Unless you're a hardcore, year-round, home-on-the-road RVer, there will come a time when you need to put your vehicle aside while you focus on other, more stationary concerns. In order to prepare for short or long-term RV storage, you'll need to follow a series of steps to clean and winterize or otherwise protect your beloved motorhome, trailer, toy hauler, or camper during its dormant period so that when it's time to get hit the road, you can quickly get back to doing what you love. Read on for some helpful RV organization ideas and preparation tips from experts.
Get a Space
Assuming you haven't already secured a storage location (in which case, skip to Get Organized) you'll need to find one. Very few people can store their RVs on their own property, as this is illegal in many states and municipalities and/or prohibited by individual homeowners' associations. If you're lucky a friend or family member can help out. If not, you'll need to look for commercial storage.
Finding the right RV storage takes more than simply searching for "RV storage near me." You'll want to consider if you require an outdoor facility (typically the case for larger vehicles, such as Class A motorhomes and fifth wheel campers). Some outdoor storage will be covered like a carport while others will look more like a parking space. Indoor storage, on the other hand, naturally offers more protection from the elements and weather events. All of this being said, the kind of storage you select for your RV will have some impact on the steps you need to take in advance of leaving it there.
Just as you do with your home before you leave on vacation, you'll want to get your things in order before you stow your RV.
Pest control and repair
Start by inspecting it inside and out for any existing damage. The number one thing to look for is evidence of mice and other critters who might have found their way into your vehicle. Yes, you read that right…critters!
"Any animals getting into your RV can eat away at your wires or build a nest which can be a fire hazard anywhere there might be an open flame," says Marc Kelly, author and blogger at RV Love. "That includes the propane fridge, the furnace, or the engine bay. We know that fires are one of the biggest safety concerns with RVs, so it's critical to be aware of these potential risks."
Now is the time to fix any pest issues. If you find any gaps or openings on the underside of the vehicle, in crevices, or in any corners, fill them with expanding foam. Caulk any cracks in the roof, walls, or elsewhere to seal away possible entry points for further invasion.
Remove items and clean
Next, clear out your space. Remove any and all food. Defrost your refrigerator/freezer and wipe them clean, leaving an open box of baking soda inside to prevent odors from lingering. Remove any valuables and transfer them somewhere else for safekeeping. Clean the living space, vacuuming the floors, and wiping down all surfaces.
Gather storage supplies
Purchase and/or gather RV organization accessories you might need, such as an RV cover (see below), cleaning products, wood for the wheels, spray lubricant, RV antifreeze, fuel stabilizer, and tire covers. Now you can drive to your storage or parking place and park before proceeding to the next steps.
Time to ready your systems. First, remove and bypass any inline water filters to avoid damage from winterization chemicals. Then, drain your black and gray tanks, disposing of all wastewater, and clean the black tank.
"Otherwise you find that the liquids evaporate over time and you end up with permanent deposits in your tanks, which is not pleasant," says RV expert Marshall Wendler of Camp Addict.
When you think of winterization for a home, you generally think of protecting pipes and fixtures from freezing, and that goes for an RV as well. Drain your plumbing lines entirely, including your water heater. Bypass the water heater and put in an RV antifreeze agent, running it through the entire system.
It's important to use an antifreeze specifically designed for RVs because unlike other vehicles, the RV's plumbing has to run drinking water. (When you are eager to get back on the open road again with your RV, you will flush it out with cold water before returning it to full operations.)
Another key step is to shore up your fuel system with a fuel stabilizer to protect it from corrosion and build-up. This will also help save any leftover fuel by keeping it fresh through the duration of storage.
Smart tip: Check with your storage facility about their policies for storing vehicles as many don't allow you to store your vehicles with fuel in the tank.
Your RV engine battery will drain over time, and you want to preserve its life so it's ready to go when you are! Easily do this by disconnecting the battery and remove it. Keep it in a safe place. The same goes for any other batteries associated with the RV.
Most RV owners opting for outdoor storage, and even many of those with indoor storage, use RV covers to not only protect the vehicle from the harshest elements but also to keep it safe from critters.
"If you don't use an RV cover, you'll want to cover up things like the furnace, the outlets, the water heater, and the refrigerator," says Kelly. "Those are all places where insects, birds, bats, rodents, and snakes can get in.” Bats and snakes! RVing is not for the faint at heart.
Putting tire covers on your tires isn't a bad idea either.
"UV light is the biggest killer of tires, and if your RV is sitting stagnant for a long time it can really destroy the sidewalls," Wendler says.
Some RV owners also use trailer legs, wooden blocks or jack stands to avoid flat spots on the tires and relieve pressure on the wheels during a long period of inactivity.
If you'll be storing your RV in a humid climate, consider leaving a product such as DampRid inside to protect it from moisture – available at your local CubeSmart. If, on the other hand, your storage space is in a dry climate, leave a bucket of water on the floor of the inside of the RV to prevent any interior wood from cracking or drying out.
When you're all done with these steps, you're ready to safely store your RV—that is, until your next journey calls.