Is your Airstream winterized for the season? Not going anywhere soon? You can (and should) still protect your Airstream investment while it's in storage, with a very simple inspection.
This inspection takes only a few minutes and requires no tools or special knowledge. If you catch a problem it will pay off immensely because you'll avoid a much bigger problem next spring.
If the batteries haven't been removed for storage, check that they're not going dead.
First, take a look at the Battery Disconnect switch. It should be in the STORE position. That keeps the batteries disconnected from most of the Airstream's systems, so they'll discharge more slowly.
Flip the switch to the USE position, then take a look at the Airstream's built-in voltage meter. If you have standard or AGM batteries (not lithium) it should show at least 12.2 volts, preferably more. If the voltage is getting down near 12.2 volts they are about 50% discharged and you should make plans to charge the batteries soon. Letting standard or AGM batteries stay below 50% charge will shorten their life drastically. (Owners with lithium batteries will find the batteries hold their charge much better, and may not need recharging all winter.)
Be sure to put the Battery Disconnect switch back into the STORE position after this test.
Open up the propane tank cover and check that the propane valves on both tanks are fully closed. Then, look at the hoses. If they're showing cracks, it's time to replace them. You can get replacement hoses here.
Take a look at the tires. If you see cracks on the sidewall, they're coming due for replacement. Make a note so you remember to get the tires done before your first springtime trip.
Check the air pressure on each tire. If one tire is markedly lower than the others, it may have a leak and either the tire or valve stem may need to be repaired by a tire shop.
Walk around the Airstream and check for tree branches or other things that may be rubbing against it. Look for bird droppings or tree sap, and plan to remove any that you find soon, because they can be damaging to the exterior finish. Auto parts stores will have good cleaning products for removing sap and stuck-on bugs.
Look inside all of the exterior compartments, including the storage compartments and the access doors for the refrigerator and water heater. You're primarily looking for wasp nests, spider webs, or anything else that shouldn't be there.
In the storage compartments, notice whether it seems damp inside. If you see or feel moisture, you need to explore further to find the source. Water inside the storage compartments is a big red flag telling you that there's a rainwater leak somewhere. (For more on that topic, read "Finding and Fixing Rainwater Leaks".)
Take a look underneath the Airstream. The area underneath should be clear of debris and weeds should not be reaching to the bottom (they're a highway for insects). Also notice if anything is hanging down from the Airstream that seems like it shouldn't be (loose parts). If the belly pan is loose or you notice missing rivets, our Rivet Kit and Rivet Tool will help you fix that quickly.
Finally, take a look at the 7-way connector at the front of the trailer. The brass contacts inside it should be free of corrosion, which may be black, dark brown, or green. It should also be off the ground with the head end facing down so rainwater doesn't get inside it. If it's corroded, consider using our Electrical Maintenance Kit to clean it up before your next trip.
Your last stop is inside. Pause a moment to sniff the air. If you smell something rotten, moldy, damp or otherwise funky, it's a clue that something untoward is going on.
The cause is usually one of these things:
- rainwater leak
- leftover food, trash, or other items
- something wasn't cleaned before storage (like the refrigerator)
If something seems questionable, check inside every drawer and cabinet for mouse droppings, water stains, dead insects, or leftover edible items. Make sure the refrigerator is completely clean and the door has been left ajar for ventilation. For more tips, check our blog on summertime storage.
Also take a quick glance in the toilet to be sure there's at least a little pink RV anti-freeze in there. If it has leaked out, pour a bit more in the toilet bowl. You can get more RV anti-freeze at RV stores, some hardware stores, and Wal-Mart.
If everything looks good—congratulations! Plan to do this inspection once more closer to springtime so you don't have any surprises when it's time to de-winterize for summer travel.