Now’s the Time to Get Ready for Winter Storage

rv storage winterBut first-year seasonal vehicle owners might not know what to do, especially when a garage has scant interior space. A portable building, or a portable garage, carport, or portable shelter by any other name, offers an economical strategy, but for the experienced and the new, take these tips into account:

For first-time owners:

1. Follow the weather. Is your region rainy, snowy, or dry in winter? This essentially determines the style of building right for your needs. If you expect heavy precipitation, select something with a rounded design. If you’re simply looking for coverage and don’t expect several feet of snow, consider the traditional peaked building.

2. Determine length of usage. Is the shelter something you’ll set up for a few months at a time, or will it turn into a versatile building kept up throughout the year? As a general rule, always opt for a stronger frame for year-long use: That may be a galvanized steel structure, or one with square tubing.

3. How much space? How many vehicles will be kept underneath? Before you browse, calculate the length, width, and height for every vehicle and investment in storage and add a few feet around each side. Once you have this figure, you’re ready to find the right fit.

boat storage winter4. Select a set of anchors. If you haven’t figured it out already, portable garages need to be anchored into the ground to live up to their full potential. Select a set of anchors that will effectively keep the structure in place on the ground below.

For the experienced owner:

1. Enclose it. If your shelter is a valance carport used throughout the year, find sidewalls and panels to give your boat or RV full coverage.

2. Check connections. If any metal parts or connectors are experiencing rust or the powder-coating is chipping off, find a suitable replacement part to repair the shelter.

3. How’s the canopy? The polyethylene cover tends to go sooner than the metal frame, so if spots now appear worn or display holes, order a replacement canopy before the vehicle needs to go in storage.

Storage Sites vs. Storing a Seasonal Vehicle Yourself

After watching this commercial, does anything seem wrong to you? If you didn’t catch it, watch it again a second time and check out where and how the RVs are being stored. Yes – you probably saw it for a few seconds on screen. The RVs are being stored in an open parking lot, which is where they stay during the winter. Although Seaport Storage claims to store boats and RVs, the location of the vehicles is outdoors – left unprotected to the elements. In terms of a long lifespan for your seasonal vehicle, is such a place ideal for keeping it in shape?

As we’ve mentioned before here, seasonal vehicles left outdoors for several months at a time are exposed to the elements. The prolonged exposure causes UV damage to the surface of the vehicle, often in faded paint and cracked parks, and the water damage can lead to mildew and dry rot on the surface. The best solution for keeping one of these vehicles is to put it in storage, either with a portable storage shelter like those at Shelters of America or Portable Garage Depot or, if you own one already, a brick-and-mortar garage. Left outdoors for six months of the year, the vehicle won’t give you as much usage as it could.

This ties into the last post, in which residents of DeWitt, New York, will need to store their seasonal vehicles, and their respective, shelters in the backs of their homes. Keeping a boat or RV in a driveway became illegal as of January 1, 2010, although various neighborhoods around the city without large enough backyards have petitioned the local government. Nevertheless, if you plan to use such a storage facility like Seaport Storage or a similar company, check first to see if they’ll let you use a portable shelter.

Fully Storing Your Boat for Winter

Boats are stored best with an outdoor canopy structure. Whether placed near a harbor or on your property, such portable shelters can be used to store a boat during the winter months. Generally, these shelters should be fully enclosed to protect the boat. If left outdoors for a long period of time, boats will experience UV damage, often in the form of discolored paint and cracked plastic, and water damage if snow and rain start to accumulate inside. A portable storage shelter keeps the boat away from these elements and allows your boat a longer lifespan. But, as we explained a few weeks ago, the boat should still be checked during the months in storage.

But boat shelters aren’t the only way to protect your boat. The portable shelter made from galvanized steel and polyethylene keeps the exterior of the boat in good shape, but maintaining the interior is your responsibility. An article from the Augusta Chronicle describes the best ways to maintaining a boat in winter. Some of these suggestions include:

• Lower the water-cooled 90-hp outboard motor and allow its foot to drain. If water is left inside, this can cause ice to form and damage the motor while being stored in winter.
• Similarly, check the battery. If the battery starts to swell, it needs to be replaced, as the cold is affecting it.
• Once the temperature dips into the 30s, the boat should be put in storage and not used on the water. At this point, ice forming inside the interior is more likely.

A combination of these should ensure your boat lasts for many years. The canopy shelter keeps the exterior of the boat from water and UV ray damage, and keeping the interior of the boat clean from water will preserve the interior from any water-related damage.