It’s a sad day when summer ends and it’s time to put the RV away for the winter. But unlike pool noodles or beach umbrellas, you can’t just park the RV out of the way and expect everything to be fine come spring.
That’s because water and cold don’t mix so well in confined spaces. Water expands by nine percent or so when it freezes, so taking the time to winterize an RV by removing all the water is an important maintenance step.
This RV winterization guide provides the basics to help you take care of your RV when the temperature starts dropping.
What You Need
While you don’t need to get started as soon as summer ends, this project is one you want done by the time temperatures start dropping into the low 40s or high 30s. At a minimum, you’ll need to have on hand the following:
- RV pink antifreeze – two to three gallons
- Air compressor
- Bucket and bowl
Anything else you need depends on your model of camper. Some have winterization controls built-in like some models of Jayco. Others might require you to add some controls like a water heater bypass or remove an anode rod with a special tool.
Drain All Water
Your job when winterizing an RV is to get rid of all the water in your camper so it can’t freeze and crack a pipe somewhere. Start by emptying and cleaning the black and gray water holding tanks. Then you can drain the freshwater tank by putting your bucket below the low-point drain valves and opening them up.
Drain the water heater by turning it off and releasing the pressure. You’ll remove the drain plug and allow all the water to run out. (And a bonus bit of RV winterization advice, take this time to flush the water heater as well to get rid of any sediment.)
Put a bowl under the faucet to keep water from heading to your empty holding tanks, then turn on the water pump. Open first the cold, then the hot faucet until no more water comes out. Repeat this step for every faucet inside and out.
Clear the city water line with the air compressor. Close all the faucets then set the water heater to bypass.
Add RV Antifreeze
It’s not enough to empty out the water system. You’re then going to replace all the water with antifreeze and make sure you get the pink one meant for RVs.
Put the siphon tube from the water pump winterization kit into the antifreeze jug, and turn on the water pump. Open faucets one at a time until you see the pink antifreeze flow out.
Repeat with all the hot and cold faucets, then turn off the water pump. Open a faucet one more time to release any excess pressure. Pour about a cup of antifreeze each into the p-traps of the sinks, toilet, and shower.
Ready to Winterize an RV Now?
RV winterization is a key step to take before you store your camper for the long winter months, so follow the RV winterization tips in this guide. Unless you have the luxury of a heated and monitored building, take the time to go through the entire process to winterize an RV from removing all the water from the various plumbing components to adding antifreeze to the lines after.
Do you enjoy hitting the road to travel? Check out other articles on our site about planning road trips and taking care of your RV in any season.