- Short-Term Storage
- Fuel Stabilizer
- Battery Disconnect Switch
- Cleaning the Exterior and Interior
- Tire Covers
- Roof Vents Closed and Sealed
- Adding Water to the Toilet
- Filling Tanks
- Long-Term Storage
- Outdoor or Indoor Storage
- Securing the Vehicle
- Ventilation Needs
- Storing Valuables
- Final Thoughts
Owning a recreational vehicle represents a substantial investment. Properly storing your RV is essential to protect that investment and ensure your rig stays in optimal condition when unused.
There are several important reasons to keep your RV, including protection from weather damage, increased security, preventing unnecessary wear and tear, and overall peace of mind knowing your valuables are safe.
This article will explore both short-term and long-term RV storage best practices.
When storing your RV for shorter periods of up to a few months, there are vital steps to take for protection. This includes adding fuel stabilizer, disconnecting the battery, thorough exterior and interior cleaning, using tire covers, sealing roof vents, adding water to the toilet, and filling tanks.
One critical component of short-term RV storage is using a fuel stabilizer. Gasoline can oxidize and degrade within a few weeks, leading to residue buildup and varnishing in the engine and fuel system.
Adding fuel stabilizer prevents this oxidation process, keeping fuel fresh and preventing sticky gums or varnish deposits from forming. To properly use a fuel stabilizer before storage, fill up your gas tank, add the recommended amount of stabilizer, run the engine and generator for 5-10 minutes to circulate the additive throughout the fuel system, then shut everything down.
This protects your engine by preventing oxidation damage during downtime. An oil change is also wise before storage to remove any contaminants.
Battery Disconnect Switch
Installing and using a battery disconnect switch preserves your battery charge by eliminating passive power drains while the RV sits unused.
Even while powered off, RV batteries slowly discharge from small draws like propane gas detectors and clock displays. Flipping the disconnect switch manually disconnects the battery so it stays fully charged for up to 6 months of storage.
For RVs without a disconnect switch, manually removing the negative battery cable achieves the same result.
Cleaning the Exterior and Interior
Cleaning your RV's exterior and interior is essential prep work before any storage period. Use mild soap and clean water to wash the exterior, including the roof, sides, wheel wells, and undercarriage.
Follow up by applying a fresh coat of automotive wax to protect the finish from UV rays and other environmental elements like dirt, sap, and bird droppings. Inside your RV, close curtains and vents to minimize sun exposure. Remove all perishable items from cabinets and the fridge.
Clean the interior, including disinfecting surfaces, vacuuming carpets and furniture, washing linens, and emptying and cleaning waste tanks. Letting everything dry fully is also critical before storage.
Investing in quality tire covers protects your RV's tires from sun damage during storage.
Ozone, UV rays, and other environmental factors degrade tires. The natural rubber compound they are made from also hardens and cracks over time when exposed to heat and light.
Keeping your tires covered blocks sunlight and prevents premature dry rotting, sidewall cracking, tread separation, and other heat-related damage. This maintains proper inflation and extends the life of your tires.
Roof Vents Closed and Sealed
Before storing your RV, ensure all roof vents are closed tightly and properly sealed. This prevents water damage, dirt accumulation, and pests from entering while not in use.
For ventilation during storage, reopen one or two vents and secure vent covers over the openings to allow airflow while keeping out insects and debris. This regulates temperature and condensation.
Adding Water to the Toilet
To maintain the flush valve seals and prevent odors, add a bucket of water to the toilet bowl before storage. Fill the bucket with clean water and pour into the bowl until it is about 3/4 full.
This keeps the seals lubricated. Add RV antifreeze or biodegradable toilet bowl cleaner for longer storage to prevent bacteria growth—re-add water as needed.
The final step is filling all fresh, gray, and black water tanks with clean water and an RV tank sanitizer.
First, thoroughly flush and drain tanks to remove residue. Fill with clean water and add tank sanitizer as directed. Top off tanks. This maintains cleanliness and prevents mold or mildew from growing while in storage.
For storing your RV longer than a few months up to a year or longer, additional considerations come into play to ensure its protection. This includes choosing covered storage, adding security measures, maintaining ventilation, and safely storing valuables.
Outdoor or Indoor Storage
The first long-term decision is whether to store your RV outdoors or indoors. Outdoor storage facilities provide open space at affordable rates.
However, indoor storage offers superior protection from the elements. Evaluate your budget, storage needs, and local availability. Indoor units are climate-controlled and guard against sun damage, rodents, and extreme weather. Outdoor storage requires more diligent preventative measures by the owner but is more widely available.
Securing the Vehicle
When storing outdoors, take extra measures to secure your RV. Use hitch locks, wheel clamps, and heavy-duty chains to deter theft. Multiple deterrents make your camper less appealing to target. If your storage facility offers 24/7 video monitoring, fenced and gated access, and reserved parking, this also enhances security.
For indoor units, carefully consider moisture management. RVs trapped in stagnant indoor air lead to mildew and mold. Maintain adequate airflow through vents, windows, and doors. Use vent covers to allow ventilation while keeping out rodents. Place moisture absorbers inside the rig. Monitor humidity levels with a hygrometer. Dehumidifiers also prevent condensation from forming on surfaces.
Whether indoors or outdoors, store valuables in secure cabinets with locked doors. Electronics, important documents, jewelry, and cash are best kept in sturdy cabinets bolted to the floor or wall, placing the most critical items in hard-accessible areas. Invest in high-quality locks to deter break-ins. Proper storage protects your belongings and provides peace of mind.
Storing your RV properly is critical to preserving its condition and protecting your investment. Follow these best practices for short- and long-term storage to keep your rig in optimal shape for when you are ready to hit the road again for your next adventure.
Storing an RV correctly is an important part of ownership. When done properly with the right techniques for short or long-term scenarios, storage keeps the vehicle safe from environmental hazards and damage while not in use. It also ensures everything is ready to go when it's time for the next road trip.
By caring for an RV during storage periods through strategies like protective cleaning, sealing, securing, and stabilizing systems, owners can help their recreational vehicles maintain their value and functionality for many more trips to come. Proper storage With little maintenance and preparation allows RVs to remain in excellent condition for years of adventures.
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