Keeping Your RV Protected Against the Elements
By Darla Preston
RVs offer opportunities for travelers to experience exciting and memorable adventures while still having access to many of the modern comforts that help them feel at home. A high quality rig is designed to help travel enthusiasts embark on countless journeys for years on end, but in order to extend the length of any home-on-wheels, it’s important to take steps to prevent any issues from festering into severe problems.
RVs are built to be sturdy and withstand quite a bit of what nature throws their way, but unprotected exposure to the elements can lead to deterioration and damage, eventually lessening their value and leading to expensive repairs.
To help you protect your RV from the forces of nature, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Control for Moisture
Moisture in your RV can lead to the formation of water damage, mold, and mildew, which can all put a frustrating damper on your road trip goals. To help prevent moisture from becoming an issue, here are a few strategies to consider:
- Regularly inspect your RV, including the roof, for any cracks or torn seals where water could leak through, and repair any areas of concern before hitting the road.
- Keep vents and windows closed during rain storms or if you plan to leave your RV unattended for a significant period of time.
- Use a dehumidifier to help minimize moisture, including condensation.
- Open doors and windows to allow for healthy airflow. This can help reduce the potential issues caused by condensation from the natural elements, cooking, or taking a shower. Running a fan can help as well. Most bathrooms and stovetops have fans to help with this, so try and make it a habit to use these often. Additionally, you can cook outside if the weather permits to avoid any unnecessary condensation from forming.
- Keep an eye on your vents to ensure mold/mildew are not forming.
- Avoid rolling up your awning while wet. If you must do so, unroll it as soon as possible so that it can completely dry before putting it away. Additionally, a little light rain shouldn’t harm your awning, but too much can pool on the fabric, stretching it out and adding stress to the hardware. If heavy rainfall is expected, it’s best to retract your awning until the storm passes.
Protect Against Strong Winds
When stationary, most RVs are able to hold up against strong winds (here is some advice on driving in high winds). Unless the winds are especially severe, most of the potential issues you’ll run into will stem from flying debris or tree branches that could damage your rig.
That being said, here are a few tips to keep in mind if you run into powerful gusts during your travels:
- If you’re worried about the state of your RV, keeping it hitched to your vehicle while the wind storm is in motion can help keep it anchored.
- Positioning your rig so that it is facing the direction of the wind is a good idea, as the impact is generally more severe if strong winds hit the sides.
- Avoid parking near or under trees during windstorms, as flying branches, or even falling trees, can do severe damage to your RV and be a potential cause of injury.
- Pull in slide-outs. This reduces the amount of wear and tear they will be exposed to, protects the slide toppers, and reduces the intensity of your rig rocking back and forth.
- You can protect your RV awning by retracting it when strong winds are present. Tie downs and canopy clamps can help to somewhat stabilize your awning, but the best thing to do is to put it away. The awning fabric could tear off, and in the worst case scenario, the entire thing could be blown off, resulting in costly repairs or even serious injuries to anyone around.
- Seal vents and windows. The last thing you want is dust and debris raining down into your home-on-wheels.
- Take down your antenna.
- Move patio furniture or any other outdoor objects inside. They could blow away, and they could also fly towards your RV, resulting in damage.
Guard Against UV Damage
Radiant sunshine beaming down without a cloud in sight may invoke images of an ideal travel day, but too much sun exposure puts your RV at risk of developing UV damage. Intense sun rays can cause your motorhome’s exterior to dry out, creating a dull, aged appearance that can negatively affect its resale or trade-in value. Additionally, UV rays can also lead to cracks in rubber material as well as on the roof, which can result in expensive repairs.
Luckily, there are several ways you can protect your RV from the sun, including:
- Parking in the shade when possible can be a good way to reduce exposure to UV rays while also keeping your rig cool and comfortable.
- Waxing your RV regularly helps to minimize sun damage, and it can also help protect against other forces, such as abrasive salt and corrosion. Waxing can be a big task, and because it involves accessing your roof, it can also be a dangerous one. If you don’t feel comfortable taking this on yourself, you may want to look into professional services. The type of wax you’ll want to use will depend on what type of material comprises your RV’s exterior. Some wax options will damage fiberglass, so be sure to find that will guard against the elements in a safe manner.
- Utilizing tire and RV roof covers can keep them securely shielded. Rubber is especially sensitive to sunlight, and the sun shines directly down onto your roof. Using covers that are made to block UV lights can go a long way in extending your RV’s life.
- Install sun blockers in the windows. UV lights entering through your windows can cause your interior paint and upholstery to fade as well.
Find Effective Storage Options
For winter months or time periods where you will not be residing in your rig, ensuring that your RV is properly stored plays a big role in keeping it running smoothly. The best way to store it is in a temperature controlled, indoor facility, but this option is not always accessible or affordable. Carports and garages also work well if you have the space. Many people, however, keep their RVs or travel trailers sitting outside when they’re not in use, but weather conditions and UV rays, along with exposure to bird droppings, pollution, tree sap, dirt, insects, etc., can cause significant damage.
If you don’t have any enclosure to store your motorhome in, there are many RV covers that are designed to fully cover your rig and stand up against the elements. Some people use tarps to protect their RVs or travel trailers, but tarps generally don’t protect against moisture build up, opening up the opportunity for mold/mildew to form. Additionally, they don’t provide the best protection against UV rays, and the material can actually scratch against the surface, leading to damage rather than providing protection. Ensuring that an RV cover blocks the sun, prevents condensation/moisture build-up, and is gentle against the finish will go a long way in keeping your home-on-wheels safe from external forces.
Hopefully this information helps you protect your RV from the elements. Staying informed on up-coming weather conditions will help you avoid any unexpected situations, and knowing how to handle the various elements of nature will help you prevent damage, preserve the value of your rig, and reduce the need for expensive repairs. Most importantly, however, it will ensure that your home-on-wheels is able to provide you with many adventures for years to come. Happy trails!