By Russ and Tiña De Maris
As winter approaches, some new RV owners begin to wonder about just how to best care for their investment. With winter’s wind and rain, should you invest in an RV cover?
RV cover manufacturers tout their products as 24-hour security guards against damaging UV radiation, dust and dirt, the horror of bird droppings, and to keep a stored rig cooler. Since they’re a lot less expensive than a storage building big enough to accommodate an RV, price often is a big draw for those who choose to pack their RV away in a giant-size storage bag.
So what are the “goods” on putting your RV in a cover? It is true that a good RV cover will keep wind-blown dust from chewing on your finish, and some covers will keep rain out while still allowing moisture from the inside to make its way out. If you’re in an area affected by UV radiation, not having the sun beating down on your rig constantly will do much to keep your finish looking nice for longer.
On the other hand, there are RVers who have bought and used RV covers who now wish they never had. A common complaint among users is the difficulty involved in putting a cover on. Typically you’ll need to climb up on the roof to put the cover on. Getting on an RV roof without damaging the rig or yourself can be difficult, but the problem is compounded when the cover is over the roof, and the installer has to carefully waltz around over the cover to adjust it. Not being able to see what you’re stepping on can lead to broken roof vents, even broken legs.
SOME USERS REPORT having to put blocking under the cover to keep water from puddling on the cover. While that may not be a problem for some, if you want to take the rig out of storage during a freeze, you may find the cover has frozen onto the roof. To remove it without damaging it, you’ll then need to figure out how to get hot water up to the roof to thaw the frozen cover loose. And it’s a given that if you want to remove an RV cover that’s wet, it will be a major hassle, as any RV cover is heavy but a wet one multiplies the weight greatly.
Some complain that with the cover in place, the inside of the RV is like a dark cave. With the cover in place, you won’t be able to pop open roof vents to relieve inside humidity, and rig sweating can be an issue. Others say some covers don’t breathe well, creating a great environment for mold and mildew to develop. Others warn that rig attachments like antennas or mounting brackets can poke holes in expensive covers.
So what’s to be done? If you want to go for an RV cover, most recommend doing the added cost of a cover custom designed for your rig. In that way you can be assured that the cover will not block access to your door so you’ll be able to get into the rig without pulling the cover loose. Make sure you tighten the cover carefully, and make checks over the storage term: If a cover gets loose in the wind it will easily chafe the finish, and can even rub the paint off.
Alternatives to RV covers range from relatively inexpensive – be sure to give your rig a good bath and wax job before winter to help prevent finish damage – to the more spendy alternatives: Construct a “pole barn”-style RV cover that prevents rain and snow from dumping down on the rig, while less expensive than a walled structure. Others bite the bullet and pay for inside storage from a suitable storage facility.