Summer is approaching and hopefully we will all be able to get back out on the road shortly. However, before we get the go ahead to start travelling again it’s a good time to spring clean your unit and get it ready for the season. There is nothing worse than realising a few days before you set off that your caravan or motorhome is badly in need of a clean. We all have great intentions of giving the unit a good clean at the end of the season but keep pushing it out until in the end the caravan goes into storage for the winter and we are back to a new season approaching.
One of the greatest pleasures is retrieving the caravan/motorhome from wherever it has been stored through the winter months and getting it ready for the start of the touring season. There are several things on the checklist that need to be looked at before you can hitch up or load up and head off.
The most important piece of advice I can give is always get your unit serviced by a trained professional. They will do a thorough check and make sure everything is in working order before you set off. If you are unsure as to who to get to service your unit talk to whoever you bought your unit from or to one of the suppliers.
For caravans we suggest you would talk to Charles Camping who are one of Ireland's leading leisure retailer, specialising in Caravans, Tents, Trailer Tents, Awnings and Accessories. They may also be able to advice you on servicing.
For Motorhomes, there a number of service centres throughout the country:-
Anchorpoint Motorhomeswho appropriate an RGI approved workshop out of their premises in Co. Tipperary
Cara Motorhomes have a fully equipped service department also RGI approved in Co. Limerick
A full service will check over the chassis; the electrics, wheels, tyres, brakes and the hitch as well as the corner steadies to make sure it is safe and efficient for travelling. It will also check over the gas and electric systems (12V and 230V) to make sure they work safely and there are no leaks. It will do the same for the hot and cold water systems.
Whilst we can do the basics ourselves we do need the professionals to ensure our unit is safe and ready for the road.
Here are some top tips to get your caravan/motorhome ready for the holiday season:
1. Check your caravan or motorhome for leaks
Before tackling the cleaning operation, it’s worth having a check around to make sure nothing has leaked while the caravan/motorhome hasn’t been in use. Check all windows, doors and seals for damage. Inside the unit open up all the cupboards and have a look to make sure you can’t see any tell-tale marks of water or staining. Have a good feel around as sometimes things might not be obvious to the eye but maybe to touch.
If you want to be completely certain, a damp meter is not expensive and you can use it to probe any areas you feel might have attracted moisture over the winter. This should form part of the check during the service but it might be wise to have your own damp meter.
Another great trick to check for leaks is to hose your unit down outside and then check inside to make sure that no water has got inside.
Sunlight, heat and petroleum can degrade rubber. Put a small bit of grease on a cloth and wipe round all rubber seals. Gas hoses need replacing at regular intervals because the LPG breaks down the rubber lining of the hose.
2. Spring clean your caravan/motorhome
Give your unit a thorough spring clean before you venture out. Remove grime and dirt as over time this can damage your unit. You need to do both inside and outside the caravan/motorhome and have it in all nice and sparkling for your first trip out. Good old fashion elbow grease is needed here. I know with the good Irish weather it can seem a waste of time to wash your unit before you set off and then arrive to the campsite with it all dirty again but it is good for the exterior to keep it clean. However, an annual deep clean and wax helps repel the next onslaught of road dirt and makes it easier to clean off with a quick wash down after each use. It is recommended to use motorhome/caravan specific products to avoid damage to paintwork, plastic trim, acrylic windows, rubber surrounds and other material.
The first word of warning is using pressure washers. Make sure it is not too strong as it could damage the exterior. Be gentle! First thing is to lightly hose the unit to remove bits of dirt and grim. Cleaning the roof can be challenging. I wouldn’t recommend climbing onto the roof as this could be a recipe for disaster. Use a step ladder and a long brush to clean the roof and always make sure you have someone holding the ladder!! Give it a good rinse when finished cleaning to remove any residue dirt or cleaning product.
The next area is the main bodywork of the unit. Again, rinse first with a light hose and then using a special cleaning solution and a soft long brush clean all around the motorhome/caravan. Finish off again with a hose down of water. If washing on a windy or sunny day when the surface is drying quickly, it’s best to wash and rinse each panel as you go.
How to clean your caravan’s inside:
Whilst cleaning the outside can be very strenuous, cleaning the inside is more time consuming. Open up all the doors and windows, the roof vents and the cupboard doors and give the interior a really good airing. If possible get all cushions outside and aired. Take down any curtains and wash. Vacuum the upholstery and into the nooks and crannies of the units. Get a bucket of warm sudsy water and wash down the interior. Make sure that you don’t wet the upholstery too much as it will take longer to dry out. Refresh the water regularly. Wash down the walls, ceiling, kitchen units, bedframes, etc. Leave the doors and windows open after you have done this to dry out inside.
Make sure all mattresses and bed linen is well aired and ready for use. Don’t forget to freshen-up the fridge and the one job we all hate – clean out the oven.
Your unit should now be nice and clean inside and out, smelling lovely and fresh and well aired. Now you need to tackle the less glamorous but very important maintenance of the operating systems in your caravan or motorhome.
3. Check your caravan/motorhome’s Water System
I suppose the first most important thing here is that you should always drain your tanks at the end of the season and before you put your unit into storage. Just like at home, water in pipes in your caravan or motorhome can freeze in very cold weather and burst. This is very easily avoided by ensuring there is no water left in the system. Before you go out again, it is important that you flush out the water system thoroughly before use. Even though the water system should have been drained down and empty while in storage, you might like to sterilise it at the start of a new season.Run the steriliser through the pipes and then put fresh water through the pipes and tank to flush out any loose deposits. You might also like to give the grey water tank a quick flush with some sterilising solution. This is not essential but it can help to stop unpleasant smells.
4. Check your caravan’s battery
Hopefully you have removed your battery from your caravan before you put it into storage and kept it on charge in your garage. Now is the time to connect it back up in your caravan. This should be done prior to the service. Apply a smear of grease to the terminals to prevent them furring up and carry out a system check prior to the service to make sure all is well.
Check the voltage with the on-board meter (all caravans should have some way of checking this) to make sure it is reading around 12.8V – if not and it’s been on charge over winter, get it checked. It might need replacing and best to do this before you your lights stop working and you are miles away from home.
For motorhomes, it is recommended that you occasional hook-up to your house mains supply, as sunshine is too weak over the winter months for the solar panel to keep the batteries topped up.
5. Check the gas and electrical appliances in your caravan/motorhome
You should always check your appliances before you set out on any trip. Make sure they are in good working order and if there are any leaks or breaks in leads or wires please replace before use. Also, make sure that all appliances are in good working order. Like all household appliances they can stop working or breakdown and may need to be replaced.
6. Make sure your caravan/motorhome has the right tyres pressure
Tyre pressure will probably have decreased when the unit hasn’t been used for some time. Blowouts are a common cause of accidents so check for any bulging, cracking, low thread or puncture marks. If in doubt replace.
7. Loading your caravan/motorhome unit properly
Remember that everything you put inside the caravan/motorhome counts towards its payload – that is, the weight of every item loaded into it – and its overall weight. Don’t exceed your caravan’s maximum technically permissible laden mass or your motorhome’s maximum authorised mass – the most it can legally weigh, stamped on its weight plate or in its handbook. If you have a caravan ensure that it doesn’t exceed your car’s kerb weight. Consider weighing your caravan/motorhome fully loaded at a weighbridge. When loading it, ensure heavy items are stowed low down and lighter gear is stored higher up. Also, stow lose items away safely as there is nothing worse than things flying around the back when you go around a corner or over a bump! If you are towing a caravan make sure that the hitch is in good working order and suitable for your car and caravan.
These are just a few handy tips for you in layman terms. It is always advisable to get expert advice from reputable dealers and shops on maintenance and upkeep of your caravan or motorhome. Again, always get an annual service from a reputable company and make sure your unit is roadworthy before you set off anywhere.
If you are onsite and you have a problem with your caravan or motorhome ask the advice of the campsite owner. They have a wealth of experience and often have the materials available to help you make temporary repairs.
Caravan & Camping in Ireland
I hope these tips and advice help you to really enjoy your motorhome or campervan holiday in Ireland. There is no better way to see the country with all your own home comforts. Click Camping Ireland to find information on all the great caravan & camping sites throughout Ireland before you travel. It is always wise to book ahead so you won’t be disappointed or have a wasted journey. Download the Camping Ireland App which you can use to browse and search for approved sites with ease while you are travelling around. For more information on the app click here
There are over 100 quality approved caravan & camping parks throughout Ireland. Sites offer top class facilities with many onsite amenities. There is a variety of sites around Ireland. Maybe you are looking for a quiet site where you can pitch up and use the site as a base for travelling around. Maybe you want a site where there is a playground for your kids or even sites where there are a host of onsite activities for all the family to enjoy. Whatever you want Camping Ireland has something for everyone.
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For information on these sites, the facilities they offer and other information log onto our website Camping Ireland Enjoy the independence and flexibility that camping in Ireland can offer in quality approved sites. We look forward to welcoming you to outdoor living.