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Storing Your Rig

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While you're not on the road, you will have to find some place to keep your RV between trips. Unless you are lucky enough to be able to store your rig at your home, you may be shocked to find that RV storage facilities can be expensive. Depending you where you live it could run into the hundreds of dollars. It's sorta like buying a big boat and then dropping your jaw when you find out how much it costs to moor it somewhere.

Whether you're winterizing your RV, storing it for a few months or just not using it for a week or two, there are a few things you should get in the habit of doing. They will help you avoid unnecessary headaches when you're ready to take it on the road again. What you need to do depends heavily on whether the rig will be connected to shore power.

==> This discussion doesn't include items specific to motorhomes. Storing and winterizing the engine and vehicle battery are not covered.

Basic considerations

There are some things you should do regardless of whether you will be storing your rig for the short-term or long-term, with or without access to shore power.

If you plan to leave your rig unattended for only a few days or weeks, and you don't expect the weather to freeze, there aren't a lot of things you need to do. But the list does depend on whether you will be hooked up to 110v shore power.

  • If possible, store your rig under a covered area. This will help protect it from the ravages of sun and snow. Try to avoid parking under trees if possible, or you will have a mess to clean up on your roof.
  • Try to park on concrete if possible. If not, gravel will do. Dirt and grass should be avoided if possible since dirt gets muddy and grass tends to grow.
  • Chock the wheels if not parked on a flat surface.
  • If you feel your rig is in a safe location, consider leaving some windows ajar a bit. This will allow air to circulate and help prevent musky smells. Of course, don't leave them open enough to let rain in. Close the blinds to avoid sunlight damage to the interior.
  • Don't leave your awning(s) out. Sun can damage the fabric. A heavy wind can come along and rip it right off. Make sure the fabric is dry before rolling up.
  • Perform lubrication regimens on things like door locks, hinges, jacks and any other moving parts.
  • Don't leave your slideouts out. Things like rain, dust and (more importantly) sunlight can cause severe atrophy to the rubber seals. This would also be a good time to help protect the seals by covering them with a compound specially make for the purpose. See [---].
  • If you can afford a cover for your rig, you would be wise to get one. This is especially true in hot climates. The sun can cause the roof caulking to break down, which in turn can cause leaks. That's something you definitely don't want! A breathable cover is best since it allows you to leave windows down, thus providing ventilation to help prevent mildew, mold and dankness.
  • Protect the rig from invasion by pests like cockroaches. I use --- for the cockroaches. Spray it inside your pantry after you empty it. Other good places to spray include under the sink, behind the couch, under and around the bed, in the closet, inside dresser drawers, and in the bath. Don't forget to spray in the basement.
  • Ants can also be a problem. We use ---. Spray it where ants are likely to come in, like the wheels, landing gear and rear stabilizers. If you are connected to shore power, spray it on the cord too. You might want to take the ant and cockroach sprays with you on a trip if you think you will be parked at a spot for some length of time.
  • Wasps and mud daubers love to build nests in your fridge vent, furnace vent or hot water tank cover. Note that they are often attracted by the smell of the additive in LP gas.
  • Mice, rats and other rodents can get into unexpected places. Set rat poison where other critters like cats and squirrels cannot get at it.
  • Unless you're only going to be parked for a few days, it would be best to remove perishables from the fridge and pantry.
  • Turn off all propane tanks. Check for leaks. Turn off all LP fed appliances.
  • Remove the fuse from your LP leak detector. This helps internal batteries from draining. Be sure to replace it before you leave for a trip.
  • Leave doors and drawers open.
  • Don't forget to lock the main door(s) as well as the basement compartments.
  • If you have the type of trailer that attaches to a ball hitch and there is a chance it might snow, don't leave it level by putting the hitch arm on a concrete block. Rather, leave it tilted downward so that rain and snow will run off rather than accumulating on the top.

So, all these things should be done as a matter of course every time you return from a trip. Doing so will make your next trip all the more enjoyable.

Long-term storage

There are certain things you need to do when storing your rig long-term, whether you will be winterizing or not.

Storing your rig for more than a couple weeks necessitates further consideration. Your rig will be perfectly happy being left on its own as long as you pay attention to some things that could turn sour over time.

  • If you won't have a connection to shore power, there are some battery issues to consider. See the next section for details.
  • Some RV-ers use tire covers. I cannot personally attest to their effectiveness but they might be worthwhile in sun-intensive areas like south Florida.
  • I do believe that you should park your tires on something other than the ground. This is especially true for long-term storage.
  • Periodically check the rig for leaks. If you find one see to it immediately. An ignored leak can permanently ruin your entire unit. Check for A/C leaks, roof leaks, leaks around the slideouts, and also look around your closet area.
  • Turn off the water heater. Leaving it on only burns through electricity unnecessarily.
  • Drain your water holding tank. Setting water can accumulate a funny taste over time.
  • Empty your gray and black water tanks before you store. After they are emptied, run a small amount of water into both, and drop in some septic tablets into the black tank (though the toilet). Note that there is a controversy about whether you should completely empty the black tank [see ---]. Some folks think you should, and others think you should leave a small amount so that the good bacteria can maintain. If your rig doesn't have a built-in tank flushing system, get a flushing wand.
  • This is also a good time to lubricate the gray and black tank outlet valves.
  • Check tire inflation. See if the tires need replacing. Periodically moving the tires helps to avoid soft spots forming on the bottom.
  • Was and wax the rig. This keeps sap, pollen and other bad things from eating into the rig's exterior over time.
  • Defrost the freezer. Leave the freezer and fridge doors open.
  • Clean or replace the A/C filters.
  • Remove batteries from things like clocks, flashlights, lights and so on.
  • If you will be leaving your rig during a time you expect it to be really hot, and you don't mind paying for the electricity, you might want to leave an air conditioner on. Of course it doesn't have to run at a livable temperature if you won't be in it, so just set it to a temp where it will kick on a few minutes a day and then turn off again. This should prevent mold from growing in your rig - something you want to avoid at all cost!
  • We are fortunate enough to park our rig between trips at a friends house where we have permanent 100v 30A hookup. So we leave one A/C unit on, but set to a relatively high temp as described above. We don't see any need to leave any lights on since the rig is in a protected community.

Even though you're done all of the above, after you set out on your next trip you may find that there is a bad taste in your water. I found a trick on a KOA website [] for removing a bad taste from your water system:

"Take a quarter cup of house hold bleach for every fifteen gallons of water that your fresh water tank holds. Mix the bleach into a one-gallon container and pour it into the fresh water holding tank. Fill the fresh water tank completely full of water. Turn the water pump on, open all hot and cold faucets and run the water until you smell the bleach at each faucet. Close the faucets and let it sit for three to four hours. Drain the entire system and re-fill the fresh water tank with water. Open all of the faucets and run the water until you no longer smell any bleach. It may be necessary to repeat this process again to eliminate all signs of bleach from the water system. Once this is done it is safe to use your water system. It’s also a good idea to use a water filter at campgrounds and to keep bottled water on hand for drinking."

Long-term without shore power

If you don't have the luxury of having a 110v connection while your rig is stored, it generally doesn't matter whether it will be stored short-term or long-term; the list is pretty much the same. You mostly need to make sure you don't run down your house battery, although there are a few other details to pay attention to.

If you either don't have access to a 110v line when you park your rig, or you don't want to incur the cost, there are several things you should do to ---

  • Disconnect the battery(s). If your battery has a disconnect switch, probably somewhere in the basement, then all you have to do is flip it off. If not, disconnect the positive lead of the battery and make sure it's in a position that it won't touch the positive battery post. Maybe put some electrical tape on the end just to be sure.
  • This would also be a good time to check the battery. If it's a lead acid battery, make sure it has distilled water. If you can, check the voltage across the terminals. Look for corrosion on the terminals, and use a wire brush to clean them if corroded. A 50/50 mixture of baking soda and water is often recommended. Make sure the cables fit tightly onto the posts.
  • If you are not using a large reserve, deep cycle battery, consider getting one before your next trip. See the section on Electrical Systems for a discussion of battery types.
  • With your battery disconnected, you won't have to worry about leaving on lights or other 12v thingies which might otherwise run down the battery. And of course, since you don't have a shore power connection you also don't have to worry about the 110v appliances.

-- disconnect converter
-- disconnect inverter
-- drain water (see above)

Long-term with shore power

Storing your rig for the long term becomes much nicer if you're lucky enough to have access to a 110v shore power connection.

Assuming you have a functioning converter, leaving your rig unattended while connected to 110v shouldn't run down your batteries, even if you leave a few 12v lights on. 110v-powered lights and appliances are also not a problem, other than the fact that it could affect your electric bill.

We leave our rig permanently connected to 30A 110v which makes it nice to visit the rig for maintenance and repairs. We can turn on the A/C during the summer and play music while we work. Being able to plug in electric tools is also valuable for me. We don't have water access but that's ok; we can run long water hoses to our friend's house if we really need it.

Un-storing the rig

Getting your rig ready for a trip again essentially involves undoing the items in the above lists. If you were connected to shore power there's not a lot to do, but if you were in "dry storage" then you will have many things to address, especially if you winterized your rig.

  • Check your fire extinguishers, if possible. Some extinguishers don't allow testing, as they can only be operated once. If you have any doubts, replace them.
  • Reset the battery turn-off switch, probably located in your basement.
  • Plug in your converter and inverter (if you have one).
  • Check the smoke, carbon monoxide (CO) and LP leak alarms.
  • Replace batteries in your clocks, etc. Take some spares with you.
  • Check the wiper blades on your pusher or tow vehicle. We've found that putting Rainex on the windshield before a trip helps immensely during rainstorms.
  • Check your house battery.
  • Make sure your first-aid kit and road emergency kit are functional. Do you have long jumper cables with sufficiently thick guage wires?
  • Put your awnings and slideouts out and in. Inspect the slideout cables.
  • Turn on your fridge early enough to make sure it is getting cold enough, and the freezer is actually freezing. If you have a dual ode fridge, check it out in both elec and LP modes. Make sure the oven's pilot light is working.
  • Turn on the propane tanks and check for leaks. Make sure the stovetop burners work.
  • Turn on the water heater. Ensure it works on both electric and LP settings (if you have both).
  • If possible, see if the furnace works, especially if you will be heading out in cold weather.
  • Consult this site's Attach and Detach [---] checklist when you are ready to hookup and go.


If you will be storing your rig where the temps are apt to fall below freezing, there are special things you need to do. The biggest problem RV owners face in sub-freezing climates is the water system. A frozen pipe, toilet, pump or holding tank can ruin your day. Leaving water anywhere in the system can cause water to expand and break or crack things like lines or fittings.

Your rig may have come with specific instructions for winterizing, If not, either contact the manufacturer or try to find a manual online.

  • Disconnect any water lines you may have coming into the system.
  • Open faucets to remove any pressure in the lines. Flush the toilet. Do you have an outside shower on your rig?
  • Remove any in-line water filters. If they have been in for a while you might want to change them.
  • Drain the fresh water holding tank. The tank may have a pressure relief valve which you can open to assist in draining.
  • Open the door which covers the hot water tank. Disconnect the heater anode from the water heater.
  • Turn off your electric water heater element.
  • Drain the water heater tank by removing the drain plug (aka petcock). If the water is hot, wait for it to cool. Close off both the cold water intake and the hot water outtake lines. If your heater tank has a bypass valve between the cold and hot lines, move it to the off position. If your tank doesn't have one you will probably need to either install one or have one installed for you; there are kits. This is because the bypass allows antifreeze to flow throughout the lines without filling up the water tank.
  • Use the 12v water pump to force any remaining water from the system. Don't let it run after the water stops. Be sure to turn it off when done.
  • Turn off the 12v water pump.
  • Replace all drain plugs. Close all faucets.
  • Put a non-toxic RV or marine antifreeze in the system. If your rig has a water pump converter kit then this is an easy process. If not, you can do this by removing the line from the intake side of the water pump (from the fresh water holding tank) and attaching tubing that runs into a jug of antifreeze. Turn the pump on to force antifreeze throughout the system. Slowly open each inside and outside faucet until pink fluid appears. Work from the faucet closest to the pump toward the furtherest away. Depending on the size of your rig, anywhere between one and three gallons might be required.
  • Flush the toilet until antifreeze appears. Flush some more antifreeze into the black tank to protect any water left there from freezing.
  • Pour antifreeze down each kitchen and bath drain.
  • Close all faucets.

-- water pump converter kit


-- essentially the reverse of above


Storing your rig is a good time to perform periodic maintenance routines. Refer to this site's section on Maintenance for a checklist.

-- photos..

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