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Preparing the RV for Winter

Unlike a lot of RV owners, when we talk about preparing the RV for winter, we’re talking about it more like the house you live in rather than putting it into storage where it’ll be abandoned until next spring.

Folks who don’t overwinter in their RV usually want to:

  • give their fresh, grey, and black water tanks all a good thorough rinsing with both clean water and either soap or some chlorine disinfectant to kill any nasties even before they begin to multiply by next spring.
  • Empty all the drawers and cupboards and wipe down to discourage roaches from coming or staying.
  • Remove all towels, sheets, and other removable cloth for washing before storing in a plastic bag either in the house or back in the RV.
  • Remove anything valuable from the RV to more secure quarters.
  • Make a note of anything broken or needing updating so it can be done and ready before you use the RV again next spring. Winter is a great time to do all these little one-off projects or upgrades since the unit isn’t needed.

However, we don’t have that luxury. We’re not “vacationers”; we’re “full-timers”. We’re not merely having fun in our little trailer, but we’re living in it. This is our FIRST winter in it, and we’re not sure if it’s going to work out well or not. Summer was HOT. Winter can get cold. We’re currently in Texas so it hasn’t gotten cold yet, and we don’t anticipate Texas getting as cold as we’ve lived in elsewhere. But if we move north, that can change quickly.

Obviously, we’re going to need a source of heat.

  • We hadn’t used our propane furnace yet, but on first use this morning it fired right up and quickly started blowing warm air from the floor vents. Within a couple minutes, the chill was gone, and we were turning the furnace down. Obviously, it’s using propane so we’re going to be using our little propane tanks faster than normal, but it’ll also reduce our electric usage. We’re going to be on the lookout for a large propane tank to give us longer between refills.
  • As a back-up, we’re going to get an electric space heater. We used them extensively last winter, and some worked better than others, even in the ratty, broken trailer we ended up with. Our electric system would easily get overworked if we tried to just plug one of these unit into an outlet, so we’re also going to get an extension cord to run from the unit to the outside plug. All of these parks have the 50-amp, 30-amp, and 20-amp plug-ins right next to each other. So we’re connected to the 30-amp for the trailer w the space heater run to a separate 20-amp outlet outside.
  • We’re also going out today to get some blankets and warmer clothes. It’d be rather unpleasant if we ran out of propane in the middle of the night. Better to be ready with blankets than get caught unprepared. We’ve been working to stay cool all summer so we’re a little short on long pants, long sleeved shirts, and other winter staples. Keeping our clothing allowance small, it doesn’t take as much to redo the entire wardrobe for each person. 3 pants & 5 shirts each, and we’ll be good to go.
  • Lastly, we’ve been piled 3 to a bed lately. The 3 boys are all piled in one bunk. The 3 girls are on the fold-out couch. The wife and I are in the bedroom w the newborn. So, w some good blankets and warm clothes to sleep in, we should be also insulated from the cold at night with other warm bodies to snuggle with. Ecc 4:11 “Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?”

Windows: Our windows aren’t very good. They leak air out pretty badly, and the heat seems to go through the glass like water through a sponge. We don’t have the option of upgrading the windows at this time, but we can do other things.

  • The cheap, plastic clips that keep the window arm closed are all broken. We have bungee cords secured to hold onto them. I’ll get some of that insulating foam tape to increase the seal around the window edge. That should help.
  • We need to be able to open the windows in the winter time for ventilation for the propane stove so plastic over the entire window area isn’t an option. Instead, we’re going to wrap each window glass with plastic. We should still be able to open the window, but when it’s closed the plastic will provide the necessary dead-air layer to slow the flow of heat out.
  • The only window that won’t be wrapped is the back window on the bottom bunk which has nearly everything broken off of it (clip, arm, and screen). Instead, we’re going to secure this window to the trailer “permanently” with the insulating tape to keep it snug as well as the plastic over the whole window area. This window has been the most problematic since it’s the bottom bunk where the boys have been sleeping and the little kids (and cat) like to play.
  • Since no one is sleeping on the top bunk, it’s been used for storage all summer.  With the arrival of winter, the top bunk would be warmer. I’m going to see what we can do to move the stuff that’s been stored up there somewhere else and make both bunks usable. If nothing else, we’ll just move the boys to the top bunk.

I’m also going to buy a can or two of that GreatStuff “Door and Window” spray-in foam. It works pretty good at filling the cracks. There’re two types of GreatStuff foam. The regular foam can build up quite a bit of pressure in small gaps. This is great for stone, hardwood floors and other solid pieces that aren’t going to bend or break easily. However, the “Door & Window” version doesn’t do that. Instead, it foams in without building pressure. This doesn’t fill the crack as well, but there’s less risk of bending door/window frames if there’s delicate tolerances or cracking the windows. Yes, I’ve actually cracked a window with the other stuff. I got a bit overzealous with the foam. In this trailer, I’m not taking any risks. The “Door and Window” foam works well enough so I’ll use it as we discover cracks from the shoddy workmanship of this FEMA trailer.

The other purchase that we want to make for winter is a whole RV cover. We’ve been seeing them in the magazines and circulars. They seem to be just the ticket for a whole RV blanket to shed snow and rain and provide an extra-measure of protection against a frigid north wind. Most have roll-up doors so we could still get in & out with the trailer completely wrapped. That’s going to take some saving since those covers aren’t cheap, but it should be worth it.

Once the trailer is at this point, we won’t know how good we’ve done and if we need to do anything more until the temps keep dropping. We’ve got options on places to stay and work here in Texas, so we may not have to deal with the bitter cold, but who knows … North Dakota in November, anyone?

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