Winterizing Your RV (3)

October 29, 2012

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


Wash your RV outside, starting with the roof. Use recommend cleaners for the roof and camper sidewalls. Don’t forget the wheel wells where mud can collect. Clean all mildew from your awning with a detergent and bleach solution or commercial awning cleaner – rinse well and allow to dry.

Pay particular attention to your tires and wheels and getting them clean. If possible, wash the inside sidewall of the tire too. Removing any road oil or other accumulated rubber damaging dirt is beneficial.

Typical tire covers

When the tires are clean and dry, adjust air pressure to the maximum recommended on the sidewall (they will naturally loose air over the winter) and cover the tires so that they are not exposed to sunlight. Try to place the tread of the tires on a smooth hard surface rather than dirt or gravel. Some pressure treated wood boards or concrete patio blocks under the tires may be helpful.


Clean the inside. Vacuum the carpets and furniture. Clean any hard surface floors. Clean the shower stall and tub along with sinks and the potty. Clean the oven and stove top. Do not leave any grease, dirt or residue behind that can turn into a permanent stain or attract insects – like that half eaten PB&J sandwich hiding behind the couch! Additionally, this makes the spring opening much easier!

Check for rust. Anything that is showing signs of rust now will be worse in the spring. Light rust can be covered with paint from “rattle cans” without removing the rust. Heavy rust should be sanded or chemically treated before painting. Look carefully at your frame, tongue (on a TT), the carrier under your propane bottles, your battery tray. If you have a sewer hose bumper check for chips or nicks on the underside. The inside of the bumper may be un-coated and rusting. An old trick is to make a mop from foam or rags tied onto a long stick, dip into enamel paint and literally “mop” the inside of the hose bumper with paint.

If the camper is a trailer that is going to be stored outside, cover the front tongue jack with a heavy plastic trash bag and tie the bottom with duct tape or rope.

Spray the the coupler with WD-40 or marine fogging oil and cover with a plastic bag or wrap with aluminum foil.

Spray the corner jacks (scissor jacks?) with WD-40 or marine fogging oil on the screw shaft and pivot points.

Be sure all propane tanks are turned OFF. Better yet, remove them to a open shed or outbuilding with the plastic tank cover off. This will reduce the possibility of condensation that causes rusted tanks and holders.

If your camper is where it can be plugged into electricity you may be able to leave your battery(s) installed. If you KNOW that your charger/converter has a float charge function you may leave it turned on. If you do not know if your charger has a float function turn it off, disconnect the batteries, and hook up an optional low current float charger. If you have a battery ON-OFF switch on your camper, remember that if it is turned OFF the camper’s converter/charger cannot maintain the battery(s) over the winter. If your batteries have removable caps, be sure the cells are full. Add distilled water if needed.

Typical battery float charger

If you are in doubt about any of the above or electricity will not be hooked to your camper, remove your batteries and store them in a well ventilated area that is not subjected to freezing temperatures. A semi-heated garage is the best storage environment. Use a float charger in a well ventilated area during the winter or conduct a 2 hour charge with a 2-6 amp conventional battery charger once a month. Again, be sure to do this in a well ventilated area. Check water or electrolyte level and add distilled water if needed. Of course, you cannot do this on sealed batteries.

Batteries without a full charge can freeze and be ruined in cold weather. Batteries that just sit will naturally discharge and accumulate a white crust on the plates inside of the battery that will shorten their life span. Stored batteries will need “tending” as described above.

If possible, cover the camper roof. The best covers are the waterproof yet breathable commercial covers. But, “blue tarps” can be used IF they are installed so that air can circulate under them. It is a BAD idea to lay a blue tarp directly onto the roof surface because they trap moisture underneath and do not allow easy drying of the protected surface. Many ingenious ideas using PVC pipe to make tent-like bows have worked for some campers willing to go this route. Gallon jugs or 2-Liter drink bottles filled with sand and tied to the tarp grommets may help to secure it so that the wind does not turn it into a sail.

If your roof vents are covered so that they will keep rain and snow out, it is a good idea to slightly open the vent to allow for air circulation inside the camper.

If your camper is stored on dirt it can be beneficial to use a ground cover as a vapor barrier under the camper. Again, plastic or blue tarps held in place with rocks or blocks will prevent ground moisture from causing additional frame rusting or moisture from collecting in the camper’s flooring.

Elevate your front jacks so that one end of the camper is taller than the other. This will aid in water run-off and help to keep the rolled up awning drained of moisture.

If you carry a portable electric generator, put the recommended amount of fuel stabilizer into the tank and fill it with fuel to prevent condensation from forming inside the tank. If possible, run the generator monthly during the winter to keep everything inside lubricated and gum free.

Lastly, inspect the camper on a regular basis. Go inside throughout the storage seasons. Inspect for any signs of water leakage, vermin infestation (mice), and always be sure to pat “her” gently on the counter top or side and tell her that it will soon be spring again.

Read part 1 and part 2 of this series.
Professor95 will write another blog in March’s issue Woodall’s Family Camping Blog on his procedures for bringing an RV out of moth balls for the summer fun!

Do you have any tips or beneficial comments?  Please add them below.





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