Diligent and meticulous preparation ensures that your investment in an RV or trailer will not be compromised while it is in storage for any season.  Taking the right steps assures you that your vehicle will remain in good condition.  Otherwise, you run the risk of encountering problems just when you are about to take your family on a road trip.  Aside from the hassle, you will have to worry about a significant repair bill when your RV is damaged due to moisture, cracks, and freezing.

General Checklist before Storing Your RV or Trailer

Initially, check the overall condition of your RV or travel trailer before storing it for any season.

Here is a general checklist of items you need to look into. It is also best to read the manufacturer’s manual that came with your RV or trailer for specific storage instructions.

  • Prior to storing your RV or trailer, it is a good idea to go on a short drive around the block. Take note of any significant sounds that may indicate engine or tire trouble. Make sure to have these checked by a professional prior to storage.
  • Carry out a thorough inspection of your vehicle from top to bottom. Check for anything that may be broken like awnings or seals. Get these fixed right away to prevent further damage due to moisture.
  • Take the time to remove items that may freeze during the winter season from the RV or trailer. In particular, take out liquid containers that get damaged due to extreme cold.
  • Remove and wash bedding sheets and linens for storage.
  • Make sure to vacuum the carpets, floors, and cushions.
  • Seal and waterproof cracks or peels along the exterior of the RV or trailer.
  • Wash the RV or trailer then apply a coat of wax.
  • Empty the cupboards for food items to minimize the onslaught of critters.
  • Turn off and empty the refrigerator then defrost it. To reduce odors, place baking soda inside the refrigerator and leave the door open to prevent the growth of molds.

Saving Your Battery for Storage

It is essential to ensure that your battery is prepped for storage to protect it from the cold. Moreover, you do not want to deal with a dead battery when you take your RV or trailer out of storage.

Make sure that the battery is fully charged as this lessens the chances of freezing in cold weather. A battery with a weak charge is more likely to freeze and get damaged.   Your battery will also last longer if you take the time to prevent the possibility of discharge. Make sure to disconnect or turn off equipment in the RV or trailer that can drain the battery.  This includes the alarm, TV antenna, and shut-off valves. It is also best to detach the negative cable from the battery. In this way, even if you forget to switch off a device, the battery charge stays intact.

If you live in an area that experiences extreme cold during the winter, it is better to take out the battery. Keep it stored in a dry room with an ambient temperature.

Prevent Plumbing Disasters

The chances of a plumbing disaster are greater if you do not take the necessary precautions. For the winter period, it is advisable to get rid of the water running through the system before storage. This includes the water in the heater tank.

Afterwards, add anti-freeze to the pipes, valves, traps, as well as the waste tank to treat the entire system. The addition of antifreeze prevents any leftover water from turning into ice.

In some cases, it may not be necessary to add antifreeze to the fresh water or black water holding tanks. If a small amount of liquid is left, there is still enough space for expansion should it freeze up. However, it is important to pay close attention to the waterlines as these have little room for expansion.

Leftover water that freezes in the system can cause expansion and eventually break the pipes open. As a result, the RV or trailer may get soaked and cause additional damage to the floors.

Take Care of Your Tires

See to it the tires of the RV or trailer are prepped correctly for storage. This ensures it is ready for road travel when you need it. The last thing you want is to discover tire blowouts on the day of your trip.

As with any other vehicle, tires weaken if left in the same place and position for a long period of time. This could lead to an accident while you are on the road. Bear in mind the following tire tips before checking your RV or trailer into storage.

  • In terms of storage location, choose an area that is cool, dry and away from direct sunlight.
  • Leave only the bare essentials, if possible, take out items that are not built in to the vehicle. The lesser weight carried by the tires the better.

In some cases, it is helpful to place the vehicle on blocks to limit the weight on the tires. This is especially practical if you plan to keep the vehicle in storage for more than three months.

Alternatively, you may opt to remove the tires altogether and place the vehicle on top of blocks while in storage. This reduces the chances that your tires will get flat spots if kept in a stationary position for too long.

If possible, move the RV or trailer to turn the tires to keep the rubber from cracking. This also limits the chances of flat spots. However, avoid doing this if the weather is too cold.

  • Add 25% more air into your tires on top of the recommended pressure. However, take care not to go beyond the inflation capacity set by the rim manufacturer.
  • Take the time to wash your tires thoroughly. Use soap and water to remove oil that has gathered over time during your travels.
  • Use protective tarps to cover the tires after pressurizing and cleaning.

It is best to prepare your RV or trailer for storage to minimize problems later on. So that when the season permits you can get on the road safely without delay.

Taking the time to prepare your RV or trailer for storage certainly pays off in the long run. It limits the likelihood that you would spend thousands of dollars to have damages repaired. Moreover, you and your family will get to enjoy your RV or travel trailer for a very long time.

Towards the end of the boating season, it is wise to map out options for storing your boat-RV during winter. Preventive measures are keys to protecting your investment in this recreational vehicle. Do not be complacent even if you have an insurance policy, or if you live in a state with a more temperate climate. Unexpected cold spells have been known to happen even in states that are considered warmer than the northern climes. If your boat sustains any damage due to neglect or improper winterization, you could have a steep expense to deal with come spring. Thus, it would be best for you to anticipate the possible cold spells in your area, and schedule your boat-RV winterization well before that.  You can actually check out your local gardening websites to find out when the first freeze is expected.

Here are some quick tips on how you can get your RV for the colder winter months:

Tip #1:  Decide where it’s best to store your boat. Some boat owners prefer to dock their RVs in the water during winter, so they can take advantage of a couple mild winter days and easily take their boats out in the water.  There are others who prefer to store their boats in their own garages or storage facilities.

If you own a big boat, then it’s probably best to have your boat stored in your local Marina, where they’re bound to have a winterization service to offer. Alternatively, you may opt to shrink-wrap your boat to ensure it is safely sealed against possible cracks, condensation, and other damage usually brought on by deep freezes.

For those on a budget, marina storage and shrink-wrapping are costlier ways of keeping your boat safe during the winter.  You may opt to keep your boat on land – on your trailer, in your garage, in a boat yard or storage facility. Just keep in mind that having boats on dry land during winter is actually a riskier undertaking.  The boat will be more exposed to freezing temperatures all around, without the moderating effect of water temperatures to keep the boat relatively safer from hard freezes.

Tip #2:  If you do decide to keep your boat on land, make sure you winterize it properly before keeping it under a dry, secure cover, and storing it inside a climate-controlled boat storage facility.

Tip #3:  First check your boat’s manual for specific instructions on how to winterize your boat or for where to find certain valves and other parts.  You may have to move around your boat to have a visual check before you start working on your RV.

Tip #4:  Prepare all the materials you will need in winterizing your RV.  You will need:

    • Battery charger – You can charge your battery while you are winterizing the boat. Be sure to disconnect your charger after your winterizing is done.
    • Oil-changing kit – Prepare an oil pan, a funnel, a 12-volt charger to help pump the oil out, and some handy towels.
    • Storage fogger or fogging oil
    • Sea foam – This is your fuel stabilizer, and you can buy it by the gallon.
    • Motor oil
    • Lower unit oil
    • Grease gun
    • Anti-freeze with an optional dispenser (attached to a hose with hose adaptor) for hard-to-reach valves or pipes – It is advisable to use non-toxic anti-freeze so that when spring arrives, you can just fire up your boat and you’re good to go.

Tip #5:  Stabilize your fuel for long storage. Check your sea foam container for instructions on mixing (example = 1 ounce of sea foam:1 gallon fuel). Not only will the stabilizer prep your boat for winter storage, it will also preserve fuel for several months to a year, prevent fuel system deposits, and even help prevent corrosion.

Run your engine, bringing the temperature up to operating temperature in order to run the fuel that was just treated, and get the engine hot enough to facilitate oil flow during the oil change. For safety, always remove the propeller before running your engine. Then clean the prop shaft and grease it adequately. Finally, put the propeller back on, making sure to lock it tightly.

Tip #6:  Drain oil from the engine, then change the oil filter according to your boat model. Have an oil diaper handy to catch any residual oil. Before replacing the filter, coat the seal and threads of the filter with engine oil, and pour a little bit of it in to prime the filter as well. Then screw the new filter in place.

Refill your engine with new oil. Just as a little side note: remove the cap foil completely so there’s no risk of it falling into the engine.

You also have to check that the splines and O-rings are properly oiled and lubricated.  Drain and refill the lower unit of your overdrive with gear lubricant.  Always remember to have water running through the lower unit while replacing the oil. The internal impeller is made of rubber.  If it is not wet, it will be damaged. Hook up a water muff so water pump impeller won’t be ruined.  Do not forget to top up the gear lube monitor bottle.

Tip #7:  Fog your engine and drain cooling water.  Run your engine to fog it.  Remove the spark arrestor and spray the fogging oil into your carburettor, with the engine RPM slightly up. After fogging, change the fuel filter in anticipation of your spring crank up.

Drain the block and manifolds of all cooling water. Again, be sure to check your owner’s manual to locate all of your boat’s drains. It’s vital to open all of them.  After draining, fill the block and manifolds with anti-freeze. Any residual water will be treated to prevent any water freezing and pipe corrosion during winter.

It is always best to check the condition of your outdrive at least once a year. When you disconnect and reconnect your drive, put it in forward gear for alignment when sliding it on or off the shift coupling.  Before you store your boat RV for the winter season, remember to fully charge its battery and then remove and store it separately.  It is also advisable to wash and wax your boat before covering it with a tarp. If this is your first time to winterize a boat, have an experienced friend help you or get a professional to do the job.

One of the best things about summer is that it’s ideal for so many water activities. The warm, sunny weather along with the calm blue waters on the beach or at the lake are practically an invitation to take a boat out sailing, fishing, or for a relaxing cruise. This sort of practice has become a summer tradition among many families, so a lot of them opt to purchase a boat for their own personal use.

However, summer vacations also come to an end. After about three glorious months of sun and sail, the leaves turn brown and the temperature drops, signaling an end to the summer season. This also means that your boat needs to be put away for storage.

Ironically, the “time off” for your boat can actually speed up the process of wear and tear unless you take time to store your boat properly for the long winter months. Keeping the boat dry during storage is especially important. Any sort of moisture that manages to sneak in can freeze up in the nooks and crannies of your boat, eventually causing rust and corrosion.

Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to ensure that your boat can withstand a prolonged period of winter storage.

Here are tips on how you can keep your boat dry:

  • Always, always clean your boat. Rust, corrosion, and excess moisture will find it much harder to penetrate your boat if it has been cleaned properly. Before you put your boat away for the season, give it a thorough cleaning: wash the deck, bottom, and topsides with soap and water, wipe the hardware and trim clean, and apply a layer of wax on the boat’s topsides once they’ve been washed and dried.

If your boat is made of fiberglass and if it has spent extended amounts of time in the waters, check the surfaces for any blisters and patch them up immediately if you find them. If you have any canvas materials on the boat, dry them thoroughly in the sun before stowing the vessel away. Better yet, remove them from the boat and store them indoors instead.

  • Give your metal trailer roller a bit of TLC. A generous spray of a good water and dirt displacing lubricant on your boat’s metal trailer roller can do wonders for keeping rust and corrosion away from the base of your boat. Spray the lubricant on areas like the winch gear, assemblies, and electrical connections to discourage moisture from taking hold during the winter months.

As with the boat, check your trailer for rust spots as well. Should you find such, sand, prime, and paint over them accordingly to prevent them from spreading over the trailer and your boat.

  • Check the boat’s engines for build-up and lubricate it properly after cleaning. Inspect your boat’s stern drive engine for gum or carbon deposits and treat them with a specialized aerosol to dissolve and flush them from your engine.

As an added precautionary measure, you may want to spray a special storage oil into the air intakes while you let the engine run. This will leave a protective film in the interior of your engine, discouraging moisture from seeping in and making it easier to restart the engine after storage.

Once your engines have been cleaned thoroughly, lubricate its oil filter, inboards and outboards with the appropriate kind of grease as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Set up the fuel system for proper storage. It might seem counter intuitive, but you should top up your boat’s fuel tank prior to storage. If you leave your fuel tank half-empty, you run the risk of moisture or condensation forming on the walls of the tank.

Before you fill up your tank, however, you may want to change your fuel filter first. This is especially important if the boat has been through a long season as carbon deposits may have formed on the filter in use.

Another way to prep your fuel system for the winter is to introduce a marine fuel stabilizer. The stabilizer discourages the build-up of gum and varnish in the fuel system when the engine is not in use. It also keeps the fuel from freezing up or separating during the cold winter months.

To add a stabilizer to your fuel system, refer to the boat manual for instructions on how to introduce it into the engine and use the appropriate stabilizer as per the manual’s recommendations. Do run the engine for a bit after adding the stabilizer to make sure that it circulates evenly.

  • Flush your outboard motors. If you’ve used your boat on the open waters of the sea, salt and dirt is bound to collect on your outboard motors. These tend to attract corrosion, so flush them out with fresh water and then drain out all the water from the engine once there are no traces of dirt or salt left.

You may also want to do the same for your raw water cooling systems to remove or flush out the same kind of build-up. (Also, if you live in an area that suffers from extreme winters, you may want to run anti-freeze through to the cylinder block of the interior motor’s engine.)

  • Keep the bow of your boat and trailer rig in a slight bow-up position in storage. This position is best for allowing any residual water to drain out so that the interiors of the boat stay dry. Don’t neglect to detach the drain plug. Either keep the plug indoors or tie it up to the ignition key so you can find it easily when it’s time to bring the boat out again.
  • Inspect the boat periodically throughout the winter for any accumulated water or critters. Get rid of any that you find and refasten the covers to keep them tight. This is especially crucial if you are storing your boat on a trailer outside.
  • If you are unable to provide interior storage for your boat, avoid parking its trailer under the trees. The branches may snap off during blizzards and fall into your boat. Falling leaves and needles may also fall into your boat and block up your drains, making it hard for any moisture to escape the boat.

Most of all, it is important to consult your boat’s manual for any additional precautions that your model may require. Be sure to follow instructions and specifications about what sort of cleaning materials to use and whether or not you need additional substances like anti-freeze and such.