Tips and Tricks For How To Winterize An RV Properly

parked RV trailers during winter

The weather is starting to turn from chilly nights to just plain freezing. You can tell winter is just around the corner. It's time for you to start thinking about how to winterize an RV.
It's something that most of us have to do each year. There are a handful of people that never see freezing temperatures. However, the majority of RV owners must winterize and know how to do it properly.

At first, it may seem like a hassle to learn how to winterize an RV. Once you get the hang of it, you will feel more confident each time.

How to Winterize an RV: Should You Learn?

parked RVs covered in snow

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Most people that own an RV will go through the process of winterizing. It is a smart idea to protect your RV from the outside elements. It also helps protect from pests that could wreak havoc inside during the winter.

Where do you live?

If you are in an area that never sees snow, ice, or freezing temperatures, you might not need to winterize your RV. However, you may want to use a rodent killer or another precaution against unwanted guests.

How much time do you spend using your RV?

There are a lot of people out there that opt to live full-time in their RV. If you are parking your RV for the winter somewhere and living in it, there are some things you can do to prepare for winter.

The main thing you need to remember is to keep an eye on your propane levels. If propane is your primary heating source, you don't want to run out!

The odds are if you live in your RV full-time you won't need to winterize your RV fully. If you are going to use hookups for water, make sure you insulate your pipes to keep them from freezing.

You will want to put antifreeze in your grey and black tank to keep that from freezing. Pour the antifreeze down your drains and flush it down the toilet. Also, avoid using your freshwater tank if possible.

You may also want to purchase an RV skirt. It will help block some of the wind and keep snow from getting under your RV. They come in a lot of different materials and sizes.

Do you store your RV?

If you plan on storing an RV for an extended time, you need to winterize it. It's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to storing your RV. Winter can sneak up pretty fast, and it's better to prepare.

Here comes the broken record, but rodents will make themselves at home in an RV. Especially in one that is sitting in storage and not being used.

When Should You Begin Winterizing the RV?

The best time to winterize your RV is to do it when the temperature drops to 32 degrees Fahrenheit consistently. If you plan on taking your RV out during the winter, it's still a good idea to winterize your RV.

It's safer to go ahead and protect your RV now and prevent the freezing of your pipes. The air from winter can blow directly under your RV and cause pipes to freeze faster, especially if your RV sits high off the ground.

Another good time to winterize is when you are done using it for the season. A lot of people enjoy camping in the fall. When the weather starts to get too cold for camping, they winterize their RV for the year.

​How Long Does It Take to Winterize Your RV?

The amount of time it takes to winterize your RV will depend on how much you are doing. If you are only winterizing your water system, it could take around an hour or less to complete that process. The more you do something, the less time it will take to complete.

If you decide to do everything in one day, it could take half a day to complete. It will take a lot more time to clean up the inside and store/remove anything that might need attention. It will also take some time to put an RV cover on if you have chosen to use one.

How To Winterize An RV: What Does It Protect From?

When you winterize your RV, you are protecting it from several things.

  • Frozen water lines
  • Protecting your tires
  • Keeping your battery from dying
  • Unwanted pests


Before you start winterizing, you will want to gather the needed supplies.

  • Nontoxic RV Antifreeze
  • RV Water heater bypass kit
  • Pump converter winterizing kit
  • Tire blocks
  • Tire covers
  • RV cover
  • Tongue jack cover
  • Rodent/pest repellent
  • Dryer sheets
  • Plastic containers
  • Dri-Z-Air or Damp Rid

Step By Step Process How To Winterize An RV

The most important part of winterizing your RV is to protect your pipes and tanks. You should always start by reading your RV owner's manual. Reading the owner's manual will help you to understand your specific RV and where everything is located within your RV.
Always use non-toxic RV antifreeze for winterizing. It is the only antifreeze you should ever use in your RV.


Pristine tanks and filters are essential

You are going to want to take off any water filters you may have on your sinks -- you know, if you want them to stay lovely.

The type of attachable filters that people use to help make their drinking water taste better. Let's face it: not all water is drinkable right out of the sink!

The next part of this step is to drain all of your tanks. You will want to drain your fresh water holding tank if there is water in the tank. Also, make sure you drain your black and gray tanks to remove all of the liquids.


​The dryer the pipes, the better

Open all of your faucets in the kitchen and bathroom to drain any extra water that might be sitting in the pipes.

Make sure you also check your outside shower if that is something that you have used to remove any water from that system.


​Now, about that water heater

Most RVs come with this fully equipped in their RV. If you don't have one and you winterize your RV without bypassing the water heater, the antifreeze will go into your water heater. It will waste a lot of antifreeze this way.

They do make kits that you can purchase and install to help avoid this. If you aren't comfortable with installing it yourself, you can take it to a local RV dealership, and they should be able to help you.

Another great tool out there is YouTube. There are tons of videos that can help walk you through the process step by step.


​Time for some installation

You will want to install the water pump converter kit to your water system to help get the antifreeze into the RV's pipes.


​Watch the system work

It's time to turn on the water pump! It will pressurize the water system and pump the antifreeze throughout the pipes. Start opening your faucets slowly to move the antifreeze through the pipes.

You will want to start with the faucet closest to your water pump and work your way to the furthest.

Keep the valves open until you see the pink antifreeze coming out. You can then turn that faucet off and move on to the next one. Repeat this process until you have done this will all of your faucets.

Don't forget to turn on your outside shower if your RV is equipped with one.


​The drains and toilet need attention too

Pour a cap full of antifreeze down each drain. Flush the toilet until you see the pink antifreeze in the water coming into the toilet. Pour some antifreeze down the toilet.

Flush the toilet again to get the antifreeze into the black tank. Doing this will help keep any remaining water in the tank from freezing.


​Do you have a washing machine or ice maker?

This step is going to be one that you want to read your owner's manual before starting. Different brands will have different steps to take to winterize them.

What Else Should You Do To Winterize Your RV?

When you are done winterizing your pipes, there are a few more things outside that you should do to help protect your RV.

It's time to disconnect

Cold weather can be harsh on your battery. Some RVs come with a quick battery disconnect. If yours doesn't have that, you can still remove your battery on your own and store it somewhere dry.

Take care of your tires

Tire care is an important part of winterizing an RV. The first thing you are going to want to do is to check your tires. Inspect them for wear and check the pressure.
Don't forget to check your spare tire as well.

Park your RV tires on top of some barrier to keep them directly off of the ground. You can use cardboard, wood, or anything else that is suitable for parking on top of. If you use wood, make sure the wood is wider than your tire to avoid your tire from hanging over the side of the wood.

The sun can get very intense even in the winter. Tire covers help protect your tires from getting blasted by the sun's rays.

Another good tip is to move your tires around during the winter. You can do this a couple of times. It will help keep your tires from sitting in one spot all winter long.

Protect the outside of your RV

They make covers for RVs of all shapes and sizes. These come in different materials and can be used to help protect your RV from snow and ice. They are also good to use for any long term storage where the elements can affect your RV.

Do you have an electric tongue jack?

If you have an electric tongue jack equipped on your RV, you will want to get a cover for it. The cover will help protect the mechanics of the electric tongue jack. You do not want ice and snow getting into your electric tongue jack.

How To Winterize An RV On The Inside

The outside isn't the only area of the RV that needs to winterized. Pests can be a massive issue inside your RV in the winter. There is nothing more frustrating than finding out that you have had an unwanted guest making themselves at home in your RV all winter.

There are things you can do to keep them from making your home away from home their home. Placing rodent repellent inside can help keep rodents out of your RV. Dryer sheets can be another solution to help keep insects and rodents out.

Moisture is another issue that some people find sneaks into their RV in the winter. The last thing you want to find come Spring is mold growing on your walls! It should be on your list when you think about how to winterize an RV.

Dri-Z-Air or Damp Rid can be used to help mold from forming. It acts as a natural humidifier.

Kitchen and living area

The first thing you should do in the kitchen area, take all of the food out of the RV. Empty your pantry and refrigerator.

Pests love eating anything they can find. Your pantry is the perfect place to find food. Mice can chew through wood, and they will get to a food source.

Make sure you take in any paper towels or napkins you have laying around. Pests will use those to make nests somewhere inside your RV.

A simple plastic tote of some kind to put your towels in can keep them from getting chewed on during winter. Some people take the tote into the house for added protection from pests.

Check the bathroom

The same rule for towels goes for the bathroom as well. If you can store them in a tote within the RV, that will help keep them from becoming a bed for a rodent.

Don't leave toilet paper in your bathroom either. The pests will use that to make a nest as well.

Don't forget the bedroom

When you learn how to winterize an RV, make sure you remember your bedroom! And don't leave bed sheets on your bed. Always take them inside or place them inside a plastic tote. The same goes for your pillows.

Another suggestion is to make sure you don't leave any clothes in your camper unless they are in a protected area.

How To Winterize An RV: Bring On The Cold!

Now that you know how to winterize an RV and it is ready for winter, it's time to sit back relax! Or, if you are like most, you are counting down the days until your first trip out in the Spring!

Do you use any of these suggestions for how to winterize an RV? Is there anything that you do that's not on the list above? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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