Like your motor vehicle, your caravan needs special care and service to last you for a long time.
1. Keep it in shelter
Leaving your caravan unprotected from the sun and adverse weather can result in premature damages to your caravan or motorhome. Make sure that your caravan is covered in shelter at all times. The sum can have a damaging effect on your caravan's or motorhome's interior.
2. Keep windows closed
This may seem to be an obvious thing but I have instances where the windows of the caravan were not securely closed. This simple tip help prolong the life of your caravan or motorhouse. The slightest gaping hole on your window will eventually led to dust and moisture to the interior and will eventually led to your interior fading away. So securely close your windows and door will go along way in protecting your caravan.
3. Keep it roadworthy
Your caravan is a road vehicle so you are legally obliged to keep it roadworthy. The best way to do this is to have it serviced annually. The service will cover running gear, brakes, and lights. The service will also include the habitation side of the caravan. The water, gas, electrical and heating systems will all be checked and maintained.
4. Empty your caravan
Taking care of your caravan or motorhome means that after that enjoyable outing, empty everything as you prepare to store your caravan for a long time until your next trip, usually some few months. Get rid of all food, water and all your left over's. this will help prevent malodour, moisture and unwanted insects in your caravan.
5. Clean your caravan
After each and every trip, I clean my caravan. This is what I do to clean my caravan:
- I clean out the pipes throughout the caravan. I tend to use Milton Sterilising Fluid (the one you use for babies bottles, etc) when sterilising the pipes. I fill my Aquaroll with water, add the Milton fluid to it and then block the waste pipes. Then turn on all the taps and fill the pipes until the water stays in the sinks. I generally leave the water in the pipes for 2-3 hours before removing the waste pipe plugs and letting the water run into the Wastemaster.
6. Do your own inspection
- Make sure the Leisure battery is fully charged and that all 12v appliances are working okay.
- Put the gas bottle back in the caravan and make sure that the cooker, heater and fridge all work okay using gas. We normally run the fridge and heater on electricity but it is always best to check that they work on gas as you never know when you might need to use them on gas!
- Although I have had the caravan serviced I still check the handbrake to make sure it is operating okay. I also inspect the tyres and check their pressure, and then check the torque on the wheel nuts.
7. Drain your caravan
• Turn off the gas supply.
• Turn off the water supply.
• Locate external water drainage plugs underneath your caravan and open them.
• Turn on all taps including the shower and leave open. Make sure that nothing obstructs plugholes and leave the showerhead in the shower tray or bath.
• Flush the toilet and ensure that all water is drained from the cistern.
• The pipe work should be 'blown through' using compressed air to make sure that all water has been removed from your holiday home.
• It is advisable to add a small amount of antifreeze or salt into any remaining water in the toilet as well as traps in the sinks and showers.
• Ensure that any water heaters are drained.
Having already isolated the gas supply, turn the water temperature control to position 1 (warm) and then having a suitable container below the drain valve, allow the water content to drain by unscrewing the drain down valve. The drain down valve should not be replaced until the water heater is used again.
8. Taking care of your caravan in winter
My winter caring for the caravan is a little different from the summer one. The first thing to do is to remove all the contents from inside the caravan, including all the caravan cushions and the mattress from the fixed bed. If they are left in the caravan they could become damp so if you have room in your house it is best to remove them.
After giving the inside of the caravan a good clean and polish (including all the appliances) you have nearly finished the inside. Leave the fridge door open to prevent mould building up inside. I leave all the taps in the open position and put plugs in the drain holes. That's the inside prepared for the winter.
Make sure all tanks are empty, that includes both hot and cold water. We tend to leave the drain taps open. Don't forget to empty your toilet flush tank as well. If any water is left in these tanks and the weather becomes really cold, the water will freeze and expand which will split the tanks.
Next, remove the toilet cassette and give it a good clean. Warm water and a tiny amount of washing up liquid usually does the trick. Always make sure you use cleaning materials recommended by the manufacturer as unsuitable cleaning materials may cause some damage. Dry the rubber seal and then lubricate it. I usually use olive oil for this but you can get a specialised maintenance spray. Make sure you leave the blade open, then replace the cassette back into place.
Give the outside of the caravan a good wash and polish.
Next, I jack the caravan up and put it on to axle stands. This takes the pressure off the tyres and prevents flat spots forming. If you remove the battery, make sure it is stored in a warm and dry place and is charged up every four weeks.
Now we are nearly done! All that is left is to fit all the security devices. Because I leave my caravan in our driveway, I tend to fit as many as possible. This includes a hitch lock, wheel clamp on one wheel and the integrated Alko wheel lock on the other. I also fit corner steady locks on the rear.
Finally, for added security I put a heavy-duty chain around the chassis and fix it to an anchor point which is concreted in to the driveway. This may all sound a bit excessive, but I would not want to wake up one morning to find my caravan missing.