Tips For Storing RVs
Our plan for the beginning of February was to drive to Jackson, WY to visit friends and go snowboarding. But we didn’t want to tow the Toaster up there with us since we would only be there for two weeks before returning south where we would stay for awhile. So we decided to store our RV during that time.
We still haven’t freeze-proofed the Toaster and needed to come back somewhere with mild weather so we didn’t want to drive the Toaster any more north than we had to. Based on the USDA hardiness zone map, St. George, UT was the most north we could go without experiencing any freezing temperatures.
We found out that there are a whole lot of outdoor activities in the St. George area (Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park are in the area) so going back there to pick up the RV wouldn’t be an inconvenience. I called a bunch of RV storage places in the St. George area and found Bella Vista Storage. For only $35 a month (minimum storage time is a month, but after that rates can be prorated) we could store the Toaster in a secured and gated lot. The storage lot doesn’t have electrical hook-ups but we didn’t need them.
Also, as a bonus, the storage lot is right across the street from RVZZ, which offers a tank dump and freshwater fill, useful to us both before storing, and when returning to the trailer.
There were numerous things we needed to do before leaving the RV in storage (this would be the first time since hitting the road that we would be away from the Toaster). While we were pretty sure that St. George wasn’t going to experience any freezing temperatures, we wanted to be sure that if it did the Toaster would be ok. So we essentially winterized the RV. Below is what we did to store the Toaster:
We originally decided to empty out the fridge so that we could leave the whole trailer powered off while we were gone. The fridge and our Air Head composting toilet fan are the only two things that normally run 24/7. But as it got closer to actually leaving the RV, we realized that trying to empty out the entire fridge was a pain, especially for being gone for only two weeks. Instead, we ate as much as we could and left mainly condiments and some frozen stuff in the fridge. The fridge doesn’t use that much electricity, especially when we’re not around to open it throughout the day.
We didn’t want to come back to the Toaster to find that it was infested with ants or had mice living inside, which can happen with stored RVs. To prevent this:
- We stored any opened bags of food items in the fridge, ex: opened box of pasta, bags of beans, etc.
- To keep ants out we made a mixture of 50/50 Borax and sugar and scattered it around the RV landing legs and tires. If ants in the area find it, they will bring some of this mix back to their nest and it will kill them before they can return.
- As much as I hate mousetraps, we ended up buying bait traps that we placed by the tires. This bait trap has a similar idea as the ant traps where there’s poisonous food waiting for them. We chose to place these outside the RV instead of inside because we wanted to keep the mice from chewing their way into the Toaster.
- Our slide has small openings at the bottom corners when it’s retracted (I think most slides will have some kind of access point). This spot would be an easy way for critters to get in. We purchased steel wool to stuff in the opening to keep them out (except we forgot to actually stuff the opening). For long term storage brass wool would be better because it doesn’t rust, but if the storage place is in the desert then rust isn’t much of an issue.
- We also left all our cabinet doors open so that in case something got into them they wouldn’t have chew their way back out.
- Lastly, we vacuumed and made sure the inside was clean and free of crumbs.
We wanted to be extra sure that none of the pipes would freeze so we stored the Toaster without any water in it.
- We used up all our water in the fresh tank.
- But we had to siphon out the water in our two hot water heaters because they don’t have gravity drains; the pipe connections are at the top. We stored as much of the water from the heaters as we could in water bottles, water bags, etc. and put them in the fridge.
- The inside and outside shower wands were emptied, disconnected and left inside the RV shower pan to dry.
- We left open all the faucet taps to make sure no water was hung up inside the pipes.
- After we drained out our fresh water tank and pipes, we removed our water pump head and strainer.
- We poured some anti-freeze into the sink and shower traps.
- The gray tanks were emptied.
Since the RV wasn’t going to be plugged in while we were gone and we wouldn’t be around to monitor the weather and battery levels, we tried to turn off as much electrical stuff as possible. We turned off the AC breakers to everything but the fridge. Ideally we would have turned off breaker to our DC power, except the fan to our composting toilet runs off DC and we wanted that to keep running (to keep drying out the solids tank and keep any smells at bay). What we should have done was remove the fuses to all the other DC items except the fan, but we were in a hurry and didn’t do that. This wasn’t an issue for us because we know we don’t have phantom loads because we designed it out of the system. If you aren’t sure if you have any phantom loads then we encourage you to either turn off your DC main breaker, or if you don’t have one then you’ll need to manually remove the fuses (take a photo first so you remember which ones go where!).
We emptied and cleaned out the pee bottle but didn’t empty out the solid tank because it wasn’t full yet. If we did empty out our solid tank than we could have left the composting toilet fan off.
Since our batteries would stay at a high level of charge while we were gone, we should have topped off the water in them before leaving. Lead acid batteries that are fully charged will lose water if they continue getting charged. Less water in a lead acid battery means there’s a higher chance that the plates inside it will be exposed. Simply put: low water level = potential damage to lead acid batteries. Hence why they need watering. For an example why lack of water in batteries can lead to problems, read our post Battery Issues - Fall 2015.
We made sure all the external vents (ex: range hood vent and fresh water breather vent) on the RV were covered/closed to keep anything that wasn’t already inside out. Flying insects like to find these holes and make nests.
After two weeks we got back to the Toaster exactly as we had left it. Our batteries were at 100%. No unwelcomed (2-, 4-, or 6+ legged) guests were hanging out inside. And no frozen pipes. An extra perk- the mouse bait traps looked untouched!