How to Winterize an RV

How to Winterize an RV
Winterizing an RV yourself has the potential of saving you a lot of money in repairs and upgrades when spring arrives. You need to winterize an RV even if you plan to use it once in a while during the winter months, live in it full time or just want to put it into storage for the colder months of the year. Basic winterization is an easy process, and if you follow a well-designed checklist, you can do it in less than a few hours. Read on for tips and information on how to winterize your RV.


Difficulty: Moderate

Winterize an RV in Use

Things You’ll Need:
  • Plywood Stakes Screws and screwdriver Measuring tape Saw Heat tape Hose foam covers Air compressor Antifreeze Duct tape Tire covers
  • Plywood
  • Stakes
  • Screws and screwdriver
  • Measuring tape
  • Saw
  • Heat tape
  • Hose foam covers
  • Air compressor
  • Antifreeze
  • Duct tape
  • Tire covers
Step 1
Skirt your RV. Note the area underneath your RV. In the summer months this open space provides additional ventilation and also offers some storage capacity. In the winter, however, it allows freezing rain, snow and cold air to access your rig. Your best choice is to have a skirt custom made from truck vinyl. This ensures that no nooks and crannies allow for snow or freezing rain to get under your RV.
In a pinch, you can make your own RV skirt from plywood. Measure the gap between the ground and the floor of the RV, cut the plywood sheets to fit, and then connect them to stakes you put into the ground at three-foot intervals. This keeps your makeshift skirting in place and allows you easy access underneath the RV if needed.
Step 2
Protect the waterline. Winterize the waterline that goes from your RV to the spigot. Failure to do so results in a frozen waterline that may burst and require replacement. Commercially available heat tape provides a low current that counteracts the formation of ice inside the hose. Wrap the heat tape tightly around the waterline and then cover the heat tape and waterline with a foam exterior for that extra bit of protection.
Step 3
Winterize the sewer line. Pack foam around your sewer line. This prevents the gray water and fecal matter from freezing in the hose and causing an unpleasant backup of waste into your RV's sewage tank.

Winterize an RV in Storage

Step 1
Drain all tanks. Open the valves to the fresh water tank and also the gray water tank. Empty out the sewage tank and flush it out with a hose. Drain the water heater as well and---prior to rolling up your freshwater and sewage hoses---ensure that there is no water trapped inside them. Blow out the water lines with an air compressor. This provides the most assurance that there will be no standing water left over the winter.
Step 2
Pour antifreeze down the drains. Pour a small amount of antifreeze into each drain. Over the winter, this prevents any trapped water from expanding and bursting your waterlines.
Step 3
Cover all vents. Close all the vents that offer a way into your RV. If you store the rig for the winter, there is a good chance that it will be exposed to animals looking for a warm spot to hibernate. Cover up the vents with plastic caps or just a few layers of duct tape to prevent them from entering.
Step 4
Cover the tires. Place tire covers over any exposed rubber. Buy them at a camping supply store. This prevents the exposure of the material to the sunshine and the winter cold, thereby prolonging the useful life of the costly RV tires.

Tips & Warnings

Do not cut corners when winterizing. Remember that an RV is a costly investment, and failure to properly protect it from the elements results in expensive repair costs and possibly a loss of enjoyment during spring travel season.

Article Written By Sylvia Cochran

Based in the Los Angeles area, Sylvia Cochran is a seasoned freelance writer focusing on home and garden, travel and parenting articles. Her work has appeared in "Families Online Magazine" and assorted print and Internet publications.

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