The weather’s been pretty warm for the past couple days, but the approach of Thanksgiving means the camping season is almost over and it’s about time to start packing up your RV for the winter. As you probably know, this involves much more than just throwing a cover over your unit and calling it a day. RV winterization is probably one of the most important RV maintenance practices out there. Fortunately, it’s easy enough to do on your own!
If you’ve been following our blog you may remember that we already published a series on RV winterization, including this post on winterizing travel trailers, this one about winterizing pop-ups and even winterizing motor homes! We’re not going to republish them here (though we encourage you to go check them out), but we will cover the basics to give you an idea of what you should be doing!
How to Winterize Your RV: An Overview
RV winterization consists of two key focus areas – making sure the water system is winterized to prevent the pipes from bursting and taking care of the chassis, interior, propane system and refrigerator. RV winterization doesn’t require any complex skills or special equipment, so anyone can do it – especially if you follow the steps below! Remember – these are just the basics. Check out our previous blog posts for more specific information regarding your own RV.
Winterizing your RV water system
Winterizing your RV water system involves emptying all the water out of your system and using a special RV antifreeze to make sure the pipes are safe. Remember (this part is crucial) – when adding antifreeze to your water system, make sure it’s the PINK antifreeze and not the blue (pink antifreeze will be labeled RV and Marine Antifreeze). The difference? The pink antifreeze is safe to drink. Now, this doesn’t mean you should be offering pink antifreeze cosmos at your company Christmas party, but it does mean that if a little is left in your sink in the spring, it won’t hurt you if you accidentally get some in a glass or pot.
When adding antifreeze to your RV, fill the fresh water tank with a ½ antifreeze, ½ water solution. Make sure you fill the whole thing up – this will ensure that the onboard pump picks it up and pushes it through your pipes.
There’s an easy way to make sure the antifreeze gets through your whole system. Once you’ve got it in your fresh water tank, go to the farthest sink and flow water until antifreeze starts coming out. Then go to the next closest sink and do the same. Repeat this process until all the sinks are flowing antifreeze – this means that all the water is out and there’s no risk of your pipes freezing.
Note: if you have a large motorhome or travel trailer, your water tank may require a lot of antifreeze. If you prefer, you can just blow air through the lines until all the water escapes. This is pretty easy, requiring a couple fittings and an air hose – all things you can find at Beckley’s, of course! If you do use the blow out method, make sure you put a little antifreeze in all your drains to keep them from freezing.
Winterizing your RV chassis
There are a lot of different things you should check when winterizing your RV chassis:
Charge your batteries completely and remove them from your RV. Store them on wooden blocks in a warm, dry area – never on concrete.
Make sure your tires are protected from sunlight so they don’t suffer from dry rot (which is actually the number one reason they fail). At Beckley’s, we sell tire covers designed to keep your tires safe all winter long.
Turn of the propane system completely. Even if the only thing that stays on is the pilot light, this will eventually cause all the propane to burn out and eventually cause a propane leak. Make sure you turn off all propane appliances as well as the main valves.
Empty holding tanks completely, especially gray and black water tanks.
Have an oil change on your engine and generators and check your air filters.
Check your RV exterior for any damage that could let rain or snow into your unit.
Add protectant to your gas tanks to keep the gas from going bad. After you’ve added the protectant, make sure you run the motors to circulate it through the whole system.
Cover all vents to keep bees and other insects from invading your RV and building nests. Pay special attention to awnings, exterior refrigerator cavities and bathroom, fridge and furnace vents.
Winterizing the interior of your RV
Make sure there is NO WAY for rodents to get into your RV (trust us, they’ll try!). Seal up all openings in your unit and make sure the windows are closed. You don’t want to leave the bathroom vent or drivers wing window open. While you’re at it, make sure there’s no food in your RV to attract animals.
Open the fridge and freezer to prevent mold and mildew (you don’t want to ruin your $1,000 fridge!).
Pull all window shades to keep sunlight out. UV radiation can degrade upholstery if not blocked.
Got all that? Good! Now stop by Beckley’s for a quick inspection before you winterize your RV for the season!