Last updated on November 10th, 2023 at 10:06 am
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RV slides are fantastic components of an RV that work by extending outwards creating additional space within the camper.
There are many different types of RV slides and if you’ve invested in a camper with these space-enhancing gems, you may be wondering if you can store your RV with the slides engaged.
So, should you store your RV with the slides in or out?
Although it’s possible to store your RV with the slides out, it isn’t recommended as slides may sag from lack of support, the mechanism may be affected negatively, weather stripping can dry out, pests may find easier routes to get into your RV, and there’s a higher risk of moisture and leaks.
RV slides have the power to transform a small space into one with an additional living area or bedroom. When the camping season is over and you need to store your RV, it’s normal to wonder if you can leave the slides extended.
So, let’s explore the reason why it’s best to store your RV with the slides in, and how to properly store your RV in general.
Should You Store Your RV With The Slides In Or Out?
The debate over whether it’s better to store your RV with the slides in or out will forever be an ongoing conversation in the RV community. Although it comes down to personal choice, to keep your slides in the best condition, you should always store your RV with them inside.
Keeping the slides extended on your RV no matter the season isn’t the wisest idea as it leaves your rig vulnerable under the powers of Mother Nature like sun, rain, snow, wind, and ice.
RV slides are designed to be durable and weight-bearing, however, leaving your slides open for an extended period can lead to problems.
It’s essential to not overload the slides in your RV as they are only designed to hold a certain amount of weight. Each RV with slides may have different weight capacities, but if you don’t know what your slides can handle, the manufacturer’s manual will provide a helping hand.
Why Should You Store Your RV With The Slides In Or Out During Winter Storage?
Storing your RV with the slides in, especially during the winter, is the best way to protect them while your rig is off the road.
Even if you thoroughly winterize your RV with antifreeze or compressed air, it’s still important to check on your camper every once in a while to ensure it’s not struggling in the sub-zero temperatures, but if you keep the slides in you’ll have one less thing to think about!
So, let’s see why you should store your RV with the slides in.
Reason 1: Supports RV Slide Out Weight
The lack of support from leaving your RV slides out for a long time can eventually lead to the slides sagging. As extended RV slide-outs have to support both the weight of the slide itself and additional weight inside the RV, they can sag over time, with a bit of extra help from gravity.
A slide-out that’s become misshapen from being extended for a long time can be difficult to use, and could even cause further damage inside your RV as you may have a fight on your hands trying to push it back in!
It’s best to take precautionary measures and simply avoid leaving your RV slides out, reducing the risk of any warping.
Reason 2: Protects RV Slide Out Mechanism
The only way an RV slide-out will function is if it has a solid mechanism aiding it to seamlessly move in and out from the rig. When a slide is extended, certain parts of the mechanism are uncovered and are vulnerable to weather conditions and damage.
Whether you’re storing your RV in the winter or summer, things like UV rays and rain can cause havoc with your RV slide-out mechanism.
If left for long enough, the mechanism of the slide-out can remain wet and be affected by rust. As rust spreads, keeping the mechanism of your RV slides dry and out of harm’s way will mean your rig will be ready to get on the road again and in great condition.
Storing your RV under cover is one of the best ways to keep it fresh and ready for the next camping season, however, if you are unable to store your rig inside, be sure to use a cover for additional protection.
Reason 3: Weather Stripping Won’t Become Dry
Unfortunately, at some point in your RV journey, you will likely experience a leak or situation where water will somehow make its way into your rig.
RV weatherstripping works like a sealant, adding a layer of protection to help keep water out of the RV. Weatherstripping is often used as an additional safety measure against leaks, but leaving your slides out can have a negative effect and not let the weatherstripping do its job correctly.
Leaving your slides out when storing your RV puts the weatherstripping in a vulnerable position where it will dry out and eventually crack, rendering it useless.
Cracked weatherstripping won’t do a good job of keeping leaks at bay as water and dirt will be able to easily make their way inside the cracks.
Reason 4: Helps Prevent Pests
Storing your RV outside while it’s not in use comes with risks such as theft and weather damage, but leaving your slides open can cause another problem entirely.
Pests can find a way into your RV whether you’re on or off the road, but storing your rig with the slides out gives little creatures an easy opportunity to find their way into your beloved camper.
During the winter months especially, small animals try to hide away and stay safe somewhere warm and dry. An RV that’s stored outside and is kept stationary for a long time can start to crack and shift in certain areas such as joins and seams. These areas can then open up and provide perfect access for animals and critters.
Keeping your slides in when you store your RV helps prevent the risk of pests entering your RV, but there are some additional things you can do to help deter animals.
When you pack up your RV for storage, remember to remove any food from inside the RV, as animals may be able to smell it and want to get inside the camper even more!
Reason 5: Avoids Moisture And Potential Leaks In RV
RV slides are a convenient place for water to sit and pool until it’s manually encouraged and drained off the top. If left for long enough, any rain, snow, or ice can make its way through the roof and into your RV. These kinds of leaks can be a nightmare to fix as they can damage belongings, and even cause structural issues if left unresolved.
A leaky slide that’s not been resolved can get smelly and mold can grow and spread inside the RV. To best protect your rig from leaks over winter, it’s wise to store it with the sides in and reduce the risk of any water pooling on the roof of the slide.
Packing your RV down after the last camping season of the year is always a sad time, but it’s wise to take all the steps possible to keep your rig in the best shape when it’s time to explore once again. Storing your RV with the slides in can help prevent many factors that could otherwise damage your rig and lead to big, expensive repairs next season.
How To Correctly Maintain RV Slides For Storage?
The way you store your RV when you’re not using it will be personal to you, your budget, and the storage solution available. Storage garages for RVers are arguably one of the best options, but they are often expensive, and many RVers have no choice but to store their RV outside by their house.
There’s a lot to think about when storing an RV, and if measures haven’t been put in place to protect your slides, they may become problematic when you go to use your RV after the winter season.
Taking care of your RV while you’re not using it is just as important as when you’re on the road, and as slides are such a key component, it’s wise to take precautionary measures to protect them during storage.
1. Use Lubricant
The exterior fabric of RV slides has to withstand harsh weather conditions, along with regular wear and tear. Over time, the weatherstripping on RV slides can dry out and become fragile, meaning it may not withstand everything as well as it should.
Using lubricant on the weatherstripping will aid in keeping everything flexible and help stop the exterior fabric from drying out and potentially splitting or tearing.
Damage to weatherstripping can unfortunately lead to leaks, and if left unresolved, these can cause water to pool in areas of the RV, eventually leading to dampness and mold. Using a lubricant will keep your slides in the best shape possible for longer, and it’s worth using a silicone lubricant or similar on the tracks of your RV slides too.
Taking the time to clean the RV slide tracks means any dirt or dust won’t interfere with the lubricant you chose to use. It’s wise to keep an eye on the tracks of your slides from time to time, as it can be surprising how quickly debris can build up, especially during windy conditions.
As varying weather can bring different situations, checking the roof of your RV slides is a good idea, as dirt can build up on the roof, affecting the durability of the slide.
2. Invest In Slide Toppers
Slide toppers may be useful if you’ve owned your RV for a few years and the slides are starting to show signs of wear and tear. The toppers fix above the slides and prevent rain, snow, and sun rays from getting into direct contact with the top of the RV slide.
The video below is a great demonstration of how slide toppers work and how they can prolong the life of your slides.
If you’re worried about the slides in your RV and are concerned they may start to weaken and leak soon, slide toppers may be the ideal answer.
You’ll still need to keep an eye on the slide toppers as debris and dirt can build up over time, so it’s wise to give them a clean when you pack your slides away.
3. Inspect And Repair Any Damages
Whether you chose to store your RV with the slides in or out, it’s vital to take a close look at the slides on your rig and check for any damages. The smallest tear can cause havoc with your camper, resulting in leaks that will inevitably get worse if left for a long period.
Opening up the slides completely will allow you to check for any signs of damage, allowing you to carry out any repairs before the RV gets stored away.
Remembering to check the locks, mechanism, and supports of your RV slides is essential before packing your rig up for storage, as issues with these parts of the slides can cause expensive damage as they may be unsupported.
If you’ve spent time in a warm climate where the sun has been beaming down on your rig, you may notice the weatherstripping on the slides isn’t in the best shape, or even that the sun has weakened certain areas of the slide material over time.
Making a habit of thoroughly checking your rig can help save you a lot of stress in the future, as you can fix any issues before they get too problematic!
4. Make Sure Slides Are Aligned Correctly
RV slides are fantastic additions to your rig, but if they aren’t aligned correctly, they can come off the track and not function correctly. The last thing you want to be dealing with when you take your RV out of storage is a slide that’s misaligned and has become stiff or jammed in the wrong position.
RV slides should sit well in the track, but if you find your slide won’t close or work properly, it may not be sitting in the track correctly and will need adjusting.
It’s possible to get your RV slides back into the correct position, but as the adjustment method can be different depending on the model and slide type, it’s best to check your owner’s manual for specific instructions and guidance.
Once your slides are aligned correctly, you can rest easy knowing you won’t be dealing with slide placement problems when next season’s camping begins.
5. Check Slide Motors
There shouldn’t be any difficulty in moving your RV slides in or out, but if you notice odd noises during the process, it’s wise to stop attempting to move the slide, as there’s likely something going on behind the scenes.
Loud noises coming from the slide mechanism could mean there’s something stuck in the tracks or that the slides have become misaligned and cannot function properly.
Part of the preparation of getting your RV in good shape to be stored over winter is to address any issues you find and repair any problems you come across. This saves any further damage from coming to the slide or RV over winter and means you aren’t faced with a list of repairs when spring camping arrives.
RVs can be a useful space even when they’re not on the road, and if your rig will still be used as a spare living space when it’s stationary, leaving the slides open will create more interior room.
Every RVer will know even a few centimeters can make a huge difference to the way an RV feels, but leaving the slides open could lead to significant problems in the future. Leaving your RV slides extended can pose all sorts of risks such as sagging, moisture leading to mold growth, and even leaks.
Storing your RV with the slides out is only an option for the short term, as in the long run, unsupported slides that are still expected to be weight-bearing can sag and become damaged. Keeping the slides stored in when your rig is off the road is far more sensible and means the slides will keep functioning better for longer.