Winterizing Your RV

As the colder weather sets in, those in the Northern climes either snowbird south for the winter or prepare their RVs for another winter of ice, snow, and freezing temperatures. This unpleasant, end of camping season, ritual is known as Winterization.

Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You might know a poet, William Shakespeare, who’s Sonnet 73 says,

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang
Upon the boughs that shake against the cold
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

He makes reference to autumn here in what would become one of his most famous sonnets. Oh, Autumn, that time of year when the earth changes colors before our very eyes, temperatures start to dip, the light begins to fade away, and RVs are readying for their long winter’s nap.

So in true Shakespearean style, let’s count the fourteen things (as in the fourteen lines of a sonnet) that will help prepare any RV for the winter:

Perform end-of-season RV repairs. As with any vehicle that will be sitting for a period of time, it is necessary to take care of any minor or major problems that would be worsened by inactivity and weather.

Check roof for leaks, dents, or tears. Fall is also a good time to clean and examine the roof for sealant wear or other damage, and repair it. The seams get tested during the winter and the spring thaw, so renewing them now will help ensure they withstand the winter and the upcoming season. Also ensure that the seals around the doors and outside compartments are working correctly. This will also help to prevent the cold weather from getting in. To ensure that these seals and compartment locks do not freeze up, a graphite lubricant can be applied to the locks and a silicone lubricant can be sprayed around the door and compartment edges.

Remove personal items. Thoroughly inspect the interior living space. Food including canned goods and bottles, bedding, towels (kitchen, bathroom, swim), leisure activities (books, board games, coloring books/crayons, arts/crafts supplies) and other essentials that may be needed during the winter should be stowed away and relocated or packed in an organized manner until spring.

Daytona Beach, Florida. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Inventory items remaining in RV. Anything that will be left in the RV, such as kitchen tools and utensils, or bathroom toiletries, should be added to a list and filed with important RV paperwork. If at any time there is a question or concern about what has remained within the unit, this list will serve as a source of referral during the off-season.

Clean refrigerator. After removing all foodstuffs, clean the refrigerator thoroughly, and leave it open a crack. This helps prevent mildew.

Clean the RV. Clean the entire RV, interior and exterior, including all storage areas.

Empty gray/black water holding tanks. Dump and flush both black and gray water holding tanks, in an appropriate manner, especially the black water tank. It is not acceptable to empty tanks in a city drain; always use a designated RV dump station (to locate a dump station in your area, click here).

Winterize water system. The primary concern when winterizing the RV is to ensure the water system is protected against damage caused by freezing. Drain the fresh water tank and hot water heater. Fully back flush the water system to remove all water from the lines. Add RV antifreeze to the system (NEVER, NEVER, NEVER use automobile antifreeze in your RVs water system). Open each faucet, one at a time, until the red-colored antifreeze appears. Don’t forget the shower and toilet. Leave gray water valve open. Shut the faucets.

RV tire covers. RV tires are especially vulnerable to the elements. Tire covers help protect tires from the sun’s harmful UV rays in the summer and from damage caused by wind, rain, snow, and freezing temperatures during the winter. Keeping your tires and wheels covered when you store your RV also helps to keep them cleaner and make them last longer and look better at the same time. Tires that are left uncovered can crack and become brittle, causing them to go flat before their time. Secure the tire covers firmly to your tires so that they don’t fly off in windy conditions. Tires should be clean, and kept off the ground during storage; boards work well. Ensure the recommended tire pressure is maintained.

Dehumidifiers. To prevent condensation buildup and help keep mold from forming, place dehumidifiers in each room and outside storage areas.

Lackawanna State Park, Pennsylvania. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Remove batteries. Depending on the length of time the RV will be sitting, it may be beneficial to remove batteries to extend their life. Never store batteries directly on concrete.

Cover exterior. Store your RV in a covered area or cover with a tarp for added protection. If storing the RV outdoors is the only option available, consider purchasing an RV cover to protect the exterior.

Consult owner’s manual. Be sure to check your owner’s manual and follow any additional information on storage, cleaning, and winterizing procedures.

LP gas. Turn off propane valve at the tank.

In conclusion

This list of 14 tips is a good place to start when creating your own winter-ready checklist.

Worth Pondering…

I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way.

—Franklin P. Adams

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