How to Winterize Your RV in 17 Steps
Whether it’s your first winter as an RV owner or it’s your 10th, it’s always nice to have a reminder of how to winterize your RV. It can be a time-consuming process, but let me assure you, being able to use your RV at the beginning of the season without much fuss makes for a much more pleasant RV owning experience.
There’s nothing more frustrating than opening up your trailer after three months, all ready to take her out for a weekend and finding that there was moisture and now there’s an awful smell, or worse, the water lines are fouled. Even just something as simple as forgetting to defrost your freezer can cause for a ruined weekend–and an unexpected repair bill.
So, while it’s not as fun as taking the RV out on the lake, learning how to winterize your RV is well worth the time. Ensure you have everything you need to Winterize your RV you may want to consider this highly rated winterizing RV kit that includes everything you should need.
How to Winterize Your RV
- Circulate the Air. Basically, the thing we’re trying to avoid here is mildew and mold. So, to do that, the best thing to do is to do everything you can to keep air circulating throughout all the nooks and crannies in your RV. One of the best things to do is to prop-open all of the cabinets, closets, and cubbies. This will keep warm air from becoming trapped and stagnant in those spaces while the RV is shut down.
- Lower the Humidity. Do what you can to lower the humidity inside the RV. This could include allowing the exterior air inside the RV for an hour or so before you close the RV up tight for the winter, it could mean removing anything that might be causing moist air in the RV (wet towels, etc.). Basically, just reduce the amount of humidity inside the RV as this is what will cause condensation on the interior and potentially lead to water damage, mold, and mildew. Also, place your Mini-Dehumidifier Jar from the RV Kit to help in keeping humidity low.
- Water Tanks and Water Heater Winterizing. There are three ways you can winterize the water system in your RV.
- The first method is to drain all your tanks and water heater. You can then attach a blowout plug (from your RV Kit) to your City Water entry pipe. Then, with an air compressor set to no higher than 30 PSI, you can blow out all of the water from your pipes by, one at a time (including the toilet valve), opening each faucet and letting it run until there is no more water coming out. At that point, you can put a cup of non-toxic antifreeze into each p-trap, limiting the potential for pipe damage if any remaining water were to freeze during the winter.
- The second method is to empty the freshwater tank then fill it with 6-9 gallons of non-toxic antifreeze. Once filled, turn the pump on, then, one at a time (including the toilet valve and shower), open each faucet and allow 1-2 cups of water/antifreeze mix to run through the faucet.
- The third way to winterize the water system in your RV is to first empty the water from your water heater, then install a by-pass kit on your water heater. Once this is done, then you can empty your freshwater tank and fill it with 3-4 gallons of non-toxic antifreeze. Once filed, turn the pump on, then, one at a time (including the toilet valve and shower), open each faucet and allow 1-2 cups of water/antifreeze mix to run through the faucet.
- Once you are done with any of the three above water system winterizing procedures, cover exterior vents for the water heater.
- Remove & Discard Water Filter. If your RV has a water filter, this is when you take the filter of the water filter out of the device and chuck it. You don’t want to be drinking that.
- Refrigerator. First, you’ll want to defrost the freezer and clean out all the food and then clean the fridge and freezer. To keep moisture from being trapped and not-so-great-things growing in there over the winter, prop the doors open. You can do this with fridge door keep in the RV Kit or you can just roll up a towel and drape it over the door, keeping it from closing.
- Air Conditioner. If you have a replaceable filter, this is when you would remove the old one and place a new one in there. If your filter is not replaceable, this is when you take the opportunity to clean your filter. Once clean and dry, place the cover shroud on the roof and secure.
- Furnace. If you have a replaceable filter, this is when you would remove the old one and place a new one in there. If your filter is not replaceable, this is when you take the opportunity to clean your filter. Once clean and dry, cover exterior vent and secure, and don’t forget to turn your thermostat to “off”.
- Countertops and Cabinets. Clean and remove any bottles or cans that might be damaged if they froze, then prop open cabinets to maintain airflow.
- Windows. Clean each window and inspect the seals. If the seals need replacing or repair, do so. Lock each window. It’s also a good idea to place cardboard, foil or sun shades inside each window to prevent fading of interior fabrics by the sun.
- Curtains & Blinds. Inspect, clean and repair, as necessary. Then make sure they are left closed to help with temperature while the RV sits for the winter.
- Exterior Walls. I know as it sits it will only get dirty, but trust me before you park it for the winter give it a good wash and wax. Then when you next RVing time comes you should be able to spray it off with water then go because you waxed it!
- Tires. Block all of the tires. If you are parking your RV in an unattended storage facility, it is also a good idea to get locking blocks. Partially deflate tires to prevent pressure-formed flat spots, then cover them to prevent sun damage.
- Roof. Inspect and reseal any possible leaks.
- Vents. Give all your vents a good cleaning , and once they dry, cover and secure them.
- Batteries. Check if they need additional distilled water and recharge, as necessary. Remove and store in a cool, dry place, although you should avoid placing them on a concrete floor as that will cause the battery to discharge more quickly. Check batteries for recharge need every month or just put them on a Battery Tender while not in use.. Batteries can, and will, self-discharge over time and could freeze (cracking them) if left in a discharged state.
- Locks. Ensure they are all functioning as the should. I recommend you put graphite lock lubricant in each of the exterior locks.
- Awnings. Open, clean, then allow to dry fully. Lubricate the hardware, then close and secure.
There may be a minor item I’m missing, but, I did my best to cover all the main ones and most minor ones, this is the basics for how to winterize your RV. Oftentimes you can have the local RV dealer take care of your winterization for you if you don’t feel that you have the time or don’t feel comfortable completing some of the more complex matters.
If this tutorial for how to winterize your RV was at all helpful and you’d like to be able to find it when it’s time again next year, be sure to pin this to your favorite RVing board on Pinterest.