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13 Steps for Winterizing Your RV

RV in winter

Owning an RV can provide year-round adventures, but for many, the cold weather represents a hiatus from your travel trailer. Knowing how to properly store your RV can save you from a headache once warmer weather returns. Get your rig ready for the season with RV Trader’s 13 steps for winterizing your RV.

1. Clean the Interior

Before storing your RV for the winter, perform a bit of housekeeping on the interior. Clean the main living area, kitchen and dining area, bedroom, and bathroom so your camper will be in pristine condition when you’re ready to ride when the weather warms up. Make sure you allow enough time to defrost the freezer compartment and wipe up any melted water. Avoid attracting pests by removing all food products from inside the RV.

2. Drain the Wastewater Tanks

Similar to how you drain your black and gray water tanks after a trip, you’ll want to do the same before you store your RV for the winter season. The water in these tanks can freeze when temperatures drop and develop gross bacteria. Drain both tanks, starting with the black water tank. Once the tanks are drained, clean the black water tank with a specialized cleaner that doesn’t contain harsh chemicals.

3. Drain the Water Heater

When you start your RV winterization process, turn off your water heater first. This gives the heater time to cool down and not be under pressure. You do not want to drain the water heater if it’s hot or has pressure built up. When it is safe to do so, use a socket wrench to remove the water heater drain plug and open the pressure relief valve to let the water drain out.

4. Bypass the Water Heater

When you bypass the water heater, you prevent antifreeze from getting inside. Start by opening the water heater’s screen on the outside of the RV. Remove the panel to access the valves and adjust them to bypass the water heater. To help you out, take a look at this video that shows how to operate the water heater bypass valves.

5. Drain Other Water Lines

The Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) recommends taking several measures to prevent freeze damage to the plumbing system. In addition to your wastewater tanks and water heater, you should fully drain your entire water system by opening the hot and cold faucets, along with the toilet, shower and low point drain lines. Again, you’ll want to make sure that the water pressure is off before draining the freshwater tank.

6. Empty the Water Lines

To ensure the lines are clear, blow them out with compressed air. This step can begin after you drain the wastewater tanks and water heater, remove any inline water filters, and bypass the water heater.

Connect an air compressor to one end of a blowout plug that’s in your water intake valve. Set the air pressure between 30 and 40 psi then blow the air into the lines, opening one line at a time. The air will push out most of the water from the lines.

7. Add Antifreeze to the Water System

Another technique for preventing potential plumbing issues is adding RV-specific antifreeze, made with propylene glycol, to your RV’s water system. Start by turning on the water pump and using a siphoning kit to flow antifreeze through your water system. To ensure that the antifreeze is getting into your entire system, you’ll want to see if the water is pink in the external faucets and valves, along with the internal faucets in the kitchen, bathroom and shower.

Not sure which technique to choose? Read our previous article on winterizing your RV that discussed air vs. antifreeze.

8. Add Stabilizer to the Fuel

Just like antifreeze protects the plumbing system, fuel stabilizer can help avoid damage to your RV’s engine. Since fuel goes bad overtime, and can cause oxidation, add a stabilizer to prevent condensation. Once you add the stabilizer, let the engine run for a few minutes so it can make its way through the entire fuel system.

9. Change the Oil

After your last trip of the season, change the oil in your RV. The existing oil can become corrosive overtime, especially during your camper’s winter hiatus. Perform an oil change on your RV’s engine and generator before storage, or get it professionally serviced.

10. Inspect the Exterior

Give the exterior of your RV an inspection before you store it for the winter. You’ll want to check the condition of the roof, windows, doors, access panels, and sidewalls. Reseal or re-caulk any holes or cracks you find to keep your camper in good condition and prevent water, small animals, and pests from getting inside.

11. Inflate the Tires

Overtime, your RV’s tires will slowly deflate while parked. Fill the tires up with air before your rig sits idle to make sure they aren’t completely deflated in the spring. You can also use a lift or blocks to raise the unit and keep the tires from getting pressure damage.

12. Charge and Maintain the Battery

Disconnect your RV’s battery and store it in a cool, dry place. Freezing temperatures can cause damage and destroy the battery, so make sure the storage area isn’t too cold. You’ll want your battery to maintain a charge while you aren’t using it. Trickle chargers are designed to cycle off and on and maintain a charge without overheating the battery.

13. Cover and Store Your RV

The ideal location to store your camper would be a garage or under a covered car park or shelter. If that’s not possible, make sure your RV is parked on a paved/concrete surface. Protect your rig from potential snow, wind, and ice with a durable, breathable cover that won’t trap moisture.

When freezing temperatures arrive, you know it’s time to winterize your RV. By following these 13 steps, you could be saving yourself from expensive damage to your rig. Be sure to review your owner’s manual before winterizing for important information about your particular RV and its parts.

If you decide to set off on a winter getaway in your camper, read our previous article for 10 tips for winter RVing.

Searching for a new Class A motorhome? Browse the nationwide inventory of new and used models on RVTrader.com.

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Arielle Patterson
Arielle Patterson

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3 Responses

  1. Regarding 13 Steps to winterize RV’s, Step 7, Winterizing the on-board water system, you need to qualify that is not regular automotive antifreeze, which is poisonous. This can be done by stating it should be a RV Water System Anti-freeze, with Propylene Glycol. This can be purchased at RV supply stores and sometimes ACE Hardware. Then in the spring, it is a good idea to flush the system out with fresh tap water ensuring that fresh water is runs thru all faucets.

    1. Thank you Jon for the added important info. I plan on living in my RUV year round…either of you have tips such as these?

  2. My family is planning to buy a camper vehicle for our road trips next summer. I think they should also consider storage service since we definitely do not have the space at home. Thanks as well for the tips on how to prepare the vehicle for winter such as choosing covers that do not retain water.

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