How to Winterize RV Campers

Unless you are a full-time RVer or live in an area where temperatures don't drop below freezing for any length of time, you need to take steps to protect your RV from Old Man Winter. This list will help you winterize RV campers.

Keep Out the Critters
It goes without saying that one must clean the RV thoroughly before putting it in storage. Those popcorn kernels under the couch or in the cushions will be a big draw for hungry mice in the winter. Be sure to check the underside of the RV for holes and plug them so those critters cannot enter. Your RV would make a wonderful, warm home for cold rodents in the winter.

Remove all food from the camper. Some folks leave canned goods, but you'll sleep better at night knowing the cupboards are bare and thoroughly washed out. Make sure toothpaste isn't left in the medicine chest either.

To Cover or not Cover the RV?
Most RVers prefer to store the rig in a barn or shed for the winter months. If, however, you have no facility to use, the RV is fine outdoors. Don't park it under a tree because branches could fall off and damage the roof. You do not need to cover and wrap the camper if it is inside or outside.

Battery Care and Propane Tank
Some owners remove the battery or disconnect the battery for winter. We leave our battery in the rig because the storage facility parks the camper for us in their building.

You may leave the propane tank(s) in your rig, but be sure to turn them off.

Winterizing the Plumbing System
These are suggested guidelines, but each recreational vehicle is different. You need to check out the information for your particular RV.

You will need to run about two gallons of RV antifreeze through the plumbing system. Be sure to use antifreeze for RVs, not cars.

Follow these steps for an easy way to winterize, and get some help, as this really is a two-person job:

  • Empty and flush out the gray-water and black-water holding tanks.
  • Drain the fresh-water tank.
  • Drain the water heater. It will drain quicker if you open the hot-water faucet.
  • Bypass the water heater because you don't need to run antifreeze in this. You can purchase a bypass kit or remove the two water lines on the back of the water heater and join them together with a temporary bypass line.
  • Be sure to close all faucets.
  • Disconnect the water line from your fresh-water tank at the water-pump side. You can purchase an adapter for this. Thread it onto the pump and attach the suction hose to the adapter. Place the hose into the jug of antifreeze all the way to the bottom. Turn on the water pump and then open the hot-water faucet the furthest from the pump. When you see pink antifreeze flowing, shut off that faucet and turn on the cold water until you see the antifreeze flowing out again.
  • Do this with each faucet in the rig (shower, tub, lavatory, kitchen sink).
  • Flush the toilet and keep the water running until pink antifreeze appears.
  • Be sure to drain the outdoor faucet or shower.
  • Turn off the water pump.
  • Pour about ½ cup of antifreeze down each drain to be sure the p-traps do not freeze.

After winterizing the RV, you may be assured that it will survive the winter ready for another great season of camping in the spring. Meanwhile, use the winter season to plan your future camping trips. It's a great time to remember all the good times you had with friends and family, as well as the funny stories, the beautiful outdoor adventures, historical sites and thrilling events that you experienced in the past.

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