When frigid temperatures arrive, every truck camper owner should take steps to properly winterize and store their beloved home on wheels. Taking the time to thoroughly prepare your camper for storage during winter is crucial to avoiding damage from freezing, moisture, pests and neglect over the long off-season.
How to Store a Truck Camper in the Winter? This comprehensive guide will provide truck camper owners with tips and best practices for securing their investment through harsh weather and making sure it survives the cold months unscathed.
We’ll cover properly winterizing plumbing and appliances, finding the optimal storage facility or location, maintenance and security measures to take, and what to do when it’s finally time to bring your rig out of winter hibernation.
Follow these key guidelines for storing your camper over the winter so it remains in pristine condition, ready for more smooth camping trips when sunny skies return.
Prepare the Camper for Storage
Before tucking your truck camper away for its long winter’s rest, preparatory steps need to be taken to prevent damage while stored. This includes winterizing sensitive systems, charging the battery, exterior care and thorough cleaning.
Winterize the Plumbing System
One of the most important parts of winter camper prep is properly winterizing the plumbing system. Freezing temperatures can cause pipes to burst and tanks/lines to crack if any water remains inside.
This requires draining all potable water from the sinks, toilet, water heater, pumps and tanks. Opening low point drains and faucets allows liquids to drain out. Use compressed air to remove remaining droplets stuck in the lines.
Then pour RV antifreeze into the sinks, toilet and drains which displaces all remaining moisture. Running antifreeze through the entire system down to the tanks protects pipes through even frigid conditions. Take care to follow your owner’s manual guidelines for winterization.
In addition to plumbing, appliances need prepped to prevent issues. Clean out and defrost the refrigerator fully. Prop doors open so air can circulate. On gas/electric models, turn off propane and disable auto-ignition.
For the water heater, drain all water and bypass the water lines going to the heater. Empty and clean the holding tanks thoroughly to avoid odors and staining. Cover exterior vents to keep pests out.
Disconnect and Charge Battery
Fully charge the battery before winter storage and disconnect it to prevent power drain over time. Remove it and store in a location that won’t freeze. A temperature-stable basement is ideal.
You can also use a trickle charger to maintain the battery while in storage if removal isn’t feasible. Clean corrosion off terminals and wash the battery exterior before storage.
Clean and Dry the Interior
Give your truck camper a thorough interior cleaning before storage. Wash any bedding and floor mats. Use cleaners on countertops, cabinets, flooring and bathroom surfaces.
Remove all perishable food items from the refrigerator and cabinets to avoid attracting pests. Take out the trash and do a final vacuum. Place baking soda boxes and moisture absorbing packs in cabinets to keep the interior air fresh and dry.
Exterior Care and Protection
Before parking your camper, wash and wax the exterior for protection. Inspect door, window and roof seals and re-caulk if any cracks appear. Check that vents and caps are secure.
Lubricate door hinges and locks so they don’t freeze up. Consider covering air conditioner and vulnerable roof areas with protection designed for stored RVs.
Choose the Best Storage Location
Where you store the camper for winter is an important decision to keep it protected from the elements. Assess these common options truck camper owners utilize during cold months:
Heated Garage or Pole Barn
Storing in an enclosed, climate controlled garage or barn is ideal if space allows. Ensure the building is unheated to avoid moisture buildup inside the parked camper. But the enclosure protects from precipitation, sun damage and pests while making it easy to access for maintenance.
Indoor self-storage facilities are another good option that provide security and shelter at an affordable price. Look for units that are clean, dry and pest-free with 24/7 access. Have electrical hookups to allow charging batteries and running dehumidifiers.
Campground Seasonal Site
Some campgrounds offer discounted rates for seasonal winter camper storage. This allows access to electrical, water hookups and bathhouses so periodic maintenance is convenient. Security may be more limited.
If indoor parking isn’t available, storing in a level driveway or yard spot works too. This leaves the camper more exposed to the elements so take extra precautions like tire covers, roof protection and pest control measures. Also allows easy access for periodic inspection.
Take Added Precautions Outdoors
If forced to store your truck camper outside due to space constraints, take extra steps to protect it from Old Man Winter’s wrath:
Use a Breathable Cover
Invest in a fitted, breathable cover intended for RV storage use. Ensure it is properly secured and allows adequate ventilation while shedding precipitation. Periodically clear heavy snow or debris accumulation.
To protect the underside from wind, snowdrifts and rodents, install custom skirting around the base. Insulation boards or canvas skirts divert wind and retain heat beneath.
Elevate on Supports
Place blocks or jackstands under the frame to slightly elevate and take pressure off tires. This prevents flat spots from forming during months of disuse.
Attach Stabilizer Wings
Using stabilizer wings or support jacks at the four corners helps prevent shifting from frost heaving and winds over winter.
Monitor Interior Humidity
Regularly check under the cover for condensation buildup. Use vent fans, dehumidifiers and moisture absorbers inside to manage interior humidity in cold months.
Ongoing Maintenance is Crucial
Don’t just park and forget your stored camper for winter. Performing regular maintenance checks is vital to catching issues early and preventing costly damage:
Do a thorough walkaround at least monthly. Look for any water intrusion issues, leaks, pest infiltration or mold growth. Check seals around windows, vents and openings. Ensure supports are stable. Clear snow or debris from roof.
Check Tire Pressure
Tire pressure drops over time when not in use. Inflate to recommended cold weather pressures before storage and recheck monthly. Top off as needed.
If stored onsite, disconnect and recharge the battery every 4-6 weeks to maintain optimal charge. Clean terminals each check. Or utilize a trickle charger to automatically maintain.
Start and Run Generator
Exercise the generator monthly by starting and letting run for 15-20 minutes following manufacturer guidelines. This lubricates parts and prevents stagnation.
Place traps and bait stations around the perimeter. Use moth balls, ammonia-soaked rags or cotton balls with peppermint oil as deterrents inside. Seal any openings with mesh, caulk or foam.
Remove from Storage Properly
When the last frost thaws, excite your camper from its long winter’s nap using these tips:
Before loading up, do a complete exterior/interior inspection looking for any damage or leaks incurred during storage. Check the underside for critters or nests.
Plug into shore power and test appliances, lights, furnace, generator and electrical. Inspect the propane system for leaks and test stove/fridge ignition.
Charge and Install Battery
Fully recharge the battery that was stored separately and reinstall it. Ensure it holds a complete charge before tripping.
Drain antifreeze from lines and tanks, close bypass valves and reconnect water supply. Turn on pumps and test for leaks at all faucets and fixtures before drinking.
Wash and Disinfect
Wash down the exterior, roof, slides and underside that were exposed to the elements. Disinfect and deodorize the interior too.
Address Any Issues
Fix any pest, water damage or mechanical problems found during inspection before hitting the road again. Repair seals or caulk as needed.
Do a couple shakedown trips close to home before heading out on lengthy journeys. This helps identify any issues missed during revival.
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Putting your truck camper into storage over the winter properly is crucial to protecting your investment and ensuring it’s ready to bring you years more adventures. Follow this guide to winterize systems, find optimal storage, perform maintenance checks, and remove it from storage come spring.
Taking the time to winterize the plumbing, charge batteries, wash and wax the exterior, seal windows and vents, keep it pest free, maintain tire pressure, and exercise the generator will keep your camper in great shape through cold seasons.
Don’t forget to revive it methodically in spring with a thorough inspection, systems check, de-winterizing and addressing any issues discovered. With diligent preparation and care, your cherished home on wheels will thrive in winter hibernation and provide endless memories for years to come when nicer weather returns.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the easiest way to winterize a truck camper?
The easiest way to winterize is to have an RV dealer perform the winterization for you using blowout plumbing systems and RV antifreeze. This thoroughly protects pipes and tanks.
How do I keep mice and insects out of my stored camper?
Seal all exterior vents, cover windows with plastic sheeting, install mesh covers over chimney/stovepipe, place pest repellers inside and check regularly for any signs of pests.
Should I disconnect the batteries when storing for winter?
Yes, disconnect all batteries and store them fully charged where they won’t freeze. This prevents drain over time. Recharge every 1-2 months.
What’s the best way to prevent mold in a stored camper?
To prevent mold, eliminate all moisture by cleaning, drying and airing out the interior thoroughly. Place moisture absorbing products inside and check periodically for humidity.
How often should I start my camper’s engine when storing for winter?
It’s recommended to start the engine every 1-2 months and let it run for 15-20 minutes to lubricate parts and circulate fluids. Check engine mounts and belts