Last year Pennsylvania experienced some unseasonably warm days and we shared on Instagram and Facebook that it was rather sad to see the camper already parked and winterized in the driveway when we might have been able to squeeze in one more weekend camping trip late in the season. In response, a reader asked us about camper winterization tips beyond the typical fluid flushes. So here’s our roundup of how we prepare the camper for its long winter rest.
Inside preparations: Here in Pennsylvania we have a huge problem with stink bugs. Ugh! The critters get into all of the camper’s nooks and crannies, and every spring we spend quite a bit of time vacuuming them up. To try to reduce the nuisance of dead stink bugs falling out of curtains, mattresses, towels, etc., last year we removed or stored as much as possible–and that definitely helped.
Here’s a run down of what we do on the inside of the camper:
- All blankets and pillows are stored in plastic bins, either in the camper or in our basement;
- We remove any curtains that we can and store them in plastic bins; the rest of the curtains we open up so that the bugs don’t try to crawl into the “warm” creases;
- The foam pad for our mattress we roll and put into large garbage bags, taping them off so the bugs can’t crawl in;
- We bring the bunk mattresses into the house and store them under or behind a bed. (If you don’t have room in your house for this, last year we bagged and taped these as well and left them in the camper.)
- Make sure to remove all food from the pantry and vacuum up any remaining crumbs.
- Empty the refrigerator and freezer and wipe it down. We keep baking soda and charcoal in the unit to keep moisture out. Additionally we leave the doors slightly open to allow air to circulate. I did not do this one year and over winter there was a significant science project growing in the bottom bin.
- We have never had a rodent problem in our camper, but I’ve heard putting moth balls in the camper can help keep them at bay. If you have gaps where your plumbing lines enter the camper, consider using spray foam insulation to seal the holes up so mice can’t get in.
- I like to use plywood to cover my tires to prevent the UV light from breaking down the tires.
- I remove the propane tanks and put them in the garage.
- I take the battery off the camper and put it in our basement hooked up to a trickle charger.
- I put a bag or bucket over my power jack. I know one person that had the housing on the power jack fill with water, which then froze over the winter and ruined the unit.
- I make sure the scissor jacks are up. If your camper is not parked on a paved surface, you should evaluate whether to leave them down. I made this mistake one year and when the ground heaved, the ground pushed up on the camper’s jacks and bent two of the jacks.
To cover or not to cover?:
One year I covered our camper with a tarp (that was not breathable), but it led to condensation and water building up on the inside of the tarp that left black streaks on the camper. And in spite of my best efforts to adequately tie down the tarp, as the winter winds flicked it, it left behind rub marks on the camper. So we don’t hassle with tarps anymore.
My dad uses a fitted RV cover on his fifth wheel and he has had good success with that option. The covers are nice but they are expensive. After talking to lots of campers who use the covers, they have indicated that purchasing the correct size so it fits the camper well is essential.
There are other options for camper storage as well. Many local fairgrounds will charge small fees to store campers in barns and show rings. In Western Pennsylvania there is another option called Wampum Underground that can hold hundreds of campers in underground mines. We have friends who use this option and when I have helped him drop the camper off, I have seen license plates from several nearby states on the hundreds of parked campers and boats.
Since the camper covers and storing the camper in a building hasn’t been in our budget, I have found that if I position the camper so that it is on a slight slope front to back and side to side, it at least helps make sure all the water runs off the roof rather than pooling on top. We also keep our slide out slid in over the winter.
So those are some of the ways we get our camper ready for winter. If you have other tips and suggestions, be sure to share them over on our Facebook page. And make sure you follow us on Pinterest where we are always pinning new ideas for the camping community.