If you want to know how to winterize an RV the right way then keep learn from our mistakes. Our first winter with an RV was no problem. We drained all the water, blew out the lines and put the fifth wheel in storage. When we pulled our rig out in the spring everything was fine.
Fast forward to year two as an RV owner, and add a travel trailer to the mix. We took the same steps with both rigs by training all the water from the tanks and lines, blowing them out, and parking in storage, but this year there was a big problem…
We had the hot water on the outdoor shower break on the fifth wheel, as well as the quick connect for the outdoor shower on the travel trailer.
Here is a step by step list of how to properly winterize your RV, and avoid having the same problems we did.
Steps to Winterize Your RV
- Remove Water Filters – The first step to winterize your RV is to remove the water filters. Filters get damaged when water freezes inside of them, and they are also easily damaged by RV antifreeze. DO NOT confuse RV winterizing antifreeze with the chemicals you put in your tow vehicle engine. They are NOT the same. RV winterizing antifreeze will be non-toxic while your vehicle’s antifreeze is deadly toxic.
- Drain Everything – Step two when properly winterizing your RV is to drain everything. Start with your black and gray tanks. While those are draining your water heater can cool back down to a normal temperature since it will be shut off. The water heater gets drained next, but only once it is cool. You drain the water heater by opening the valves underneath it, and unscrewing the anode rod. The last item to drain is the water lines. To do this you open up both the hot and cold faucets throughout your RV. This gets all the water in the lines to drain properly.
- Clean Your Tanks – I highly recommend thoroughly cleaning your black tank. It’s easy, and all it takes is a black tank cleaning wand (check price on Amazon). The black tank is the most likely to have something sticking somewhere and you don’t want anything trapping moisture and freezing.
- Add Winterizing Fluids – This is a very important step to protect your RV. It is one I previously neglected. I have always been cautious about adding anything to our water system. After expensive repairs, and countless hours of research and testing, I think we found the safest RV antifreeze. Whenever you add antifreeze to your RV make sure you bypass any water filtration and water heater systems. While these chemicals may be non-toxic and safe in your water lines, they can be corrosive to filters and heaters.
- Add an RV Cover (If Storing Outdoors) – You can read up on RV covers here, but I’ll also quickly explain why you need one. UV damage to your RV seals is no joke. The sun will dry and crack your seals and your RV will get water damage inside. If you will be storing your camper outdoors, and won’t have regular daily access to it, you simply must add a cover. When your RV is in use its easy to check the seals and notice problems early before they get bad. When your RV is in storage for 3-6 months the damage can spread and be extensive.