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Step-by-step Guide to Preparing Your Caravan for Winter

  • Step-by-step Guide to Preparing Your Caravan for Winter

The ultimate guide to caravan winterisation

Winter is coming and if you are not planning to use your caravan for venturing out into the cold, you need to make sure it is well-prepared for storage. Winterising your caravan means taking steps towards protecting it from the effects of frost, dampness, mould, vermin and theft.

To help you prep your caravan, we’ve put together this practical step-by-step winterisation guide covering all of the most important components of your caravan — we hope you will find it useful.

Step 1: Servicing 

The best first step you can take towards getting your caravan ready for winter is to schedule a service appointment. We highly recommend servicing your vehicle on an annual basis at the end of the season.

As with your car, simply getting your vehicle serviced can help prevent potential problems with the gas system, undercarriage and overall maintenance so it’s ready for next season. Make sure to review your insurance policy, as in many cases it may require you to conduct an annual service.

Step 2: Plumbing 

A winterisation step that is often overlooked is dealing with the water trapped in pipes. In sub-zero temperatures, water can freeze and thaw causing pipes to swell, potentially cracking or bursting them. To prevent plumbing damage, take these steps: 

  1. Open all tank valves to fully drain the onboard and external tanks. Leave them open. 

  2. Locate the safety drain valve (yellow handle) near the water heater and leave it open. 

  3. Fully open the taps and shower mixer. Position the mixer to the middle setting and leave all taps open. 

  4. Unscrew and remove the showerhead and hose. Shake out any remaining water and leave disconnected. 

  5. Briefly run the water pump until all water is expelled. 

  6. Disconnect the inlet and outlet pipes to the onboard water pump and filter. Briefly run the pump again to remove the remaining water and leave the system disconnected.

  7. Ensure the cap is properly secured over the water heater to prevent damage

  8. Clean the water pipes and tanks using a steriliser. 

Step 3: Electrical 

While servicing your caravan and winterising the pumping system are important first steps, you should also definitely check the electrical systems are ready for storage — whether your caravan hooks up to the mains or not. 

If stored while connected to 230V mains hook-up: 

  1. Ensure the leisure battery and the 20A fuse(s) are connected. 

  2. Leave the PSU isolator switch (if equipped) in the ON position, but turn the control panel OFF. 

  3. Use the heating system's first protection mode if installed. 

  4. Check the battery’s condition periodically. 

If stored without connection to 230V mains hook-up: 

  1. Fully charge the leisure battery for 24 hours before storage. 

  2. Ensure the power supply unit (PSU) isolation button (if equipped) is OFF.

  3. Only connect the battery/fuses if an alarm or tracker is fitted — it will drain the battery over time, so regularly (monthly) check/recharge the battery. 

  4. Otherwise, remove the leisure battery and store it in a dry location. 

  5. Batteries should not be damaged by winter temperatures, but you should maintain a charge to maximise lifespan. 

Step 4: Gas System

The gas system is a vital part of your caravan, providing heat and cooking capabilities, so properly winterising its components is next up. To prepare the gas system for storage: 

  1. Shut off the gas supply at the gas bottle valve to isolate the system.

  2. Turn off all gas taps at the manifold to close individual appliances. 

  3. Inspect the gas hose and regulator for age and wear. Replace them if needed. 

Step 5: Appliances 

The fifth step involves winterising the interior appliances so everything is fresh and ready heading into the next season. 

  1. Check the smoke alarm battery expiration and replace it as needed. 

  2. Thoroughly clean the inside of the refrigerator. 

  3. Turn off the fridge and freezer. Prop doors open to air out. 

  4. Install the fridge vent covers (if available). 

  5. Clean all cooktop/oven/microwave surfaces. 

  6. Unplug the microwave if you’re leaving the caravan connected to power during storage. 

  7. Ensure all other appliances are turned off. 

Step 6: Toilets 

Not always the prettiest of jobs, but just like with plumbing and electrical it’s important to prep the toilet for storage to prevent freezing, odours and mould growth. 

  1. Remove toilet caps, apply acid-free Vaseline or similar to the seals, drain the toilet reservoir and empty the cassette tank. 
  2. Drain the fresh water tank using the drain tube/water level indicator. You can do this by pulling the level indicator/drain tube down from the top plug position and outward through the door opening. 
  3. Remove the small water cap on the filler's bottom, allowing water to drain from the water funnel. Do not tighten caps as this helps keep the unit dry. 
  4. Leave the pour spout and vent plugs off and grease seals with acid-free Vaseline if needed

Step 7: Interior 

Taking time to dry out, ventilate and clean the interior before storage will help to prevent musty smells and mould growth when the caravan is reopened for the new camping season. 

  1. Open all interior cabinets and doors to promote air circulation.

  2. Ventilate the interior by periodically opening doors and windows. Place moisture-absorbing crystals inside to reduce dampness. 

  3. Remove the cushions and store them in a dry location or place them in well-ventilated areas. 

  4. Close all blinds and curtains.

  5. Clean all surfaces, hoover the floors and empty bins. 

  6. Open mattresses and prop them up to air out during storage. 

Step 8: Exterior 

Last but not least is the exterior. While the interior components are the first priority when it comes to winterising your vehicle, it’s just as important to prepare the exterior of your caravan. 

  1. Close and secure all windows, skylights and access doors. 

  2. Ensure ventilation openings are clear of obstructions and debris. 

  3. Park away from trees and overhangs to prevent damage from falling debris. 

  4. Avoid soft ground or areas where water could collect under the vehicle. 

  5. If you’re not leaving your vehicle on the road, remove the road wheels.

  6. Or if being left on the road, rotate wheels every two weeks and maintain air pressure.  

  7. Lubricate chassis components as needed. 

  8. Use a fitted breathable cover or tarp to protect the exterior. 

Tamar Caravan Centre is here to help! 

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to get in touch with our amazing team. We have a very talented trained workshop team who can do everything suggested in this guide and much more to get your caravan into tip-top shape for Winter.