Why You Need Indoor RV Storage for Winter
Proper winter storage is essential to extending the lifespan of your RV. Storing an RV outside in the winter may be cheaper than paying for a storage unit, but it brings a lot of risks as well. This practice could cause long-term damage to your RV if you’re not careful, so sometimes it’s best to avoid it altogether.
Storing an RV outside in the winter can lead to burst pipes, structural damage from snow, broken windows, water damage, trapped vehicles, pests living in or under the vehicle, damaged tires, and additional costs for winterizing gear. It’s often safer to pay for winter storage instead.
Some people are fine with storing their RVs outside during the cold months, but it’s not the best solution for everyone. Temperature-regulated storage options are the easiest and safest way to store your RV, but they can sometimes be expensive. If you’re worried about the potential risks of outdoor storage, read below for some more information as well as potential ways to combat them.
1. Damaged pipes
One of the biggest risks of storing an RV outside in the winter is cracked or burst pipes. If any water is left in your RV and is exposed to freezing temperatures, it will expand and create strain on the pipes throughout the vehicle. If conditions are severe enough, the remaining water can break the pipes and ruin the whole water system. This is an expensive problem to fix and you won’t be happy to return to an RV with broken pipes and leaks.
If you do want to store your RV outside, then make sure that all the pipes and holding tanks have been emptied out. Run some antifreeze through the pipes as well to ensure that it can withstand freezing temperatures.
2. Structural damage from snow weight
If you live in an area that experiences snow during the winter, this can also be a risk to your RV. Although it seems innocent enough, snow can actually be quite heavy, especially if it’s wet. If snow piles up on housetops, it needs to be removed so it doesn’t cause the roof to cave in.
The same thing is true for RVs. They weren’t built to withstand a large amount of weight on their roof, especially not if the snow continues to pile up and doesn’t get removed for months. This weight can cause structural damage to the roof as well as the supporting walls. If the whole structure is damaged, it’s hard to recover from that.
If you choose to store your RV outside in snowy conditions, make sure you’re vigilant about removing buildup from the roof. This will preserve the integrity of the vehicle. Plus if you regularly clean it off, you can avoid dealing with the massive and heavy loads of snow that are the result of waiting too long.
3. Loosened or cracked windows
Windows are also at risk if you’re storing an RV outside in the winter. As the RV experiences freezes and thaws, the windows and frames are put through a lot of strain. The windows are not always firmly fitted in place because they need to be able to open and close. The extra bit of loose space puts them in danger once winter rolls around.
Many RVers have returned to their winterized RVs only to find that the windows have cracked or popped loose. Once this happens, the RV will be more exposed to the elements. Snow, dirt, ice, and other debris can enter the interior, which is a pain to deal with. Covering the windows with blankets, cardboard, plastic, or another protective layer can provide some protection against this problem.
4. Water damage
Water damage is the enemy of all RV owners. It can warp furniture, invite mold, and damage almost every part of your vehicle. Burst pipes can cause water damage in an RV, but there are other ways that water and moisture can wreak havoc on an RV that is left outdoors in the winter. Water damage is a silent threat that you might not notice until it’s too late, so do everything you can to prevent it.
The kitchen and bathroom are some of the biggest areas that you need to keep an eye on. Again, drain all the water from your RV before storing it and make sure you clean and dry all the interior surfaces. Place desiccants in areas that might trap moisture such as under the sink, near the windows, or in cabinets. Once water damage sets in, it’s hard to get rid of. Areas with snowy and wet winters are at higher risk, so proper prevention is essential.
5. RV trapped in snow, ice, mud, etc.
If your store an RV outside in the winter, there’s a chance that it will be harder to remove when you need it. Snow and ice can build up around an RV that stays in one place, so it can basically become locked in place. If you ever wanted to dust it off for a winter road trip or wanted to get an early start on your spring travels, it can be hard to free your RV from its spot.
There’s also a chance that your vehicle could sink into mud or soft ground if it stays in one place for too long. If that happens, you’ll need a powerful tow truck to get it out and you’ll risk damaging it. To try to prevent these problems, you can park your RV on a solid surface like a concrete pad and make sure you clear out the surrounding snow as it builds up.
6. Pests shelter in or under the RV
Lots of animals and bugs will try to survive the winter in any way possible. If your RV can provide shelter and a bit of warmth to them, they will seek it out. Pests can cause damage to the walls, furniture, floors, and inner workings of your RV. They also are annoying to get rid of and might leave behind some stinky remains.
Make sure you cover your RV and don’t leave any gaps underneath it if you want to avoid pests. Place filters or covers by your vents and windows as well.
7. Tires are at risk
Tires are one of the most vulnerable parts of your RV and they are especially sensitive to fluctuations in temperature. As they are exposed to freezing and thawing temperatures, the rubber can dry out and crack. This weakens the integrity of the tire and causes flats and air leaks.
It is expensive to replace RV tires and nobody wants to do this more than is necessary. Tires should be covered up if you store an RV outside. It also helps if you use leveling jacks to distribute the weight and take some strain off the tires.
8. Additional expenses for winterizing gear/fluids
Finally, storing an RV outside in the winter can be more expensive and labor-intensive than you might think. You’ll need to keep track of a maintenance schedule and ensure that your vehicle is safe throughout the whole season. You may also need to buy special gear and items to winterize it. An exterior cover, tire covers, antifreeze, fuel stabilizer, and other winter necessities can quickly add up in price.
It is certainly more expensive to pay for a temperature-regulated storage unit, but you’ll also have peace of mind and won’t have to worry about cleaning or maintaining your vehicle throughout the winter.
If you want to hear about more problems and solutions that come from storing an RV outside in the winter, check out this video.
Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool such as RV LIFE Maintenance. Not only can you keep all of your documents in one place, but you’ll also receive timely reminders when maintenance is due to help you avoid costly repairs and potentially serious accidents.
Read More About Storing Your RV Outside in Winter
- A Complete RV Winterizing Checklist
- Covered RV Storage vs Motorhome Covers: What’s Best?
- Is Your Rig Ready For Cold Winter Storage?