How to Winterize Your RV

Man winterizing his RV for the winter season

Knowing how to winterize your RV correctly is crucial to prolonging the lifespan of your recreational vehicle. The right precautionary measures will save your pipes from bursting and prevent other potential costly repairs. Whether you are storing your RV outside during the winter or in an RV carport, taking the time to winterize now during the fall will save you time and money next season.

Are you considering adding a new RV outdoor storage option to your winterization process? See our top five questions to ask about RV storage when comparing your options.

What You’ll Need Before You Get Started

If this is your first year winterizing your RV, you may need a few tools and materials before you get started. You’ll want to make sure you have the right hand tools to remove drain plugs, as well as take the time to review your owner’s manual for any special care your RV may require.

You will need non-toxic RV antifreeze, which is different than the antifreeze you put in your personal vehicle. Refer to your owner’s manual or discuss with your local RV store to determine how much antifreeze you will need. You will also need a wand for cleaning out the holding tanks if your RV does not have a built-in tank flushing system.

Depending on the setup in your RV, you may need two kits to assist in winterizing your recreational vehicle. The water heater bypass kit, if not already installed, will save you from wasting antifreeze. The water pump converter kit, or tubing if you don’t want to buy the converter kit, will assist when adding the antifreeze to your plumbing system.

Remove Water & Dry the Lines

Just like in your home, if the pipes freeze in your RV, they could burst and become a costly repair. Because of this, you must make sure to remove water and dry the lines out to avoid any potential damage over the winter.

Remove and Bypass Water Filters

Make sure you remove the water filters before adding any winterization chemicals. The water filters in your RV may need replacing, but more importantly, the chemicals used to winterize your RV can damage any filters left in the water lines.

Drain the Holding Tank

Once you’ve removed the water filters, it’s time to drain the freshwater holding tank. At this point, only drain the freshwater holding tank and not the hot water heater.

Drain Black and Grey Water Tanks

Next, you need to drain the black and grey water tanks. Review your local ordinances to determine what water you can dump from your RV at home. You may not be able to drain this water at home and may need to go to an RV park.

If your tanks do not have the built-in tank flushing system, you will need to use your wand and clean out the holding tanks.

Drain Water Heater

Do not attempt to drain your water heater while it’s still hot or under pressure. Wait until the temperature has lowered, and the pressure is not as high. Once your water heater is cooled off, use your hand tools to remove the drain plug and open the pressure relief valve.

Open All Water Lines

Before you add any antifreeze, you have to make sure your lines are all open and cleared. Open all faucets, showers (including your outdoor shower if you have one), and flush the toilet to help remove any remaining water. 

Blowout Remaining Water with Compressed Air

If you have access to an air compressor, use it to blow out the remaining water in the lines. You want to remove as much water as you can before adding in the antifreeze, so you don’t dilute your antifreeze accidentally.

Add Antifreeze to Your Plumbing

Do not add any antifreeze until all faucets and shower lines are closed, and all caps replaced. Don’t forget to close a water line and waste antifreeze after you have started it through your plumbing system. You will pick up tricks on how to winterize your RV with each passing year.

Bypass Water Heater (If Possible)

If your RV doesn’t already have a bypass water heater kit installed, install one before adding in the antifreeze. This will save you from wasting many gallons of antifreeze.

Attach Antifreeze

Either install your water pump converter kit or detach the hose from the inlet side of your water pump and attach a piece of tubing. Place the tubing into your source of antifreeze. Now you are ready to start the antifreeze going through your plumbing system.

Turn on Pump and Pull Antifreeze Through System

Once you turn on the water pump and it pressurizes, open each hot water line (faucets and showers) until you see the antifreeze coming through. Turn the water line off after you see antifreeze, and repeat the process with the cold water lines. Do not forget to flush the toilet and run antifreeze through any outdoor shower or faucet.

Find your city water inlet and remove the screen, then use a small screwdriver to push in on the valve until antifreeze starts to come out. You can also pour antifreeze down each sink drain and the toilet to ensure proper winterization. When finished, close all the faucets, showers, and any outdoor lines.

Finishing Touches

Your plumbing system shouldn’t be the only thing you winterize on your RV. Knowing how to winterize your RV includes several other key steps.

Clean Out RV

It’s time to clean everything out of your RV that doesn’t need to be there. Remove any food to avoid spoilage and pests, and take anything valuable inside for safekeeping.

Plug All Holes

While your RV is sitting dormant outside, critters aren’t. Patch any holes and cover any vents with mesh guards to prevent any rodents, birds, or insects from entering your RV and calling it home.

Take Weight Off the Tires

The tires on your RV will thank you for putting your RV on blocks and taking the weight off of them. Relieving this pressure can help increase the longevity of your RV’s tires and save you money in the long run.

Store in Weatherproof Building (If Possible)

RV storage plays an important role in preventing damage from the winter elements. If you can’t add an RV carport or keep your RV in a garage, consider purchasing an RV cover that is breathable but will protect from winter elements.

Do You Need Better Storage for Your RV? Check Out Our RV Options

Now that you know how to winterize your RV, do you need better outdoor storage for your recreational vehicle? Newmart Builders has many customizable metal storage options to protect your RV from the elements. We craft our storage buildings from American-made galvanized steel framing and steel sheeting to ensure the highest quality protection for your recreational vehicle.

Get in touch with us today to discuss how Newmart Builders can build the perfect outdoor storage option for your RV!