It’s that time of year; the nights are drawing in and days are getting colder. These days, modern caravans are designed for use over winter with double glazing and central heating allowing owners to get use of their beloved holiday home for longer. Many owners though, still close their caravan at the end of season and then eagerly count the days until they can return in Spring. What can you do to make returning in Spring a stress-free experience?
First and foremost: one of the biggest dangers to any caravan is moisture. You can buy dehumidifying crystals or simply buy a big bag of salt and place bowlfuls of salt around the caravan to absorb any moisture. Put at least 1 in every room; with maybe three or four in the lounge.
Leaving doors and cupboards open and ensuring that vents are not covered will help in deterring mildew and damp as it helps the air circulate and prevent condensation.
On many social media forums and on our parks, the biggest debate often is whether to leave the curtains open or closed. There are genuine arguments for both sides however, parks tend to advise leaving them open. A bit of winter sun generally won’t hurt, and the park staff can keep an eye on things while you are away. Just don’t leave any valuable items on display! Empty caravan parks provide the perfect opportunity for thieves. Either hide them away or, better still, take them home.
This will also give you an opportunity to remove all the curtains and nets and take them home to be washed or dry cleaned. At the very least, make sure curtains aren’t left up against windows as windows will get cold and damp in winter risking mould growing on them.
As the weather gets colder, wildlife look for warm places to set up camp for the colder months. Make sure this isn’t your precious caravan! Remove all food and if you do leave any non-perishables make sure they are stored in air tight containers.
Deep clean your caravan paying special attention to the kitchen and bathroom. Ensure carpets are well hoovered before leaving getting into all those nooks and crannies.
Clean your fridge/freezer thoroughly with an anti-bacterial spray and then turn it off and leave the door propped open to stop any mould or mildew. If you have an old towel or pillow, leave it underneath to catch any remaining moisture. Remember, even if you leave your fridge/freezer on, power cuts over winter could mean that anything left in the fridge or freezer is damaged. Best to just empty it.
It’s best to take fabric items such as clothes, duvets, pillows, sleeping bags and any linen home with you. If you do leave them over winter, give them an airing before being stored for the winter months and maybe consider using vacuum packs as this will keep them dry and sealed securely.
Take all the mattresses off the beds and cushions off the sofa and stand them up or lean them against an internal wall to allow them to be properly ventilated. Move any fabric items like this away from the side (exterior) walls of the caravan.
Unplug all electrical appliances (except the boiler, which you may wish to leave on a frost setting).
If you have Central Heating, refer to your manufacturer’s manual or seek professional advice from the park. General recommendations are that a central heating boiler should be left operating over the winter on a frost or low temperature setting so that it will operate in freezing conditions helping to prevent frost damage. The pipes will, therefore, be better protected against a hard frost and it will also help keep the caravan aired and dry.
Anti-freeze (inhibitor) levels should be checked in the central heating system to help prevent frost damage in the event of freezing conditions. The park will do this as part of our drain down service.
Tidy the outside areas and garden, store away garden furniture, garden ornaments and other accessories, leave nothing outside that could blow away in strong winds. If you have an outdoor shed/storage unit, ensure it is locked and secured down. Our parks are located in an exposed area of the beautiful Welsh coast; storage units and their contents are often the first to go in high winds!
Inspect the caravan above and below so that any problems you discover before you leave for the season can be rectified. Does the chassis need to be treated to ensure a longer life? Check your caravan for any leaks that may have occurred over the season. Make sure not to only check door and windows, but the walls and ceilings as well. Ensure guttering is clear as stagnant rain water can cause water ingress and damp spots.
Draining down or winterising your caravan is imperative whether you do this yourself or ask the park to. If you don’t book a park drain down, be sure to check conditions of your insurance so that you know of any requirements and exclusions in the event of a claim for frost damage. Here in the UK, our winters can be mild and, whilst you may have escaped frost damage for many years without a professional drain down, one freezing cold winter can change that, and our weather is certainly getting more extreme.
It may sound like a lot of work, but you will reap the benefits when you return to your beloved second home after winter, believe us!