How To Winterize A Camper Or RV – 7 Simple Steps

Are you a new camper owner who isn’t quite sure how to prepare your rig for the winter chill? Look no further than this guide with 7 simple steps to winterize a camper or RV.

With these tips, getting ready for frost will be much easier for people of all skill levels, from new owners to experts. Enjoy the peace of mind of knowing your camper or RV is safe and sound when the cold weather arrives!

So, if you’re a beginner, here are 7 easy steps to winterizing your camper or RV.

1. Disconnect Batteries.

A disconnected RV Battery
Image Source: RV Talk

Lead-acid batteries should never be fully discharged. If you turn off your lights and water pump, static electricity may degrade your batteries.

Most RVs include a button to disconnect the batteries (like the one pictured above). If you don’t have a disconnect switch, unplug the batteries’ cables.

Also, if you keep your RV in a cold place, bring the batteries inside. If the batteries are below 30 °F, do not use or charge them.

On the other hand, lithium batteries can rest for months without damage. Baking soda and water may remove corrosion from lead-acid batteries. Excellent lead-acid batteries won’t require a trickle charger for cold-weather storage.

Lastly, unplug the travel trailer solar generator to avoid hot wires. In our set-up, I put a circuit breaker before the charge controller so it would be easy to turn off the solar power.

2. Disconnect Propane.

Propane tanks are a type of fuel tank that is commonly used in campers when preparing camping breakfasts. They are made up of a gas cylinder that holds the gas and is connected to your cooker and other appliances via a regulator.

Before winterizing your RV, it’s essential to disconnect the propane tank from any appliances and shut off the valve. So, you can stop any gas from getting into the RV and making things dangerous.

Also, it is vital to empty the propane tank and make sure it is completely dry before storing it for the winter.

3. Drain and clean waste water tanks.

Image Source: Travel Trail Sail

If you return to your travel trailer after a few months and find mold growing in the black tank, that would not be fun. Don’t stop the black tank flush until the water in the drain pipe is clean.

To clean the system, open the black tank valve and let the water run through it for 5 minutes. Close the valve and let the black-tack flush run for 5 minutes (about 1 minute for every 9 gallons of black-tack capacity). Next, flush the black tank by leaving the valve open for 5 minutes.

You can always stick a hose down your toilet if it doesn’t have a black tank flush. If something is stuck in the toilet, you can flush it to help break it up.

I’ve also heard of dumping a bag of ice down the toilet and driving around to let the ice splash and loosen anything that might be stuck to the walls. Even though it looks bad, it still works.

4. Drain the freshwater system.

A freshwater system on a camper or RV is a system that provides clean, drinkable water to the vehicle. This system includes tanks for holding the water, hoses, pumps for moving it, and filters to keep it clean.

Before winterizing your camper or RV, drain the entire freshwater system. This is easily done by opening your camper’s main water valve and emptying all the tanks. Once the tanks are empty, close the valve.

5. Open all faucets and valves.

Most trailers and fifth wheels come with low-point valves. When you look under your rig, you should see three water lines coming down from above. Most of the time, hot and cold water lines are linked, but the other is kept separate (the freshwater tank). Don’t worry if you don’t know which line is which; we’re going to empty all three.

Before opening the valves, turn off your water pump and open all your faucets. This takes some of the pressure off the pipes and makes it easier for them to drain.

Suppose you have a bucket nearby and don’t want water to spill everywhere when you open the initial low-point valve. In that case, you can put the bucket under the valve and remove the cap. Also, check your fresh water tank’s level to see if it has more water than your bucket can hold.

6. Pour antifreeze into each drain and toilet.

Image Source: Mortons on the Move

Antifreeze is a liquid that keeps the pipes in your RV or camper from freezing and also keeps them from sticking. It is vital to use antifreeze that is safe for RVs for this process since regular antifreeze for cars has poisonous chemicals.

Here’s how you do it: Find the water pump on your RV, usually near where you fill the water tanks, and connect it to the antifreeze.

Then, fill the RV with antifreeze before going on a trip. It may take some time to pour all the fluid through, but doing so will keep the pipes and tanks from freezing. One way to check for pink antifreeze is to open a faucet in the room farthest from the water pump and wait for the water to flow.

Next, do the same thing with the other sinks, the shower, and the toilet until the antifreeze is in every drain in your RV. Now you can turn off the faucets and stop pouring antifreeze through them.

The P-traps are the most challenging places to get to in your RV, so ensure you use enough antifreeze there. You can find P-traps in your sinks, showers, and toilets. To prepare the RV’s plumbing for winter, add more gallons of antifreeze to these P-traps.

7. Park the Camper

Image Source: Rv and Van

Now that your camper is ready for hibernation, you should park it somewhere safe. Rubber roofs and seals are susceptible to damage from snow and ice.

Keep your travel trailer out of the elements by parking it somewhere with protection, even if it’s only a roof. If you can’t keep your travel trailer in a covered area and wintry weather is in the forecast, you may want to invest in a cover. A cover will provide an extra layer of defense from the harsh winter elements for your RV.

Tilt your trailer slightly from front to back and/or side to side to prevent water, ice, and snow from pooling. Then, put down your levelers to eliminate the ramp they create for the rats to enter.

Next, place wooden planks under the wheels and leveling jacks to prevent your RV from sinking into the mud when the snow melts if it is kept on grass. Lastly, protect your tires and your tongue jack by using covers.

FAQs

What are the benefits of winterizing my camper?

Winterizing your camper or RV will provide you with several benefits. It will help to protect the pipes and tanks in your camper from freezing and extend the life of your RV by preventing rust and corrosion inside the pipes. Also, it will keep water from pooling around the outside of your camper and rodents from entering the camper through any holes or vents.

How do I know if my camper is properly winterized?

Your camper is winterized correctly if you have emptied the tanks, drained all the water from the pipes and faucets, added RV-safe antifreeze to every drain and toilet, and securely stored the camper and accessories in a covered area or under a cover.

What is RV-safe antifreeze?

RV-safe antifreeze is a unique formulation of antifreeze explicitly designed for RVs and campers. It is safe to use in RVs and campers because it doesn’t have any harmful chemicals like regular antifreeze, which does.

What happens if I don’t winterize my camper?

If you don’t winterize your camper, you risk the pipes and tanks freezing, which can cause significant damage to your RV. You also risk rust and corrosion due to moisture in the pipes, tanks, and rodents entering your RV through any holes or vents.

Summary 

Winterizing your camper or RV can be daunting for new camper owners. Still, with the proper knowledge and preparation, it can be done in seven simple steps. Make sure to disconnect batteries, empty tanks, use RV-safe antifreeze, and park your camper someplace safe to protect it from the cold winter elements.

So follow the steps above to prepare your camper for winter and enjoy your next camping trip without worrying about freezing temperatures. Happy travels!

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