We discussed winterizing your camping units for the winter in a previous post, and every RV will have a slightly different way of doing this, depending on individual plumbing layouts, features, and appliances, so check your manual before your start, or contact Tri Crown RV before you winterize if you’re unsure. Here’s a great article than explains winterizing in some detail.
Other than winterizing your water systems, there are some other things you can do to prepare your unit for the cold months; here are a few.
Preventing RV mold: some hints and tips
- During storage: In the Fall, when you winterize your RV, find a cover that will protect it from the elements while still allowing it to breathe and vent. Specialized RV tarps can be priced a little on the high-side, they’re your a great investment and one of the best prevention methods to avoid mold.
- Inspect regularly: Give your RV the once-over on a regular basis, especially while its in storage over the winter. Check cupboards, drawers, piping, roof and ceiling, and upholstery to ensure there’s no moisture build-up. Also check walls, ceiling, floors, windows, and doors for cracks or gaps in the seals that could let moisture in. If there is moisture, clean it up; if there are gaps, block or fix them.
- Dehumidify: Dehumidifiers reduce the moisture inside your RV, helping to keep it free from mold. If you have power to your unit, a small dehumidifier will do the job nicely, but if you’re unhooked, desiccant dehumidifiers like Dry-Z-Air will also get the job done – they use specialized crystals to keep moisture at bay and require no electricity; we recommend using one for every 1o’ of your camper, but remember to change them regularly.
- Use good ventilation: Mold can occur due to condensation that has never been able to dry out. Open windows and vents to get the air flowing if weather permits. Remember that an unventilated bathroom is the perfect habitat for mold and mildew as it’s a damp environment, so open the door during storage to ensure the room stays dry.
- Use a fan: To keep air moving throughout your RV, run an oscillating fan. This will keep air moving and enable humidity to be dispersed, avoiding condensation buildup.
- Wipe wet surfaces down: If you see condensation on any of your RV’s surfaces, wipe it up right away, especially before going into storage, and when you check it during the off season too.
Winter Rodents: Preventative measures
One of the best ways to combat mice in your camper is to set up preventative measures to keep them out. Here are some of the easiest ways to prevent rodents from invading your camping units during the off-season:
- Keep things clean: Keep your camper as clean as possible. Common sense really, but you’d be amazed on how often this is overlooked. Cleanliness goes a long way towards keeping out critters looking for a source for food and shelter. And remember to do a deep clean before and after you put your unit into storage. Get into the habit of cleaning daily when you’re using your camper. Keep it simple: clean down your countertops, tables, and floors. This can make a big difference.
- Inspect your RV for holes: Look for holes in the floor and walls, check for chew holes at the back and bottom of cabinets, and especially where sections join – ceiling corners, floor and cupboard joints etc.. And check inside and outside; if you find any places that could be big enough for a mouse to fit through, fill it as they can fit through even the smallest of openings.
- Store your RV on concrete: For many people, space is at a premium, so storing your RV in the yard is the norm. The thing is though, if it’s on grass, it can attract critters. The better option is to store it on something like a concrete or gravel pad or driveway. This will minimize the chance of any of the outdoors coming indoors since rodents don’t like exposing themselves and becoming vulnerable which they inevitably do on solid surfaces as there’s no where to hide. If you store on grass, after a few months there is a heightened chance that when you go back into your RV you could find mouse nests.
- Use mouse repellents: There is no perfect way to repel mice naturally, but there some methods that can be effective.
- Ultrasonic pest deterrents: if you have power to your RV during the winter, you can use ultrasonic rodent deterrents. These plug into a standard outlet and send out a extremely high frequency signal that deters mice and rats from entering the space. You may need to use two or more, depending on the size of your camper.
- Make homemade mouse repellents: one of the most effective scents to keep mice out is peppermint. You can use peppermint leaves, spray, or oil and make soaked cotton balls or peppermint spray, and use them at any main points of entry.
- Soap: bar soap with strong odors, such as Irish Spring, can be effective too. The scent can repel mice and you don’t need to replace it as often as other home made repellents.
- Bounce sheets: my wife swears by scattering bounce sheets all around the place. It not only keeps the mice out, but makes your RV smell nice too!
- What to do if mice do get into your RV: Despite all your efforts, you may still find that you have some kind of rodent infestation in your RV come spring-time. In this case, the only thing you can do is find the nests and remove them, and trap the little invaders. Live rodent traps are beyond doubt the best practice here. They’re safe and you can release them back into the wild. We do not recommend the use of traditional mouse or rat traps, since if they trap and kill a rodent mid-winter, by the time Spring comes, you could have maggots and flies to deal with, as well as the pungent smell of decay.
Other Hints & Tips
- Remove all food and liquids from inside your RV: It stands to reason that if you’re removing all of the water from your RV in case it freezes, then it also makes sense to remove any other liquids too – pop cans, water bottles, juice boxes, cleaners, soaps, and shampoos; they will all freeze and if they explode they make a terrible mess and can cause damage. And remove any food too as this can be an attractant for mice.
- Open all cupboard doors: Opening up all of your cupboard doors and move everything out of your cupboards will help prevent mold and bad odors from forming.
- Avoid cultivating mold in your RV fridge freezer: Similarly, prop open the doors of your fridge/freezer as this will prevent moisture buildup and mold inside the refer.
- Reduce the humidity in your RV: Use Dri-z-air or another type of moisture absorber or dehumidifier; use one for every 10′ of RV to absorb moisture from the air. And check them often throughout the winter as you may need to replace them regularly.
- Pull cushions and mattresses away from walls and bulkheads: Moving your cushions and mattresses away from the sides of your unit will help prevent damp and mold accumulating in your upholstery from any condensation that may form on the inside walls of your RV.
- Close all windows and check for cracks: Make sure all of your windows, vents, and doors are completely closed so that rain, snow, and moist air don’t get into your RV. And check your windows through the winter for cracks and breaks; if you see any, cover them up and get them repaired in the Spring.
- Clear snow from your RV roof: When it does snow, watch out for the white stuff piling up on your roof. A little snow is fine, but if it starts to get a foot thick, then you need to clear it, particularly with older RVs as the roof may not be able to take the weight. Remember that you can walk on the roof of many RVs these days, but that may not always be the case, so check your unit’s specification to make sure it can take your weight before you go walking around on it.
Many of us forget about these little things once the main winterizing process has been done; it’s mostly common sense. By adding these items to a Winter maintenance routine, we can save ourselves a few dollars in repair bills in the Spring.