In a perfect world, you will be out camping and enjoying your RV over the summer months. But, if your RV, camper, or travel trailer will be stored in hot weather during the summer months, you will need to take a few precautionary measures to ensure that it does not experience UV and or heat damage. The combination of ultraviolet radiation from the sun along with the intense heat that can develop inside an RV can cause a lot of damage, which is likely to cost a lot of money to repair.
These steps we have laid out below in this article will help to ensure that you store the RV properly so you can avoid the wasted time and expense that come with the problems of improper storage.
Your RV’s exterior is at risk from continual exposure to sunlight. Fading paint, drying rubber, and cracked vinyl decals all result from the sun causing UV damage which is one of the biggest reasons an RV loses value. Over time the exterior paint becomes compromised causing the plastic and metal beneath to then become exposed to the sun and deteriorate. To protect your RV, you need to protect it from the sun. Below are some great tips to prevent sun damage to your RV.
Clean and Wax the Exterior
Before storing your RV, you should thoroughly wash and wax the exterior of the RV. Cleaning the RV will prevent abrasive dirt or sand from eroding the surface, and waxing will seal the surface.
Plastic parts on your RV’s exterior are equally vulnerable when it comes to sunlight. Parts like bumpers, fenders, mirror covers, roof ladders, and roof racks are often overlooked when it comes to protecting an RV, but will also fade over time.
Use an RV Cover
One of the best ways to protect against sun damage is to cover the RV with a waterproof, breathable anti-UV cover while it is stored. Just as clothing ensures you don’t get sunburned, a cover will keep UV rays away from your RV. And because sun damage can occur at any time, you may want to consider an RV roof cover, which will protect the motorhome or trailer while you’re parked on site.
Park Under a Roof
In addition to covering your RV, it is highly recommended that you store the RV under a roof if possible to keep the RV in the shade and out of direct sunlight. If you store your RV outside but under a roof, it is still a good idea to buy an RV cover to avoid harmful indirect sunlight.
Use a Storage Facility
The very best, and most expensive option, for protection against the elements is to store the RV in an indoor storage facility. Not only will your RV be protected from sunlight but it will also be protected from the negative effects of heat buildup.
Some folks are lucky enough to be able to store their RV right in their driveway. But there are many questions that need to be addressed before you decide to store there.
In addition to the sun causing damage to the exterior of the RV, it can be very damaging to the interior of the RV, as well. Although you may not get direct sunlight inside the RV, it will be exposed to extreme temperatures. So take the following precautions.
Cover All Windows
Your RV’s dashboard is exposed to considerable heat and sunlight that is intensified by the windshield. The dash can become faded and/or crack under continuous exposure to heat and sun. It is best to use a windshield cover in addition to covering the entire RV.
Close all of the blinds and curtains in your RV to prevent any sunlight from entering the RV, which will help to keep the temperature inside the RV down. Covering all of the windows with room darkening shades or curtains will prevent any wood or plastic finishes from fading and cracking. It will also reduce fading of the upholstery, couches, beds, carpet, and flooring materials.
Clean and Condition
In addition to covering all of the windows, you should clean and condition all of the materials that are susceptible to drying, fading and cracking. This includes the dashboard, leather seats, upholstery, flooring, and wood or plastics. Conditioning all of these items will prevent them from sun and heat damage.
Moisture can work for you or against you when storing your RV. For example, if you store your RV in a humid environment, like Florida, you will need to decrease the humidity inside the RV as much as possible. This will help to prevent mold and mildew from growing inside your RV. However, if you store your RV in a dry heat environment like Arizona you may need to increase the humidity inside the RV to keep wood and other finishes from drying out and cracking.
Increase The Humidity
If you store the RV in a very dry climate, place a 5-gallon bucket of water in the center of the RV. This will put enough moisture in the air to prevent the wood from drying and cracking. Be sure to open all cabinet and closet doors so the humidity is even throughout the entire RV.
Decrease The Humidity
If you live in a moist, warm climate, use DampRid or place a bucket or two of charcoal or silica gel packets throughout the RV to absorb the moisture from the air. This will help to prevent mold and mildew growth inside the RV. Be sure to open all cabinet and closet doors to prevent humidity from being trapped in those areas.
It is important to allow for adequate airflow throughout the RV. This is accomplished by opening the air vents slightly. You want them to be open enough for air to circulate through, but not so much that rain will leak into the RV.
Drain All of the Holding Tanks
Standing water in any of the holding tanks can allow mold, mildew, and algae to grow. Drain all of the holding tanks, including the freshwater tank, and ensure they are completely empty and dry prior to storing the RV.
Insect and Rodent Prevention
It is important to prevent insects and rodents from entering the RV while it is stored. Once a few are inside, they breed rapidly, and you could come back to an infestation the following season. Infestations typically require a pest control professional’s help and that can be expensive. A few simple steps prior to storage can prevent this costly problem.
Clean The RV
Thoroughly clean the RV and remove all food and water sources prior to storage. Even the smallest crumbs can attract insects and rodents like mice. Take the time to clean everything so you don’t attract any unwanted guests.
Eliminate Standing Water
Completely defrost your fridge and empty your ice maker and any water in the refrigerator. Check for any other areas where water has collected. Insects need water to survive so be sure to eliminate any water inside the RV.
Plug Sink Drains and Cover Shower Drains
Plumbing is a source of standing water in an RV because there is water in the sink and shower traps. Place plugs in the sinks and covers over all shower drains and close the toilet seats.
Place Screens on Exterior Vents
RV roof and exterior vents are typically covered with screens. But the screens used in these vents will not keep out smaller varieties of insects. Charcoal Fiberglass Small Insect Screen is a finer mesh that protects against no-see-ums, gnats, sand flies and other tiny insects common in low, marshy and coastal areas. Installing this type of screen will prevent insects of all types and sizes from entering your RV.
Inspect Underneath the RV
Inspect the underside of the RV and look for any areas that could allow insects to enter. Seal any cracks or open areas with foam sealant. Also, inspect door frames, window frames, and slide seals, and replace any that are deteriorating. Also, try to avoid parking your RV over an area that will hold water.
Cover Fridge, Furnace and Water Heater Vents
Insects are attracted to the odorant that is added to propane or LP gas. To prevent mud daubers and wasps from building nests in and around your gas appliances, first, turn off the propane and then cover the refrigerator vent, the furnace vent, and the water heater vent.
Use Insect and Rodent Prevention Methods
The best option to kill any insects that do enter your RV is to spread Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth inside the RV in areas where insects congregate such as entry doors, under cabinets and inside any crevices. Food Grade DE kills insects at their source and is non-toxic to humans which is why I recommend it over Borax powder, which is toxic to humans.
Other preventative measures to keep insects and rodents out are to spread mothballs, pieces of Irish Spring Soap, dryer sheets, or cotton balls with Lavender, or Tea Tree Oil around the RV. I also recommend placing some mothballs under the hood in the engine compartment to keep rodents from nesting there. If you have electricity in the RV while it is being stored you can install ultrasonic devices that ward off insects and rodents. I have personally used all of these methods with success.
Any time an RV sits idle, the tires can develop flat spots. The longer it sits, the worse they get. The vast majority of tires on RVs are steel-belted radials and although the steel belts offer a high degree of strength, they do cause the tire to flatten out over time. The best solution for this is to have someone move your RV from time to time. Otherwise, place pieces of plywood under the tires. Make sure the wood is wider than the tire and that no part of the tire hangs over the edge of the plywood.
Use tire covers to prevent the tires from becoming dry-rotted from sun exposure. If you don’t have tire covers for your RV, you can wrap a tarp around the tires and use a bungee cord to hold the tarps in place, but tire covers are the best bet.
In order to keep the batteries from completely draining be sure to turn off or disconnect every electrical element in the RV. If you have electricity available during storage you could use a battery tender to keep the batteries charged. If you have someone close by who can keep an eye on your RV have them start your RV up a few times each month and allow it to run for several minutes to recharge the batteries.
Ensure Leveling Jacks Are Down
If your RV has leveling jacks, be sure to put them down. If you’re storing your motorhome or trailer on grass or a dirt surface, you’ll also want to use pads under the jacks to prevent them from sinking into the ground.
Fill the Fuel Tank and Add Stabilizer
If you’re storing your RV for more than a month, you’ll need to fill the fuel tank and add a fuel stabilizer. The fuel stabilizer will prevent the fuel from deteriorating and causing problems for your engine. After adding the stabilizer, run both the engine and the generator to make sure the stabilizer spreads through the entire fuel system.
Turn Off the Propane System
To prevent insects as we discussed above, and for safety reasons, you will need to shut off your propane tank.
Install good locks to prevent theft. Everyone knows that the storage compartment key for any RV will unlock storage compartment in every other RV. So, my storage compartment key can most likely open your storage compartment. Replace the storage compartment locks or remove all of your valuable items from the storage compartments prior to storing the RV. You may want to consider chaining the wheels as well if you are storing a travel trailer.
Clean the air conditioner filters, and cover the air conditioner.
Turn off the main breaker and unplug all appliances.
Remove the batteries in clocks, flashlights, and other items so they don’t corrode.
What To Do When You Get Ready To Get Back On The Road
As a general rule, check three things; the battery, anything that is rubber (serpentine belt, tires) and the fluids (oils, coolant). Various belts and wires can get corroded if not used over a long period. Bring jumper cables and a couple of quarts of motor oil in case the battery has died or you had an oil leak. Test the brakes before you get going as they can lock up over time.