How to Winterize Your RV
Winterizing your RV is crucial if you’re in an area that experiences below-freezing temperatures. If the temperatures are going to go below freezing for more than 24hrs, then you will need to winterize your RV to prevent any damage to the plumbing system. Below is a step-by-step guide to complete the winterizing basics on your own!
Clean the entire interior. Make sure all trash is removed, vacuum up any/all food crumbs, and wipe down all surfaces.
Stove: Clean all food and crumbs from the stovetop and oven.
Fridge: Make sure the fridge is defrosted and wipe down the interior of any water and food. Then, prop the doors open while in storage to prevent any mold.
Disconnect your RV. Disconnect the water source, turn off all power, and shut off your propane tanks.
Bypass the water heater. Turn the water heater bypass valve to closed. Most RV’s already have a water heater bypass valve installed and you can locate this inside near the water heater. Note: If you do not have a bypass valve, I recommend installing one or you’ll need an additional 6 to 10 gallons of antifreeze.
Note: If you have a water filtration unit in your RV, be sure to bypass that as well.
Drain/blow out the lines. Open all faucets in your entire RV and let the water drain out. Next, connect the blowout plug to the city water inlet and use a compressor at 30psi to force out all the remaining water from the lines. Once the lines are empty, close all the faucets
Empty the black and grey tanks. Once the tanks are completely drained, make sure the valves are shut.
Empty the freshwater tank. There is a valve on the bottom of the freshwater tank. Just open it up and let the tank drain. Leave the value open till spring.
Note: If you open the valve and water does not flow out (if the tank has water), it could be clogged. Just take a hose and run water through the valve. It will clear the blockage.
Drain the water heater. Before doing this, make sure the water heater and the water pump are turned off and the water is completely cool. Open up the water heater panel from the outside and remove the drain plug. Once all the water has drained, flush out any sediment using a water heater tank rinsing wand to remove any sediment. Leave the drain plug open until spring.
Note: If you don’t have a hot water bypass valve, then you’ll need to put the drain plug back in because the hot water heater will need to be filled with antifreeze.
Fill the plumbing system with antifreeze. There are two ways to do this:
- With the water pump via a pump converter kit. This kit allows you to pump antifreeze through the lines quickly and easily via your water pump. Some RV’s already have them installed from the factory, but if your model is not equipped with one, you can install it for relatively cheap. See it here.
- With a hand pump.
If you have a water pump converter kit installed:
- Turn the valve to open and place the tube into a gallon of antifreeze.
- Turn on the water pump
- Go around to each faucet and turn on the hot water until you see the antifreeze come out. Once you see the antifreeze, close the faucet valve. Repeat this process for the cold water.
- Flush your toilet until antifreeze appears as well.
If you have a hand pump:
- Connect the hand pump to the city water inlet per the instructions.
- Open the hot water of the highest faucet first (typically the kitchen sink). Pump antifreeze until you see it come out and close the faucet valve. Repeat this process for the cold water and all other faucets and toilets.
Now all the water lines are winterized!
Note: If you have an ice maker or washing machine, follow the manufacturer user manual for instructions on winterizing those items.
Add antifreeze to each drain. Go around to each sink, shower, and toilet and pour about a 1/2 gallon of antifreeze down the drain. This will protect the sink traps and the black/grey tanks from freezing.
Remove all food, drinks, and toiletries. When temperatures drop below freezing, liquid items can freeze and burst, so you just want to make sure they are all removed. Also, any food items can attract rodents.
Close all windows and vents. Go around your RV and make sure all the roof vents and windows are securely shut.
Place mini dehumidifiers around your RV. Open the mini dehumidifier or moisture absorber and place it on a surface. It will remove dampness from the air and help prevent corrosion, mold, and mildew.
Inspect and clean the exterior. Go around the exterior and make sure all seals around the doors, windows, and corners look good. If they are cracked, you’ll need to reseal them. See the steps here. Go on the roof and inspect the lap sealant to make sure it’s not cracked as well. If you see cracks apply some more lap sealant to prevent roof water damage. Finally, wash the exterior of your RV.