RV Winterizing Checklist: Getting Ready for the Cold

RV Winterizing Checklist: Getting Ready for the Cold

When you are not a winter camping type of person, RV winterizing is the solution for you. Getting your RV ready before the temperature drop below freezing is essential. With the right winterizing process, you can make sure that your RV is prepared for the spring and summer seasons.

1. Getting Your RV Interior Ready

The very thing that you need to accomplish is to start unpacking your RV. Wipe down the floors and different surfaces such as closets, countertops, cabinets, oven and range, microwave, refrigerator, toilets, and showers. Remove any valuables you may have indoors and eliminate any food or crumbs inside the RV.

Remove or clean any sheets, beddings, or curtains that you may have because they can attract bugs if you leave them in the RV. RVers tend to worry about pests such as mosquitos and gnats that tend to die during the winter season. On the other hand, cockroaches will only die in temperatures below 15 degrees, and they will do whatever they can to stay indoors.

When it comes to your refrigerator, make sure that it is unplugged and clean out the ice maker if you have one. Remove everything that is inside your refrigerator as it can spoil when left for a long time. Defrost the interior, and prop open the fridge and freezer door to prevent mold from forming.

Making sure that everything is clean before you put away your RV for the winter will make it faster to hit the road when the spring season begins.

2. Take Care of Your Sewer Hose: Wash and Store

By the end of the season, drain your RV black and gray water tanks. When you’ve done that, it’s time to store your RV sewer hose away. Before storing it, you should first clean the sewer hose. Knowing the proper way to clean the hose is never a fun task but is necessary for a responsible RV owner.

However, there are a couple of easy steps that you can follow to clean your RV sewer hose. First, flush the black water pipe when dumping as it contains the dirtiest water as well as residue. After that, flush the gray water pipe since it’s less dirty. Lastly, attach a sewer hose cleaner attachment to your RV sewer hose and use a garden hose to finish the cleaning process. It may take several minutes to get this done.

When cleaning your sewer hose, it also includes the fittings that come with it. The model of your sewer hose would depend on how often you use them and determine how often the fittings need extra cleaning. In cleaning the fittings, first, you would need to remove the fittings from the RV and sewer hose.

Next, spray down or rinse the fittings. Once that’s done, add water and bleach to a large bucket or container, place the fittings inside, and leave it to soak for several hours. After that, remove the fittings, rinse them, and air dry them. Lastly, store them with the sewer hose to keep them safe during the winter season.

3. Taking Care of Your RV Plumbing System With Antifreeze

During the winterizing process, the plumbing system is the most time-intensive process that you would have to do. This step would require getting rid of all the water in your pipes, so it doesn’t freeze throughout the winter. When you have frozen pipes, they can burst, which can cause leaks and lead to expensive replacement parts in the spring.

Now, winterizing is not a challenging process, but it does take a few steps and a bit of time. There are two common ways on how to winterize your RV, and that’s with antifreeze or compressed air.

Winterizing with Antifreeze. Antifreeze is the most common approach when it comes to winterizing. You would need to start by manually draining all the water tanks as much as possible. RVers have two to three low-point drains that can be opened to clear the tanks.

Draining the freshwater system. When you drain the freshwater system, make sure to open all exterior low point drains. Once that’s done, open all hot and cold faucets as well as showerheads inside the camper. Lastly, press on the toilet pedal to flush any existing water out of the water system.

The next step to this process is to remove any inline water filters and see if your system has any water heater bypass installed. If yes, make sure to turn on the bypass valve. The last step is to pump the antifreeze throughout the water system, and you’re done.

Pumping the antifreeze. Before pumping the antifreeze, you need to make sure that it is designed specifically for RV potable water systems. These are usually non-toxic and safe to use in your RV drinking system. Make sure that the low point drains that have been opened are closed.

After that, locate the inlet valve on your 12v water pump and use a short piece of hose attached to the inlet, which can be found on the side of your pump on one end and the antifreeze on the other. Next, turn on the water pump to pressurize the system and open each faucet one by one starting with the closest water pump. Do this until you see pure antifreeze flowing.

Do the same with your showerheads and toilet sprayers, if you have any. You also want to flush the toilet to get the antifreeze throughout the entire system. Once you’re sure that the antifreeze has reached every section of your plumbing, turn the pump off and close the inlets.

To know if antifreeze is safe for your RV, here’s an articleOpens in a new tab. that I wrote that can help you.

4. Taking Care of the Plumbing System with Compressed Air

There’s no need to flush the antifreeze out during the spring season. Winterizing with compressed air has different benefits or advantages since you don’t have to spend money on antifreeze as much. Having said this, it is less expensive, and you can save money on your next trip.

Now, it’s challenging to get every last drop of water out of your plumbing system when you choose to go through the compressed air process. Even a little water left on the plumbing could still freeze if it collects at the low points of your RV. Due to this reason, you would still need about a cup of antifreeze per fixture. This would include the sink drain, shower drain, and toilet.

Process of winterizing via compressed air. You would need an air compressor with an adjustable pressure regulator, a blowout plug that fits into the city water inlet, and a small amount of RV antifreeze. The first thing you need to do is flush and drain the black and grey water tanks.

Next, drain the freshwater system just like the step I’ve provided above in the antifreeze process. After that, drain the water pump, remove any inline water filters, and drain the water heater and turn on the bypass valve. Then, hook your air source into the city water inlet using the blowout plug.

Once that’s done, turn on the air compressor and make sure to limit the pressure to the maximum of 40PSI. The next step is to open each faucet and fixture. Make sure you start with the fixtures closest to your air source and work your way outwards. You should be able to see the remaining water sputter until the air is released from the faucets. Be sure to do this with both the hot and cold settings.

In order to flush out the water in the system, turn on the showerhead, toilet sprayer, and flush the toilet. Then, turn off the compressor and pour about one cup of antifreeze into each fixture. Lastly, remove all low-point drain plugs and hot water heater drain plugs.

There’s a lot to do, but once you’ve done these steps, your RV is ready for the winter season.

5. Get Your Electrical System Ready

For your electrical system, make sure that your RV’s primary circuit breaker is turned off. This circuit breaker is to protect your 120V AC system. Disconnect and remove batteries from the radios, clocks, detectors, as well as alarms that you may have in your rig. For your portable or onboard generator storage, make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions on how to store them safely.

You need to make sure it is blocked with aluminum foil or steel wool for your exhaust pipe. When this is done, you can prevent pests or other bugs from entering your RV.

6. Winterizing The Tires

After a couple of months without usage, your rig’s tires can form flat spots because of the thousands of pounds of pressured weight on them constantly. Make sure that you have leveling jacks, which are different than stabilizing jacks, and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on elevating your RV off the ground. I’ve also written an article with tips and tricks on how you can level your RV.

Another method that you can do to protect your tires is external jacks. When both of these methods cannot be utilized, you must redistribute the weight of your rig. Make sure to avoid sand, dirt, and asphalt for your RV parking spaces. The oils that are present on the asphalt will damage your tires.

Your RV should be parked on concrete or a paved surface so that your tires can stop from descending into the soft ground. Make sure to set your parking brake before leaving your rig to rest for the winter. Overinflating air pressure on your tires by two to five PSI right before winter can help prevent inflating the tires during spring since the PSI will slowly decrease over time.

7. Keeping the Pests Out

As mentioned above, to keep the pests out, you need to remove curtains, sheets, food, or anything that may attract pests inside your van. Aside from this, keep a lookout for openings or gaps in your RV where insects, rodents, or birds may enter. Any vents that you may have in your RV should be shielded with aluminum foil or cardboard.

It is vital to keep pests out of the rig while you are away for the winter. Preventing pests from entering your RV will remove any hassle and expenses you might face during the camping season.

8. The RV Roofing

Your RV roofing is susceptible to leaks and damages, whether you are using it or not. Make sure to inspect your roof for any damages that need to be repaired. If you see any damages during your inspection, make sure you have them repaired before storing away your rig.

Ensure that all your roof and plumbing vents are closed and use an air conditioner shroud or special covers to ensure that they are safe while your rig is tucked away for the winter season.

9. Take Care of Your Awning

Keep your awning clean by rolling it out and cleaning the fabric with an RV awning cleaner. Make sure not to use dish soap or cleaner that contains de-greasers as they can cause cracks n the awning when they dry out. While cleaning your awning, you might as well wash and wax the outside of your RV as well.

The best RV awning cleaner that you can use is Star Brite Mold & Mildew Stain Remover and Cleaner. It is considered to be the most effective outdoor upholstery, vinyl, and acrylic fabric cleaner on the market. It can quickly remove stains caused by mold and mildew that are usually found in awnings. There’s no need for heavy scrubbing when you use the Star Brite cleaner and stain remover.

It is available on Amazon for $13.99 (22oz), $17.49 (32oz), and $48.99 (one gallon).

10. Check The Propane System

If you have portable propane tanks, make sure to remove them and cap any lines they may have. If you have an onboard propane tank, place it in the outside compartment of your camper. The shutoff valve should be attached to the tank. To shut it off, turn the valve all the way to the right or clockwise.

You can also cover your RV’s propane tank connection fittings with plastic bags and rubber bands so that you can keep the pests away from them. The external propane tanks should be removed from the cold weather and stored in a shed or another sheltered location. Remember not to store it in your RV as it can be dangerous.

11. Change the RV’s Oil and Add Fuel Stabilizer

When you are planning to park your RV for long-term storage, six months or more, it might be best to change the oil and filters before storing your rig away. Aside from that, you should also add a fuel stabilizer to both the gas tank and your generator. Make sure to follow the stabilizer instructions and let the engine and generator run for a few minutes.

Always give your stabilizers time to work through the system. The best fuel stabilizer that you can get in the market is Star Brite Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment. This multifunctional fuel additive uses a unique enzyme technology that allows engines to start easily and run smoothly after months of being stored.

The Star Brite Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment will clean the entire fuel delivery system, removing performance robbing gum and varnish deposits while modifying the fuel burns. It also helps prevent phase separation and stabilizes your RV’s gasoline for up to two years.

This RV fuel stabilizer is available on AmazonOpens in a new tab. for $11.97 (8oz). It is also available in 32oz for $26.78 and one gallon for $133.21.

12. Cover Any Outside Outlets You May Have

Covering the outlets outside and inside your RV can prevent pests from climbing inside. Make sure that you cover your exhaust guard, inlets, outlets, and any other holes. This is the case, especially when you live in a wild area. You can use shrinkwrap and double-sided tape to seal and insulate your windows as well.

Aside from that, you can also purchase mesh screens to cover water heaters or battery vents. These mesh screens come in different shapes and sizes that can be used on other openings in your RV. The BougeRV RV Vent Cover is the best mesh screen cover that you can buy.

It is available in rectangular (2.83”x1.26”) and circular shapes(6”x8.5”x1.3”) that are made from high quality and heavy-duty stainless steel. You can rest assured that it will provide maximum strength and longevity that resist corrosion. It is also easy to install to ensure your vents, outlets, and openings will be secured from unwanted pests.

The BougeRV RV Vent Cover comes with four springs and a tool that connects the springs to any openings that you need to cover in your RV. The installation process takes no more than a minute or two to install. You can find this mesh screen on AmazonOpens in a new tab. for $19.99.

13. Take Care of Your RV’s Engine

What you need to know about your RV is the fuel tanks inhibit the formation of condensation. Also, adding a fuel stabilizer will have some unpleasant issues. Your RV’s engine should be idle for five to ten minutes so that the additive can make its way through the system.

You should also purchase an automotive antifreeze that needs to be added to your radiator. The next thing that you should do is do check-ups on your brake fluid, oil, and windshield washer solution. The windshield washer solution should include a small amount of antifreeze. So when you need to make sure that you buy the right windshield washer solution.

14. Take Control of the Moisture in Your RV

In this step, all you need to do is open a container of moisture absorbent and place it on a level surface inside your RV. The container will eliminate dampness or moisture from the air that’s present in your RV. It will prevent mold formation, corrosion, and mildew.

You can buy these moistures absorbents on Amazon or any RV store. When needed, take some time to dehumidify the inside of your rig properly. The best moisture absorber you can buy is DampRid which works as a disposable, non-electric dehumidifier to absorb any excess moisture present in your RV.

Since DampRid is not electric or battery-operated, it can save you a lot of money. This product will attract and trap excess moisture and eliminate any musty odors to reduce the humidity level inside your RV. It has activated charcoal that helps remove any musty smells, lasts up to 45 days, and absorbs odors in larger spaces up to 300 square feet.

DampRid is available in different sizes such as mega, hanging bag, hi-capacity, and refillable. It is best to get the hi-capacity bucket when you are winterizing your RV. It is available on AmazonOpens in a new tab. for $39.90 (Fresh Scent) and $43.50 (Unscented).

15. Covering Your RV

Last but not least, it’s time to cover up your RV. Make sure to find a breathable camper cover that is designed for the winter weather. The best RV cover that you can get should be sturdy but not so thick that the air and moisture get trapped beneath it. When this happens, you might find your rig in the spring with mold or mildew creeping out from the crevices.

When your RV has sharp edges, you might want to cover them as well. Some old towels or rags can get the job done so that they poke holes on your RV cover. Also, get coverings for your tires as well, so they are not exposed under the cover.

An excellent RV cover is the Classic Accessories PermaPRO Lightweight Ripstop. It can cover campers from 20′ to 22′ long and 118″ high from ground to roof. Now, if your RV is smaller than the said size, there are other sizes available for this type of RV cover.

The PermaPRO Ripstop fabric can defend your RV from water, dirt, and sun damage. It has adjustable tension panels and elasticized hem corners that provide a custom-like fit. The zippered panels allow access to the RV doors and storage compartments on all four sides. You can find this RV cover on AmazonOpens in a new tab. for $295.05.

The best RV wheel cover is ELUTO which comes in a set of four that can fit wheels from 27″ to 29″. Make sure to measure your wheels first before purchasing the wheel cover you need. The ELUTO wheel cover is made from waterproof oxford and cotton wool lining, which will prevent it from being blown away and ensure a secure fit.

It will not only keep your tires snug during the winter built will also protect your tires from frost or various bad weather it may face. You can find the ELUTO wheel cover on AmazonOpens in a new tab. for $21.98.

Final Thoughts

RV winterizing is pretty simple but consists of many steps that you need to take note of and can be time-consuming. However, as long as you make sure that you do everything correctly, then you are good to go in winterizing your RV. Winterizing is necessary to keep your RV running during the spring and summer seasons. Happy winterizing!

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