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7 Steps to Getting Your Camper or RV ready for the Camping Season

Like others who Camp and RV, when we get a day or two of sunshine at this time of year, we start counting the days until the first trip. Now it’s time time to plan the days, the camping days that is. How many trips can be enjoyed in the Spring, Summer and if I am lucky (weather wise), right into the fall and beyond. First thing after the planning is the preparation of the home away from home for it’s first outdoor adventure of the year. We have a 24.5-foot Denali and here are the seven main steps I take to prepare.

Camping Season is Almost Here | Photo PoMoDee

1. Start Booking Your Camping Spots

It’s time to do the camping mambo, so to speak.  We turn to our calendars, or in my case my cell phone’s digital one.  I plan all my trips in that handy, trusty little box, that does such a good job that I have now enlisted it to telling me when to book.  This year I want to camp in a BC Provincial Park, so I will go online to BC Parks reservation system to make a booking. They have information on their site about how far in advance you can book and which sites require a reservation.  I check with friends to see who will join in, and then enter my data and book it as soon the reservation system allows me.  If you prefer you can call the BC Parks call center, but remember there is an additional charge for this service and the wait times can be lengthy, my advice is to book online.

Reservations for 2024 are already open for Parks Canada sites, and private campgrounds are already booking up fast. Get more information on most campgrounds in BC here.

Cleaning the Roof | Photo PoMoDee

2. Air Out The Unit And Give It A Good Clean

So now I’ve booked my site, and it’s time to “wake up” my home away from home.  It’s been a fairly mild fall and winter so it’s time to think about the unveiling of the RV, Motorhome or even the tent.  Who says you can’t bring out the tent and dust it off, set it up and make sure that all the zippers, pulls and guy wires are intact?  Great time to give it a wash and really air it out. Tenter’s often don’t give a thought to their sleeping accommodation until packing the vehicle for the trip or worse, they arrive at the location and find that its missing pieces or it has “had” a winter stow-a-way.  Let this year be different – a prepared year.

Time to Remove the Cover | Photo PoMoDee

It really doesn’t matter what your mode of camping is, they all have similarities that need attending to.  Chances are your RV or camper has been closed up, unattended for the last five months. First thing to do is take off the protective covering you used for storing.  But before pulling it off, why not give it a really good shampoo and a hose down and let it dry, before packing it away for the next five plus months.  You will feel better about storing the cover clean, so when it comes time to put the RV to sleep for next winter it’s one less thing to do.

Check Your Tires | Photo PoMoDee

3. Time For Maintenance on Your Tires

We have finished washing and drying the cover which is stored for the season -– what’s next?  Tires.  The vehicle has been leaning on them for the winter and they might just be a little “tired”, so why not take the time now to inflate, rotate, clean and grease the bearings.  Checking over every inch of the outside is the best place to start.  Make sure there are no new problems that need attending to both on the outside you can see and the inside tire wall you cannot.  We also apply tire protectant to the walls of the tire.

4. Water System On Board? Time For A Good Flushing

If you have a travel trailer, tent trailer, fifth wheel, motorhome or even a truck camper, chances are you have a water system attached that you winterized for the winter.  You probably used a non-toxic antifreeze in the late fall designed for RVs and will now need to flush the system out with fresh water until there is no more pink water flowing.  Once this is done, some people like to add a ¼ cup of liquid bleach and run it through the tank and then flush it once again with fresh water.  Once this is done, it is now time to turn the heater’s bypass valve into the operating (normal) position and check each and every tap and faucet for leaks.  Better to find it now rather than on a camping trip.

Charging the Batteries | Photo PoMoDee

5. Check Your Batteries

Always wear protective safety gear when checking batteries at any time.  First, make sure you have disconnected the hook-up power (the 120V power cord) and then make sure that all power is in the OFF position.  We trickle charge our trailer all winter to maintain charge to the battery – other friends remove their batteries in the fall and keep them stored with a trickle charge in their shed or garage. Check the battery connections to make sure that they are clean and that the terminals have not corroded over the fall and winter.  Check all sides including the bottom of the battery for cracks, as this sometimes happens during a severe winter freeze.  Replace all cracked batteries.  Check the battery fluid levels and only use “distilled water”.

Inspect Propane Tanks

6. Inspect Propane Tanks

Propane tanks are the next item up for inspection.  Make sure the tanks are in the off position.  This is where you want to check hoses, regulators and valves for premature aging and/or drying out.  Check the date stamp is within ten years as they cannot be filled if older, unless they are re-valved. If you notice any of the above, replace and then proceed to testing the refrigerator, stove and furnace all work when the propane is engaged.

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7. Clean the Inside

Final things to do, is give the whole inside a complete wash, vacuum and wipe out all cupboards and drawers. I always do a thorough clean before putting the RV to sleep for the winter but I also do a spring clean to freshen the trailer. It allows me to check for leaks, mold or if an unwanted pest has entered. I then open windows to air out the rig to make sure I have clean air for the first trip. As well as inside, I clean out the pass-throughs and repacking this allows me to confirm I have all items needed for the first camping trip and to purge unwanted items.

For more tips check out: RV Maintenance Tips for Keeping Your Exterior in Top Shape

To locate places to camp in BC go to the Camping Map.

Share your BC travel and camping pictures using hashtag #campinbc, #explorebc

It’s always a great day to #CampinBC

RV Maintenance Tips for Winter Storage

Whether you’re new to the Trailer RV Lifestyle or a seasoned RVer, you’ll want to stay on top of maintenance so you can enjoy your Recreational Vehicle (RV) for many years to come. Exterior maintenance is a great place to start.

RV Ready for Cleaning

I have added my 10 top things to do prior to storing for the long winter months.

1. Wash your RV exterior

Pressure Washer and RV Washing Supplies

Hose off the loose dirt and grime, then, using a soft brush or sponge, wash the RV with specialized RV soap (found at most dealerships or automotive supply stores), a quick rinse with cold water will do the trick.

Tip:  Before washing, remove the black streaks that appear around windows, doors, vents etc. I found this great product from Magic Boss – All Purpose Cleaner available at most Pool suppliers and Amazon (also works on those bugs that have dried on to the front of the trailer). Take extra caution around appliance vents when washing to prevent water from accessing the trailer.

All Purpose Cleaner – Great for Your RV

2. Wax or apply a protectant to your RV exterior

Time to channel your inner Karate Kid and do the wax-on wax-off method.  This can be a time-consuming task depending on the size of your RV, but it is well worth the effort. Make sure the exterior is dry before you start waxing and spot-test on a small area on any graphics or stickers before widespread application. Also, check to ensure that the wax is appropriate for use on the type of exterior on your RV as well.  Apply a coat of good quality wax or protectant to your RV exterior. I waxed mine shortly after purchasing my trailer and it has certainly helped remove the bugs and bird poop after multiple camping trips, especially those pesky ones that splat on the front of the vehicle.

Tip: I now use Wax & Dry Spray Car Wax by Turtle Wax.

3. Clean your awning and keep it dry for storage

Before you roll up your RV awning for storage, clean it well by sweeping off all debris and wash with mild soap and water. Lubricate moving parts (in my case the awning pistons) with silicone spray. When you roll it up, ensure that the awning is in a locked position against the trailer.

Tip: Spray the awning with your cleaner solution and roll it back up and leave it stand for a few hours before reopening and rinsing off the cleaner. This gives the cleaner time to dissolve dirt and stains in the rolled-up position.  It saves a lot of elbow grease as you do not need to scrub stubborn areas.

3.5. Batteries

Don’t forget to remove your batteries for the winter and put them on a trickle charger. Replace the battery casing lid to prevent water gathering in the box and freeze-thaw damaging the battery storage box.

RV Batteries

4. Inspect any sealed areas thoroughly to prevent water damage and potential rodents gaining access

Your RV is in the elements day-after-day throughout all the seasons, you’ll want to make sure that your RV exterior including the roof, sides, edges, windows, doors, vents, end caps, moldings, compartments, and underside are sealed off and doing their job to protect the interior from potential water damage.

To prevent mice, or other rodents, look for any gaps, openings or areas with aged sealant and re-caulk if necessary. Make sure to use the appropriate sealant and when in doubt, ask your RV dealer or manufacturer for advice.

Tip: One interesting tip I picked up was placing scented dryer sheets in the corners of the RV to reduce bugs and keep spiders out (these work).

5. Lubricate all hinges, locks and moving parts

No-one likes creaky doors, windows or compartments. Lubricating hinges and moving parts with WD40 and all locks with a graphite spray lubricant is an easy maintenance step that takes only a couple of minutes.  When I purchased the Denali, it had been stored and not used for the current season, so all the hinges squeaked.

Another often overlooked moving part is the rubber flanges and seals for the slide-out, compartment doors and windows. Every year, clean them and coat them with a protectant for rubber to keep them supple and working properly. Look for products that state RV Slide-out Rubber sealant conditioner.

6. Cover outside vents to keep critters (and condensation) away

RV Outside Vents Max Air Covers

Keep the insects out and prevent nesting by installing mesh or covers on outside vents (furnace, refrigerator, water heater) for long-term storage. Buy a proper A/C cover and cover your air conditioning unit to avoid condensation during storage.

My vents have a Max Air flow cover on them, and I have purchased a full breathable RV cover for the trailer and use this during the winter as I must store my trailer outside in all the seasonal elements of the lower mainland in British Columbia.

7. Open your vents

When your RV is not being used during the summer months, the inside living area can get up to 130F degrees depending on your location. That type of intense heat will cause even the toughest materials to break down and fail over time. Open your vents to let the air in. (But remember to keep the outside vents closed to keep the rain out!)  I can keep my vents open as they have a Max Air cover but one that is not covered is a rain sensitive one and should automatically close when it rains (but I don’t rely on that, so I close it).  Next year, I plan to put a Max Air cover on it like the others, to even out the venting.

I leave the vents open in the winter to allow airflow when the trailer is stored as we store the trailer from November to April with the cover on and the sun can heat the unit. Warm air holds more moisture (water vapour) than cold air. It also rises vertically so the vents allow the warmer air to exit with the moisture.

8. Lubricate your slide-out rails

Lubricate your slide-out rails a couple of times a year to stop rust and corrosion. You can find a can of lubricant spray specifically designed for this project for under $20. This is a much cheaper solution than replacing your slide-outs down the road!  I always do this before I put the trailer to bed in the winter as well as coating the rubber slide-out seals with a seal product to protect the rubber.

9. Winterize the water system

Exterior Faucet with Shower Extension (antifreeze flowing through system)

Winterizing the water system inside is necessary for me as we encounter many days of minus temperatures in a row during the winter. I do not want the inconvenience of a burst pipe.

First, empty the hot water tank and the holding tanks. On my last camping trip of the season I always do a thorough sewage and grey water dump and clean the tanks. This process means that I only have residual water in the pipes, however for peace of mind I like to install the pink potable ani-freeze.

Draining the Hot Water Tank

To do this, close off the bypass valve to the hot water tank and attach a hose to the water pump, the other end is placed inside the potable water jug. Then turn on the pump and it will pull the fluid from the jug. Open all the taps and flush the toilet while the pump is running to ensure the water exits and turns pink with the antifreeze. I use a four-gallon jug of potable antifreeze as my pipes stretch a long distance from the pump to all the taps and toilet in the trailer.

For the left-over antifreeze pour a small amount down each of the sink and shower drains. Before finishing reattach the system pipe to the water pump and then clean all the sink and shower surrounds to remove the pink anti-freeze and prevent staining.

10. Cover the RV

Checking the Tires

After you finish winterizing the RV, inside and out, it’s time to cover.  Breathable lightweight covers are available from dealership stores and RV suppliers.  Make sure you cover the tires too.  Before covering the tires, I always check the pressures and wash the tires with protectant.  Don’t forget the spare.

RV Cover Installed for Winter

All the 10 steps mentioned will help protect your RV and make it ready for the first trip of the year.

For additional tips on maintaining your RV, Go RVing Canada has created a handy checklist of maintenance tips to keep your RV exterior in top shape. 

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Looking for camping and RVing accommodations in BC? Check out the camping map.

It’s always a great day to #CampInBC, #exploreBC

Published: October 27th, 2023

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