How to Winterize Your RV for this Holiday Season

The seasons are changing, the weather is getting colder, and the holidays are approaching. If you own an RV, you should winterize your vehicle to help protect it from damage. Without winterization, you could have frozen pipes, leaks, or other issues. Here’s how to winterize your RV for this holiday season.

Gather the Materials You Need

You’ll need two to three gallons of non-toxic RV or marine antifreeze, which is also called propylene glycol, and some simple tools to remove drain plugs. You’ll also need a water pump converter kit or some basic tubing to transfer the antifreeze to your system. Some RVs already have a water heater bypass kit, a tank cleaning wand, and a flushing system. With others, you’ll need to buy and install these items. A compressed air adapter and compressed air can be useful as well.

Remove Water Filters

Before using antifreeze, make sure to remove any inline water filters, store them, and replace any expired filters. That way, your water filters will be ready for you to install and start using again in spring.

Drain and Flush Black and Gray Tanks

Drain and flush your RV’s black and gray water holding tanks. You may need to use a dump station or connect them to your campground sewer hookup. Leave the hose connected for a while to make sure that everything drains out. Then, flush both tanks. If your RV doesn’t have a flushing system, you can clean the tanks with an external flushing system and a cleaning wand. When you finish, leave the gray water valve open. 

Use Compressed Air

Compressed air can help your RV’s plumbing drain faster by pushing water out of the pipes. Screw your compressed air adapter into the freshwater inlet and apply compressed air. Keep the pressure less than 20 pounds per square inch. 

Open each faucet to let the compressed air move the water out of the plumbing lines, and remove the drain plugs. Remember to also open the shower and toilet. You can leave your RV’s water pump on during some of this process to help the water drain faster. Turn off your water pump when the water pressure goes down to prevent damage from leaving it running without water.

Drain the Water Heater

To drain your hot water heater, remove its drain plug. Make sure you turn it off and let the water cool before you start draining it. After the water finishes draining, replace the drain plug and remove the compressed air and compressed air adapter. Then, close the water heater bypass valve. You may need a separate water heater bypass kit to make sure that the water heater doesn’t fill with antifreeze. RV antifreeze isn’t harmful, but filling your water heater with it would waste several gallons.

Add Antifreeze

After the water drains, close all faucets and replace your RV’s drain plugs. Then, install your water pump converter kit or tubing to let your RV pump antifreeze into its system. If you don’t want to install a new device, you can disconnect one of your RV’s water intake lines and place it in the jug of antifreeze. You may need to connect some extra tubing to the water intake line.

Turn on the cold-water faucet closest to the water pump, and wait until you see pink antifreeze coming out. Then, turn the hot water faucet on until antifreeze comes out. Repeat this process with all your sinks until antifreeze flows out of all your hot and cold taps. You may need to replace your jug of antifreeze if you use it all. Flush the toilet until you also see antifreeze there, and turn on your shower until antifreeze comes out. Flushing the toilet sends some of the antifreeze into the black water holding tank.

If you have an outdoor shower, remember to turn it on until antifreeze appears there as well. To make sure that antifreeze reaches all your RV’s plumbing lines and the gray tank, pour a cup of antifreeze down the drain in each sink and into the toilet.

Check Your Owner’s Manual

If you have an ice maker or a washing machine in your RV, consult your owner’s manual for instructions on winterizing this equipment. You may need to winterize other systems that water flows through as well, such as hot water floor heating. When you finish, remove the water line from the jug of antifreeze and reattach it. 

Prevent Pests 

Bugs or mice can cause expensive damage, and preventing pests helps protect your RV. Remove all food, and spray anti-rodent foam insulation into any spaces where rodents could go. Set ant and roach traps, and put peppermint packets or granules in areas that contained food or garbage.

Winterize Your RV’s Engine, Power Supply, and Electronics

Preparing the engine, power supply, and electronics of your RV for winter is important as well. Check the oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and winter-ready wiper fluid, and replace any low fluids. Add fuel stabilizer to extend the length of time that fuel can stay in storage, and fill the fuel tank to remove moist air. 

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for topping off the fluids in your RV’s batteries, and make sure that all batteries are fully charged. Disconnect the batteries, and make sure to store them in a warm, dry place. In warmer climates, you can disconnect the batteries and leave them in the RV. Change your RV’s main circuit breaker to the off position and disconnect it from shore power. Remove electronics such as televisions and batteries in devices such as clocks and remotes. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for on-board generator cold storage. 

Winterizing Your RV Protects It From Cold Weather

In Missoula, Montana, the temperature often goes below freezing in winter. Winterizing your RV can prevent costly damage, but it’s a complicated process. Contact us at Bretz RV & Marine for help with preparing your RV for winter. Our friendly, professional service team will help make sure your RV stays safe in winter. We can also help you choose a new RV.

Runs Great! by Nate Grigg is licensed with CC BY 2.0  

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