RVs are a big investment, and you'll want to protect your RV just like you would an investment in a home. If you maintain it well, you'll be able to enjoy many years of adventure in your motorhome or trailer and later sell it for the best price if you decide to upgrade or stay put for a while.
Florida is a particularly challenging place to keep an RV in top shape, due to the unique weather and pest challenges that accompany The Sunshine State. And if you neglect to maintain and store your RV properly, it can be quite difficult (and expensive!) to undo the damage.
Whether you're storing your motorhome or trailer on a friend's property, in an RV park, or in a storage facility, there are several Florida-specific hazards you'll need to prepare for. Here's what you need to know.
1. Mold and Mildew
Florida's humidity is a perfect environment for mold and mildew. If you're storing your RV under a tarp or in a storage facility that's not climate-controlled, you'll want to be extra cautious protecting against mold and mildew. And even if you're using a vented cover or storing in a climate-controlled facility, you'll need to take basic steps to deter mold and mildew. It's much easier and cheaper to prevent these damaging problems than to remediate them after the fact.
Inspect the Roof
Mold and mildew thrive in damp environments. Before storing your RV or trailer, check the roof for any cracked seams or deterioration in the caulking. Water spots on the ceiling are an indicator of a problem with the roof, but if the problem is recent you may not see these, so examine carefully. If you see any signs of wear in the seams or caulking, you'll want to re-caulk and repair.
Check Air Conditioning Ducts
Mold will often grow in heating or air conditioning systems, which causes the spores to spread throughout the motorhome or trailer. Check your ductwork to make sure it's clean. If you discover mold, you'll want to clean carpets, walls, and other areas where spores could settle and later grow.
Look at the Plumbing
Leaky pipes are notorious for growing mold. Check under sinks and toilets for any damp areas or standing water. You'll want to make sure any leaks are fully fixed prior to storage.
Examine Door Frames, Window Frames, and Slide Seals
Many motorhome and trailer owners forget about doors, windows, and slides, but these areas are prone to seal deterioration. If seals are brittle or cracked, you'll need to replace them.
Drain Holding Tanks
Standing water in any of the holding tanks can harbor algae in addition to mold and mildew. Drain all holding tanks, including the freshwater tank, and ensure they are completely empty and dry.
Install Daytime Shades
Because mold and mildew need darkness to thrive, light is one of the best ways to protect against these problems. Daytime shades allow light to enter the RV or trailer, so if you're currently using night shades that block light, swap them out for daytime shades.
While daytime shades help the areas that are exposed to windows, they won't benefit cabinets or closets. Place DampRid in any dark areas of your RV, and leave the doors open.
Purchase a Vented and/or Breathable Cover
One of the best ways to ensure you don't end up with a mold or mildew problem is to use a RV cover that allows the motorhome or trailer to breathe and to vent out any water vapor that forms inside.
Florida has more than its fair share of creepy crawlies. Wasps, spiders, roaches, ants, and other bugs all find motorhomes and trailers wonderful places to live. Once a few are inside, insects breed rapidly, and you could come back to an infestation the following season. And infestations are often expensive to get rid of, since they typically require a pest control professional's help. A few simple steps prior to storage can prevent this costly problem.
All food should be removed from the RV before storage. Even the smallest crumbs can attract pests — not just insects, but also mice. Give the motorhome or trailer a thorough cleaning, including all the small "in between and under" spaces.
Place Screens On Exterior Vents
All exterior vents should be covered with screens if they aren't already. Screens go a long way toward making sure insects don’t set up shop inside your RV.
Inspect Underneath the Motorhome or Trailer
Look for any areas underneath your RV that could allow insects to enter. Seal any cracks or open areas with foam sealant. You'll also want to inspect door frames, window frames, and slide seals, and replace any that are deteriorating.
Eliminate Standing Water
Completely empty your ice maker and any water in the refrigerator. Check for other areas where water has collected. Insects need water to survive, and they'll make a home wherever they can find it.
Plug Sink Drains and Cover Shower Drains
Plumbing is an insect's favorite route inside RVs. Place plugs in the sinks and covers over shower drains (and the bathtub drain, if you have one). Also close toilet seats.
Consider Spreading Insect Killer
You'll need to clean up any insect powders you put down the following season, but roach and ant killers are a good way to prevent these pests from desiring your motorhome or trailer. Spread the substances on the floors, around and between cabinets, and inside any crevices.
They don't call Florida "The Sunshine State" for no reason! The sun is bright and hot, even in the winter. And UV rays do damage to the exterior of RVs and trailers just as they do to skin. Fading paint, drying rubber, and deteriorating vinyl all result from the sun beating down day after day. UV damage is one of the biggest causes of an RV’s value loss. When the exterior paint becomes damaged, the plastic and metal underneath is then exposed to the sun and can be compromised. To protect your motorhome or trailer investment, you need to protect it from the sun.
Clean and Wax the Exterior
Before storage, you'll want to thoroughly clean the exterior of the RV, including all crevices. Follow with a waxing as an added safeguard. Cleaning ensures no abrasive dirt or sand will erode the surface, and waxing seals the surface.
Use a Cover
The simplest way to protect against sun damage is to use a properly fitted RV cover when the motorhome or trailer is parked. Just as clothing ensures you don't get sunburned, a cover will keep UV rays away from your RV. And because sun damage can occur anytime, you may want to consider an RV roof cover, which will protect the motorhome or trailer while you’re parked on site.
Use a Storage Facility
If you're not using a cover, consider a storage facility that will keep the sun off your RV. Storage facilities are more expensive than covers, but they're also a good option for protection against the elements.
There are a few other things you should consider when storing your motorhome or trailer that apply no matter where you're storing it.
Ensure Leveling Jacks Are Down
If you have leveling jacks, be sure they're down. If you're storing your motorhome or trailer on grass or a dirt surface, you'll also want to use pads under the jacks to prevent them from sinking into the ground.
Remove the Batteries
Unless you're going to have your RV hooked up to electricity during the time that it’s stored, you'll need to remove the batteries (or if freezing isn’t an issue, you can simply turn off your kill switches).
Fill the Fuel Tank and Add Stabilizer
If you're storing your gas or diesel RV for more than a month, you'll need to fill the fuel tank and add a fuel stabilizer. Without stabilizer, the fuel will deteriorate and cause problems for your engine. After adding the stabilizer, run the engine and the generator to make sure the stabilizer spreads through the system, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Turn Off the Propane System
For safety reasons, you'll need to shut off your propane at the tank. Propane can attract insects as well, so you'll get double benefits from this step.
Shut Off All Appliances
Even if your electricity and propane are off, you'll still want to make sure all your appliances are turned off as well, to prevent overloading when the electricity and propane are turned back on later.
If you don't have them already, install robust locks to prevent theft. While motorhomes are trickier to get into, trailers are particularly prone to break-ins. You may want to consider chaining the wheels as well. If you're storing your RV in a location where you won’t be able to watch it, it's a good idea to ask a neighbor to keep an eye on it and look for any suspicious activity.
Ideally, you'd always be out in your motorhome or trailer and you wouldn't need to store it! But in the real world, seasonal storage is often necessary. These steps will help ensure that you can enjoy your RV for many years to come — and save the wasted time and expense that come with the problems of improper storage.Next Article: A Guide to Earning Extra Income by Renting Your RV