How to Winterize your RV

Oct 21, 2019

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Yes, winter is inevitable. Here’s what you can do about it.

We will spare you the “Winter Is Coming” jokes. Game of Thrones is over now anyway. But it is time for most of you to winterize your RV.

For some of you, maybe even many of you, this means no more camping nearby and putting away the RV in winter, and if that’s the case, our condolences.

Others may still have travel plans, and if that’s the case, we have some fun winter destinations and other tips for the colder, crueler months ahead in future blogs.

But if you do need to put your family RV away, here are some good tips for doing so. These are general tips, so always be sure to check your owner’s manual for specific instructions, as some even come with built-in winterizing controls.

Drain your tanks— You’ll need to drain the freshwater holding tank. You may have to remove inline water filters in order to do this.

Then you’ll need to drain and flush the gray and black water holding tanks at an RV dump station. It’s one of the more fun jobs as an RV owner. But it’s also one of the more necessary jobs. If your RV does not have a built-in tank flushing system, you can flush and clean the tank with a flushing wand at the dump station. Finally, drain the water heater tank. Don’t do this when it’s hot or under pressure.

Drain your faucets and flush the toilet — Opening all the hot and cold-water faucets will help get any remaining water out of the plumbing lines. Don’t forget your shower. Locate and open all the low point drain lines. You can use your 12-volt water pump to force most of the remaining water out of the system. Be sure to turn it off as soon as all the water is drained. You can also use an air compressor to help blow out the water in the lines. Set it to 30 PSI.

Bypass the water heater — The majority of RVs come equipped with a bypass kit. You can install a kit or have it installed at an RV service facility. If you don’t do this, the water heater tank will fill with antifreeze before it goes through the water lines. That’s not good.

Install a water pump converter kit — This will introduce antifreeze into the water system. Turn the 12-volt water pump on, and that will pressurize the system and start pumping antifreeze throughout the water system. Turn on each faucet from closest to farthest away until each one has pink antifreeze coming out. Finally, flush the toilet until the antifreeze appears. Then pour a cup of antifreeze down each drain.

Double-check to make sure all faucets and valves are closed.

If you have an ice maker, dishwasher or washing machine, consult your manuals on how to winterize them.

Did you know you have to winterize an ice maker? You’d think you’d need to summer-ize it.

OK, no more jokes.

OK, that was fun, right? You betcha. Here are a few other ways to get your RV ready for winter.

Tires — Your tires can develop flat spots because they’re under thousands of pounds of weight. Use your RV’s leveling jacks, if you have them, to raise your RV off the ground.

Engine — Top off the fuel tanks and add a fuel stabilizer. Make sure the radiator is full of antifreeze. You can buy a windshield fluid solution that will melt ice in seconds. It really works.

Electrical system— Flip off the RV’s main circuit breaker. Disconnect your rig from shore power, and remove batteries from clocks, radios, and other devices.

Propane — Fill all propane tanks. Where winters are harsh, external tanks should be removed and stored in a sheltered location.

Remove the good stuff— Such as TVs, portable video games, stereos, and your entire DVD collection of “The Office” before you put it in storage. Also, remove any food and beverages.

All these, and maybe a few other RV maintenance tasks, should get you ready for the next cold season. Because, as you know… winter is… well, you get it.