Now that winter has finally been and gone, it won’t be long before we’re all once again attaching our caravans to the rear of our vehicles and hurtling off toward the horizon in search of summer fun. There’s a rather limited window, then, in which to prepare said caravan for the holidays. Now is the only opportunity you’ll get to get your caravan in good condition, inside and out, for the summer holidays. Let’s take a look at how you might go about doing this.
Without a doubt the most important thing to check is the pressure and condition of your caravan’s tyres. Over several months spent in storage, tyres have a habit of sagging beneath the weight of the caravan overhead. If they were in poor condition before being parked up for winter, this stress might be all that’s required for them to deteriorate beyond repair. Take a caravan out onto the road with bald or flat tyres and you’re asking for trouble. Get them inflated appropriately, measure the tread depth, and get any defective tyres replaced.
While the tyres might be the most obvious place to begin your inspection, there are myriad other places inside the vehicle where things might have deteriorated. Check the interior of the caravan for damp. If you find it, then use a dehumidifier to dry things out ready for when you come to use the caravan. Windows, doors and skylights present an opportunity for moisture to gain entry, so be sure to check their integrity. Identify and correct any leaks. The development of mould inside a caravan should be among your foremost concerns; moisture can build unchecked during winter, and inflict considerable damage before you’re even aware of it.
Next, check the security and fire alarms, and see to it that they’re replaced if defective. In most cases, a new battery will be all that’s required. Check that the fire extinguisher is working – they come with an expiration date, so be sure to replace your extinguisher if it’s past its best. The last thing you want in the event of a mid-holiday inferno is to discover that your extinguisher isn’t up to the job.
You’ll also want to tidy the interior. Pick up and dispose of any loose litter. Once everything is cleared up, run a vacuum cleaner over the carpet and upholstery. You’ll be amazed at how much dust can accumulate in just a few months – and having to live in a dusty environment isn’t any fun.
Practical caravan magazine offer a rather thorough guide to checking and adjusting your caravan’s brakes. Read it carefully and spend an hour or so adjusting your brakes until they’re functional. Brakes that don’t work are likely to be incredibly dangerous once you’ve gotten them out onto the road – and so this is a task which should on no account be neglected!
You’ll want to flush through the water system to check that everything’s still in good working order. Check every tap and shower, and make note of anything that seems to be on its way out. Never use bleach to flush through the caravan’s plumbing system – you won’t be able to be sure that it’s totally removed from the drinking water supply. Instead, use a purpose-made cleaning formula. The same goes for the toilet in your caravan.
Your caravan is packed with electrical appliances, whose condition can degrade over time. This degradation might be especially pronounced when we factor in the moisture levels that plague a caravan during winter. You’ll therefore need to check each of the electrical appliances in your caravan and see that they’re working. This means fridges, freezers, cookers, kettles, toasters and televisions. If anything’s broken, then get it replaced.
Check the gas cylinders in your caravan. You’ll want to be sure that there’s enough in there for the next outing – and preferably a little more. Most gas cylinders are designed to be refilled by a professional outlet; you pay a deposit for the bottle and then swap the empty bottle out for one that’s full. As a consequence, you’ll save money by waiting until the bottle is entirely empty before swapping. Many gas cylinders come with a gauge around the top, but many don’t, and you’ll need to wait until it’s completely drained before refilling. For this reason, it’s wise to keep a spare bottle to hand to act as a buffer – that way you won’t be wasting money when you return those last few dregs.
If you’ve got a gas hob inside your caravan, be sure to check that the spark is working, and that gas is being properly dispensed inside the caravan.
Now that your caravan is in good condition on the inside, it’s time to make sure that it looks just as good on the outside. There are several ways you might do this. A pressure washer might strip away any caked-on grime, but it’s not something that everyone has access to.
A more common and familiar solution is to use warm soapy water. With the help of a sponge and a long-handle brush, you’ll be able to reach all of those awkward cracks and crevices. A small bristle brush will help with the awning channel. Once you’re done, lay on a coat of polish. This will provide the required shine, and protect your caravan against the environment it’ll need to endure over the coming year.
Finally, we come to a task that doesn’t require you to do any actual work, per se. But it is a crucial one – be sure that your cover is up to date, and that it reflects the real value of your caravan. If your circumstances have changed, then you might wish to switch to a different level of cover. Don’t gamble by taking your caravan out without the right insurance – you’ll be able to get a sensible level of cover for a sensible price, and so there’s no point in introducing unnecessary risk.