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If you own an RV, you are going to want to ensure that there is no damage caused to it due to freezing temperatures, but how long does it take to winterize?

This is a very important procedure to follow up with when winter starts rolling in, as a failure to do so can result in your pipes bursting. Although winterizing an RV does not take long, the amount of time that it does take will vary depending on how experienced you are with the process.

If you have winterized an RV before and are familiar with the steps, then it should not take you more than 45 minutes to get the job done. However, if you have never winterized an RV before, it could take you upwards of 2 to 3 hours (assuming you have all the necessary materials).

When purchasing an RV, one thing that many owners often overlook is the necessity of winterizing their vehicle. This is a process that involves draining all of the fluids from your RV, as keeping them in your vehicle over the winter can lead to some serious complications and potentially irreversible damage. This is particularly important if you live in a part of the country that gets severe winter temperatures that drop below freezing - given that this is when problems tend to occur. With that being said, if you live somewhere that has very mild winter weather - with temperatures staying in the high 30s (or more), then you can probably skip the process of winterization, as your RV will not be at risk of being damaged by the weather. However, if you are like most of us and live in a colder climate, then you are going to want to put in the time to winterize your RV properly, but how long it actually takes will be based on your level of expertise in the process. To help you understand this further, we are going to take a closer look at how long it takes to winterize an RV in more detail.

After extensively researching RV winterization, I have been able to gather enough information to determine how long the process takes. My experience has taught me that how long it takes to winterize an RV is considerably shorter for individuals who are well-versed in the specs of their vehicle and have done the job before.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

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Winterizing an RV: Time & Procedure

When it comes to looking after your RV, winterization is not something that most owners are looking forward to. This is one of the biggest chores that comes with maintaining your vehicle, but if you want your RV to last and stay in good condition, it is an absolute must. It is often the case that new RV owners forget to do this procedure at all. Overlooking winterizing an RV is a very common reason for vehicles to experience malfunctions and damage that could be so easily avoided.

There is nothing worse than gearing up for the summer season, packing your stuff, loading it in your RV, and embarking on an epic road trip only to find that your pipes have burst. This can not only ruin an entire trip but can also jeopardize the condition of your RV, which is a complete waste of money.

To prevent this from happening, you are going to want to follow the steps to properly winterize your RV. This is not a difficult or overly technical procedure but it certainly is a very necessary one for a lot of owners out there. Now, before you begin winterizing your vehicle, you are going to want to understand exactly what kind of RV you are working with. The process of winterizing an RV is virtually identical for every type of RV, but you will find that each RV has a different layout, which may require a slightly improvised approach.

The best way to ensure that you are winterizing your RV correctly and are not wasting time is to get your manual out and have a look over your vehicle’s components - especially any that have to deal with fluid systems. As you go through the process, have your manual handly as a reference guide. If you follow the steps correctly, then you should be able to have your RV winterized in as little as 45 min to an hour. Keep reading to learn more about how long it takes to winterize an RV.

Buying Supplies

Before you can begin winterizing your RV, you are going to need to buy all of the necessary supplies to start the process. If you are like most people you probably don’t have these things laying around the house, which means that you will have to head out and buy them.

In order to winterize your RV, you will need to buy non-toxic antifreeze. This is a non-toxic chemical that will help prevent any damage from occurring to your RV during the winter season. You should buy 3 gallons of the non-toxic antifreeze. However, if you have got a smaller RV, you might be able to get away with just 2 gallons.

Next, you will need a water pump converter kit, a cleaning wand, and some basic tools to remove the drain plugs on your RV. You may also need a water heater bypass kit. To confirm this you should check your manual and inspect your RV to see if it already has one installed. If it does, you do not need to buy a water heater bypass kit.

If you want to save time on winterizing your RV, we would recommend stocking up on non-toxic antifreeze to last you a few seasons. This will help you save time by not driving to the shop, as this can add upwards of an hour to the process.

Remove All Water Filters

To start winterizing your RV, you are first going to want to remove all of the water filters in your vehicle. Be sure to do this before you pour any antifreeze into anything. The reason for this is that antifreeze can actually be quite harmful to certain components of your RV.

So, to prevent any unnecessary damage to your RV, remove the water filters first. If you are unsure of where your water filters are, reference your manual, as all of the information will be in there.

Winterizing an RV also provides a great opportunity to conduct an annual inspection of your vehicle. While you are going through the process, you can take a look at your water filters to confirm that they are in good condition. If they happen to be past their prime, it could be a good time to change them.

Tank Draining

Draining your tanks is of the utmost importance to properly winterize your RV. The last thing that you want to deal with when spring comes along is burst pipes from your grey water fluid system.

In order to drain your tanks, you must go to a facility with a sewage hookup to dump your fluids. Given that you are dumping unsanitary fluids, you must ensure that you are disposing of them in an appropriate facility. You will find that RV service stations and RV campgrounds are good resources to utilize in this regard.

This should include all of the fluids from your grey, black, and freshwater tanks. To keep the process as fluid as possible, we recommend that you start with your freshwater first. If your RV has a flush system, then draining your tanks is going to be very straightforward. However, if your vehicle does not have one built-in, then you will need to get in there with your cleaning wand.

Water Heater & Drain Plugs

You will also want to drain all of the water from your water heater. Before you begin doing this, make sure that your water heater is off.

If your RV has been turned off and the water is cool then you can begin opening up your drain plugs. However, if your water heater was on, then you will want to give it some time to cool off, which is normally about 15 to 20 minutes - depending on the size of your water heater.

Open up all of your freshwater channels to let everything drain properly. This will include your faucets, shower, and toilet. Your RV will now begin draining all of its freshwater sources, which should take about 15 minutes.

Non-Toxic Antifreeze & Water Heater Bypass

You must bypass your water heater before you begin pouring antifreeze into the system. Antifreeze can cause serious damage to your water heater if it makes contact with it, which is why you want to bypass the system to prevent this from happening.

You will find that most RVs these days already have a water heater bypass system installed. However, some older models do not have a water heater bypass. If that is the case, then you will need to install the system yourself to begin the antifreeze process.

Next, you will need to utilize your water pump converter kit to hook your antifreeze. With the converter kit installed, you can then drop the tubing inside of your antifreeze container. You are then going to want to turn on the various fluid points within your RV to let the antifreeze move through the system.

Begin with your kitchen and bathroom faucets. As you turn the valves, wait until you see the antifreeze pour from the faucet. To continue this process for your toilet, simply give it a flush and ensure that you see antifreeze moving through the system. You can then pour a few fluid ounces of antifreeze directly into your sinks to confirm that the chemical has made contact with all of the fluid channels in your RV.

These are going to be the most standard and essential fluid points to hit in your RV to properly winterize the vehicle. However, you may have a more dynamic camper than a standard model - with more fluid points and channels that need to be winterized such as additional sinks. If that is the case, then you will want to continue this same process for every fluid point in your RV.

If you are having issues identifying where you need to repeat the process, we highly encourage you to reference your manual in this situation to guarantee that you have successfully targeted all areas. Lastly, you can flush all of your fluids into your RV’s holding tank and then you can seal the deal by closing all fluid points.

Additional Winterization Components

Not all RVs are made equal, which is why you want to be as thorough as possible when you go through the winterization process.

You may find that your RV has additional appliances in it that also need to be winterized. If you have already taken care of your plumbing and fluid systems, then you have completed the most essential parts of winterizing your RV.

However, you may have some appliances like a washing machine installed in your RV. This is something that you will also want to completely drain and winterize before you call it a day. The process for this should follow a similar procedure as to how you handled the other fluid points in your RV.

If the appliance came installed in your RV when you bought it and is factory-issued, then the winterization details should be included in your manual. However, some people make customizations to their RVs and install these kinds of appliances on their own. If that is the case, you will want to do some research on your specific appliance and confirm with the manufacturer what the best way to drain it is.

Lastly, you may also want to consider winterizing some components of your RV that do not have to deal with your fluid systems. This would include things like your generator and RV battery. This is an optional winterization process, but it can be necessary for some people to follow up with - especially if you live in a region with excessively cold winters, as severely low temperatures have been known to cause additional issues to RVs.

RV Winter Storage

Once you have fully winterized your RV, you will want to store your vehicle. In most cases, parking your vehicle out front or wherever you normally keep it should be just fine.

However, you may want to take some extra precautions to ensure that it is being stored properly for the long haul. One of the most basic things that you can do to store your RV better for the winter is to simply cover it up. This will not necessarily help against the cold, but it can potentially keep your RV from getting externally weathered, which can pay off over the years.

If you happen to have a safer place to store your RV such as a garage or area with a roof covering, that will also help your RV stay in optimum condition. If for whatever reason you need to drive your RV in the winter season, be sure to let your engine run in idle for about 10 to 15 minutes before you begin to actually drive. This will help your engine heat up, which is particularly important for extremely cold climate regions.

Professional RV Winterization

The truth is, not everyone has the time, patience, or expertise to winterize their RV on their own, which is why some folks prefer to take their vehicle to a professional.

There are a ton of different RV service shops that can take care of winterizing your RV for you. This can cost you around $160 but it can often save you on the time that it takes to do the job yourself.

This will also ensure that the job is done correctly. It can be easy to overlook a step in the winterization process, which can result in some serious damage being caused to your RV. By having a professional winterize your vehicle, you can rest assured that your RV is going to be ready to hit the road when the season comes around.