Storing an RV Outside in the Winter
It’s starting to get cold again. As we get further into the fall and winter, your RV trips are going to steadily wind down and get fewer and farther in between. This usually means that you are going to be parking or storing your RV through next spring or summer.
Where are you parking your RV in the off-season?
What are you doing to prep it for the colder, harsh winter months?
How are you going to store your RV this year?
There’s a chance that you may have plenty of driveway space or a slot in your driveway for your RV. If not, you are probably going to be storing your RV outside and paying to rent space to store your RV during the frigid months of winter.
Regardless of where you are going to be storing your RV, if you don’t take proper care of your RV and prep work before parking it over winter, you could cause serious problems and hundreds or thousands of dollars in damage while it’s sitting in the elements.
If you know you have to park your RV outside this winter, there are some simple ways that you can make sure you pick up your RV in the same condition that you found it. You need to prioritize preparing your RV for parking and storing it. Here are some of our top tips for preparing and parking your RV this winter.
1) Drain the Water
One of the most important things that you can start with when preparing your RV to stay parked and dormant for the winter is to make sure that your water tanks are drained. Draining the water is a critical first step in getting your RV ready to park and store.
This simple first step will not only make sure that your RV is ready to fire up and take on vacation when the weather gets warmer again, but it will also make sure that you prevent damage from being done to your RV.
Any water that is left sitting in your lines over the winter can freeze. This isn’t just an inconvenience but can cause serious damage to your RV by breaking your fittings and water lines. The last thing that you want to find when you pick up your RV is that your water lines are destroyed. This can be an expensive and stressful fix.
The first thing that you are going to need to do is empty all of the tanks in your RV including your fresh, gray, and black water tanks. Be sure that your piping system and tanks are totally empty.
The next step is to run nontoxic antifreeze through your RV’s water system. This will help push any reticent water through your system, and keep any leftover water in your system from freezing over. If you are uncomfortable doing this on your own, you can always hire an RV expert to do this for you.
2) Preparing the Exterior of Your RV
After the water is drained and clear, you want to do is make sure that your exterior is prepared for the winter. Whether you took a lot of trips and vacations over the summer and spring or not, there’s a chance that you may have incurred some body damage or normal wear and tear to your RV.
Even if you didn’t accumulate any new damage to your vehicle, you will want to make sure that you check any previous damage that was done to your vehicle to make sure that it is sealed completely and properly.
If your area gets really cold during the winter, water, snow, and moisture can seep through the open cracks and gashes of your RV and cause serious damage to the interior and exterior of your vehicle. Additionally, you want to be sure to check that you don’t have any.
If you are resealing any existing holes, slits, or cracks in your vehicle, you need to be sure that you use high-grade RV sealant. This is not something that you want to leave to chance with any kind of cheap sealant or caulking for your RV.
Just in case you aren’t sure what sealant you should be using for your RV, we highly recommend you talk to a qualified RV dealer, repair shop, or specialist so that you can get a durable, long-lasting sealant to protect your RV this winter.
3) Finding a Safe Place to Store and Park it
If you can store your RV out on your lawn or in your driveway, that’s wonderful. It just makes it that much easier for you to keep an eye on it during the winter. Should it get covered in snow or rained on, you can brush the snow off or go out and check to make sure that there aren’t any harmful leaks coming through your RV. The ideal scenario is that you have a covered area where you can park your RV to prevent winter wear and tear.
If you don’t, here are a few pointers for parking your RV outside during the winter:
- Park in a place that is clear of trees. The last thing that you want is a tree to fall on your vehicle during a blizzard or ice storm.
- Park in a place where you are sheltered from the wind if you can.
- If you can park it on your property or outside of your property, make sure that you have any special permitting you need (if any) to park your RV there.
For those of you who do have the luxury of being able to store your RV at home, you want to be sure that you have a safe place that you can rent to store it during the winter.
Many RV owners simply don’t have the room or the space to store their RV. If that’s the case, you want to be sure that you find a location that is as safe and protected as possible. Most of the time you aren’t going to find RV storage lots that have any kind of covered parking, but if you do that’s ideal.
4) Cover your RV
Whether you are parking your RV at some type of formal RV storage park or at home, you need to make sure that you cover your RV. Having your RV exposed to harsh winter elements like snow, rain, wind, and ice can deteriorate your RV quickly. You can get a lot more usable life out of your RV and keep it looking nicer for longer if you cover your RV during the winter months.
Just a simple tarp isn’t going to cut it. You invested good money into your RV, and it’s totally worth it to invest in a high-quality cover that is going to protect your vacation home. We recommend that you get a specialty RV cover that fits your vehicle snugly.
Tarps can flap around and actually cause damage to the paint and exterior of your car. Talk to an RV expert or dealership about the cover recommendations that they have for your particular RV, and ones that they would recommend specifically for protection during the winter.
5) Get Tire Covers
RV tires are anything but cheap. Just like the rest of your RV, exposing your tires to cold weather and tough winter elements can wear out your tires more quickly, and for most, that’s an expense that you only want to face as few times as you possibly can over the years.
Find some high-quality tire covers that fit your RV’s tires appropriately. This will help make sure that your tires last for longer, and that they’ll be ready to go when you start up or pick up your RV in the spring.
6) Disconnect and Store Your Battery
Since you aren’t going to be running your RV for a while, there is a reason that you should leave your battery in it. Leaving your battery in your RV over the winter months without running it can wear out your battery faster.
We recommend that you store your battery somewhere safely, in a cool dry place somewhere around your home.
7) Check it Regularly
This should go without saying, but you should be checking in on your RV throughout the winter months. We recommend that you check the interior and the exterior thoroughly every 3-4 weeks while it is in storage for the winter.
This will help minimize the chances of anything from small things that could damage your RV to large catastrophic events from wrecking your vacation vehicle.