De-Winterizing Checklist: Time to Hit The Road!


De-Winterizing Checklist: Time to Hit The Road!

Spring is coming, and the temperature is getting warmer, so it is time to hit the road. Hitting the road with your RV  requires preparation or the so-called “de-winterizing” to make it ready for the new season. De-winterizing is simply reversing the things you did on your RV as winter is approaching. De-winterizing makes your RV ready and safe for camping, especially on the road. It will make sure all is set for your travel. Here are the things that are done when de-winterizing your RV.

1. Inspect the RV’s Body Visually For Immediate Damage

One of the very first things you need to de-winterizing your RV is the inspection of its exterior. Inspection is done to see any debris, dust, or any form of dirt, then remove it. This is why inspecting your RV includes thoroughly cleaning. The following are the do’s when doing this step.

Start by checking the exterior part of your RV for any water leaks. If leaking is found, fix it immediately. Examine all the caulks found on the cracks part of your RV. Have another caulking on the damaged part if needed to prevent further damage when RV-ing.

Please look at the doors, roof vents, body, windows, and any other part of the RV where worn sealants are on its seam. If you find some worn sealants, have them replaced right away.

Test the RV awning by opening and closing it to ensure if it is still functional. Inspect also the RV awning for some mold or build-up dust that had occurred during winter.  

The roof of your RV is also subject to an inspection because snow from winter may have accumulated there, which means cracks and other forms of damage may occur. 

Also, inspect the hitch components (this applies only to the towable travel trailer) to see build-up rust and damage. Immediately replaced any damaged part of the hitch components to prevent future accidents.

2. Clean the RV’s Body Immediately

After inspection, clean right away the exterior parts of your RV. Start washing your RV with a hose down or spraying it down to remove all the dirt, dust, gunk, slime, etc. 

Always clean your RV from top to bottom because if you start scrubbing at the bottom, you will have to scrub that again after cleaning the top part due to the dirt accumulating to the bottom part of your RV’s exterior part. 

One of the tips in cleaning your RV is to break it into sections. This means you will work on a certain section on its exterior part until it is sparkly clean before proceeding to the other part of your RV. 

Another tip is to lose the awning legs when cleaning your RV. Remove the legs so that the awning will fall flat against the side body of the RV, which makes it easy to scrub without worrying about making holes while cleaning it. 

Use the appropriate soap compatible with your RV surface. Use the right tool in cleaning your RV, such as a long-handled brush with soft bristles.

You can also get a complete wash and wax for your RV’s body to ensure that all dust, dirt, and the likes are removed. This will also remove or prevent rust from forming further in the RV.

3. Examine Your Rig’s Interior Corner to Corner

Of course, aside from the exterior of your RV, you have to check the interior of your rig equally. Add lubrication to your steps if necessary and inspect your rig closely. To air out your RV, open the windows and search for signs of damage, such as discolored ceilings or paneling around windows and vents, which could signal any issues formed over the winter.

Check The Cupboards: It is also best to include checking your cupboards from unwelcomed guests like mice, bugs, and the likes that might have made a shelter in your RV. At the same time, do not forget to check your refrigerator and heater compartments from other critters.

Clean RV fans and air conditioning system: Next, clean your RV fans and air conditioners from debris and dust that might have accumulated over the winter. Wash the fan blades and screens with a pair of warm water & soap. You can also take the fan apart to wash them thoroughly, then scrub it with an all-purpose spray. 

Remove Extra Insulation: Since the weather will be less cool than the winter months, you can also remove some insulation you had added when you winterized your rigs like foam boards, RV skirts, window drapes, and others. This removal will promote fresh air to get in your RV.

Clean the windows and screens of your RV: Do this by removing them so you can wash them thoroughly. Wash windows and screens gently with soapy water.

Replace linens, towels, bedding, pillows, blankets, and washcloths: Aside from cleaning, you also have to replace supplies and toiletries in your RV. This also includes your sleeping needs like beddings and the likes to enjoy a dust-free RV space.

Go through all corners and check them out. Remove any dust from your RV floor and cabinets with the use of a vacuum. Once done, you can proceed to clean and disinfection, perhaps your rig’s interior. Include in your budget some minor replacements like sealant for your windows and doors to get an even more comfortable RV state before starting your spring travels.

4. Check Your RV’s Tires For Wear and Cracks

Tires are essential for safe travel, which is why it should be a  hobby to check on them before hitting the road. Checking the tires is also part of de-winterizing your RV because it will lose about 2-3 psi or pounds per square inch of air pressure per month. So, if you store your RV for months, especially somewhere cold during winter, the tires might deflate, which is not safe for travel. For a safer trip, check your tires with the following methods.

Tire Check Using Tire Pressure Gauge: Check the air pressure of all your RV tires using a tire pressure gauge. Inflate the tires and make sure to match the manufacturer’s suggested load. Include the spare tires when checking with the same tool because you never know when you need them. 

If you forgot the recommended specs of your tires, considering checking on the owner’s manual. Remember that doing this is not just during de-winterizing, but it is ideal to do it once regularly. For accurate readings, consider checking your tires early in the morning so that tires are still cool.

Tire Check Based on Wear Indicators: Take a look at the tire tread or the rubber part of your tire that makes contact with the road. Look for the tread-wear indicators or the wear bars in all of your tires. If you find some tread-wear indicators, replace them immediately. 

If the front tires of your RV have worn out to 4/32”, it is suggested to replace it right away. Ensure to examine the sidewalls of tires visually to make sure they have no cracks or any damages.

5. Recharge or Replace The Batteries For Better RV Life

Your RV is run with batteries to provide electricity for the air conditioner, lighting, recharging of different devices, and many other appliances. This is why you can not use your RV without batteries. So, storing your RV during winter will probably discharge “by as much as 10% per month through internal leakage.” Recharging your battery is part of de-winterizing your RV. Replacement of your RV battery is also done if necessary.

Recharge The Batteries The Proper Way: Start with checking the charge of your RV batteries with the help of a voltmeter. See that your RV is disconnected from electricity, for it will only give you a false reading. A 12.7 volts reading means your battery is fully charged. So, when it gives you a reading of 12 volts and below, charge your battery before going on a ride. 

Before charging your battery, make sure that all battery connections are clean, but if it is not the terminal, clean it off with warm water and baking soda. Connecting the battery charger to the RV charger while the battery is turned off will be the first step in charging your RV battery.

Next is turning on the battery charger then allowing it to recharge completely. Charging RV batteries will take hours or a few days, depending upon their size.

A fully charged RV battery is not yet okay because the next step is checking its water level if necessary. If the water level of your RV battery reaches a low level, add a distilled water until it gets to its correct level.

Yet, if the water level of your RV battery is below the plates, distilled water must be added before recharging it because the battery plates should always remain covered. (Precaution: wear latex gloves and safety glasses when doing this battery check).

Replace the Batteries If Necessary: Inspect your RV battery and look for cracks or any form of damages caused by winter freezing. If cracking is found in your RV battery, replace it because it can not be repaired anymore.

Take extra care when removing the broken battery, especially its wiring. Be sure to mark positive & negative to the positive and negative wires. At the same time, changing your RV battery must include the replacement of battery packs. (Helpful tip: Do not add or mix a new battery to the old one to avoid confusion about battery conditions).

6. Check Appliances and RV Generator For Malfunctions

You should also check your appliances especially if it is still working properly. Take off the covers and try turning them on and note possible malfunctions. If there are, have it fix or replace if irreparable. If you have electric appliances, plug them in and test them. Suppose your motorhome has a generator, have this running, and check. Let an expert check if it won’t start.

7. Drain the RV Water System To Get Rid of RV Antifreeze

Winterizing your RV during the winter involves adding RV antifreeze not to freeze its water system (plumbs & pipes). Though RV antifreeze is non-toxic,  it is not safe to mix with your water for cooking and drinking. Hence de-winterizing includes flushing the RV water system.

Drain the fresh water tank entirely if the RV antifreeze is directly poured into this tank. If you don’t have a water pump to flush the RV antifreeze, you can use a garden hose.

Next is adding potable or drinkable water to the freshwater holding tank. To flush the RV antifreeze, turn on the water pump. Open all water faucets such as the sinks, shower (both indoor & outdoor). Then let the water run through for several minutes.

As the pump continues to run, flush the RV toilet a few times. If clear water comes out after 10 minutes, you can now close the faucets and turn off the pump.

Next is taking the water heater from a bypass mode. However, if your water heater was not set into bypass mode during winter storage, drain the RV antifreeze from the water heater tank to collect it for dumping purposes. This step should be done before the replacement of water filters.

Then, change all the water filter cartridges that were removed for storage purposes. Dump the gray and black water holding tanks to the proper dumpsite. Several minutes after the water system of your RV has been flushed, the freshwater “should taste clean and fresh.”

If you sense any taste of RV antifreeze, consider adding a baking soda to remove that flavor, sprinkle a baking soda directly into each drain, or you can dissolve it in water before pouring it down the drains. Right after this step, flush the water system again until the water tastes right.

8. Clean and Check The Water System’s Safety

Another part of de-winterizing your RV is sanitizing its water system after flushing the RV antifreeze used during cold seasons. Regardless of not using RV antifreeze, your water system must be subject to sanitization. This is because the water system of your RV is essential for cooking, drinking, showering, etc., and of course, nobody wants unclean water. Also, your water system is subject to the breeding site of molds and bacteria. So, better sanitize it for safer water.

Start by closing all drains then installing drain plugs. Make a chlorine solution. Measure one-quarter cup of your liquid household bleach in every 15 to 20 gallons of water. Chlorine solution is highly effective against mildew, mold, viruses, and bacteria.

You can also pour bleach into a one-gallon container then fill it with water. Combine the bleach and water mixture to the freshwater tank bill 

Next is filling the freshwater tank with drinking water. Now turn on the water pump and open all faucets. Let the water run until you can smell the chlorine solution. Allow the solution to sit for up to 12 hours in all the water tanks and water lines to kill bacteria, molds, viruses, etc.

Afterward, drain all the water from the RV water system. Then refill the freshwater tank with potable or drinking water. Again, turn on the water pump and open all faucets. Finally, let the water run until you can no longer smell the bleach.

9. Inspect the Plumbing System For Leak

In inspecting the plumbing system, focus on the leaky pipes. Consider locating leaks under the RV sinks and also check the toilet for any leaks. If you find any holes or leaks, repair them right away, or you can take them to the camper trailer service. A leaky pipe in your RV should be fixed immediately because it can cause mold and bacteria growth.

To locate leaky pipes, start by turning on the electric pump and pressurize the freshwater once it starts to fill the tank. As soon as it reaches its full pressure, the pump will automatically turn off. Listen for several minutes and wait if the pump turns on. If it does, it means there is a leak in your plumbing system, better to have it fixed right away.

10. Inspect the Propane System To Prevent Possible Fire

If you’re an RV-er, you will know that ovens and stovetops work with propane. This gas, also known as liquified petroleum gas or LPG, is a big help when staying in your RV because it also works with refrigerators (not all refrigerators). However, propane is a flammable gas which is why you need to check on it before your trip, particularly when your RV has been stored during the cold season. As a part of de-winterizing your RV, inspect the propane system and reinstall or replace it as necessary.

Before inspection of the propane system, make sure to switch off the tank’s valves. Also, turn off all the appliances that run with LPG. Do not create a flame, light, or sparks, and do not smoke when doing this. Since the purpose of inspecting the propane system of your RV is to look for leaks. So, inspect the entire system.

First, apply soapy water on the valve tank and to the propane regulator, then observe. If you observe a bubbling of water, it is an indication of leaks in your propane system. A leaky propane system means it needs repairing right away. 

Also, examine the hoses visually if it has cracks or any form of damages caused by rodents. If you find a cracked and damaged hose of your propane gas tank, replace it immediately before switching them on. Then test the RV propane detector to ensure that it is still functioning correctly.

If you detect a leak, switch off the propane instantly, then have it repaired by a certified trailer service technician. If no problems are found, and all the propane gas lines are working, you can restore your RV propane system in a manner of opening its valves slowly.

Next is cleaning all your LP gas appliances; test the LPG gas appliances by lighting each of its machines. 

11. Checkup the Engine For A Smooth Road Trip

Basically, RV is run by an engine which is why it is a very important machine. The engine serves as the converter that produces energy into motion, making it the car’s heart. Because engines are very important, make it a hobby not just as a part of de-winterizing but check on them before traveling. Your RV engine should run in great condition, for it plays another role in the safety of hitting the road and RVing.

Look At The Engine Fluid Levels. One of the good preventive maintenance is checking the engine fluid level. Refer to the owner’s manual so that you can pick out all the components of the engine machine of your RV that require oil or fluid. The manual also provides you with information regarding the fluid capacity of the RV. 

If coolant is low, there is a possible leak so consider checking on the radiator, heater hoses. A very low fluid level means you have to top them off before taking it out for a new season. Do not hesitate to have your RV engine checked by an expert, especially if you notice a leaking part of it.

How to Examine The Engine Closely: Inspect the fluid levels of the power steering, transmission, brake fluid, engine oil, engine coolant, and windshield washer fluid. Right after the checking of fluid, start the engine of your RV.

Notice all the readings of the gauges of your RV. Test if your RV’s headlights, sash lights, taillights, and windshield wiper function effectively before putting it on the road.

12. Replenish Emergency and First-aid Kits

Always include emergency and first-aid kits in your RV. This is essential for traveling just in case you catch cold or minor injuries during your trip. Replenish your supplies and check the expiration dates of your medicine kit. You can also add an emergency kit if you do not have one for extra safety, like a smoke detector, if it does not have one for extra safety.

13. Ditch the RV Antifreeze For Now

Restocking and replenishing supplies again are included in de-winterizing your RV, but since it’s getting hotter, you can ditch for a while RV antifreeze use in your RV. This product has to wait until you need it again in winter or camping in very cold areas.

14. Double Check and Plan Your Next Travel

Owning an RV is one of the best investments of enjoyment. You can travel and go to a camp while having comfort at home. However, living with your RV requires maintenance. One of these is the de-winterizing which is done after winter. This process is necessary to keep your RV in good condition and plays a significant role in the comfort and safety of your RVing.

Conclusion

Once you know how to winterize and de-winterize an RV, then you are now indeed a full-pledge RVer ready to take on any weather changes on the road for any season. So, do not hesitate to hit the road this spring or summer!

Ash

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