As a holiday home or static caravan owner it is in your interest to look after your investment, so that in turn you can get the most out of this leisure lifestyle, whether it is for family vacations, weekend getaways or somewhere for you to enjoy your retirement.
In this article we have prepared some information on how to best take care of you caravan or holiday home.
When things go wrong in a Static Caravan they can often be costly and time consuming to put right. During the winter most caravans are left unattended and because of this it is common that if not maintained properly, pipes can burst, caravans can suffer water damage and they can become damp inside.
All of these issues can be easily avoided following a few simple steps -
Draining Down your Holiday Home or Static Caravan
As most Static Caravans and Holiday Homes are used in the summer when the temperatures are very unlikely to reach freezing a lot of owners don’t realise how cold the temperature can drop at the vans location during winter months, In some locations it may be nessacary to start thinking about draining down your van between as early as October or November till April the following spring.
The term draining down simply means draining the caravan of water, this means that if the temperature does plummet your van will not suffer damage from the expansion of water as it turns into ice.
Draining your caravan of water is as simple as –
1- Turn off the water supply and disconnect the connection to your caravan.
2- Locate external water drainage plugs underneath your caravan and open them, these are normaly situated at low points in the pipework so that water naturaly drains from them, a van may have anywhere from 2 – 6 of these. If you have a centrally heated caravan it is advisable to ask the park managers for assistance the first time you drain your caravan so that you do not drain the heating system.
4- Flush the toilet and ensure that all water is drained from the cistern. It is possible for a cistern to crack if there is any water left in that is likely to freeze.
5- To make sure that there is no water left in the pipe work, its a good idea to use an air compressor to “blow through” the system. This removes the risk that any considerable residue can gather and freeze then causing damage.
6- It is advisable to add a small amount of antifreeze or salt into any remaining water in the toilet as well as traps in the sinks and showers as they are necessary to stop smells getting into the caravan.
Draining your Water Heater-
Your water heater is an essential part of your holiday home, because of its intricacy it is vulnerable to suffering frost damage. To minimise the risk of damage it is advised to drain the heater.
1- Turn off the gas supply.
2- On your water heater turn the water temperature control to position 1 (warm) or of.
3- Open the drain valve located underneath the water heater (different models may be located in differently) having a suitable container below the drain valve, allow the water content to drain into the container.
4- The drain down valve should not be replaced until the water heater is used again.
Please note: even when a caravan has been drained down with great attention, it is possible that moisture can build in the pipes over a winter, if you get a chance it is a good idea to attend you caravan and check it during the winter months.
For those owners who have a more modern caravan with higher levels of insulation or double glazed windows and are a located on a park that is open all year may wish to use the caravan through the winter. There are a few things to be aware of if you are planning on doing so. Although the van maybe warm inside during the night, the pipes are likely to still be exposed to minus temperatures, you may find that you wake to either a burst pipe or the water is simply frozen and you are unable to run a tap. Also in extreme temperatures it is also possible for the gas to freeze so you may not have heating. It is a good idea that if you plan to use your caravan during the winter that you are prepared to leave early if this does happen.
Stowing the Contents of your Holiday Home
To prevent moisture related problems such as damp patches and smells within the van it is a good idea to follow the steps below.
• As condensation can build on windows it is a good idea to remove soft furnishings and curtains from the van or to a dryer location within the van.
• Stand seat cushions up on end to allow air to circulate around them.
• Ensure all fixed ventilation is not obstructed and that internal doors, wardrobes and cupboard doors are left ajar to allow an uninterrupted flow of air to circulate throughout the interior.
• Clean and empty the fridge and freezer and wedge open the door.
• Remove all foodstuffs to avoid attracting vermin.
• Turn off the electric supply.
• Check all windows and doors are tightly closed and ensure nothing is trapped in them.
• Ensure any loose items are safely secured.
• Ensure vents are never obstructed.
Return to your static caravan holiday home periodically to check on
its condition if at all possible.
Winter External Maintenance
• Its a good idea to inspected the exterior of your holiday home before and after the winter as any problems can be resolved before they create greater ones or anything thats not right can be quickly fixed. Pay particular attention to roof seals for any sign of shrinkage or cracking and re-seal where necessary. Check for damage to the gutter, panels and other external features.
• Windows and doors should be checked for leaks. All seals should be examined for any sign of shrinkage or cracking and re-seal where necessary. Oil all door and window catches, locks and hinges annually.
• Gutters and down pipes should be kept clear of any blockages. The roof should be visually inspected to check for structural damage. However, never walk on or place heavy objects on the roof of your holiday home.
• The chassis of your holiday home should be inspected at regular intervals. If rust appears, clean off with a wire brush or abrasive paper, apply a primer and repaint. This is particularly relevant in coastal locations. Protect tyres from direct sunlight and check pressures.
• Wash and polish the exterior paneling whilst checking sealant in the joints. Refer to your owner’s manual or contact your manufacturer for more detailed guidance.
• Check the underneath of the caravan for leaks.
• Corner steadies should be cleaned and greased
annually to stop them seizing.
• Ensure that windows and doors have security devices to be utilised when the caravan is unoccupied. If your windows already have locks ensure that they are used.
• Consider fitting an alarm system. Many different options are available – some are monitored by the park office, others can alert you by texting your mobile – there is an abundance of choice. As with any security feature, making sure that it functions correctly is essential. Some parks make it mandatory to have an approved alarm fitted.
• Take any valuables home with you.
• Ensure that televisions and other desirable electrical items are removed if you intend to be away from the caravan for an extended period of time. If you aren’t able to take them away, make sure that they are out of sight. Ensure that they are placed in areas that are dry as electrical goods are susceptible to damage in damp conditions.
• Closing your curtains or blinds may not be the best idea to deter any would-be thief. Leaving them open will ensure that anyone looking in can see that the caravan has been cleared of any valuable items.