Properly winterizing your RV can be a daunting task, particularly if you have never done it yourself. This is why many beginning and seasoned RV owners hire an RV maintenance professional to winterize their unit. However, for the do-it-yourselfer, we have put together the following tips and techniques to assist you should you decide to tackle it yourself.
While it is possible to live in an RV during the cold winter months it is certainly not without some inherent problems. Expect to add RV antifreeze through your pump and fresh water tank. You can still hookup to city water if you wrap your water hose with a heat strip covered with foam cylinders. Also, plan to dump your tanks when they are near full, and be sure to store your hoses when finished to avoid freezing.
All lines must be free of water.
Option 1: Not recommended
Clear your lines using compressed air through the system. Some folks claim this is the best way, but it’s certainly not foolproof since some water residue can remain in the lines and freeze causing future problems the following spring.
Option 2: Preferred method
Add RV antifreeze to the system. You can do this by bypassing your fresh and hot water tanks once drained. If you add RV antifreeze to directly to your fresh water tanks it may be difficult to remove it from the system come spring, depending on the location of the drain. The location of the drain on some RVs is near the bottom. If you particular model is set up this way, an uncertain amount of antifreeze will remain in the system if the valve is left open.
The best way is to insert a bypass hose directly into the jug of RV antifreeze and put it through the system. Start by opening the water faucet farthest from the pump. Proceed by turning each one on (including the shower), until you see antifreeze coming out. Then, flush the toilet until you see antifreeze coming out, and pour a small amount down the toilet and through the grey tank as well.
Special Note: If you plan to use your RV in temperatures below freezing and your tanks are not located in a heated compartment, you can add about a 1/2 cup of RV antifreeze to both the gray and black tanks after dumping. This will also allow the antifreeze to collect next to the valves.
Caution: NEVER add windshield wiper antifreeze into your system! Make sure you are using only approved RV/Marine antifreeze which is safe for you and your unit.
If you are going to use your RV in the winter, and you don’t have the water hoses wrapped in heat strips, don’t connect to campground hook-ups. It is better to carry water with you in containers, or if your fresh water tank is heated, fill the tank, disconnect the water hose and then store it where it won’t be subject to freeze. Take the same precaution with your sewer hose. Wait to dump your tanks until they are near full and then connect your hose, dump and then store it. Any hoses which are not protected by heat strips, or properly stored will be subject to freezing and splitting.
Check, clean and charge your battery
Top up your batteries with distilled water, but be careful not to overfill them. If you don’t plan on using your RV over the cold months, you can remove the battery and store it in a cool and dry place. Draw out a diagram of the connections so you will remember how to install the battery when it comes time to use it again.
Clean the inside and outside of your unit
Start with the refrigerator. Clean it thoroughly and then turn it off. Keep the door of the refrigerator and freezer open to ensure mold and mildew does not grow. Place several boxes of baking soda inside the refrigerator and freezer. Cover all external vents and openings where pipes and cords come into your RV. Many RV owners use steel brass wool (not steel wool which can rust) into the cracks and crevices to prevent rodents and other pests from moving in your unit! Also, cover your air conditioner unit with an appropriate cover or tarp.
Place moisture absorbing agent in several places throughout your unit
You can use a commercial product such as Dri-Z-Air to control moisture build up. You can purchase it from most RV parts stores or online.
Close all drapes and blinds
This will help to keep the sun’s rays from fading and deteriorating the furnishings in your unit. It is also recommended to crack open a vent or window to properly ventilate your RV.
Keep your gas/fuel/LP tanks full to prevent condensation
Turn off your propane tank and then make sure that your RV is level for storage. Extend/add jacks to stabilize your unit which helps to relieve stress on your RV’s frame.