DIY: Winterize Your RV

If you are like the majority of RV owners who don’t use their rigs during the winter months, you will need to properly ‘winterize’ your RV in order to make sure it rides out the cold weather with ease. If you fail to winterize your rig and the weather takes a toll from November through February, you might find that the RV has suffered serious damage when spring rolls around. Fortunately, winterizing your RV is not particularly difficult or expensive, but it does require a good plan and timely execution. If you wait too long to start the winterizing process, you might not be able to complete it before it’s too late.

diy-winterize-rvWater, Water, Water

The biggest concern inside of your RV as far as winter is concerned is water. If you leave even a little bit of water in the system inside your RV during the winter months, you could come back to find serious damage in the form of split pipes and more. It doesn’t take much water to cause a problem when the temperatures drop below freezing. Unless you want to face an expensive repair bill before you can get your RV back up and running, you will take care to eliminate water from the system before winter settles in.

So, the first step in the winterizing process is to completely drain the plumbing system. The best way to complete this task will depend on your specific RV, so consult with your owner’s manual and even consider asking at the dealership if you are not sure how to proceed. Making a mistake during this process can be expensive, so only get down to work once you are confident you know exactly what you are doing.

Protect Your Tires

RV tires are expensive, so you certainly don’t want to have to go shopping for a new set when spring arrives. If you allow the entire weight of your RV to sit on the tires throughout the winter, they are very likely to develop flat spots where they are resting. Avoid that outcome by using leveling jacks (if you have them) to take the load off of the tires. Also, do your best to park the RV on a paved or concrete surface as opposed to something soft like gravel or dirt. When spring comes along and the ground thaws, you might find your RV sinking into the ground if it isn’t on concrete or pavement.

Motorhome Engine

If you have a motorhome, you need to concern yourself with the engine as well. To protect it during the cold winter, fill up the gas tank and add a fuel stabilizer that will help protect the inner workings while sitting idle all winter. Also, make sure all other fluids are topped off heading into winter, including oil and brake fluid.

Take Everything Out!

One of the best things you can do in terms of winterizing is simply to take everything out of the RV. Even if you have done a good job of protecting the rig for winter, it is still going to be cold in the cabin if you live somewhere with a chilly winter climate. Take all food and drinks out of the RV, and remove any clothes or linens that may be in there as well.

Close It Up

When all other preparations have been made, the last thing you need to do is close it up securely. Make sure the roof vents are closed, the windows are shut, and the seals are seated correctly. Lock the door or doors, and cover with an RV cover or park under a shelter. Your RV should be ready to live through a harsh winter before coming out on the other side ready for duty.

  • We live on the west coast , damp rather than cold through the winter. So we use dry-z-air and a heater fan that we can set to come on when the temperature drops. We check the dry-z-air every two weeks and replace as needed. That keeps our trailer very well during the winter here.

  • I disagree with a couple of things here. Using levleling jacks to take the load off the tires is not good advice. They aren’t built to take that much weight. Secondly, an RV cover is simply an unnecessary expense. Plus the risk of trapping moisture from condensation in the spring could do more damage. I live in a pretty harsh and cold climate. I, not any of my winter storgge peers, cover their RV. Its never a problem.

  • No mention of air blowing lines or pumping RV antifreeze in water lines. Also, washing the RV before putting the cover on and putting dehumidifying tubs.

  • When we lived in the Seattle area years ago I watched the forecast for freezing temps. During freezing temps I made sure the propane tanks were full, lit the pilot light on the water heater, opened all the cabinets, and set the furnace as low as it would go. It usually took a couple of tanks of propane over the winter, but there was no flushing of the water lines or bad tasting water for the first couple of spring outings.