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RV Storage: What You Need to Know this Winter

| Updated Nov 10, 2023

There's more to safe and secure RV storage than just winterizing it and putting it away. Among other things, you need to pay attention to the roof, tires, and electrical system.

Our guest in the Interview of the Week segment in Episode 471 of the RV podcast is our friend Todd “The Beard” Henson of the National RV Training Academy.

Todd is one of the RV industry’s top experts in maintaining and caring for your RV and the chef instructor in a special home training course that any RVer can benefit from.

You can watch the video version from our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel by clicking the player below.

If you prefer an audio-only podcast, you can hear us through your favorite podcast app or listen now through the player below.

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RV INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK: What you need to know about RV Storage

Here’s an edited transcript of the interview:

The best solution for RV Storage is indoor storage

Todd:

Let's go over a lot of the considerations. I mean, we have a large investment sitting in the cold weather, and the one thing we don't want to do is just simply leave it out there in all cases, so let's look at some of the best preferences.

So number one is, if it's possible, is to store it indoors. The worst thing that we can do is leave this out in the field by itself. But I know that in some cases we've got no option. So how do we protect that investment? 

If you can't store it indoors, I would recommend storing it even outside of trees. The problem with that is that most trees, of course, they go into winterization mode as well, and that's when we get a lot of foliage that drops, and then of course we get limbs that drop. And guys, most of our roofs are either some type of rubber membrane or PVC membrane and falling objects are not desirable. So I would not recommend storing it in an open air situation.

If outside, watch out for tree damage during RV storage

Now, from there, what are some other things that we can do? 

Okay, now we know that these RVs, the tires are just sitting there. There's a couple of things that I want to look at. 

One is, of course, if you can roll them up on some wooden blocks, especially if it's going to be on concrete, go ahead and roll them up on wooden blocks. The second thing is that as the air gets cooler and there's really not much going on, the tires can deflate. 

Take care of your tires

RV Storage: What You Need to Know this Winter 1

So I'm going to ask you to look at that every once in a while because we've had several situations even with FEMA, where we would store these, and of course we had survivors (from hurricanes) living in them, but the tires would begin to actually decrease their pressure, release their pressure, however you want to say it, and the frame would move and our survivors couldn't get out of the door because the frame was on the ground.

So we want to make sure that we're keeping an eye on it. So what we want to do is just make sure that we're checking on this every once in a while, checking the pressure of our tires, but also looking around for any signs of rodents, any other type of wild animals, because they're looking for a place that's warm and they will chew their way in and get outside of the cold weather.

Now, to me, because people ask this all the time, how can we prevent mice? And if I could come up with a surefire way, I would be a gazillionaire, I think.

Keep the mice out of your RV

RV Storage: What You Need to Know this Winter 2

 We're on their property, we're on their turf, most of us we're on their turf. The best that we can do is to do whatever we can to try and stop them, but all we could do is maybe limit what happens.

 I have heard of lights, I've heard of putting soap down, and while there is some, I guess good effects from that, I've seen where it doesn't matter. So the best thing that we could do is keep our eyes on it and try and mitigate it as much as possible. Honestly, having a good feral cat.

What about a cover while your RV is in storage?

Mike:

A big question that I get all the time is from Rvers in really cold climates where they get a lot of snow is should they put a cover over the RV?

Todd:

I'm going to say I would like for it to be covered simply because UV damage. If I have it covered I don't get the UV damage that's going on top of that roof because now I've got something at least blocking it or blocking much of it. But I also know that that also causes some potential problems. 

We can get rain up under there. We can get, not rain, I'm sorry, we can get air up under there if it's not set right. We can get puddles because of course now we're putting a fabric up there and sometimes when it rains, it'll puddle and now I've got water puddling, whereas if I didn't have a cover, there wouldn't be a puddle factor.

So while there's some benefits to it, there's also a lot of considerations. And having that puddle of water sitting up there isn't terrible until it freezes and now we've got a frozen block up there and it's just going to rip that. 

So I'm going to say that is a preference matter. I like the idea of not putting UV damage up there on the roof because that's where most expensive parts are.

Mike:

The other thing with covers that I hear all the time is people have had really bad experiences. A good cover is expensive, it's got to be water resistant, but it also has to be breathable, and they're just buying these blue tarps at the big box stores

Todd:

Oh no.

Mike:

I've been saying that you don't need one, but that's good. There's a big cover industry, they get mad at me when I say that, but I'm glad to hear that. So we get it on wooden block, we get the tires on wood if it's outside, we're going in looking for mice damage and all of that stuff. 

What about the batteries? Should people triple charge the batteries? Should they remove the batteries, turn them off? Should they keep it plugged in if they have a hookup? What kind of things should they do when their RV's are in storage and are not being used?

RV Storage Battery Care

Todd:

All those answers were yes. So a lead acid gel or AGM battery is going to self discharge its voltage, roughly one voltage every 30 days. So the best thing that we can do is keep it on charge.

 If you have access to run power out to your RV, the simplest thing you can do is just simply plug it in. It doesn't have to be the full amperage. In other words, if you have a 50 amp RB, you don't have to plug it into 50 amps providing that you don't turn anything else on. 

Because the converter that we have or the battery charger in the RV is a maintenance or a maintainer, battery maintainer, sometimes called a trickle charge. So the best thing that we can do is keep those batteries charged up.

The best way to explain it is whatever your favorite frozen drink is, where you're mixing your ice and your liquid of choice, adult beverage, whatever, and then you add whatever flavoring you have, you stick it in a blender, so you get it all blended up. 

Well, it'll stay blended for a little bit, but after a time when you turn that blender off, things begin to separate. And that's what's going on inside the batteries because they have electrolytes in there's kind of a salt. 

If we don't use them, the salt's going to basically stratify and sit down because we're not keeping it charged. We're not keeping the blender on.

So if you have power to it, yeah, go ahead and connect it to power. If you don't have power, yes, if you can remove the batteries, bring it to your home location and put it on a battery maintainer, that would be great.

What about Lithium Bateries?

Mike:

What about lithium batteries? They supposedly are maintenance free. Is that true?

Todd:

That is true. They have very little electrolyte in them and they don't off gas, so they are maintenance free. There's not much we have to do. Hallelujah. I know a lot of people will say, Hey Todd, I do know that lithium, the consideration is, of course, when it gets really cold, well, when it gets really cold, we don't want to charge them. 

So lithium batteries, when we get right around the freezing point, that's when lithium batteries, the consideration is not to charge them heavily.

So if you are winterizing and you don't have anything else on, even with a lithium battery, you can leave it there in the RV with a small maintainer charge because it's going to drop it down to five amps anyway to charge it. 

So you're fine there. If you want to take those back to your home, place of residence or whatnot, you can just simply set those and let them sit. Most manufacturers say up to six months, you don't have to charge them back up. 

It's ideal to keep them on a charge, but lithium is a different chemistry altogether. You don't have to keep them on a charge.

Mike:

Then the question about everybody seems to be getting solar panels, what concerns about those? Can they handle snow on top of them? They're obviously not going to be very effective in charging, but do we have to do anything special with our solar panels when the RV is in storage?

Caring for your solar panels

Todd:

Oh, so most solar panels, well one, they're going to have a longer warranty on the solar panel than on your roof. But solar panels are good for about 25 years depending on which ones you buy. They'll have even a rating for hail. And I tell you, I'd much rather have a hail damage to a solar panel than on my RV.

Solar panels are a heck of a lot cheaper to replace. They can handle snow, definitely can handle snow. The consideration is when you come back to dewinterize, you may want to get up there and clean them. 

They won't be very efficient. In other words, if there's a two hundred watt panel that you have, and if it's all dirty, you may only see 60 or 70 watts. So we got to get up there and clean them, just like you would say your windshield. And really one of the best things after you clean it, just with regular Windex or whatnot, come back with some, what is that Rain-X or something like that where it gives a very thin wax film. So that way when the water hits, it rolls off.

Mike:

Well, we have now winterized our RV. We now know what to do with it and keeping it in storage. 

Todd, we want to give another pitch for the home study rv maintenance course that you guys make. It's really one of the finest courses I've ever seen that teaches us all how to maintain our RVs. 

Now, I know a lot of people just go have their RVs winterized at a dealer, and that's the easy way to do it. But as we wrap all this, just the importance of people being able to do their own maintenance. 

Just address that a little bit, that it's not that complicated. Even I can do some of it. So talk about why we need to know that.

Todd:

And I think what happens is we get deflated. We go in, brand new to the RV lifestyle. We think, well, we've worked on homes, we've done some stuff in the house. 

RV's not going to be that much different. And it's a lot of nuance. There's things that just don't operate the same as it does in the house. And because of those little nuances, a lot of us, we just totally don't know what to do with the RV.

Caring for your RV

And so having this course, the course that we put together, was to help you past all those nuances. Because most of the stuff, once it's fully explained, you're like, I got this. This is now not that hard.

And our whole goal is to make the RV lifestyle, the RVers achieve what their goal is. And that's to go experience life, not to worry about why isn't this working or what do I need to do here? 

That's a lot of stress that you don't need. And it's not because you're not smart enough, it's just simply because it hasn't been explained to you. So that's what we're actually covering in that home study course.

Mike:

Thank you so much for making the time with this today.

Todd:

Thank you for having me.

SOCIAL MEDIA BUZZ – Wendy Bowyer

RV Storage: What You Need to Know this Winter 3

Wendy Bowyer reports on the hot issues most talked about this past week on our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group:

Robert recently asked: What is the best day of the week to travel?

Of course, some in the RV Lifestyle Facebook group said every day is a good day, we are an RV group after all!

But there were some helpful general themes.

A few folks said holidays – not as many people on the road then.

Some said it depends upon where you are going. If you are going to a big tourist area know when the cottage rental changeover happens and avoid those days. Sharon often camps in Maine, and said you never want to drive to Maine on Saturday or leave Maine on a Sunday because that is when the rentals change and the roads are jammed.

Many said Sunday was the best day – especially if you're traveling through a large city. 

Next, I'd like to share Lynda's post. Lynda asked: What have you forgotten to put in your RV, and later promised yourself you would never forget again?

Linda once forgot all of their towels.

Keighley once forgot a fan – in June.

Cheryl forgot to pack underwear

Vickey forgot a fly swatter

Karen forgot the dog food.

Stephanie, the wine opener…. and sooo many people forgot a can opener, I bet that was the number one forgotten item. More than 500 people answered Lynda's question, and in the end, I think she has a good list of what not to forget the next time she heads out for a trip.

And finally, the last thing I'd like to share is a post from Tonya. 

Tonya recently bought an RV and gave it a decorating facelift before heading to Florida. She shared the after pictures with the group and so many people loved it! 

The pictures, which we'll link in the show notes for those listening, were fun to see. Tonya had wooly fluffy-looking sheep footstools that were very unique to go with her RV leather sofas. She had two raised-bowl-style sinks in her bathroom that were very sharp.

Her shower had a seat, and a very attractive-looking sliding glass door.

Tonya even showed how she organized her pantry where all the spices were in a cabinet spice holder neat, easy to see, and labeled – very nice. 

Her post got about 1,000 comments and was inspirational to so many, so I had to share it with you, too.

RV NEWS OF THE WEEK

RV Storage: What You Need to Know this Winter 4

 Bear shreds side of travel trailer at North Carolina state park

A bear ripped the siding off a camper at Gorges State Park campground in North Carolina last week, shredding the travel trailers' siding, pulling out the insulation, and taking it down to the internal wood wall.

The bear and the campers are fine, though it is not clear whether anyone was inside the travel trailer when this happened.

The state park campground will be closed for the next two weeks, and park officials are giving everyone with reservations a full refund as they work on implementing bear aversion techniques.

This campground is in bear country, and it is a good reminder to all of us still out there squeezing in our last bit of fall camping to be bear aware. 

That means being alert when outside – don't use headphones, for instance, so you can hear anything around you. Make noise while going on walks, keep dogs on leashes and store food properly.

To see our story with more bear-aware tips, click here.

Officials close an 8-mile stretch of highway after visitors caught trying to feed and hold a baby bear

Speaking of bears in Norh Carolina, officials had to close an eight-mile stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina last week indefinitely because of visitors feeding and trying to hold a young bear. Can you believe it?

This is incredibly dangerous for the tourists – and the bear – as bears that get acclimated to people become a public safety issue and typically have to be put down.

Yet officials received multiple reports of folks approaching a baby bear near the Lane Pinnacle Overlook to feed and hold it. By closing this stretch of road, officials hope the young bear will lose interest in the area before anyone gets hurt.

Bears are super focused on eating as much as possible to prepare for hibernation. Rangers are encouraging all visitors to the area to keep their food secure and away from bears.

The whole incident reminds us of an interview we recently did with a Yellowstone National Park ranger about the foolish things tourists were doing there – and what to do if you see this happening. 

To see our report, click here.

Tarantula spotting causes car accident at Death Valley

Two tourists from Switzerland caused a car accident when driving through Death Valley National Park after they slammed on the brakes hard when they saw a tarantula.

Tarantulas are not easy to spot at Death Valley – they are slow moving and massive, for being a spider that is.

When the tourists slammed on the brakes of their rented camper van, a motorcyclist (from Canada) driving behind hit them and was taken to a nearby hospital.

The tarantula was fine.

Rangers are now urging visitors to drive slowly, and keep a safe distance between themselves and the vehicle in front of them – a good reminder for us all.

Grandson hunts down 1950s-era RV travel trailer made by grandfather's company, presents it to him as a gift

A grandson hunted down a Platt RV built by his grandfather's company and surprised his grandfather with it as a gift.

The grandfather, Harold D. Platt Jr., is the son of the founder and president of Platt Trailer Co., Harold Platt Sr. The family business built travel trailers from roughly the late 1930s through the 1960s, when they switched and became an RV dealer in Indiana.

The grandson had been searching for a Platt travel trailer for 15-20 years with the goal of giving it to his grandfather. He found this one near Spokane, Washington.

His grandfather was thrilled to see it, and the 1951 28-foot Platt Trail-A-Home RV will be restored and given to the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana.

If you have never been to the RV Hall of Fame, it is well worth a visit. To see why, click here.

APP of the Week

RV Storage: What You Need to Know this Winter 5

This week we want to talk about a great app that really ups the game for trip planning. It’s called the Dyrt Pro. You have have heard of the Dyrt free app. It really does a nice job in helping you find campgrounds. But the Dyrt Pro is what we want to talk about this week. 

It’s a premium app, meaning it costs $36 a year.

We think it’s worth that BUT you can get it for free for 30 days by using our special link at https://pro.thedyrt.com/rvlifestyle

You need to try this out. It offers so many powerful trip-planning tools. It lists thousands and thousands of campgrounds – 50,000 and more at the latest count

It lets you define a route, your camping style, and how far you want to drive each day.

It has savings of up to 40% off at over 1,000 campgrounds across the U.S.

It lists more than 5,000 boondocking and free places to camp and 19,000 places where you can find overnight and dump stations.

Our favorite feature? You can get reservations at sold out campgrounds.

You can try it free. Just use our special link https://pro.thedyrt.com/rvlifestyle

RV QUESTION OF THE WEEK

QUESTION: We have a bumper pull.  The recommended tire pressure is 90 psi.  I have tried reaching out to the manufacturer and looked online, but cannot find the answer to my question.  We set the tires at 90 psi when cold.  As we drive, of course, the tires warm up and the psi increases.  What is the maximum that it can go up to without worry?  Is that something I should be concerned about or just if it goes lower than the 90 psi?  I am kind of obsessed and I stress about what the TPMS is telling me mainly because I can’t get a good answer as to what I should be setting the parameters at.  Any thoughts on this would be so helpful.  Thank you so much for your information in all areas. -Peggy Bracamonte

ANSWER: The recommended pressure is always for a cold tire, or before you start driving on it. It is perfectly normal for the pressure reading to show higher on your Tire Pressure Monitoring System as you drive. Our experience is they increase from 2 to 6 pounds over time as they warm up. The experts I’ve talked to say that is nothing to be worried about. Tires are engineered that way. So set the pressure for the recommended cold pressure and don’t obsess over it. Naturally, you should always inspect your tires before every trip, and if they are showing unusual wear, take the trailer to a tire shop.

RV Storage: What You Need to Know this Winter 6

Get the Home Study Course today and worry about the road, not the repairs!
Every time you move your RV it's like driving through a hurricane during an earthquake. Parts break and many items need to be maintained, this program will show you how you can save time and money by gaining the confidence to take on the majority of the issues you’ll come across. Don’t get caught with your RV in the shop! Learn how you can maintain and repair your RV at your own pace and at the most convenient time for you! This course is produced by the National RV Training Academy.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2023-11-08

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

One Response to “RV Storage: What You Need to Know this Winter”

January 11, 2024at7:06 pm, Afton Jackson said:

Doing whatever we can to make sure that we don’t have any rats invading our RV when in storage is a helpful thing to think about. Sealing up the vehicle and adding some preventive measures for that could be a good way to do that as a more proactive effort to keep our RV clean. I’ll do that before I take it to a local storage space provider and tuck it in until summer.

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