How to Winterize Your RV: A Step-By-Step Guide

When the leaves turn gold and the air gets brisk, it’s time to prepare for winter. And where your RV is concerned this is especially important, as the freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on an unprepared rig.

If you’re getting ready to store yours through to spring, keep reading for our handy guide on how to winterize your RV.

how to winterize your rv

How to Winterize Your RV For Storage

The summer camping trips are done and it’s time to make sure your RV can sit safely through the winter.

The main component most people think of for winterizing is the plumbing system. An RV has lots of areas for water to hide and freeze, breaking your water lines and causing a massive headache in the spring. But don’t forget the other areas the freezing temps can wreak havoc – winterization is more than plumbing.

You can winterize the plumbing in your RV by yourself, but you’ll need some knowledge and a few tools.

1. Blow out the lines. This can be done using a special attachment for a compressed air unit that will plug into your RV’s water system. Disconnect your power, bypass your hot water heater using the valve, and open all your faucets and drains. Once all the water has drained, connect the plug to the city water inlet, adjust the pressure to no more than 30 PSI and turn on the air compressor. Allow it to run until no more water runs from any outlet.

2. Fill the now blown out system with antifreeze. You can do this using an external hand pump, or your RV’s water pump. Using either the siphoning end of the hand pump or the bypass valve on the water pump, draw the antifreeze into the system. Start at the kitchen faucet and turn on the hot side. Allow it to run until it comes out completely pink. Close that side and repeat it with the cold side. Repeat this at every water outlet until the entire system is done.

Tires and Stabilizing Jacks

If left sitting under thousands of pounds of weight all winter long, your tires will develop flat spots. If you don’t want to be dishing out money for new tires, take a few precautions.

If your RV has stabilizing jacks, use them to raise the rig off the ground. If you don’t have them, consider buying external jacks that can do the job. If you can’t, make sure you move the RV a few inches forward or backward through the winter two or three times.

Park on a hard surface so you won’t face getting stuck in the winter thaw. Tires covers are also a good idea for an RV that will be sitting for some time.

Your stabilizing jacks should be lowered and put on wooden blocks. Use a silicone spray to protect all the joints from rusting over during the wet winter months.

Engine and Batteries

Topping off all your tanks is a good idea to help your engine sit comfortably through the winter. Your oil, brake fluid, antifreeze, and windshield tanks should all be full.

A full gas tank will prevent condensation, so top off your fuel tanks as well. Consider adding a fuel stabilizer to the tank. Simply pour it in and allow the engine to idle for a few minutes to make sure it mixes evenly.

To keep your batteries safe, it’s best to disconnect them and store them in a warm place. At the very least, make sure they’re fully charged and then unhook them from the cables.

Electrical and Propane

Start by unplugging your RV from shore power. Turn off the 120V AC system at the main circuit breaker. Unplug all inside appliances, and remove batteries from clocks and appliances. 

If you have a generator, check the instructions to make sure it doesn’t require special care in cold months. Many require special storage during freezing temperatures to avoid damage.

Fill your propane tanks. If the temperatures regularly fall below freezing, store them in a safe place outside of the RV. Cover the connections with plastic to keep any bug invaders out.

Inside and Outside

Once the RV systems are good to go, consider the practical aspects inside and outside.

Remove all food and toiletries. Thaw out the freezer, and clean the entire fridge before propping open the door. A box of baking soda left on the shelf will ensure you don’t have a stale funk in the spring.

Consider taking this chance to do a thorough cleaning – removing and washing bedding, cleaning all appliances and bathroom fixtures, and tidying up RV storage areas.

Outside, check all the seals around doors, windows, and vents. Recaulk where necessary to keep moisture out. Check all the vents to make sure there are no leaks. Make sure the roof is sound, with no damage or leaks.

You’ll want to prevent any rodents, birds or insects from taking up residence inside your RV. Patch any holes in screens, and cover all possible inlets to the rig with plastic and rubber bands. This includes your exhaust pipe, which does best with a simple piece of steel wool inserted into the end.

Finally, place a container of moisture absorbent made specifically for RVs inside to soak up any excess damp from the air that could cause mold or mildew. If it’s available, an RV storage lot or oversize garage will ensure your RV is completely protected from the elements. However, an RV cover is a good investment to do the job if you can’t get your rig indoors.

Check Winterizing Your RV Off Your To-Do List

Now that you know how to winterize your RV, you can make sure your home away from home will be properly prepared to face the winter and be ready for next summer’s adventures!

And for more informational articles on all things outdoors, check out the rest of this site!

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