Top tips on how to protect a holiday caravan in winter

Last December, many parks on the East Coast and in Wales were torn apart by a series of tidal surges. Although these kinds of conditions are hard to predict, one thing we can expect as we move into November is a significant drop in temperature.

How to protect a holiday caravan in winter

Holiday caravans are less insulated than standard homes and residual water can easily freeze, causing pipes to burst, water to escape and damage to your boiler and holiday home. So with this in mind, now is the time to start thinking about preparing your holiday caravan for winter. Leave things too late and you could return to your park to find substantial damage to your unit.

There are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of winter damage…

Switch off and drain down 

If you don’t plan on staying in your static caravan or lodge during winter, before you pack up to leave you should always turn the water off at the stopcock.

How to protect a holiday caravan in winter

Next you need to ensure all equipment is fully drained down. To do this, open caravan drain plugs, turn on the taps and shower, flush the toilet and remove residual water from all equipment. Combi boilers should be drained as per the manufacturer’s recommendations. There’s no need to drain sealed central heating systems containing antifreeze but you should check antifreeze levels at least once a year.

In following these simple steps, you can prevent a burst pipe, leak or worse!

Set central heating system to frost control

If your park remains open in winter months and you plan to use your static caravan or lodge, we suggest leave your central heating system set at the manufacturer’s recommended temperature to avoid frost damage in between your visits to the caravan.

Set central heating system to frost control

Remember, central heating systems cannot be relied on as the only precaution, as an issue with the pilot light, gas supply or drop in pressure could cause the boiler to fail. You should always turn the water off at the stopcock and follow other precautions (Leisuredays’ customers see prescribed precautions under the section ‘Staying Covered’ below)  if leaving your static caravan unoccupied during winter, even if only for a short time.

Staying covered

Carrying out simple precautions is also a great way to ensure your holiday caravan insurance cover remains valid throughout the winter. If you are a Leisuredays customer here are the important dates you need to be aware of and a quick reminder of what to do…

Between 1st November – 15th March whilst your park is closed for winter:

  • Turn the water off at the stopcock
  • Drain down and winterise all equipment in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations

Between 1st November – 15th March whilst your park is open, whenever unoccupied:

  • Turn the water off at the stopcock
  • Turn on all taps and the shower to let all water out
  • Flush toilets, ensuring all water is drained from the cistern

By taking these actions you are ensuring that you minimise damage to your holiday caravan and your policy protects you.

Winter checklist

Although the following are not conditions of our insurance policy, you may want to consider these additional precautions to protect a holiday caravan in winter:

  • Ensure exposed piping is adequately lagged.
  • Add a small amount of antifreeze or salt to remaining water in the toilet, sink, bath and shower traps.
  • Leave external water drainage plugs open.
  • As mentioned previously, set your central heating system to anti frost setting to avoid frost damage
  • Unplug any electrical devices including large white goods.
  • Remove any bedding, clothing or soft furnishings from the caravan or lodge completely or store them in a place where air can circulate to avoid damage from damp or mould.
  • Prop open all internal doors and cupboards, and slightly pull out all draws to encourage air to circulate.
  • Remove or hide from view any valuable items such as Televisions or Hi-Fi’s. Then leave curtains open so that any would-be thieves can see such items have been removed.
  • Completely empty and clean any fridges or freezers and leave switched off with the door slightly ajar. Remember to drain any ice or chilled water dispensers built into your fridge.
  • Ensure external vents are clear of debris.
  • Remove any food stuffs which might attract vermin (mice etc).
  • Close and lock all external windows and doors.
  • Lubricate door hinges and window locks with a dab of petroleum jelly to ensure they open smoothly when you return.

Protect your holiday caravan in winter

Have you winterised your caravan? Do you have any winterisation tips to share?

Share them in the comment box below.

21 comments on “Top tips on how to protect a holiday caravan in winter

    1. I use a system called a “floe” (it cost a fiver online) to drain down my water syste. It comes with a free dvd on how to complete! £45 saved

  1. If we request the site maintenance to do a closure, to ensure that we remain indemnified we will need proof that the site has carreied out thes works? I often do it this way & in the past have asked for nothing as I naturally assume it is done correctly! Eyebrows will raise when I ask for such assurances!

    1. Hi Wayne
      Sorry for the delay.
      Our advice would be just to get a receipt for the monies paid to do the drain down that has a date on it. Or something in writing from the park (email/letter on the park’s letterhead) to say drained down.

  2. where possible place large open salt filled containers, i.e. Under beds and sofas and inside cupboards as this will draw moisture from that area.

  3. As well as doing all of above, we also store all our douvets and pillows in space bags which saves you from having I take them all home to store. We also put moisture absorbers throughout the caravan and outhouses. This ensures any moisture is captured in the draining tubs of the absorbers. Dishes of salt can also do a Similar job ensuring a nice dry caravan in the spring.

  4. I also use those `egg` absorbers. I leave them on the radiators as moisture collects on the windows.When I use the central heating they dry out pull furniture and matresses away from walls.

  5. Great tips. What type of salt? Does it matter? Table salt, cooking salt or sea/Rock salt? Where do you get it from and how much? A kg or more? Thanks.

  6. If you use table salt it will absorb the moisture, and once dried out when it’s warm can be reused.

  7. I buy the supermarket’s own brand bags of table salt, its usually just a few pence a bag, 4-5 bags is usually enough, I use old ice cream tubs for smaller areas and a basin for the larger rooms. I also put salt in all the areas where water might get trapped, down each of the plugholes, toilet bowls etc. All in the cost is well under a fiver and the salt really does take up the moisture.

  8. Don’t forget to remove the shower unit if it has a ceramic part inside frost can damage this and lead to a costly repair bill!

  9. Have you any tips for mattresses? Do they need to be covered, or is it best to leave for the air to circulate around them?

    1. Hi Denis,

      It’s good practice to stand heavier items such as mattresses and seat cushions on their side to allow the air flow to circulate. It’s also worth removing bed linen, duvets and curtains to prevent mold.


  10. Electric heating would be the best option as it’s one of the cost-effective approaches. Electric heating requires less maintenance and it’s easy to install.

  11. I just got a caravan from my uncle! He is seriously the best, he has always been my favorite uncle. It is important that I take care of this caravan to not only to keep it nice but also to show my uncle I really do appreciate his gift to me and my family. This checklist is seriously so handy! I had no idea that I had to leave external water drainage plugs open or that I need to unplug any electrical devices. Along with taking care of my caravan in the winter, I think I will invest in looking into caravan services.

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