How Much Does It Cost To Winterize An RV Camper?Anthony Day
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Having an RV is the ultimate way to travel but if you want your vehicle to last, you need to give it proper upkeep - with winterization being crucial.
Owning an RV comes with a considerable amount of responsibility - with parts and components that you need to maintain so that the vehicle stays in good working condition for as long as possible. Winterization is one of the most fundamental aspects of maximizing the lifespan of your RV and it is not something you want to neglect, but you should know that the cost can vary depending on a number of different factors.
To have your RV camper professionally winterized it can cost anywhere from $130 to $160. Whereas to winterize your RV yourself the cost can be as little as $35. However, if you need to take a more dynamic approach with winterizing your RV, you can expect to pay additional costs on top of this.
When it comes to traveling around the United States, there is really no better way to do it than in an RV. Traveling via RV offers you the ability to experience the country in a much more intimate way than if you were to simply fly over everything in an airplane. In addition, it is much more comfortable and dynamic than your standard car, as you quite literally have a house on wheels when traveling in an RV. With that being said, RV travel comes with a considerable amount of responsibility - much more so than with a car. There are so many components and functions that an RV has and if you want to get the most out of your recreational vehicle, then you need to familiarize yourself with everything. Winterizing your RV is going to be one of the most important parts of your upkeep and it is a process that so many people are unaware of when they first buy their vehicles. The cost to winterize your RV can fluctuate depending on whether you have it done professionally or DIY, as well as how thoroughly you want the job done. To help you understand this further, we are going to take a closer look at the costs associated with winterizing an RV in more detail.
After extensively researching RV winterization, I have been able to gather enough information to determine the costs of the procedure. My research has shown me that the cost to winterize an RV is heavily influenced by whether you have the RV professionally serviced or if you go through the process yourself.
What is RV Winterizing?
RV winterization is essentially the process of preparing your recreational vehicle for freezing climate conditions, as well as long-term winter storage. Unlike your average car, an RV has got a lot of parts and components that are going to be put at risk when met with extreme winter conditions.
Winterization can be a dynamic process that demands a lot of upkeep, which can vary depending on how far you want to take things. However, the most fundamental aspect of winterizing an RV is to protect the fluid systems of the vehicle. Your recreational vehicle has sophisticated plumbing, sewage, and fluid storage systems that need to be approached in a certain way when the outdoor temperature starts to drop.
When the climate drops to below freezing, the fluid in your pipes and storage tanks is likely to freeze. Although there is not a guarantee that you will run into trouble when this happens, it can potentially lead to some serious maintenance issues that can become very costly. In addition, to fluid systems, winterization is a process that often requires the protection of your RV’s electrical components, as cold can have a negative effect on electronics as well. That is why most responsible RV owners take winterization seriously, as the cold can really take a toll on your vehicle.
As soon as you see that winter is right around the corner, it is a good sign that it is time to get your RV winterized. With that being said, winterizing is something that not all RV owners necessarily need to do. If your region does not get freezing cold temperatures and has a relatively mild climate all year long, then you can skip the essential steps of the winterization process (or skip winterizing altogether).
What all RV owners should be aware of (regardless of their region) is pest prevention. When you park your RV for seasonal storage, you probably leave it unattended on its own for months on end. This lack of supervision and activity can lead to pests making themselves right at home in your recreational vehicle, which is why pest control is another important aspect of winterization. Furthermore, your RV can also experience external weathering from environmental conditions.
What Does it Take to Winterize an RV or Camper?
The main thing that you want to take care of when winterizing your RV or camper is to ensure that you have properly drained all of the fluids from your vehicle. This is going to require you to thoroughly drain and flush your black and grey water tanks so that they are completely dry and clean for the winter.
Once your wastewater tanks have been emptied, you can then drain other fluid systems in your RV such as the hot water heater. You also want to confirm that all fluid points have been completely drained - including all of your pipes and appliances. After everything has been fully drained in your RV, you want to flush the entire system with non-toxic antifreeze. However, you want to bypass your water heater before you do this so that none of the antifreeze gets in there.
Although this is the most necessary part of the winterization process, you may also want to consider going the extra mile to protect your vehicle’s electronics by unplugging all appliances, components, and potentially even removing your battery for better storage. It is also important to consider that your vehicle may end up taking a beating from external weather conditions over the winter. Intense rains, snow, and freezing temperatures all take a toll on your RV, which is why you may want to utilize protected storage - or at least a cover.
Lastly, it is wise to take whatever precautions necessary to keep pests out of your vehicle over the winter. A cozy RV is a safe haven for pests like rats and mice who are seeking refuge from the cold. Blocking all entry points thoroughly and maybe even using repellant tactics is highly advisable.
Dangers of Not Winterizing Your RV
A failure to winterize your RV can lead to a number of different complications with your vehicle. The most common issue that many owners experience is that they have problems with their pipes, plumbing, and sewage. As the outside temperatures drop below freezing, the fluids that you have in your RV will freeze which can result in your pipes bursting. This can be a very expensive maintenance fix, which is why it is much better to just go through the winterization process.
Although there is no guarantee that you will have issues with the electronics of your RV, it is a well-known fact that freezing/cold temperatures have a negative impact on electric devices and components. You also run the risk of your RV getting weather by adverse climate conditions, which can result in cosmetic issues with your vehicle and potentially even more serious problems such as punctures, cracks, and dents.
A pest infestation is the last thing that you want to open your RV doors to after winter storage. Pests of all kinds love a nice and safe RV over the winter - with rats and mice being particularly problematic. These critters will find any entry point and any excuse to get into your RV. Once they get in they can be very hard to get out and they are known for chewing, making holes, and leaving a mess of pellets all over your camper.
Materials Needed to Winterize an RV
If you want to winterize your RV yourself, the process is not all that difficult but you will need some essential materials to get the job done. A lot of the equipment required for winterization should already be in your possession such as a sewage hose, elbow, and adapter that you use to drain your black and grey water tanks. Here are the other things that you will need:
- Non-Toxic Antifreeze
- Water Heater Bypass Kit (if not installed)
- Water Pump Converter Kit (if not installed)
- Rodent Repellent (optional)
- RV Cover (optional)
In addition to these items, you can also be more thorough with your winterization process, which is generally determined by the current state and condition of your vehicle. If your RV is new and has not been abused yet, then it is safe to say that you do not need to be too thorough with your winterization. However, if your RV has holes, cracks, and openings of any kind, then you should certainly invest in materials such as roof sealant, as well as steel wool to block openings.
Cost of Professional Winterization
For so many RV owners, the best way to ensure that their RV was winterized properly is to have it done professionally. Although it does cost considerably more than the DIY approach, you are guaranteed that your vehicle is going to be protected for long-term winter storage.
For the most part, you can expect to pay around $130 to $160 for RV winterization. However, there are some services that offer very thorough winterization and they can cost quite a bit more - with some charging $200 (and up). However, this does not always include things like pest prevention and electronic device protection.
Cost to Winterize an RV Yourself
Not everyone wants to spend money on professional winterization and, at the end of the day, doing it yourself really is not all that hard - and you can save a bunch of money by taking the DIY approach.
The cost to winterize your RV yourself can greatly vary depending on how thorough you want to be. For just a minimal fluid system winterization (provided that you have all tools and equipment), you can end up paying as little as $35 - given that your only real costs should be the anti-freeze and draining your tanks.
However, a lot of folks like to ensure the protection of their RV over the winter by avoiding weathering damage and pest issues. This may require that you invest a bit more into your winterization by getting necessary equipment such as sealants, steel wool, rat repellent, and a cover for your vehicle. These costs are hard to predict, as everyone’s RV is different and the amount of money that you need to winterize these things will vary based on how many areas you need to target.
With that being said, winterizing the electronic components of your RV should technically be free - given that all you need to do is unplug and/or disable them. Simply go through your RV and unplug things such as your fridge, microwave, and any other electronic devices and appliances that your vehicle is equipped with. Lastly, it is advisable that you unplug your RV battery and store it in a warmer location.
Waste Disposal Costs
When people dispose of their RV’s waste, they generally need to do so at a location such as a campground or RV service station. The locations need to be approved for sewage disposal and they usually charge around $20 to $25 to empty your black and greywater.
However, some regions allow residents to hook up their RV black and grey water tanks to dispose of their waste right at home. This approach is actually free. However, you should be aware that not all urban areas allow this, and to confirm whether your county or city does, you should research your local area.
Covers and Protective Equipment
A great way to protect your RV over the winter is to throw a cover over it. The cost of a cover is going to depend on its material, as well as its size.
For most RV covers, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $300. However, this number can fluctuate if you have got a unique-sized camper that requires a custom-made cover.
Factors that Influence RV Winterization Prices
Winterizing is a pretty standardized process that all RV owners have to go through once the coldest times of the year are on the horizon. If you are going through a basic winterization process at home and are simply draining your fluid systems, then the cost is pretty universal.
However, there are a number of factors that can affect your winterization costs - especially if you decide to go with a professional RV service instead of doing it yourself. Let’s take a look at the factors that influence the price of RV winterization.
The location that you live in can often affect how much you pay for winterization services. This can be influenced based on the economic state of your region but it can also vary from business to business.
There is competition within the RV industry and each service station that you go to can easily be priced differently from the next.
RV or Camper Size
The size of your RV is often one of the biggest determining factors for how much a professional RV service station will charge you for winterization. A bigger RV is going to equate to a bigger charge - with Class A RVs and Fifth Wheels usually getting charged the most.
This has to do with the number of materials that are required to properly winterize your vehicle but it can also be influenced by how complex your RV is. Larger RVs tend to be much more dynamic than smaller ones - with increased appliances, technology, and features that all need to be addressed during winterization.
In addition to this, winterizing a larger RV also means that you need to invest in more materials yourself if you decide to take the DIY approach. Just the mere fact that you will need to buy additional antifreeze for your RV’s larger fluid system means that you can expect to pay more. However, there are a lot of other factors that can result in more money for larger RVs such as needing to buy a larger RV cover.
Plumbing System Design
The design of your RV’s plumbing system can be very influential in how much you pay for your winterization. To start, if you have got a larger plumbing system, it will likely mean that you will be charged more at a professional service station.
However, plumbing design can also affect your costs greatly when you take the DIY approach - particularly if you do not have all essential components installed already such as a water pump converter or water heater bypass kit.
One thing that you always want to keep in mind when winterizing your RV is the kind of weather conditions that you are preparing for. Having an idea for what you are in for over the winter is going to greatly help you determine what you actually need to buy to properly winterize your vehicle.
With that being said, the more preparation, the more that you can expect to pay to winterize your vehicle. This can result in needing to buy a cover, materials to patch up holes, as well as other preventive measures.