If you are unpacking the RV from a vacation and won’t be using it for a stretch of time, you need to make sure to cover your bases before closing and locking the camper door. Just like with a house or a car, regular maintenance is key to keeping an RV is tip-top condition.
Typical RV wear and tear issues include pest problems, delamination, mold or mildew, and water or electric damage. Our process for closing up our own RV aims to avoid or eliminate all these pesky problems.
Remove all food and debris
It can be tempting to leave pantry items in the camper, especially if the cans are not open or you are using airtight containers. However, we have found that the best way to avoid having rodent or insect invasions is to never, ever leave any food in the RV. Period. You will also want to do a thorough check of the hidden areas under the couch, dinette, and mattresses. Undetected cereal spills from your toddler can attract destructive pests into the camper.
Proactively prevent pest damage
Depending on where you live, there are additional ways you can prevent pest damage to your RV. Folks are known to sprinkle borax around the perimeter of the RV for insect prevention, coat electric and plumbing lines with dish detergent to keep away squirrels, and leave cotton balls soaked with essential oils to deter mice. If you live near nesting wasps, make sure your access doors and vents are completely closed. In this case a penny of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.
Completely clean the interior and exterior of the RV
We do a thorough cleaning of the interior and exterior of our RV if we will not be using if for a few weeks or more. This includes spraying a light bleach solution in the refrigerator and freezer and propping open both of those doors. Many new RVers have returned to their camper after having it in storage and found mold or mildew in the refrigerator if they didn’t take this precaution.
Washing and waxing the outside of the RV will keep it looking great for years, but more importantly it will help protect the exterior from elements of nature. We also extend the awning and make sure it is completely cleaned and dry before rolling it back up.
Avoid moisture build up
Moisture is the biggest enemy of an RV, so keeping it from building up during storage is important. Many RVs now have enclosed underbellies and are better insulated than ever. This is great for camping in cooler temperatures, but bad for helping your RV ‘breathe’ while not in use.
If heat, humidity, or varying temperatures are issues in your region of the country, consider installing the type of roof vents that allow you to keep them permanently open, while also protecting the RV from precipitation. Many RV owners also hang gel packs that pull the moisture out of the air, or occasionally run a dehumidifier. Of course, also make sure there is no standing water on any surface of your RV at any time.
Disconnect the Battery
There are many passive draws on your RV battery that will pull charge even when you think everything has been shut off. Stereos and microwave clocks are just a couple of common culprits. Manually disconnecting the battery, or installing a battery disconnect switch, will save you from being without power when you go to hitch up the RV for your next trip.
Invest in quality tire covers
Spending a little money now on tire covers will save you a lot of money down the road. Many RVers think that tire covers are just cosmetic accessories. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact is that most RV tires are more damaged by UV exposure than by actual wear and tear on the roads. Travelers suffer from tire blowouts, even though they haven’t technically put that many driving miles on the RV, because sun exposure has done damage to the tire wall. Tire covers are a simple, and affordable, preventative measure.
When preparing your RV for a little driveway downtime, it’s important to think about it like a house on wheels. You wouldn’t leave your sticks and bricks home untended for a long stretch of time with dishes in the sink, unregulated temperatures, and the windows wide open. Applying the same preventative cleaning and maintenance to your RV will ensure that it is in top notch condition the next time your family is ready to hit the road.