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Ask Dave: Should I cover my RV’s gas tanks for the winter?

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club. Today he answers a question about if you should cover an RV’s gas tanks for the winter.

Dear Dave,
I’m using a cover to protect my travel trailer for the winter. Is it okay to cover the gas tanks too? —Jennifer

Dear Jennifer,
Thanks for the question, as it’s great timing to bring up the issue of covers during storage.

First, since you did not specify a make, model, or year, I wonder what gas tanks you are referring to? Since the gas tanks of a motorhome are typically located between the chassis rails, I assume you are referring to the propane containers on a trailer that are classified as DOT cylinders? These are typically located in the front “A” frame of the trailer chassis.

Good idea to cover the RV

In my opinion, it is a good idea to use an RV cover for your unit while it is in storage for several reasons. First, if you are in the regions of the country that gets below freezing and a lot of snow, the cover will keep the snow from sitting on the roof and then melting and working it’s way through your sealant at the roof to sidewall joint, around vents, and other places. It also helps to protect the rubber roof membrane and fiberglass sidewall from harmful UV rays that can cause deterioration of the rubber/PVC roof material and fading of fiberglass gelcoat. And it protects any decals from fading, cracking, and peeling – or at least reduces the severity.

One caution: Get a cover that is designed for your rig and fits correctly. The wind can whip a poorly fitted cover in every direction and cause more damage than not having a cover. Adco has always been my preferred cover provider. They have been in the business for years and specialize in the RV industry.

Most trailer covers don’t cover the LP cylinder in the front

Typically, most trailer covers do not cover the LP cylinder or cylinders in the front. I believe this is due to the variety of different cylinder configurations, with one or two, and the distance away from the front of the camper that would create a large gap. This would cause the cover to flap and tear or damage the trailer. But I do think the LP cylinders should be covered and most RVers use a plastic or PVC slip-on cover or additional fabric-type cover. It’s important to at least keep the regulator protected from the elements, as there is a vent at the bottom that needs to not be obstructed.

This unit with a single cylinder in the front has the regulator mounted on the front of the rig similar to the first photo and would be protected by the cover.

So, to answer your question on whether to cover the cylinder in this situation. I would get a customized cover for the trailer and would also cover the cylinder with a separate cover to keep the it from rusting. In addition, that would protect the valve, which also has a vent. There are several aftermarket covers that are very inexpensive. Here are some RV covers on Amazon and some LP cylinder covers.

Read more from Dave here

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Bill
1 month ago

Isn’t the vent there to allow the gas to escape safely if the pressure goes up due to temperature changes, etc.? And wouldn’t a cover trap it and create a fire/explosion hazard?

Eric
1 month ago
Reply to  Bill

Propane is heavier than air, so as long as the gas can escape downward, it shouldn’t be a problem. Only rising temperatures would expand the gas and force it out, so a cover will actually help insulate the tank, protect it from the heat of direct sunlight, and help keep the temperature relatively stable.

Thomas D
1 month ago

Dont cover with those cheap blue tarps.
A good cover will be lined inside to prevent wear and the fabric will be breathable to let out vapor while keeping liquid out.

David J
1 month ago

I bought a custom made cover for our Airstream from Calmark. Fits our trailer, including the LP gas tanks, like a glove! The cover is very well made. Highly recommended!