As the seasons start to change from warm summer months to the cooler weather that fall and winter bring, it is time for many of us to put away our things for the winter. One of the most important things to remember when storing anything for the winter is to make sure its done properly to save a headache when spring comes around. Putting away your RV for the winter requires a few preventative procedures, but when you’re ready to use it again in the spring you and your wallet will be very thankful you did.
One of the first steps to take when winterizing your RV is removing all of the items inside. This is especially important if you are storing your RV somewhere other than your home or your own property. Along with taking out all of your personal belongings, you will want to remove all food items including non-perishable, canned, or bottled items. If temperatures get cold enough during the winter these items can burst, and nobody wants to come back to the inside of their RV covered with a burst 2-liter bottle of soda. Now that you have everything removed from your RV you will want to get a few items so you can start the process of winterizing your RV.
All of these items can be found at any RV shop and are fairly inexpensive.
- Basic hand tools
- Wand to clean out holding tanks
- Water heater by-pass kit
- RV anti-freeze (non-toxic)
- Water pump converter kit
Now you are ready to start the process!
- Remove any inline filters and bypass the system before starting. Drain the fresh water tank, and drain and flush the grey and black water tanks. If your RV does not have a built in flushing system use the wand to clean out to clean out the black tank. Once all the tanks are drained you can blow out the system with compressed air. Drain the water heater. Open the pressure relief valve and remove the drain plug.
- Open all faucets in the RV including the toilet valve and outside shower. Open all of the low point water drain lines. Use your water pump to force out most of the water in the system, make sure to turn it off as soon as the system drains to avoid damaging the pump.
- Use your water heater bypass kit to bypass the water heater. If you do not have this kit installed the water heater will fill up with anti-freeze before it goes through the water lines, and will waste around six gallons of your anti-freeze.
- Install the water pump converter kit, or disconnect the inlet side of the water pump. Connect the tubing from the water pump inlet into a 1 gallon jug of RV anti-freeze.
- Turn on the water pump and pressurize the system. Starting with the closest faucet to the pump slowly open the hot and then cold valves until the red anti-freeze appears. Repeat on all faucets starting with the closest and ending with the furthest away.
- Flush the toilet until anti-freeze appears. Pour a cup full of anti-freeze down each drain. Pour some anti-freeze into the toilet and flush it into the holding tank to prevent any water from freezing inside of the tank. If you have any electric heating element turn it off to protect it while in storage.
- Turn off all faucets, including the toilet valve and the outside shower.
A few more things to keep in mind when storing your RV for the winter are:
- Batteries: your fluid levels should be topped off, and the batteries should be fully charged. If your RV is going to be stored in freezing temperatures, remove the batteries and store in a dry warm location or disconnect the cables.
- Tires: Tires can develop flat spots after several months since they are under the pressure of so much weight. Use the RV leveling jacks to raise your RV off for a long period of time. If you do not have jacks you can move the RV a half tire revolution once or twice while it is stored during the winter.
- Top off your fuel tanks to prevent condensation, and add a fuel stabilizer. you will nred to let the engine idle for a couple minutes to let the additive make its way through the system. Fill the radiator with automotive anti-freeze. Make sure windshield washer solution has anti-freeze in it so it does not burst the washer bottle.
- Close all roof vents, check plumbing vents and the A/C shroud. Be sure to examine your roof thoroughly to check for any damages, leaks, or repairs that may need to be done. If you see your roof is in need or repair there are plenty of DIY roof patch kits to hold you over until you can get your RV to a repair center.
- If you are storing your RV outside keep it protected from the weather with a fabric cover that is made for an RV. You can contact your RV manufacturer to purchase one specifically for your RV but there are many universal covers at RV parts stores.
Now that you have completed winterizing your RV, it’s ready to weather the winter months. Although it can be a lot of work, RVs are a huge investment and taking care of them is very important. It will also save you time and money when you are ready to begin your adventures in the spring!