How To Winterize an RV Camper TrailerAnthony Day
If you own an RV camper trailer, you are going to want to ensure that you are giving it proper maintenance - with winterization being a key component of this.
Winterizing your RV camper trailer is an important procedure that involves you readying your vehicle for the winter season - to prevent damage from occurring due to freezing temperatures. You want to follow the steps of this process closely so that you winterize your RV correctly and do not cause any unnecessary damage to your vehicle.
To winterize your RV camper trailer, you must drain all of your vehicle’s fluid systems including the plumbing and water heater. You will then want to fill the system with non-toxic antifreeze. Finalize the process by winterizing the exterior, interior, and battery of your RV camper trailer.
When most people buy their RV or travel trailer, one of the first things that they tend to overlook is the amount of maintenance that is required to keep their vehicle in working order. The winterizing process is particularly common in this regard, as it is such a different maintenance procedure compared to that of standard vehicles. If you live in a part of the country with mild winter months where temperatures do not drop below freezing, you can likely skip winterizing your RV’s critical components such as fluid systems. However, if your region experiences severe winters, then you are going to want to ensure that you have readied your RV camper trailer before the season rolls in. All in all, winterizing your RV is not a very difficult task, but it does need to be done correctly if you want to avoid any issues down the line. To help you understand this further, we are going to take you through the process of winterizing your RV camper trailer.
After extensively researching RV camper trailer upkeep, I have been able to gather enough information to determine how to winterize these kinds of vehicles. My experience has taught me that winterizing an RV camper trailer is an essential process for anyone who lives in a region with freezing winter temperatures.
Why Do You Need to Winterize Your RV Camper Trailer?
When maintaining your RV camper trailer, you must understand that this kind of vehicle is much more dynamic and complex than your average car. There are a lot of components that recreational vehicles have that need to be approached with care and consideration - especially during the winter.
Freezing temperatures are known for causing all sorts of damage to RVs - particularly to the fluid systems of these vehicles such as the plumbing and water heater. Once the outside weather starts to significantly drop below freezing, you run the risk of your pipes freezing and potentially bursting, which can result in some very serious and costly damage being done to your RV camper trailer.
The best way to avoid this is to winterize your vehicle as soon as you feel winter approaching - with later fall or the end of all being a standard among most RV owners. In addition, you will want to keep in mind that your RV is going to most likely be parked for months on end, which is why you should strongly consider winterizing other components of your vehicle such as the interior, exterior, and battery.
Cost to Winterize Your RV Camper Trailer
The amount of money that it costs to winterize your RV is going to depend on whether you do the work yourself (DIY) or have a professional do it for you.
If you take your RV to a professional such as an RV mechanic or dealership, you can expect to pay anywhere from $130 to $170 for the service. Although this is a bit pricey, it does save you on the time and labor of doing it yourself, as well as giving you the assurance that the job was done correctly.
However, taking the DIY approach will save you a considerable amount of money and it can be done fairly easily with professional assistance. For the DIY approach, winterizing your RV can cost you as little as $10 - provided that you have most of the basic tools and RV functions required for the process.
How Do I Winterize My Water System?
Winterizing the water system of your vehicle is going to be the most critical area to target in this procedure. The most notorious issue that arises when people forget to winterize their RVs is that their pipes freeze and end up bursting. This results in a lot of complications and malfunctions with recreational vehicles and it can be easily avoided if you properly drain and winterize your RV camper trailer before the winter.
You will need the following items/materials to winterize your RV camper trailer:
- Water Pump Converter Kit (if internal pump not installed)
- Water Heater Bypass Kit (if not installed)
The number of gallons of RV antifreeze mix will vary depending on the size of your vehicle - with 2 to 3 gallons being the standard. You want to utilize non-toxic anti-freeze for the procedure so that you are not letting any harmful chemicals into your RV camper trailer.
Remove Water Filters
To begin the process, remove all of the water filters that are installed in your RV camper trailer. This is an important step given the fact that you are going to be pouring antifreeze into your vehicle’s fluid system.
The antifreeze that you are using should be non-toxic, but nonetheless, you want to avoid the chemical getting into your water filters. During this stage, you may find that some of your filters need to be replaced if they are past or near their expiration date.
In this regard, winterizing your RV camper trailer provides a great opportunity to handle basic upkeep with your vehicle. So, if you see anything else that needs attention, take care of it while you are winterizing!
Drain Black & Grey Water
If there is any part of your fluid system that you do not want to burst during the winter it is your black and greywater.
Your RV camper trailer’s black and greywater will need to be disposed of at a sewage hookup. You can find these at certain RV service shops, as well as most common RV campgrounds (for a fee).
Make sure that you use your sewer hose to drain both of these tanks thoroughly when you do this for winterization. We would recommend giving your black and greywater an additional 5 min or so after you think the drain is done.
Some RVs (especially older models) may not have built-in flushing systems. If that is the case for your make and model, you are going to need to do some of this work manually by using a cleaning wand in your tanks.
Drain Hot Water Heater
Before you begin draining your hot water heater, make sure that the system is turned off and has completely cooled. In addition, you will want to disconnect the water heater from any water supply so that it is not pressurized.
You can then remove the drain plug from your water heater to let everything flow out. The water may shoot out quite fast, which is why you want to ensure that it is not hot. It may be wise to stand to the side for this step to keep yourself from getting sprayed.
You can then place the water plug back once the water has fully drained. If you noticed any leaking or dripping coming from the plug before you drained the system, you should add some plumbers tape to the plug or replace it altogether.
Drain Interior Water System
For this step, you will want to go into your RV camper trailer and open up all of the fluid points of your vehicle. These may vary depending on the type of RV that you have, but as a standard, you can assume that these would be your faucets, toilet, and shower.
This will not include any additional appliance that you may have in your recreational vehicle such as a washing machine, ice maker, or dishwasher. For these, you will need to review the manual of each appliance and follow the instructions for winterization and proper draining as listed.
With all of your drain plugs open, as well as your cold and hot fluid points - connect the water pump to remove all of the fluid remaining in your fresh water tank. While doing this, it is best to turn your water heater on in bursts for several seconds at a time.
Keep track of the water pressure during this stage to observe once everything has been drained from your fresh water tank. You do not want to simply leave your water pump on for this stage, as doing so can damage your pump.
Water Heater & Holding Tank Bypass
If you have a water heater bypass installed in your RV, you are going to want to switch it on for the anti-freeze process. This is an important part of winterization, as you do not want to put automobile antifreeze into your water heater.
The water heater bypass is generally located in a panel that is next to your water heater. Some RV camper trailers do not have a water heater bypass kit installed. If that is the case, you are going to want to install one for this step.
If you have a newer model RV, there will be a winterization lever that you will want to engage when flushing your antifreeze. You can then utilize your RV’s built-in water converter or install a kit.
Flush System With Antifreeze
To get the antifreeze to flow into your water lines you will need to place the tube from your water converter inside of the jug of antifreeze. Before you turn on the water pump to enable the antifreeze to flow into the system, make sure that all of your fluid points are open. This would include all of your hot and cold water faucets, as well as all other water valves.
Turn your pump on to begin sucking the non-toxic RV antifreeze into your water system. You will see pink antifreeze start to flow out of your faucets and fluid points. Drain the majority of the antifreeze that you bought for winterization.
However, you should also save about one gallon of antifreeze to pour manually into the drains of your RV. Using about a cup of antifreeze, pour this amount into each drain - including your toilet.
Winterizing Interior, Exterior, & Electronics
Most owners out there tend to solely focus on the sewage and water lines of their vehicle when getting ready for winter weather. Although this is the most important aspect of winterization, it would be wise to finalize the process by targeting all vulnerable areas of your recreational vehicle.
Given that your RV is going to be left in severely cold conditions for an extended period of time, there are a number of different issues with your RV camper trailer’s interior, exterior, and electronics that can arise during its winter hibernation.
Interior & Exterior
The interior and exterior of your RV camper trailer are likely to undergo some wear and tear over the coming months.
It can be extremely frustrating to go through winterizing your fluid system correctly - only to open up your vehicle in the spring to find that you have got a whole mess of problems to take care of.
To prevent this from happening, you can conduct a thorough inspection of your recreational vehicle at the end of the season and take care of any additional components that need to be winterized and treated. Let’s dive into how to winterize your RV camper trailer’s interior and exterior.
Tires are notorious for getting battered over the winter, which is why you should cover them up to prevent any kind of frost damage from occurring.
Another reason that tires get damaged during the long haul is due to them being stationary for so long. If possible, raise your vehicle for the season or at the very least utilize some wooden blocks.
To keep your RV camper trailer’s interior and exterior from being damaged, do a thorough inspection of the entire outer shell. You want to watch out for any holes, cracks, or dents.
If you see any holes, these will need to be tended to - in order to prevent leaks, moisture, and pests from getting inside. The cracks and dents that you see should be treated based on their severity. Any serious exposure or signs of rust are going to imply that you should treat them before winter storage.
This part of the winterization inspection would include the entire outer shell - roof, sidewalls, doors, and windows. Also, be sure to lock and fasten all openings!
Make sure that all of your internal and external propane tank switches are completely turned off before you store them for the winter to prevent leaks from propane tanks. In addition, make sure that all of the propane appliances of your vehicle are also completely turned off.
To be on the safe side, it may even be best to fully remove the tanks from your RV camper trailer and store them somewhere with a more stable temperature during the winter.
Battery & Electronics
Electronic components are known for getting damaged by cold temperatures. If your RV camper trailer has a battery installed, you should unplug it and remove it completely for the winter.
You can then store the battery in a place that has a stable temperature. Lastly, unplug all electronic devices that you have inside such as TV, toaster, and microwave.
About THE AUTHOR
Hi, my name is Anthony, and RVs are what I'm passionate about. I bought my first RV when I was 21, and I've been hooked ever since. I'll guide you on how they work, how they can be used in different environments, and how they fit into our everyday lives.Read More About Anthony Day