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Storing Your RV for the Winter: RV Winterizing Checklist

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

How to prepare a motorhome for winter storage? Where to store your RV when not in use? Let's answer these questions and more.

RV cover

RV life looks different for different people. Some prefer to live in their rig full-time, while others want a more seasonal RVing experience. If you are one of the latter, you need to learn how to store your RV for the season so that it is ready to go when you want to go camping. Apart from taking care of your living quarters, it is also important to pay attention to base vehicle maintenance. If you're wondering 'how to winterize my RV?' then read on for a comprehensive answer to your question.



When Should I Winterize My RV

The answer to when should you winterize your RV depends on your local climate and when you plan to stop using your RV for the winter. As a general guideline, you should winterize your RV before temperatures drop below freezing. Here are some scenarios and recommendations:


  • If you won't be using your RV during the winter months, it's best to winterize it in late fall before the first freeze. This ensures that your RV's plumbing system is protected from freezing temperatures.

  • If you plan to use your RV in winter, you should still take precautions to protect your plumbing system. This might include using heated water hoses and tank heaters. You can winterize the RV's plumbing system if temperatures are expected to drop significantly below freezing during your trips.

  • Your geographical location plays a significant role. In areas with mild winters, you may not need to winterize your RV as early. However, in regions with harsh, prolonged winters, you should winterize well in advance.

  • It's generally safer to winterize your RV earlier rather than later. Freezing temperatures can cause costly damage to your plumbing system, so it's best to err on the side of caution.

  • Keep an eye on the weather forecast for your area. When you see temperatures near freezing in the forecast, it's a good time to start the winterization process.


How to Winterize Your RV

Winter is here! and you want to make sure your RV gets some well-deserved downtime. But if your want your rig to come out of its beauty sleep looking better than ever, you have to make sure you prep her (or him) right. Here are some tips on how to winterize an RV properly.


Choose the Right Storage

RVs need well-ventilated storage areas that should get enough air but no water leaks or moisture. If you're going to store your RV in your garage or parked in the driveway, make sure it is in a safe spot, away from trees with low-hanging branches and areas that get a lot of wind and snow. If you're parking your rig on the street, make sure you check the city codes first, many places restrict street parking. Storing an RV outside in winter can be challenging so make sure your RV is well prepped.


You can also rent storage spaces for your RV. These will range from fully covered RV storage garages to open RV parking spaces. The average cost of storing an RV will differ based on the type of storage you choose, the area you live in, and the size of your rig.


Deep Clean the RV Inside Out

Once you've found the perfect storage spot, it is time to prep the rig for storage. Start by deep cleaning both the exterior and interior of your RV. Give your rig a good wash with soap and water, remove any grime, grease, oil, or stains from the rig. Don't forget to wash the tires as well. Once you're done washing, give your rig a wax job to prevent any grease buildup during storage. Then do a thorough check of your RV exterior for any cracks or peels and seal the ones you find. You don't want any critters to get in while your rig sleeps.


Once the exterior is done, head over inside and start cleaning. Remove all traces of food from the rig, vacuum all surfaces and furniture. Clean every surface and remove soft furnishings (you can keep them inside your home or store all of them in one place inside the RV). Close all the blinds and oil any metal parts like hinges (making sure the oil doesn't get anywhere else).


Drain the RV Tank System

Any water that is still in your RV tanks can either freeze in winter or develop mold. Drain all your water tanks entirely before storing your RV for the season. For the freshwater and greywater system, do this by opening all the water outlets inside the RV including the shower. Let the tanks drain out completely. Make sure the pump is clear of the water as well. Once clean, make sure the pump's power is turned off.


Drain the black water tanks as well but make sure to do that onsite so that there are no hazards. It is recommended to leave the freshwater and the black water drain valves open during the winter so that any remaining water keeps leaking out. But make sure to cover the valves with mesh so that insects do not get in.


Maintain the RV Electrical System

If you're planning to store your RV for longer than a month, then it is a good idea to remove the battery and keep it in a cool dry place like your garage. Use the battery disconnect switch to power down all sources and then remove the battery from the RV. If you have a motorized RV then fill your fuel tank and add a fuel stabilizer to it. Run the engine and the generator of your rig for as long as it takes the stabilizer to run through the entire system before storing.


It is recommended that you run your generator for at least 2 hours each month so that there is no acid build-up in the engine oil. Make sure to change the oil and oil filter in your generator and engine before storage.


Take Care of the Tires

RVs can get really heavy so make sure you take any extra weight off the RV during storage to protect the tires. If you have a hydraulic leveling system fitted then jack up the tires so that there is no extra weight on them and they stay protected. Make sure you close all your RV slides. You can also use wheel chocks and put the rig in gear instead of using the handbrake. This will also prevent the brake from seizing up during winter.


It is recommended that you inflate your tires to the maximum when storing your RV and consider taking your rig out for a spin every few weeks to make sure the tires remain in good condition.


Critter and Mildew-Proof

Critters and small insects can usually make their way into your RV and make it their home for the winter. To prevent this make sure you cover every possible inlet. Cover all pipes and valves, cover your windows with RV window covers (don't forget to use a windshield cover as well), plug the vents, use a skylight insulator, and seal the cracks. You can also place mothballs in bowls around the inside your RV to deter any pests.


Cover your RV

Invest in a high-quality RV cover to make sure your RV stays safe during storage. Make sure the RV cover is made of a durable fabric and has vents to allow air to enter in, this will prevent mold and mildew. RV covers with foldable areas are great because you can easily access your rig without having to take the cover off.



How to Make Your Own RV Winterizing Kit

Creating your own RV winterizing kit can be a cost-effective and practical approach to protect your RV from the cold. Here's how to make your own winterization kit:


Materials You'll Need:

  1. RV Antifreeze: Purchase enough RV antifreeze to protect your plumbing system. You'll need several gallons, depending on your RV's size.

  2. Water Pump Conversion Kit: To pump antifreeze throughout the plumbing system, you may need a water pump conversion kit. This typically includes a hose and a fitting to connect to your RV's water pump.

  3. Air Compressor: An air compressor with a regulator valve is essential for blowing out your water lines before adding antifreeze.

  4. Air Hose and Fittings: Ensure you have a suitable air hose with fittings that can connect to your RV's city water inlet.

  5. Blow-Out Plug: A blow-out plug attaches to the city water inlet and allows you to connect the air compressor hose.

  6. Hand Tools: You may need various wrenches and pliers to disconnect water lines and access your water heater's bypass valve.


Using Your Winterization Kit:

  1. Drain the Water Heater: Winterizing RV water heater begins by turning it off and letting it cool. The next step to winterize RV water heater includes draining it according to your RV's instructions.

  2. Bypass the Water Heater: Locate the water heater bypass valve, typically near the water heater. You'll want to bypass the water heater to save on antifreeze and time.

  3. Disconnect Water Lines: Carefully disconnect water lines that supply your sinks, shower, and toilet. Use hand tools when necessary.

  4. Connect Air Compressor: Winterize RV with compressed air by attaching the blow-out plug to the city water inlet. Connect the air compressor hose to the blow-out plug.

  5. Blow Out Water Lines: With the air compressor set to a safe, low pressure (around 30 psi), blow out your RV's water lines. Start with the closest faucet and work your way to the farthest. This removes most of the water from the plumbing system.

  6. Prepare the Antifreeze: Follow the manufacturer's instructions for your RV antifreeze. You may need to dilute it with a small amount of water, depending on the brand.

  7. Connect the Water Pump Conversion Kit: If you have one, attach the water pump conversion kit to your RV's water pump. This allows you to pump antifreeze directly through the plumbing.

  8. Pump in Antifreeze: Turn on the water pump and begin pumping the antifreeze into your plumbing. Start with the faucet closest to the water pump and work your way to the farthest. Don't forget the toilet and any exterior water connections.

  9. Drain Traps: Open all faucets, including the shower and outside shower, to allow antifreeze into the drain traps.

  10. Finish Up: Make sure you've added antifreeze to every part of your plumbing system. Also, pour a little antifreeze down each drain to protect the P-traps.



RV Winterizing Checklist PDF

RV Winterization Checklist
.pdf
Download PDF • 550KB

The Last Word

Winterizing your rig is an important step in making sure your rig remains safe in storage. Regularly checking in on your rig while it is in storage can help keep it in mint condition. A winterized RV will need less maintenance when you're ready to take it out on the road again.



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