How to Winterize Your RV

In some parts of the country, an RV can be used year-round for fun family adventures. In most cases, however, as the cooler weather arrives, your RV goes into hibernation for the winter months.

tire tracks in snow

To make sure it’s ready to go in the spring when the open road calls, there are some important steps to follow. Spending a bit of time winterizing your RV can save you time and money before you put it on the road again.

Plumbing

If you only do one thing to winterize your RV, take care of the plumbing. Standing water can freeze and crack, causing major problems and huge repair bills. Standing water can also cause bacterial growth and health concerns. Fully drain all water piping and drains. Most RVs come with instructions on how to do this, but the basic steps are always the same:

  • Start by turning off the power to your RV. You don’t want pumps and water heaters turning on without water in the plumbing.
  • Open the drain valves for your water reservoir and plumbing drains. Gravity will drain most of the water from your RV.
  • Remember to open your taps and faucets. Leaving them closed can create a vacuum, keeping some of the water from flowing out.
  • Flush your toilet to empty the tank. Check individual procedures supplied for draining your equipment, such as dishwashers and washing machines.
  • Install a blow out plug to your water inlet. This tool is designed to use compressed air to blow out all of the water in your RV lines.
  • Use a compressed air line. The line should be no more than 3-psi to avoid damage. Install it on your blow out plug to push all remaining water out of your lines.
  • Fill your water lines with antifreeze. There are two ways to do this: with your internal water pump and the use of a pump convertor kit or manually with the use of an antifreeze pump kit.
  • Close all drains and pour RV antifreeze down your drains and in the toilet. Use RV-specific antifreeze, which is pink in color, to ensure adequate protection and avoid damage to your lines.

Antifreeze in your RV over the winter months serves two purposes: it keeps your lines from freezing and also keeps your gaskets and seals from drying out. If you go to the effort of draining all the water, make sure you also add antifreeze to ensure adequate plumbing protection. It only takes a minute and means you’re ready to flush and fill when the warm weather hits without any nasty plumbing surprises.

Engine

If you’ve ever winterized a car or truck, you’re familiar with the steps to take for winterizing your RV engine:

  • Unhook your battery and remove it. If possible, keep it in a warm place and run a trickle charger from time to time to keep it from going dead.
  • Add a fuel stabilizer to your fuel system. Aging fuel can make starting after sitting for the winter months difficult.
  • Verify and top-off all fluid levels. Topping off engine oil, transmission brakes and coolant can keep condensation from forming in your various engine circuits.

Complete a general inspection and verification under the hood. Make note of any warped or cracked hoses or wiring and either replace them before storing your RV away for winter or order the parts and make plans to do it in the spring.

Tires and Brakes

You should inspect your tires and brakes every time you head out in your RV, but doing a more thorough inspection before winterizing is a good idea as well. Pull off your tires and inspect your rotors, pads, drums and shoes, as applicable.

Jack your RV up off the ground and put it on axle stands. Leaving the weight of your RV on your tires in the winter can cause them to crack and puts unnecessary strain on your tires and suspension.
RV
Don’t leave your emergency brake on over winter if you can avoid it. There is a chance it will stick in place after the winter months. If you can’t jack your RV and put it on stands, you should at least block the tires with chocks and release the emergency brake.

Interior

A possible problem with leaving your RV sit for winter is nesting pests. Removing all loose fabrics and bedding, all traces of food and a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all surfaces will avoid attracting mice, rats and other furry guests. Cover all vents and openings to make sure they can’t enter. If you can’t inspect your RV from time to time during the winter, rodent traps can capture any unwanted guests. If you can’t frequently check your traps, avoid using them because leaving a trapped rodent for months is unhealthy and can cause odor problems.

Other Points to Consider When Winterizing Your RV

Depending on the specifics of your RV, the features you have installed and where you live, you will need to consider other winterizing steps:

  • In humid environments, include a moisture absorber
  • All roof vents and windows should be shut
  • Door seals can be lubricated to keep them from cracking
  • Gas and propane circuits should be closed and tanks removed
  • Awnings, tents and ladders should be properly stowed

At TVForMyRV, we want you to be ready to hit the road as soon as the nice weather arrives. You can also check out our wide range of online RV electrical parts and accessories to improve or upgrade your RV. Follow these tips for winterizing your RV, and you’re sure to be the first one out in the spring, ready for another season of RV adventures and discovery with your family and friends!

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