Winterizing Your RV (1)

October 13, 2012

October 15, 2010 by in Woodall’s Family Camping Blog

It is hard for me to believe that winter’s cold winds and freezing temperatures are just around the corner for those of us that live in Central Virginia. Golly, in some of our northern states freezing temperatures have already arrived!

OK – those of you in southern Florida, the southwest and other warmer climates can laugh, but a good part of the country is going to get cold.

This, of course, means winterizing your RV. Even if it is still relatively warm where you are, you should be planning and preparing to put your camper away for the winter.

The major issue with campers and freezing temperatures is the water system. Hundreds or even thousands of dollars in damage can result if freezing water expands in water lines, the pump, potty flush valve, faucets, water heater and drains.

I have winterized all of our campers each winter over the past three decades. So, I’ve had a lot of practice in what works, and what does not.

This is my step-by-step winterization process. Hopefully it will help readers new to the process complete winterization easily and efficiently. This can also make opening the camper back up in the spring much easier and less time consuming.

Begin your winterization as you leave your last scheduled camping trip to drive home. Drain all of your holding tanks into the sewer dump at the campground. Flush your black water tank until the water coming out is clean. You can use a short clear plastic sewer hose extension installed at the dump valve so that you can see when the waste water is clean. Open your low point fresh water drains and all of the inside faucets. Leave the water heater drain alone for right now – the water in the tank is probably HOT and could burn you in the draining process. The up, down and rolling movement of the camper on the way home will help to complete the fresh water draining process – but it will not shake all of the remaining water out of the system.

Remove all perishable and freezable items. While it may be obvious that you can’t leave milk in the refrigerator through the winter, many other items in your camper that can go bad or freeze are often overlooked. For example, be sure shaving cream, first-aid kits, lotions, insect repellents, sunscreen, tooth paste, spray cleaners, OTC medications, toilet chemicals, glues, liquid wax, dish detergent, etc. are boxed and moved inside for the winter. Your OTC medications like aspirin and antacid should be added to your home medicine cabinet and used – or disposed of safely. Letting them sit in a storage box until next spring and then putting them back into the camper will result in a less effective medication due to aging. Rotate caned goods through your pantry rather than storing them so that the “Use By:” dates are not exceeded.

Clean the Refrigerator. Turn the refrigerator off and allow it to defrost. Remove all door shelves and inside racks. Wash the interior toughly with a good kitchen cleaner, one with a small amount of bleach works best. Wash the door racks in hot soapy water and dry. Wipe out the freezer section as you did the refrigerator part. Be careful of the sharp metal fins near the top of the refrigerator as they can cut your hand. When cleaning is complete, prop the door(s) open with rags or hand towels so air can circulate inside the fridge over the winter.

Remove LCD TV Sets. LCD displays can be damaged by extremely low temperatures. If your area is subjected to extreme cold this one step could save you hundreds of dollars next spring. It also makes the camper less attractive to thieves, an important step if you are storing your camper away from home.

Remove Tissue and Paper Towels. Field mice love to use tissue, napkins, toilet paper and paper towels as nesting materials. We all hope mice will not invade our campers while they are in storage, but it is not uncommon for these small furry creatures to take up residence inside a camper during the colder months. It is a good idea to leave the cabinet doors and drawers open so that dark nesting spaces are minimized. If mice are a concern, never leave any food behind and read my previous Mouse Attack! blogs.

TOP – New anode rod. BOTTOM – Anode rod needing replacement.

Drain Your Water Heater. Be sure the water is not HOT. There is a plug that must be removed with a socket wrench at the bottom of your tank. It is accessible from the outside after opening the water heater outer door. This plug may also contain your anode rod, which acts as a sacrificial metal to keep your aluminum tank from getting full of pin holes. If the rod is over 1/2 gone, you will need to replace the drain plug/anode rod with a new one before the spring opening.


Watch for part 2 – Using RV antifreeze properly




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