Winter preparations for a static caravan

Unused static caravans can be vulnerable to damage caused by the cold. Frozen pipes, condensation, mildew and wildlife infestations are common problems that people come back to after leaving a static caravan for the winter.

First and foremost, dig out your insurance documents and check for any terms referring to when the site is closed and the static is unoccupied. Some criteria, like turning off the water and draining down the  pipes, can be essential to keep your insurance valid through the winter months. We suggest you make these criteria top of your winter check list to stay protected.

On your last day, try to air the caravan as much as possible, opening doors and windows. This is also a good time to check the window seals and ensure that the locks are in good order. WD40 can be used to help keep locks and latches in good working order.

Let's start with the easiest areas first:

Bedrooms

Remove any valuables from cupboards. Take the bedding such as duvets, blankets and pillows home or alternatively place in vacuum-sealed bags. Stand mattresses on their edge if there's room. Leave the cupboard and wardrobe doors open. This will show there's nothing of value hidden away and improve air circulation.

And finally, leave the bedroom doors ajar to improve air flow.

Kitchen

Protect your static caravan from wildlife during the winter

Empty the fridge of all food and wash the inside with a weak solution of bicarbonate of soda. Leave the fridge door open. Remove all food in the cupboards and wash with an anti-bacterial cleaner.

Don't be tempted to leave unopened packets of food. This will not deter mice and other rodents. If you're leaving tinned goods, stand them on paper to avoid rust rings. Clean all surfaces and the cooker. Leave the cupboards open.

Lounge

Take home anything of value such as a TV, DVD player or music system. Clean all surfaces in case of food spills or crumbs. Move all the sofa cushions away from exterior walls. Roll up any loose rugs and stand on end.

Bathroom

Before turning off the water supply, lift the lid on the toilet cistern, flush the toilet and as the cistern refills, add anti-freeze in roughly 3 of water and 1 of antifreeze proportions. Remove the shower hose and shower head as these could be damaged if any water left in them freezes.

General

Curtains encourage mildew during the winter

Consider removing curtains or nets to avoid mildew. If you do decide not to take them home, be aware that most sites recommend that curtains are left open. This may go against your instincts but it does make sense as it will prove there's nothing worth breaking in for.
If your van has blinds, do not leave them down as this can damage the mechanism. Vacuum all the carpets and clean surfaces to remove any food crumbs.

Exterior

Make sure all guttering and downpipes are in good order. Block up any gaps that insects or rodents could use to gain access to your caravan. Take a look at the roof, chassis and skylights to ensure there are no leaks or loose joints. Will the steps last another winter? If they are removable, then place inside the caravan. Many static caravans are still fitted with tyres even if the unit is on blocks. What's their condition? Tyre manufacturers recommend that tyres, even if they haven't been used, should be replaced after ten years as they deteriorate when exposed to sunlight and ozone. Clear any vegetation that might have grown close to or underneath the van to discourage wildlife.

Make sure any loose items such as chairs are stored safely away.

Additional winter checklist

Run through our handy check list and make sure you've done all you can to get your static caravan ready for the winter.

  • Turn off and disconnect the bottled gas supply and store the canister safely. It is important not to leave the gas connected. Some people light one of the gas rings and then disconnect the gas supply so that when the flame dies they can be certain there's no gas left in the piping.

  • Disconnect the electricity. There should be a mains switch in one of the bedroom cupboards.

  • Shut off the water supply at the stop cock. If there's no drain down pipe tap you should disconnect the pipe above the stop cock so that water in the pipes is free to drain down.

  • Find any drain down taps under the caravan and open them. These are generally under the kitchen and bathroom areas but your caravan handbook should provide the location.

  • Turn on all the taps, including the shower and leave them on.

  • Many sites offer a drain down service where they will blow the pipes clean with compressed air. This may be well worth considering and should be relatively inexpensive.

  • Once the water has finished flowing, put the plugs in all sinks and shower trays to prevent any wildlife from setting up home for the winter.

  • Check with the handbook to see how to drain the water heater. There should be a drain down valve on the water pipe.

  • Now the water is switched off, flush the toilet. This empties most of the water from the cistern and makes sure that any water left has been treated with the antifreeze.

  • Once most of the water has gone from the toilet, some people stuff newspaper into the S bend to prevent unwelcome visitors.

  • Close the toilet lid.

  • Pour a little antifreeze down each waste pipe so that any water left in the S bends will be treated.

  • Check that all the air vents are clear.

  • In each room place bags of silica gel or half full bowls of salt to dry the atmosphere.

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