How to winterize an rv

How to Winterize an RV

Summer is officially coming to an end. The trees will begin changing to those beautiful autumn colors, and soon the cold chill of winter will arrive. Your adventurous summer is now over and it’s time to think about all that goes into how to winterize an RV. Doing so will save you tons of money on expensive fixes and keep your RV in great shape. Don’t worry, winterizing your RV only takes about an hour! Here are a few tips for you to get your ride ready for hibernation.

Winterizing Tips

rv parked next to snowy mountain

Before we start, make sure to check your owner’s manual for any winterizing controls built-in to the vehicle. Furthermore, you may want to make a checklist of things you may need at the store for all winter preparations:

  • Nontoxic marine/RV antifreeze — around three gallons
  • Tubing that attaches to the black water tank 
  • A cleaning stick for the water tank
  • A water pump converter kit or hosing that attaches to pump inlet/ a hand pump
  • A water heater bypass kit
  • Hand tools to install and detach drain plugs
  • Roach and ant traps
  • A couple of cans of moisture-absorbing dry packs

Steps To Flush Your RV’s Plumbing System

  1. Remove any water line filters from the unit.
  2. Drain and flush out all freshwater tanks, systems, and lines.
  3. Drain, flush, and clean the grey and black water holding tanks at an RV-approved dump station. Not only can these tanks hold all types of bacteria, but the water can also freeze and cause issues.
  4. Turn the water pump off.
  5. Drain the water heating tank by first turning it off then opening the pressure relief valve. Ensure you let the water cool first.
  6. Drain the freshwater, then open all the shower, sink, and outside faucets.
  7. Flush the toilets.
  8. Open the hot and cold water drain lines by detaching the plugs.
  9. Turn on the water pump to help drain the water — turn it off immediately after to avoid damage.

Fill Water Lines with Antifreeze

Before adding anything to your RV, make sure you bypass the water heater. Nowadays, most RVs are equipped with a hot-water heater bypass kit, so it shouldn’t be a problem. If not, ask your dealer to install one. Here’s what you’ll need to do to get your antifreeze into the water lines:

  1. Close all open water valves and taps.
  2. By-pass the water heater.
  3. Before you insert the antifreeze, you’ll have to install the water pump converter kit; or separate the inlet side of the pump and put it inside the container of antifreeze to get it into the water system.
  4. With the system pressurized, activate the pump to circulate the antifreeze.
  5. Go around to each faucet and switch on the hot water until you see antifreeze. Then do the same for the cold water. Repeat for both hot and cold. 
  6. Then, switch off the water pump and open all the valves.
  7. Substitute the antifreeze container feeding the converter kit with a full one if necessary.
  8. Repeat these steps for every valve running from closest to furthest from the water pump (inside and outside).
  9. Also, don’t forget about the washing machines and other appliances.
  10. Flush the toilet until antifreeze flows.
  11. Empty about a cup of antifreeze down every drain.
  12. Pour the remainder into the freshwater tank.
  13. Turn off your water heater’s heating component.
  14. Confirm all faucets are closed.

A Few More Tips and Tricks to Prepare for the Winter  

rv driving in the fall

Batteries, Motor, and Electrical Systems

  • Top off engine oil, brake, transmission, and any other fluids as necessary.
  • Add fuel stabilizer and then replenish the tank. Then, run the engine for about 5 minutes.
  • Top off the fluids in all batteries per the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Verify that all batteries are fully charged.
  • Remove all batteries from remotes, clocks, sensors, and detectors.

Cleaning is Essential

  • Remove any food/drink from the vehicle to avoid rodents, insects, and other animals invading your camper. If you’re worried about rodents, place traps throughout the space.
  • Clean and seal the exterior of the camper.
  • Deep clean the RV, including the refrigerator, floors, bathroom, bedding, and countertops.
  • Remove all linens and bedding.
  • Clean the sewer hose and store it.
  • Extend the awning and clean it consistent with the manufacturer’s directions.

Finishing Touches

  • Park the RV on concrete if feasible.
  • Cover the tires and AC unit.
  • Cover RV with a breathable tarp.
  • Close all roof vents and plug the other vents open to the air with aluminum or steel wool.
  • Set the emergency brake.
  • Refill the propane tanks, and if in a very cold climate, remove all external propane tanks and store them in a warm, protected area.
  •  Move the RV half a tire rotation a few times over the winter months.

How to Winterize an RV: Conclusion 

Learning how to winterize an RV will be very helpful in maintaining your adventurous lifestyle in the many years to come. Your RV is now ready to survive the coming months and will be better off in the long run. Before you know it, it’ll be time for new adventures, camping trips, and family fun!

Written by Liv Crawley

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