replacement low, saving money in the long-run.
Check It Out
The easiest and cheapest way to keep your RV or trailer in fine condition is to just check on it once in a while! It is easy to forget about something when it's not in the immediate vicinity or use, but regularly checking in on your vehicle might keep minor problems from becoming major ones. Anything discreetly noticeable, such as mouse droppings, leaks, or moisture can cause costly repairs, but might not do so if taken care of quickly.
In an ideal world one would never have to store an RV. There would always be plenty of time to put rubber to the pavement and watch the miles pass us by as we take our time in the RV. But that is not a realistic scenario for most people. The sad reality is that RVs almost always spend at least part of the year in storage. Hopefully these tips will ease the storage process and keep your RV running at it's optimal best, no matter what happens in storage.