Using a Motorhome or Campervan in Winter (Advice from Motorhome City).

When winter arrives it is time to think about heat in your motorhome, and “winterising” your van when you are using it in colder climes.

It is only a few motorhomes that are sold “fully winterised” with double floors, lagged pipework and tanks and even heating coils to stop the water freezing.

Owners of older vehicles will benefit immensely from the following tips on how to “winterise” your motorhome from the information below.

Preparation is always the key. Consider winterising your motorhome when it is your front drive, rather than trying to do it later when the weather turns cold, or you are off somewhere during the cold winter months.

1. One of the biggest sources of cold in a motorhome is caused by draughts through the ventilation grilles in the cab. You should close them all  when you are parked up in a cold place but NOT the fixed vent grilles at low level within the living part of the motorhome, as these are safety devices in case of a gas leak / carbon monoxide poisoning (from gas appliances).

2. Try to park your motorhome or camper on a slight slope so water doesn’t sit in the internal waste pipework. Around -10C the u-bend freezes and then you will need to put antifreeze or salt down it to unblock it.

3. Make some extra screens for the windows from 2 layers of the polystyrene/tinfoil laminate (the material used to put down the back of radiators), and place these against the front windows to retain heat.

4. If you have waste tank underslung at the rear, leave the drain tap open on site and a good old bucket slung underneath and emptied regularly

5. Leave INTERNAL locker doors open overnight, the heat will then enter them and keep the contents dry.

6. Fit exterior silverscreens on the front cab and if its really cold, interior silverscreens to cab windows (or the cling-film tip).

7. When on Hookup lift the cable every day to prevent it freezing to the ground or getting buried in snow.

8. Carry Snow chains and a folding shovel in the Motorhome and know how to use them (snowchains). Practice putting them on and taking them off in the warmth of your driveway - far better than on a freezing roadside.

9. If you’re considering wild-camping, make sure you’ve got a good healthy leisure battery or consider fitting another in tandem to boost your amperage.

10. When parked up for long periods leave the vehicle in gear, chock the wheels and leave handbrake off if possible as this prevents the rear drums freezing on.

11. If intending to stay on campsites with hookup availability etc then consider using fish tank heaters in the waste and fresh tanks, or consider a full winter accessory pack from good dealers.

12. If intending to stay put for extended periods (the entire ski season etc) then the following may be of use:-
Adapt the gas hose to allow use of large 49Kg Propane bottles supplied by some sites,
Build wooden skirting round the van from floor to ground to restrict the wind flow underneath but DO allow some ventilation as this is where (1) the internal gas heater draws its fresh air supply from and (2) any escaped gas within the van will eventually drop below the van through the vent grilles provided and MUST be allowed to escape (blow away).

13. Check Vehicle door seals and replace the rubbers if necessary.

14. If your cab doors have air vents seal them up with cellotape, gaffer tape or even masking tape.

15. Ensure you are using Propane not Butane gas as Propane freezes at much lower temperatures.

16. Seal around the fridge exterior, seal the rear of the fridge from the interior. Use the correct winter covers for your fridge ventilation grilles outside on the bodywork walls - the fridge will run more efficiently. BUT DONT COVER THEM UP COMPLETELY - EVEN ON ELECTRIC HOOK UP

17. Fit cling film or similar to window frame interior, At no point should it touch the plastic of the window, it should be fitted on wall and cover the “hole” where the window sits. This gives a trapped air insulation pocket and will act as a form of double glazing.

18. If you have an older motorhome then consider sealing the roof vents. Important caveat here is to ensure there will still be sufficient air allowed to get into the van for breathing.

19. Always watch where you park on campsites, as some areas can be prone to snow drifts. Consult the owner of the site before parking up, or you may have a lot of digging to do in the morning.

20. Always take along more duvets/continental quilts than you think you will need. Use a duvet as a sheet (remember to have a duvet cover on it). Snuggled between two duvets is much better than sleeping on a single sheet. Snug as a bug in a rug, springs to mind. If the cold is really severe, you will always have a spare duvet to throw over you.

If anyone reading this blog has any additional advice or tips regarding the use of a motorhome during wintertime, please get back to me, and I will add it to this blog. Thanks.

Provided by charlie at

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