How To Winterize An RV: Complete Guide To Storing Your RV For Winter

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Introduction: How To Winterize An RV

How to Winterize an RV
How to Winterize An RV

The winter months are coming fast, and many people will be parking their RV’s for the winter. Many RV owners do not know that there is a right way and a wrong way to winterize their RVs to ensure they remain in good shape for the next summer. This post will discuss why winterizing is important and some things to check off your list before stowing for the winter.

What is Winterizing?

Winterizing an RV is the process of preparing your vehicle for the harsh winter months and can also include prepping it to be stored during the winter.

Why Should I Winterize The RV?

Winterize Your RV to Save Money and Keep Things Running Properly!!

Those few short hours spent winterizing your RV for upcoming months in storage are super important. Storing and properly winterizing your vehicle will save you lots of money that would otherwise be spent on electricity or propane if you continue to use it and freezing damage if you store it. Winterizing your RV will not only save you money every month but will also keep the quality of your RV intact for many years to come.

If you are looking for a way to cut back on energy usage while lowering your utility bills, then there is no better place to start than winterizing an RV. The process of winterization prevents damaging temperatures or cold from seeping into the interior of your RV, leading to costly repairs later on.

Some RV owners simply skip this important task before stowing their homes on wheels for the winter. It is always better to spend a little extra time and energy upfront, to save on future expenses and problems.

For more winter RV tips, check out this article!

What Are Some Things To Consider When Winterizing an RV?

Things to consider when winterizing an RV
Things to Consider when Winterizing an RV

It is important to consider where the RV will be parked. If the RV will be parked outside during freezing temperatures, it is advised to run the engine regularly if it has one to prevent damage.

Another thing to keep in mind when winterizing your RV is disposing of all waste materials. This includes emptying the toilet tank, taking out any garbage, and emptying out all sinks. The last thing you want to happen is for snow or ice to cause sewage to back up into your home while you are away during storage!

It’s also important when winterizing your RV that you use products labeled as being appropriate for RVs and campers because their quality is much higher than the typical household

At What temperature should you Winterize Your RV?

At What Temperature Should I Winterize My RV?
At What Temperature Should I Winterize my RV?

What temperature should you winterize your RV? This is a question that many RV owners ask themselves. Winterizing your RV before temperatures drop below 35 degrees Fahrenheit is the best time to get set up for the upcoming months of winter. 32 degrees is when water freezes but the air outside could actually be slightly different than the internals of your rig.

How and When Should I Winterize My RV?

After considering all the things that you need to do when winterizing your RV, it is important to figure out when you should start. Some RV owners will prepare their RVs for the winter months before temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, while others wait until they are below freezing and they no longer have enough time to do anything about it. Be smart!! Be prepared and start before harmful climates hit your area.

How To Winterize An RV

What do I Use to Winterize an RV?
What do I Use To Winterize an RV?

In order to keep your RV protected from the cold and damaging weather conditions, there are some things you will need to winterize it with. These things include drainpipe covers, insulating material, furnace filters, an RV-ready thermostat controller, and an interior dehumidifier or moisture wicking product like Damp Rid.

Your RV can be a little easier to winterize if you have most of these items on hand before the temperatures drop because you’ll only need to continue running your furnace and your heater occasionally so that they don’t freeze or dry up.

Antifreeze is generally used to winterize an RV. As the temperature drops, antifreeze is poured into various parts of your RV to ensure it doesn’t freeze up. It’s important when winterizing that you don’t overfill anything with antifreeze because this can make a big mess and while safe to use its slippery stuff to clean up.

How Much Does It Cost To Winterize Your RV?

The cost of winterizing an RV varies depending on what it is that you’re looking to invest in beforehand. The costs of the items you need to winterize your RV, however, will vary depending on where you purchase them.

One important thing to consider when winterizing your RV is whether or not you have an adequate antifreeze supply. The antifreeze will need to be purchased before winter begins and can vary in price by brand and size. Its not cheap but it is safe for use in your drinking water supply lines.

It’s also important that no matter how much you spend, you are using products that are appropriate for RVs and campers. These products’ quality is higher than the typical household’s because they are designed specifically for recreational vehicles and how they run.

What Are The Steps to Winterizing An RV?

What to Do? Steps for Winterizing an RV.
What To Do? Steps for Winterizing an RV

Consult Your Owners Manual

You’ll want to make sure that you are properly winterizing your RV, and the best way is simply by reading its owner manual. These manuals should tell you exactly what steps need to be taken in order for your RV to stay running during the upcoming cold months. If they don’t provide this information, ask the people at any dealerships or place where you shop for the parts and supplies necessary for winterizing.

Park and Level Your RV

This is an important step to winterizing an RV that needs to be done before temperatures are under 35 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s important not to let the water freeze in the pipes of your RV and it can happen if you don’t park your vehicle in a level position when draining the tanks. Parking in a level position sets the black, grey, and fresh water tanks to drain fully. Any angle could leave something behind and cause an ice puck to form in that tank.

Clean Your RV

The next step to winterization is making sure the RV is clean. This includes getting rid of all garbage and toilet waste by emptying it out. Don’t give the local critters a place to stay by inviting them in with dinner.

Install a Thermostat and/ or Dehumidifier

After the RV is clean, you need to prepare for winter with the installation of a thermostat controller and dehumidifier. This will ensure that your furnace will not be damaged by the cold weather if you have a way to provide power to those items.

If you don’t plan to power the furnace or dehumidifier make sure you use insulation in the windows to minimize the extreme temperatures inside and a moisture wicking product like Damp Rid.


Drain Waste Water and Flush The Toilet

Empty All RV Tanks
Empty All RV Tanks

Before winterizing an RV, it’s important that you drain your black water tank and gray water tank plus anything else in your RV water system and then flush out your toilets. This will ensure that all the pipes and tanks have mostly air vice mostly water in case they begin to freeze over during the cold months.

Prevent the Water Lines From Freezing

It’s possible that your pipes will freeze if you don’t have exposed parts covered up in some manner. Be sure to do a thorough walk-through and outside inspection before covering or stowing for winter. This is more important for RVers that use their rig in the winter. Otherwise it should be easier to store all your hoses inside and/or drain all the lines.

Wrap Parts of Your RV

Some parts of your vehicle will need to be wrapped because they can become damaged if frozen. These parts include the water tank (if exposed), pipes that run along the side of the motor home, and drain lines that come out from under the trailer.

Covering these areas is important in order to avoid a cracked surface or even mold and mildew which can occur when moisture sits for long periods of time.

Winterize Your Motorhome Hot Water Heater and Furnace System

It’s important that your furnace system doesn’t get damaged by liquid propane because it can crack if frozen even for a few seconds. The best thing to do is to turn on the furnace system for a few minutes so that it stays warm and doesn’t become damaged. Do this on a regular basis if you plan to use the RV during frosty months. If storing you can simply turn on the furnace and shut the propane valve at the tank. This will clear all the propane out of the hoses.

If the furnace is electric, you can use an RV-ready thermostat controller to help regulate temperatures and keep your RV from freezing over in the winter months. Remember this only works if you have the ability to provide your RV with the correct power.

**Turn On Your Generator Prior To Storms or Temperatures Falling Below 35 Degrees Fahrenheit

Change Your Filters

You should change your furnace filters. This is important because if they are not changed, dust and other particles will settle in them and clog up the vents inside of your RV. This can cause a fire or more damage when in use after long storage.


Drain Your Fresh Water Holding Tank System

Drain Fresh Water Tank
Drain Fresh Water Tank

The next step is draining and flushing out your water system properly (freshwater holding tank). If you don’t do this right, your pipes will freeze over and burst, which can be very costly to fix.

Remove any Inline Water Filters And Cover Up Your Water Tank

If your RV comes with a water filter, you need to remove it and then cover up your water tank (if exposed). This is important because it’ll keep the tank from freezing over during the cold months ahead. Also, you don’t want to have antifreeze running through and damaging your water filter. It is best to remove it or bypass it.

Cover Up Your Outside Pipes

You’ll want to cover up any outside piping so that it doesn’t get damaged by the cold temperatures. This is also important because snow can pile on top of them if they’re not covered up properly and can cause structural damage.

Turn Off or Disconnect Electrical Equipment

Electric equipment can be damaged if you don’t turn it off or disconnect it before winterizing an RV. This will prevent them from malfunctioning, which is important because they could become a fire hazard otherwise.

Disconnect Propane Lines And Tanks

It’s also important to drain your propane lines and detach the propane tanks. This is the best way to keep them from freezing as well.

Check The Roof, Slides, and Underbelly of Your RV

Check RV Slides
Check Slides of RV

You’ll want to check the roof, slides, and underbelly of your vehicle. They’re all easy areas to damage if they aren’t properly covered up and/ or protected before winter sets in.

Cover Outside Outlets and Accessories

You’ll also want to cover up any outlets or accessories outside so they aren’t damaged by the elements. Snow can pile up on them and cause systemic damage if you’re not careful.

Check Your Battery Water Level

Check your battery water level and make sure it’s at least 50 percent. If it isn’t, add some distilled water to it so that the electrolyte solution is at the proper levels. Note: This is only for certain types of batteries. Check out this article for more information on how to maintain RV batteries.

Wash and Stow Away All Hoses and Cords

You’ll want to wash and stow away all of your hoses (sewer hose and water hose) and cords. This helps protect them from damage in the winter months.

Don’t forget the outside of your RV. In addition to cleaning the vehicle off, lubricate any moving parts, including the slides. Be sure that your tires are properly inflated and in good shape.

Check Seals on All Door and Window Openings

Check Windows and Openings on RV
Check Windows and Openings on RV

Inspect all seals on door and window openings. Use duct tape to cover any damaged areas. If you’re having a problem keeping the heat in or out of your RV, check the seams for leaks with soapy water. It’s always best to be thorough when winterizing an RV because if you don’t do it right, you could end up having more problems and expenses.

If you live in an area that gets heavy snow, it’s a good idea to get some tire chains or wheel weights before winter arrives. These can prevent your RV from becoming stuck in the snow in case you need to move it for some reason.

Close All Vents, Openings, and Windows

Before you leave for the winter months, make sure that all vents, openings, and windows are closed. This is important because if you don’t do it now, a bird or animal can make a home before your next trip.

Use A Fuel Stabilizer And Conditioner

You’ll also want to use a fuel stabilizer and conditioner on the gas in your tank. This helps prevent it from going bad while you’re not using it. A little bit of preventive maintenance now can save you a lot of headaches next year.


Add A Battery Tender To Your RV

If you live in an area that can get very cold, or if your RV has a lot of electronics on board, consider using a battery tender to help keep your batteries charged up during the offseason. This will just make sure they’re ready for use when you need them.

** This battery tender is for an AGM battery. Make sure to get one that will work for your RV battery.


Bypass Your Water Heater if Using RV Antifreeze

If you live in an area with extreme cold temperatures, using RV antifreeze in your water heater can help prevent it from freezing. Just make sure to bypass the tank with a hose so that there are no issues if you need to use it.

Check Faucets And Water Lines For Leaks

Check RV Faucets for Leaks
Check RV Faucets for Leaks

You’ll also want to check faucets and water lines for leaks prior to winter. This will ensure that none of your pipes get damaged by the freezing water during the harsh winter months.

Add Antifreeze to the Water in Your Tanks

One of the many steps to take is adding antifreeze to the water tanks and lines. This will help keep pipes in your RV water system from freezing and also help to prevent major RV damage. It will also mix with any risidual water and help prevent that from freezing.

Add antifreeze to everything that needs it. Antifreeze should not be overfilled as this reduces the air in the system that allows the antifreeze or residual water room for expansion.


Cover Your RV

Cover Your RV
Cover Your RV

You may want to cover your RV with a well-fitting cover. This will help protect it from wind and rain damage while you’re away for the winter. Just make sure that the cover isn’t too deep or tight, as this can cause moisture to build up inside and cause mold growth. Breathable covers are important to keep out any moisture.

If possible, park in a garage or shed to prevent moisture buildup on any exposed surfaces while you’re away from home for an extended period of time. While this isn’t always an option, it’s a good idea if you can do it.

When in doubt concerning the preparation of your RV for winter storage, refer to your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer to find out what they recommend you do prior to storing it for an extended period of time without use.

Regardless of whether you plan on using your RV next year or not, it’s a good idea to take these preparations steps before you put it away for the winter months. Some of them are standard practices that should be taken every time you store your RV for an extended period of time; while others will help prevent damage and problems if the weather is bad where you live.


Professional Winterizing For Your RV

If you have a larger rig or don’t have the time, it’s a good idea to call in the professionals for help over the winter months. If you don’t have time to prepare your RV for storage, hire someone who can do it for you and save yourself some headaches next year.

Camping World is a great place to schedule an appointment for your RV winterizing needs.

**With these steps, you can winterize an RV in ways that don’t cost hundreds of dollars. You do need to research what’s best for your vehicle and how it needs to be handled.

Winterizing the RV’s Plumbing System

There are a couple of ways to make sure that you properly winterize your RVs plumbing system.

  • Blow Out Water Lines: To do this, attach an air compressor to the blowout plug. Be sure that you have drained all tanks, toilets, etc. prior to beginning. Set the compressor at the highest level. Open the valves to drain all liquids with compressed air.
  • Antifreeze: Add RV antifreeze as discussed above.

How Long Does The Process Take?

How Long Does RV Winterization Take?
How Long Does RV Winterization Take

Depending on the size of your RV, it will take around two hours to winterize an RV.

What about Pests?

Keep Rodents and Pests Out of Your RV
Keep Rodents and Pests Out of Your RV

Pests are always a concern when storing your RV for long periods of time. There are a few things that you can do to make sure that pests don’t cause too many issues.

Insecticide: Spray everything down with an insecticide just before you put your RV away for the winter months. This will help keep them from spreading inside.

Cover: It’s also a good idea to cover up all of your vents and openings so that no pests can enter. Make sure that all doors, windows, openings are properly sealed. Cover all vents and outside openings.

Some experienced RVers will place dryer sheets in drawers and around the rig in order to deter mice. This has been a proven and effective way to keep critters out.

Be sure to check for cracks and breaks in the siding, roof, and underbelly prior to stowing.


What can happen if you don’t properly winterize your RV?

If you don’t properly winterize your RV, you risk damage to your roof and body over time. The areas that are most prone to this include the windows, vents, and any openings where there isn’t a seal. Mold growth can also be a problem if certain precautions aren’t taken when preparing it for storage.

When in doubt concerning the preparation of your RV for winter storage, refer to your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer to find out what they recommend you do prior to storing it for an extended period of time without use.

You may not think that taking these precautions is necessary because they seem rather simple and basic. However, it’s best not to take any chances with the safety and quality of your RV. If you have any questions or want to know more about what you can do to winterize an RV, contact a professional for information.

How to Dewinterize Your RV

Preparation

After you’ve gone through the steps to winterize an RV, it’s time to begin de-winterizing. Some preparations should be taken before you begin.

Check all pumps, valves, hoses, and fittings that have been disconnected for winterization. Make sure everything connects back properly before beginning this process.

Once again, run water through the lines to check for cracks or leaks. You want to make sure everything is properly connected and there won’t be any issues with leaks later. Keep flushing to get all the antifreeze out. If you used RV antifreeze it shouldn’t harm you but its still not meant to be injected.

Shut Down Propane Lines: It’s important to shut off the propane lines before beginning this process as well.

Once you’ve taken all of these basic precautions, you can begin to check and prepare your RV for the de-winterizing process.

Additional Tips From Seasoned RVers

  • Park on gravel or concrete if possible. Parking over grass when storing for a long period of time will increase the likelihood of moisture build-up or sinking.
  • Do not leave food or liquids inside of the RV when storing.
  • Trays of kitty litter can be used and placed inside the RV to absorb any moisture that enters.
  • Place Damp Rid around the inside of the vehicle to absorb moisture.
  • Put tires on wood planks in order to keep them from drying out and getting damaged while sitting for long periods of time.
  • If you decide to use a cover, make sure that it can breathe in order to prevent moisture build-up. Also, make sure that it is a proper fit. Some find that covers damage the paint when in high wind situations.



Conclusion to RV Winterizing

Conclusion to How To Winterize an RV
Conclusion to Winterizing an RV

To keep your RV in good shape for years to come, it’s important to winterize it properly. Some of the most important steps you can take are covering windows and door frames, checking tire pressure and air filters regularly, ensuring the sewage is emptied before storage, and storing propane tanks at least 20 feet away from anything that might ignite them.

What are some other things people should do when preparing their RV for winter? Let us know by commenting below!