Getting RVs Ready for Winter

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Spending a northern winter in an RV might sound like a crazy idea, but hundreds of people are about to do it. And if you’re one of them, there are steps that need to be taken immediately to get ready for the cold.

Preparing your RV for winter (Source:

“It’s absolutely critical that everybody gets ready if they`re going to stay in one of these RVs for the winter, they have to get them skirted up and do all these precautionary things to survive,” Coates RV manager Tim “Dutch” Deick told KFYR-TV.

The most critical step is keeping the heating and water systems under the trailer from freezing. This can be done by “skirting” the bottom of the RV with wood or plastic.

“The reality is, when we do get some sub zero weather, it will be near impossible to keep a trailer warm. You will not be warm, plain and simple. Worse-case scenario, people can and will die and that is absolutely what we want to help prevent,” Deick said.

Winterizing Your RVs

Water Systems

If the fresh water storage tank is located inside the coach, the normal heating of the coach during cold weather should be enough to insure it is not freezing.

In severe cold weather however, it is wise to monitor the water temperature in the tank, and take appropriate steps to drain and winterize if necessary. In severe cold it may be necessary to open lower cabinet doors at night in both the bath and kitchen areas to keep warmer air circulating around water fixtures.

Now, it’s time to winterize your RV before the temperatures drop and the snow starts falling. (Source:

If you plan to leave the coach unheated for any length of time in severe cold conditions, it is best NOT to keep water in the fresh tank. It may work best to carry cooking and drinking water with you in plastic jugs instead.

If you will be using you RV when conditions fall below the freezing level, it will be necessary to protect the drainage system components from damage by the addition of an approved antifreeze solution as outlined on the product directions. Drain lines which are exposed outside the RV are especially susceptible to freezing and steps should be taken to protect them from damage.

Food Storage

In the event the RV is left for a period of time without the furnace in operation, canned goods and other foods packed in water should be stored as high as possible, since heat rises.

They may also be stored in the refrigerator as insulation against the cold; store dry foods and other items that are not damaged by freezing in the lower storage areas.

LP Gas System

Make sure to use an LP gas that will vaporize properly in the colder temperatures. Check with your LP gas representative for the proper fuel, and reread the information on LP gas selection in the LP Gas section of the owner’s manual.


Use ONLY the furnace to heat the RV. It is properly vented to the outside. NEVER use the range/oven for heating—asphyxiation and death could result.


Cooking produces large amounts of moisture. Not just as steam from pots and pans, but also as a product of combustion. Make sure to use the exhaust vents and open a window slightly to control the humidity. At night, leave a roof vent and/or a window slightly open.

Storage Preparation

When storing your RV for winter (or other extreme conditions), certain precautions need to be made to protect it until you open it again for use. Make sure to talk with your local dealer concerning any special requirements for storage in your particular geographic area.

The following steps are general, and your dealer can help you choose those that are most appropriate for your needs:

  • Park the RV on a level surface
  • Winterize the chassis as outlined in the chassis owner’s manual, and also the 110v generator (if so equipped) as outlined in the generator owner’s manual
  • Clean the RV thoroughly, both inside and out, including the refrigerator
  • Turn off all electrical switches and appliances
  • Securely close all windows, doors, and vents
  • Cover exterior vents on appliances to prevent moisture and insects from entering during storage

In storage, a battery will gradually lose charge over a 30 to 45 day period, even when disconnected by use of the battery disconnect switch.

Make sure to follow precautions associated with battery care and maintenance outlined in the electrical section of your owner’s manual.

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

(The above information on winterizing your RV is provided courtesy CrossRoads RV)

Worth Pondering…

I played as much golf as I could in North Dakota, but summer up there is pretty short.  It usually falls on Tuesday.

—Mike Morley

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