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Winterizing Your RV

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Fall is upon us and with the cooler air comes a big decision for campers and RVers alike. It is the time of the year to decide if camping season is over, or if there are still a few more trips left in the year.

Fall and winter camping isn’t for everyone and if this includes you, it may be time to begin closing your RV. Properly winterizing your vehicle is extremely important and when it’s done right, it can save you some hefty repair bills from damaging results of winter. Here is a full in-depth guide to storing your RV and making sure that all the proper precautions are taken.

Before you begin the winterizing process, there are a few items that you should have. These include:

  • Non-toxic RV antifreeze (the amount will depend on the length of your plumbing lines. Two to three gallons should work well)
  • A water heater by-pass kit (if one is not already installed)
  • A tank wand
  • A water pump converter kit
  • Basic hand tools (used to remove and install drain plugs)

Note: Always make sure you are following guidelines that may or may not be detailed in your RV owner’s manual.

Winterize your Water System

To avoid your water system freezing, and your pipes potentially cracking, make sure that your water system is completely winterized. Each RV should come complete with steps instructing owners how to properly winterize this system. Check the owner’s manual to ensure. If your RV has additional water systems such as washing machines and dishwashers, there will be a few more winterization steps.

Hand on valve

Most units follow a similar set of steps. Make sure that the water heater is shut off and that pipes are drained and flushed. Open all faucets while draining to make sure that they are completely emptied. Next, fill the system with antifreeze and ensure that it is poured into all drains.

Using a bypass kit for your water heater will help prep your water system for antifreeze and help you save gallons of antifreeze.

Remove Batteries

Cold winters can be detrimental to RV batteries. Especially Canadian winters. To remove batteries from your RV, first turn off the disconnect and breaker switches. Next, disconnect your batteries, removing the negative cable first.

The most important thing to remember when storing a fully-charged single battery is to keep them in a warm and dry spot. Do not store them on a concrete floor as concrete will slowly drain the power from the battery.

If you have a larger vehicle with multiple batteries, there should be information on how to winterize your batteries within the owner’s manual. Usually with these types of batteries it is better to leave them installed throughout the winter with the negative battery cable still disconnected. Periodically throughout the winter it is important to check the battery levels, and recharge them when needed.

Man doing maintenance on his RV

Replace AC Filters

Make sure that you clean your air conditioning filters regularly in order to maintain it to its full capacity. At the end of the season, your filters will most definitely be worn out. Take them out and wash them thoroughly with warm water. If the filters have dust on them then it can reduce the effectiveness of the Air Conditioner and that is not something you want to deal with when the summer starts. Leave your AC clean and dry so that there will be no trouble when it’s time to open up again.

Clean Exterior

In order to prepare your RV for the cold winter, you must protect the exterior with a quality wax or protectant formula that will protect against cracks or extreme temperatures. Before you do this, make sure your vehicle is washed thoroughly, and dried, so that it will look much better by the time you are ready to take it out again.

Cleaning exterior of an RV

Next, wash and dry the awning. The awning of your trailer may be one of the dirtier parts of the exterior. This is because of heavy use, rainfall, bird feces, and possible mold. It should be a priority to wash your awning periodically regardless, and never roll it up when it is wet. This will form mold and it will be much harder to remove. You want your awning to roll out as good as new when RV season returns!

Clean Interior

Since your RV will not be touched or driven for months, it’s important to make sure you leave it extremely clean. This way you are protecting your vehicle from any critters or possible mold. It is also important to remove clothing, blankets, and of course any leftover food or beverages. This way opening your RV will be an exciting experience, rather than one you are dreading.


Another important step to take while winterizing your RV is to have it covered and parked on a dry surface. RV covers can be purchased at RV dealerships or select department stores. With a cover, your RVs exterior will be protected from all snow or rain if it is stored outside. Look for a cover that is made of a breathable material so that way moisture will be less likely to build
up underneath.