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How To Winterize A Travel Trailer (Step by Step Guide)

Shawn

  • Last Updated: Jun 25, 2024

When the cold weather starts to creep in, it’s time to start thinking about winterizing your travel trailer. If you want to ensure that your trip is a success, you must take the necessary steps to prepare for the colder months. This article will discuss how to winterize a travel trailer so that you can stay warm and comfortable on your next trip!

Why Do You Need To Winterize Your Travel Trailer?

There are a few reasons why you might need to winterize your travel trailer. First, if you live in an area with cold weather, you will want to ensure that your travel trailer is prepared for the colder temperatures . Second, if you plan on taking a trip during the winter months, you will need to ensure that your travel trailer is winterized correctly to stay warm and comfortable while on the road.

caravan trailer winter snow for Winterize Travel Trailer

What Happens If You Don’t Winterize Travel Trailer?

Depending on where you live, you may be able to get away without winterizing your travel trailer.

However, if you live in an area where the temperatures dip below freezing, it’s essential to take the necessary steps to protect your investment . Failing to do so could result in severe damage and costly repairs.

So what exactly happens if you don’t winterize your travel trailer? Water lines can freeze and burst, causing extensive damage. The holding tanks can also freeze and crack, resulting in leaks.

And if the RV is left unattended for an extended period, the battery could die. All of these scenarios are costly to fix and could have been avoided by taking the time to winterize the RV.

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When Should I Winterize My RV?

The best time to winterize your RV is before the first frost. This will help to ensure that your lines and pipes don’t freeze and burst. However, if you live in an area with a mild climate, you may be able to get away with winterizing your RV later in the season.

No matter when you decide to winterize your travel trailer, the most important thing is to do it before you take it out for the season. This will help to ensure that your RV is ready for anything that winter throws your way.

caravan trailer winter snow for Winterize Travel Trailer

Tools Needed Before You Start

To winterize your travel trailer, you’ll need a few tools. These include:

  • A water heater bypass kit
  • A clean and empty five-gallon bucket
  • Air compressor
  • An RV antifreeze solution (this is different from the automotive antifreeze method)
  • Pressure relief valve
  • A rags or towels

Once you have all of these things, you’re ready to start winterizing your travel trailer!

How Do You Winterize Your Travel Trailer? Simple Steps To Follow

If you are like many people, you enjoy spending time outdoors in your RV during the warmer months. However, when winter arrives, it’s essential to take steps to protect your investment. Winterizing your travel trailer will help ensure it is ready for next season.

Here are some simple steps that you can follow to winterize your travel trailer:

Step # 1: Clean And Inspect The Roof And Seal Any Leaks

Begin by removing any leaves or debris accumulated on the roof throughout the fall. Next, inspect all the seals around your vents, skylights, and other openings. If you see any cracks or gaps, use a sealant to fill them in and prevent leaks.

Step # 2: Drain The Freshwater Tank And Add RV Antifreeze To All Faucets, Showers, And Toilets

  • Open all of the faucets in your travel trailer to allow any water left in the lines to drain out.
  • Add RV antifreeze to each one.
  • Drain plug on the fresh water tank and add RV antifreeze to that as well.

To do this, pour a few inches of RV antifreeze into a bowl and then use a funnel to add it to each toilet bowl. For your sinks and showers, turn on the faucet until you see the antifreeze coming out, then turn it off. Non-toxic RV antifreeze is safe for humans, pets, and the environment.

Related>> Top 10 Best Toilets for RVs (2022 Review)  

Step # 3: Add Antifreeze To The Toilet Bowl And Holding Tanks

Add a few inches of RV pump antifreeze to winterize your toilet to the bowl. Next, flush the bathroom several times until the antifreeze appears in the bowl. Inline water filters, turn off the bypass valve, and open all of your RV’s faucets until the antifreeze comes out.

Step # 4: Disconnect And Drain The Battery

To winterize your battery:

  • Start by disconnecting it from the power source.
  • Use a hydrometer to test the level of acid in each cell. If the level is low, add distilled water until it reaches the fill line.
  • Charge the battery fully before storing it for the winter.

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Step # 5: Cover Or Remove Any Exposed Water Lines

To protect your water lines from freezing temperatures, start by disconnecting them from the water source. Next, drain any remaining water from the pipes by opening all the faucets in your travel trailer. Finally, either cover the lines with insulation or remove them entirely and store them indoors for the winter.

Step # 6: Remove All Food From The Refrigerator And Freezer

To prepare your refrigerator for winter:

  • Start by removing all of the food from it.
  • Clean the interior and make sure there is no mold or mildew present.
  • Turn off the power to the fridge and prop the doors open to prevent ice buildup.

Step # 7: Cover The Windows To Help Insulate The Trailer

To help insulate your travel trailer:

  • Start by covering the windows with plastic.
  • Use weather-stripping to seal any gaps around the doors and windows.
  • Consider adding a layer of insulation to the walls and ceiling of your trailer.

Step # 8: Store Your Trailer In A Safe And Dry Location

When it comes time to store your travel trailer for the winter, make sure to choose a safe and dry location, if possible, avoid storing it outdoors where it will be exposed to the elements. Instead, opt for a spot in your garage or shed. Winter storage is typically available at most RV dealerships.

caravan trailer winter snow for Winterize Travel Trailer

By taking these simple steps, you can help to ensure that your travel trailer is ready for winter. Contact a local dealer or service center for more information on winterizing your RV. They will be able to assist you with any questions that you may have.

Wrapping UP

Now that you know how to winterize a travel trailer,  it’s time to get started! This process may seem daunting at first, but it’s actually quite simple. Just be sure to take your time and follow the steps carefully. Before you know it, your trailer will be ready for winter!

Shawn

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winterizing a 2020 puma travel trailer

How to Winterize a Travel Trailer: The Complete Guide

If you happen to be the proud owner of an RV, then you must know how important it is to prepare it for winter. Winter can be unforgiving on your RV, especially since they are too large to be stored indoors reasonably.

Before you embark on winterizing your RV, your first order of business should be collecting everything you’ll need for the process. Items needed to winterize a travel trailer will include non-toxic RV antifreeze, a water heater bypass kit, silicone sealant, and other necessary items and tools. Below is a systematic, step by step guide on how to properly winterize your RV in time for the prolonged cold season.

Water System

One of the most important parts to winterizing your RV is making sure the water system does not freeze. The whole point of winterizing your RV’s water system is to ensure that no water residue is left to freeze. The process might be a long and cumbersome one, but it’s a necessary one that shouldn’t be ignored. Once you do it once and learn the tricks for your trailer, you will get the hang of it and next year will go by quickly. Follow the steps below if you’d like to start winterizing your RV’s water system but don’t know how to go about it.

  • Remove any inline water filters as well as the bypass before completely draining the fresh water holding tank. Do the same for both the gray and black holding tanks.
  • Assuming the hot water is off, drain your tank. If not, wait for the hot water in the water heater to cool off before draining.
  • Open all hot and cold faucets before draining them using the water pump. Remember to close them all once all the water has been eradicated.
  • Bypass your hot water tank by using the onboard bypass kit. If you do not have one installed, you can find one here. If you do not want to bypass your tank, it will require an additional 6 gallons of nontoxic antifreeze.
  • Check to see if you have a water pump winterization kit installed from the factory. If not, you can purchase one here. This kit will pull water from a tube instead of your fresh water tank so you can pump antifreeze in. However, if you haven’t installed it in your RV, you can still achieve the bypass by disconnecting the inlet side of the RV’s water pump.
  • Dip one end of the transparent pipe which is from your water pump in a gallon of non-toxic antifreeze.
  • Start the pump. Doing so will result in pressure building gradually within the entire system.
  • Open the faucet furtherest away from your water pump which will slowly fill the pipes with the non-toxic antifreeze.
  • Close the faucet when you see the antifreeze come out. Complete this for both hot and cold water.
  • Repeat the same process until all the faucets are filled with the non-toxic antifreeze.
  • Do the same with the toilet, shower, as well as the outside shower (If your RV has one).
  • Switch the water pump off as soon as the water system is filled with the non-toxic antifreeze.
  • Release the pressure from the water system by opening the faucet.
  • To winterize the city water system, make sure to complete the step above, if not, you will damage a part.
  • Take the small screen off the city water connection, then using a screwdriver (or anything long and pointy), push against the valves until the antifreeze comes out of it. You may need someone to turn the pump on to flow the antifreeze.
  • Replace the small screen, and your water system will be winterized.
  • If you have a black tank flush, you can use an air compressor with this attachment to blow the water out of the valve.

If you aren’t familiar with the winterizing procedure, then asking your mechanic for help would be the right thing to do. The last thing you want is to mess up your RV’s water system because you skipped on a few essential steps. You can also check the RV’s manufacturers manual for instructions on how to properly winterize your RV’s water system. Once your water system has been properly winterized, it’s time to winter-proof other parts of your RV.

If you get antifreeze in your hot water tank, here is an article detailing what you need to do .

Grey and Black Tank

To winterize your grey and black tank, start by dumping them and make sure they are rinsed out. Pour some antifreeze down each drain to evacuate the water in the P traps making sure some goes down into the grey tank, as well as put a half gallon or so down the toilet and your tanks should be winterized.

Slides, Doors, Windows

Your travel trailer won’t be fully winterized without some additional maintenance. Failure to treat your slides, which include your slide seals, doors and window seals, then they might stay shut completely or leak. Use a good quality conditioner on the seals such as our favorite here to spray and wipe on all of your seals on your RV. You will want to use a lubricant on hinges, and any moving parts such as your awning or slide hardware such as the one we recommend here. Apply some grease on the locks to avoid rust shutting them permanently.

UV light can also discolor your interior so you might want to find something to cover all of your windows.

While lubricating your RV, don’t forget to check the rubber gaskets as well. Make sure they aren’t torn or worn out. In case they are, then it would be in your best interest to replace them before winter because, without suitable rubber gaskets, nothing will prevent running water from entering the RV doors and running the interior.

Clean any debris and grime from the windows so your RV will be clean come spring time. Finally, double check your work to make sure everything is well done. If you’re satisfied with what you’ve done, your next order of business will be winter-proofing the RV roof.

Taking care of the RV roof is an essential process to keeping your RV in top shape, therefore, you should go about it with as much attention. Since the RV roof covers a larger surface area than the roof of an average car, you’ll have to take your time to do a great job. You’ll start by washing the roof with a soft brush to remove any debris and dead leaves that may encourage water damage. Using a hose and some car wash or dish soap will do the trick.

Once the roof is clean and dry, you’ll inspect for any scratches and chipped areas, using a roof sealant to seal them off one by one. Check all of the old sealant on any roof penetrations such as vent fans, solar panels, or air conditioners and reseal if there are any gaps or thoughts of water penetration. If your RV has an EPDM rubber roof, then check out for bumps and other forms of irregularities.

If the damage isn’t too extensive, then you might want to reseal and leave it at that. However, if the damage is extensive, then you might want to replace the entire roof. For resealing your RV’s EPDM rubber roof, you’ll typically use a Dicor sealant. When applying the Dicor, it will self level to create a waterproof seal. Avoid using petroleum-based products to clean your EPDM rubber roof since it can cause irreparable damage.

If you choose to use the EPDM sealant, then you’ll start by mixing it in activator before you start coating. Remember to take your time while applying the coat to avoid missing any damaged spots. If your roof has a slit for example from a branch dragging across it, then you might want to use EternaBond seam tape for all your sealing needs. For safety reasons, always make sure you have the right tools and attire on before embarking on winterizing your RV roof.

To winterize travel trailer tires correctly, you need to condition the tires properly to protect them from damage because of the elements. You’ll start by filling the tires to the recommended air pressure. To prevent the tires from deflating completely, you’ll be required to always check them from time to time and filling them up. Failure to do so will only lead to extensive damage to the tires because of the weight of the RV. It would also be a good idea for you to purchase tire covers to keep off UV rays as well as snow.

The right tire covers will protect your RV tires from the extensive damaging UV rays have been known to cause. Once your tires are covered, look for pieces of treated wood and stick them under the tires between the tires and the ground. This way, your tires will be protected from damage as a result of prolonged contact between the tires and frozen ground. The treated wood should have a much larger surface area than the RV tire for it to rest comfortably on it.

Note that leaving your RV tires hanging on a narrow piece of treated wood might lead to eventual damage. The latter is so because your RV’s heavyweight has to be evenly distributed on the full tires or else the pressure will overwhelm the tires. After you’ve conditioned your RV tires for winter with a good conditioner, move on to the next step.

Stabilizing Jacks

You can’t call your RV a fully winterized camper without paying attention to the stabilizing jacks. You’ll start by doing some preliminary checks to ensure that the RV’s stabilizing jacks are in perfect condition. If not, find what the problem is and fix it. If the stabilizing jacks are broken or extensively damaged, you might want to have them replaced before storing your RV for winter. Use grease or a silicone spray to protect the jacks from water damage. If you live near a saltwater body, then spray the stabilizing jacks with silicone spray at least once a week. Doing so will offer maximum protection from rust, which is more prevalent in areas with a high amount of salt in humidity.

If your winterized travel trailer has a generator, then you’ll have to take care of it as well. You’ll begin by changing the generator oil and adding fuel stabilizer to keep the gas in a good condition. Finally, run the generator long enough until the stabilizer has run its course throughout the entire fuel system. In the spring you may want to change the spark plug and you will be good to go.

The batteries provide you power to all of your vital systems while you are off grid, so you will always want to care for them properly. If you live in a cold climate, remove the batteries from the RV and away from the extreme cold. It would help if you did this because batteries tend to freeze pretty quickly, especially during winter and should, therefore, be stored inside the house. Before storing your RV battery, check your fluid levels and add distilled water if they are low. After that, charge it until it’s full and keep them on a battery maintainer for the duration of the winter.

Store your battery on a block of wood to protect it from direct contact with the cold surface or concrete, which will lead to loss of power. Don’t forget to charge the batteries regularly since doing so is the only way to keep the freezing at bay. Lastly, keep the batteries out of the reach of children for reasons we all know.

If you live in a warm climate, you can take these precautions as well, but you could also leave your travel trailer plugged into shore power to keep them topped off.

Electrical System

If your RV is not going to be in use for the long term, then it’s only logical that you should keep the electrical system completely switched off. Unplug all of the cables from the walls of the RV for safety purposes. This would also be a good idea to do some maintenance which should include the replacement of all faulty electrical equipment and tucking away all the exposed electrical wires. Check your smoke and propane detector batteries to make sure they are working and you are done.

The propane tank facilitates all of your heating needs the RV and should, therefore, be prepared for winter as well. Since you won’t be living in the RV throughout the winter, the propane has to be stored properly to avoid wastage. Start by checking the condition of the propane tank. Look out for any dents, scrapes, weakened valve connections, and rust. Make sure you are replacing any tank with extensive damage. Turn your propane tank off and bring it into the garage.

Cleaning the interior of your winterized camper is just as important as cleaning the exterior. Therefore, taking as much time as you need comes highly recommended. Make sure that all the dust, spills and cobwebs (if any) are swept off from your RV. Remove the curtains wash them. Once they are dry, you can keep them in the house until the next time you’d like to take the RV out for a ride. Make sure the RV windows are wiped clean in the inside just like you did from the outside.

Remove all dry-cell batteries from any devices such as the clock or radio. The kitchen cabinet should also be cleaned and aired out. The latter is very important since not doing so will leave tiny drops of food which are likely to attract rodents or insects, or both. The kitchen sink, the bathroom, the toilet, as well as the bedroom, should be cleaned, dusted, and mopped as well. It always a better idea to get back to a clean RV just in time for spring than having to clean it all over again.

If you have any appliances such as a fridge, microwave, and stove in your RV, make sure you’ve cleaned them thoroughly. Use a prop to hold the doors open. Leaving the doors open will allow for air to circulate freely.

Getting rid of all the food is one significant step of you should never skip whenever you’re winterizing your RV for the incoming cold season. The freezing temperatures can cause some food will either rot or burst, attracting unwanted animals and insects. Some of these food may include water, soda cans, beer cans, soup, honey, and jam. To avoid wastage, you can collect everything and store them in your house instead of discarding them. If a soup can or soda freezes and bursts, trust me, you are in for some cleanup come spring time.

Once the food is out, clean the food cabinets as well as the fridge (as directed above) to finish off any scent that may end up attracting rodents and insects into your RV during winter. Get rid of the trash and clean the dustbin before either returning it into your winterized RV or your house for storage.

You’ll begin by washing your RV’s exterior, removing all the dust, grime, and debris that may have stuck on the chassis. Once the exterior has dried off completely, you’ll start checking for damage on the frame. If you find any patches or cracks on the paint, repair them according to your manufacturer instructions. Once all the cracks on the body have been sealed off, the next step will be waxing. The purpose of waxing is to protect the paint from discoloring or fading that’ll come as a result of regular use or prolonged storage.

The waxing process should be carried out just as you would wax a car. We use this wax as it comes highly recommended for this kind of job. Lastly, avoid waxing the awning cap pieces, the propane covers, the roof, and of course, the battery box as they will take on the white color of the wax and be hard to get off. You can use painters tape to cover any areas you don’t want to mess up.

You’ll start by removing all the beddings from your RV since leaving them in there throughout winter will only make the environment inside your RV stuffy. Once all of the blankets, bed sheets, and pillows have been washed and air out, fold them neatly and stash them in the house. Some people even take their RV mattress and store it inside.

To properly clean your awning, you’ll start by hosing it down. This will get rid of any dust or debris that may have stuck on the canopy by chance. Hosing your awning down is also the most effective way of getting rid of mold formations, especially if you’re in the habit of rolling your awning while wet. After your clean awning has completely dried, you can condition it to make it last longer. Finish things off by applying 303-protectant over the entire surface of your awning.

Moisture Control

Moisture sometimes has more than enough ways to seeping through the RV, especially during winter. Therefore, learning how to keep the moisture from damaging your RV will end up saving you much struggle. First, you’ll be better off finding ways of keeping your RV well ventilated throughout the storage period. That’s the whole idea behind the use of a breathable cover which allows air to circulate freely, whether in and out of your RV.

The ordinary moisture absorbing crystals are quite sufficient when it comes to keeping the humidity levels inside your RV at the bare minimum. If moisture absorbing crystals aren’t appealing to you, feel free to purchase the DampRid Moisture Absorber or even better, if you leave your RV plugged in, an Electric Dehumidifier.

Once your RV has been fully winterized, the final piece of the puzzle will be covering it appropriately. Find a cover large enough to wrap the entire RV; from the roof, the sides to the tires. Find the right cover for your RV, that’s if you haven’t already. The best RV covers might be steeply priced. However, if you were to calculate the damage you’d have to incur repairing your RV if you don’t cover it, then spending that extra money getting the right cover would be the cheaper option.

Winterizing your RV is without a doubt a long and tedious process, but an important one nonetheless. Therefore, always to take your time and try to enjoy it as much as you can. If its too much work for you, then don’t hesitate to call in a professional to help you out.

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winterizing a 2020 puma travel trailer

winterizing a 2020 puma travel trailer

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How To Winterize Your RV

winterizing a 2020 puma travel trailer

If you follow all of the steps as outlined, your RV will be as ready as it can be for winter storage. A properly winterized RV means less headache and stress when spring comes around again.

1. Drain and Flush the Black and Gray Water Tanks

It’s extremely important to not let wastewater sit in your RV all winter long. Not only can those tanks be a breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria, but the water can also freeze and cause issues. Drain both, starting with the black water tank and then the gray water tank. Once both are drained, clean the black tank with a special black tank cleaner or a cleaning wand.

2. Drain and Flush the Water Heater

You’ll also need to get the water out of your RV water heater . This means you need to turn it off and let it cool down, and not be under pressure. Hook up city water to your RV with the water turned off. From there, you can use your socket wrench to remove the drain plug or anode rod and open the pressure relief valve.

This will let the water drain out. Don’t drain the water heater if it’s hot or has pressure built up. Wait until the temperature and pressure come down. Once drained, turn the water pressure on and flush out the sediment for 2-3 minutes. Remove the anode rod if old and leave it out during winter; make a note to install a new one in the spring.

3. Bypass the Water Heater

Before adding anti-freeze to your RV, you need to make sure you bypass the water heater. You don’t want any antifreeze making its way into the water heater. Some RVs will have a bypass already installed.

To find the water heater, locate where the water heater service door is on the RV’s exterior and line that up with where it feeds inside. More often than not, there’s an access panel inside that you will need to remove. Using your drill and square tip driver bit, remove the panel to access the valves and adjust them to properly bypass the water heater.

4. Drain the Fresh Tank and Low Point Drains

Be sure the water pressure is off before removing the plug and draining the freshwater tank. It’s a good idea to open the faucets to help facilitate flow. When finished, close all the faucets and plug the low-point drains.

5. Locate the Water Pump

Attach the siphoning kit, or if your RV is equipped, locate the siphoning hose and place it inside your gallon of antifreeze. Open the valve. Turn on the water pump to allow the antifreeze to start flowing through the water system.

6. Open External Faucets and Valves on the Outside of the RV

Beginning with the lowest valve and working your way up, open low-point drains valves or loosen the low-point drain plugs to allow water to run out. Do so until the water turns pink (this is the antifreeze making its way thoroughly through the pipes), then close the valves or retighten the plugs. Turn on any outside showers or exterior faucets, running one side (hot or cold) until it runs pink, then close it and run the other.

7. Open Internal Faucets, Showers, and Toilets

Repeating the process from step six, run the faucets inside ( kitchen , bathroom , and showers), starting with one side until it runs pink, then closing it and running the other side. Then do the same thing for all toilets until you see the antifreeze.

8. Pour Antifreeze Down P-Traps

After that, you should pour some additional antifreeze down the drain of each sink, shower, and RV toilet to ensure the exterior termination pipes don’t freeze over winter. With all that done, you should double-check that the water heater’s heating element is turned off and all faucets are closed.

Get Help With RV Winterization If You Need It

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If the steps above sound too complicated, or they’re just not something you want to do this season, no worries–we understand. Simply come into your local Camping World location and have our highly qualified service professionals do it for you. Doing it yourself can be rewarding, but paying professionals to handle your home on wheels is never a bad idea.

For other winterization tips and tricks , check out your RV’s owner’s manual. It’s common for different classes of RVs, such as Happier Camper , and different appliances to have additional needs before you can properly store your RV for the winter. After all, a successful winterization leads to a successful spring when RV season rolls around again.

Want to schedule a winterization service visit? Find the Camping World RV service center near you .

Do you have any questions about winterizing your RV? Leave a comment below and we’ll respond ASAP!

  • Comment (39)

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Excellent step-by-step guide for winterizing an RV! The detailed instructions and visuals make the process seem much less daunting. Properly preparing your rig for winter storage is crucial to avoid costly repairs later. I’ll be bookmarking this article as my go-to reference.

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So glad you found it useful Gary!

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Should cupboard doors be left open?

I doesn’t hurt to leave cabinets and what not open just for airflow. If any moisture was in those area’s it could start to mold or create an unwanted odor. Hope that helps!

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Found in step 2 detail: “Once drained, turn the water pressure on and flush out the sediment for 2-3 minutes.”

Hi Brad, please see my reply to your other comment for clarity, but don’t hesitate to let us know if you have other questions about the process!

Why “Hook up city water to your RV with the water turned off” in step 2?

2. Drain and Flush the Water Heater You’ll also need to get the water out of your water heater. This means you need to turn it off and let it cool down, and not be under pressure. Hook up city water to your RV with the water turned off. From there, you can use your socket wrench to remove the drain plug or anode rod and open the pressure relief valve.

This will let the water drain out. Don’t drain the water heater if it’s hot or has pressure built up. Wait until the temperature and pressure come down. Once drained, turn the water pressure on and flush out the sediment for 2-3 minutes. Remove the anode rod if old and leave it out during winter; make a note to install a new one in the spring.

The city water will be used to flush the water heater tank once it’s drained. Hooking it up with it off just means to leave the spigot at the city water connection off until the tank is initially drained. Hope that clarifies things, but let us know if you have any follow up questions!

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Should I drain the antifreeze or blow it out of the lines or is the idea to keep the system full of fluid. Also some treads suggest undoing the lines in and out of the pump. Seems like it could get messy. I’m in Central Alberta so -40 is highly possible.

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No need to drain.

You should definitely leave the antifreeze in the lines, but you’ll need the proper extreme duty RV antifreeze rated for those frosty temperatures. That antifreeze should last 2-5 years in the sealed lines. The water hear, fresh tank drain, and holding tanks should be left empty. When winterizing, care must be taken to ensure that the antifreeze is pumped through the city inlet, water pump, low point drains, outside kitchens, outside shower, shower heads, filter housings, ice makers, dishwashers, washing machines, accumulator, screen filter bowls, toilets, tank flushes, etc.

Winterizing isn’t the quick, simple job it once was. If you have any reservations, your local Camping World can provide a Complete or Deluxe Winterize for them. Here’s where you can find a service center near you: https://rv.campingworld.com/rv-service-maintenance#js-anchor-locations

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I drained all the water out of the tanks then put three gallons of antifreeze in the fresh water tank. I turned on the water pump and nothing came out of the faucets. Where do people in the videos get the water that flows from the faucets before it turns pink if everything is empty?

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My winterizing process is somewhat less complicated. Mid October, load up DPtag, hook up one of the Jeeps, shut down bricks’n’sticks, fuel up, take I-70 West to I-35 @KCMO, hang a lazy louie, set cruise on 70, out run the cold. Reverse process about April, or May, or maybe NOT. Easy, peasy, works every year. We don’t camp. We LUXURIATE!!!!!

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There seems to be disagreement over whether you open a faucet or close the faucets after winterization. You said, close all faucets. Is it o.k. To leave a faucet or two open for possible expansion? Thanks!

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Thanks this was very helpful.

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What do we do to keep our RV from freezing during the winter when in use!! We use ours years around.

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If I use an air compressor and blow the water out of my lines is it necessary to hook up to my water pump and run antifreeze through my lines. If I blow out the water and pull my water heater plug then run antifreeze down my P traps will I be ok,

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I keep an electric heater on in my garage bathroom to keep pipes from freezing over the winter. Is it possible to do the same in the RV.

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If all (or nearly all) the water has been drained from the system, why is antifreeze necessary? It seems like even if a little bit of water were left in the system somewhere, it would have room to expand in a mostly empty system.

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Where is the switch to turn on and off the therma heat as stated in the owner manual? Class C forester.

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I have food trailer with a 20gal fresh water tank, a 50 gal black water and an instant propane water heater. We will be using the water on several occasions maybe every other week or so but while it sits in between events how do we keep the water from freezing? Is this something we will have to do everytime we get ready to store it for a week a or two?

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I might be camping in the winter if the temperatures stay above freezing. Is there anything I can do to prevent my pipes from freezing in between camping trips? Can I winterize the tank and still go camping if I don’t use the water or toilet?

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If i use an air compressor to blow all the water out of the lines, do I still need to put antifreeze in them?

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What do you charge to winterize a thor ace 27.1

Hi Annamarie!

I’d recommend contacting your local Camping World service center directly: https://rv.campingworld.com/rv-service-maintenance

They can give you pricing and info on our two winterization packages!

Hi Judy! If water flows from the faucets before it turns pink (or the color of the antifreeze you use), that tells me there was still water in the system. That might not be a significant issue if the ratio of water to antifreeze is roughly 50/50. But some antifreeze bottles are pre-mixed (i.e., already a 50/50 solution). Did you use a pre-mixed solution or a 100% antifreeze?

Also, are your faucets and low point drains closed again before you turn on the water pump to circulate the antifreeze? If the system is open (i.e., a faucet or low point drain is open), it will be harder for your water pump to build pressure to circulate antifreeze. Feel free to follow up if you have additional questions. I’d love to make sure your RV’s plumbing is safe as we move through these winter months!

Thanks for sharing Scott!

You’re spot on about the possibility of residual water remaining in the lines when using air to blow them out. Antifreeze is a safe bet for long-term winterization.

Great call Joey!

I’ve personally taken this approach myself over the last few years. Do you ever head to any of these snowbird destinations?

https://blogcw.local/the-rv-life/where-to-go/unsung-snowbird-destinations-for-rvers/

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I used air pressure for years in Virginia; my first two years in Colorado I lost waters pumps. The technician advised me that blowing out the lines leaves some residual water, even condensation from extreme temperature changes can freeze, expand and blow seals in the water pump. Anti-freeze is a cheap solution when considering the cost of replacing broken pumps. I also leave all the knife switches on the tank outlets open. Even when drained, condensation can build and cause freezing that will prevent the knife switches from opening/closing. (We take out our fifth wheel and the end of February and de-winterize that day before our departure for warmer climes)

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I wondered the same thing. It works for our sprinkler system, and I wouldn’t think it would be difficult to do it. Drain the water lines and blow out the gray water drains. It might cause some issues with the gray water tank smell getting into the trailer past a cleared P trap. At a minimum, it would drastically reduce the need for antifreeze. Black water tank would have to stay with antifreeze treatment, so I guess that actually would fill all the lines anyway.

Great question. Let’s clarify:

If you do a basic winterizing, it’s okay to leave the valves open on the faucet and low-point drains. If you do a complete or deluxe winterize with antifreeze, it’s best to leave them closed, so they don’t drip antifreeze on the plastic sinks or shower pans. The antifreeze will get slushy but not freeze solid to be able to expand and crack a fixture. We’ve never seen damage from closing the faucets with antifreeze in the system. If the RV has been properly blown out there is no reason not to close the faucets, as there would be no water to expand and damage them.

Hopefully that clears things up, but let us know if you have additional questions!

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What fo you charge to winterize class c 26foot.

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Hi Gary, reach out to the service department, and they’ll be able to give you a quote! https://rv.campingworld.com/service

Yep! The storage space underneath the RV is often called a basement. This is where I’d put a small space heater if the plumbing runs through there (most of the time it does). It really depends on the unit. Some travel trailers won’t really have a basement like a motorhome or a fifth wheel.

What do you mean the basement of my RV? Do you mean underneath the RV?

Hey, Paul. Yeah, you can use a small space heater in the basement of your RV that should help keep your pipes warm enough to keep from freezing. Also, there are heating pads you can add to your holding tanks.

Hi Warren, I’m not familiar with your particular model. I’d say give the nearest Camping World dealership a call. They’ll be able to help you out

Hey Don, If the RV is in freezing temperatures you may have to or find a way to keep the tanks and water lines warm. You can buy heating pads for your tanks that should help keep them from freezing.

Hi Sue, if you’re not actually using the water system I would think you’d be okay. The other option is to get heating pads for the tanks and make sure the lines and tanks never get cold enough to freeze.

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RV Winterization Tips

Your RV is an expensive investment for you and your family’s enjoyment during the Spring, Summer, and Fall camping seasons. However, there comes that dreaded day when you have to put your travel trailer or fifth wheel into hibernation for the winter. To do it right, you’ll need to follow certain steps to winterize and prepare your fifth wheel or travel trailer for storage. If you’re new at it or just need a little organized direction, we’ve put together Basic RV Winterization Tips checklists so you don’t miss anything.

Interior Care

First, you’ll want to conduct a thorough cleaning of your fifth wheel or travel trailer’s interior:

  • Turn off your refrigerator and freezer; remove all food and contents.
  • Clean all surfaces inside the refrigerator; drawers, shelves, racks with mild soap and water. Install a blocker to keep the door from closing entirely. Put a box of charcoal briquets in a bowl inside the refrigerator to absorb odors and moisture.
  • Remove all the grit and grime that may have accumulated throughout the camping season in every crack, crevice, and corner; including those hard to reach places.
  • Make sure you remove anything that pests may see as a food source.
  • Wipe down and disinfect all kitchen countertops and inside all cabinets.
  • Sweep all bare floors and damp mop with disinfecting hot water solution.

Before buttoning your Heartland up for storage, sprinkle a little baking soda on the carpets to absorb odors. Allow it to sit for a couple of hours. Vacuum it up along with those odors right before leaving.

Place multiple desiccant dehumidifiers or moisture absorbers throughout the inside of your RV; in interior closets, cabinets, under the bed, and in the corners.

Also, place anti-pest devices in all spaces including the basement and behind the basement wall to keep bugs, mice, ants, etc. from taking over your RV during your absence. No one wants to open their RV after winter storage to find it has been the home or “party central” for mice and whatever else would want to have a heyday in your prized travel trailer or fifth wheel.

You can read further about  How to Speed Clean your RV Interior .

TIP: Put a couple drops of Peppermint  Essential Oil  on some cotton balls and place inside cargo compartments, under the bed and inside all cabinets and drawers. This will help deter spiders and bugs.

Exterior Care

Part of RV winterization is making certain it’s exterior is protected from the weather and atmospheric conditions. Here are a couple simple suggestions:

  • Thoroughly wash and wax the exterior of your travel trailer or fifth wheel to remove road grime and dirt streaks from the exterior walls and roof.
  • Open up your awnings, clean and allow to thoroughly dry before rolling up for storage.
  • Scrub your tires, rims, and all-wheel components. Inspect for cracks or defaults.
  • Protect your tires from the damage of UV rays by covering them with tire covers.  Also, place a board or barrier between the tires and ground if your RV is being stored for a lengthy period of time.

Also, this is a great time to inspect all surfaces and check the condition of all seals and caulking; including your roof. If you notice any caulk cracking, peeling or lifting, you'll need to repair it immediately. We recommend cleaning and protecting your RV's seals with 303 Protectant. Clean the windows inside and out while inspecting for cracks and ensuring the gaskets are in serviceable condition. Lube the gaskets with the same protectant. Again, make certain all caulking around windows has not degraded.

Check out our  RV Maintenance Tip: RV Roof Inspection and Maintenance  for more information.

Water System

Another step in your RV winterization is you must prepare your RV’s water system for colder temperatures. We all know that your travel trailer's or fifth wheel's water system is a primary concern for potential damage to your travel trailer or fifth wheel if not winterized properly. You will need to completely drain your RV’s fresh water tank, as well as your gray and black water tanks.

  • Thoroughly flush and clean out your hot water tank and water heater
  • Use the low point drains to empty the fresh water tank.
  • Flush thoroughly and empty the waste tanks completely.
  • Flush and completely drain the water lines for toilet(s) and refrigerator.

You can do one of two things for your freshwater system. You can either add RV antifreeze to the freshwater system or evacuate the air from the lines to prevent them from freezing, cracking or breaking. We always recommend reading your system’s maintenance manuals to ensure correct procedure and to not void the warranty of your Heartland or components.

Check out our blog on  RV Tank Cleaning and Maintenance

Electrical System

Your fifth wheel’s or travel trailer’s electrical system also needs attention during your RV winterization process.

Your RV batteries are expensive and their life can be greatly extended through proper care and maintenance. Your camper's batteries are subject to freezing temperatures so you'll need to remove them from your RV and store them in a warm, dry area on a trickle charger. Should your RV be stored in a climate-controlled warmer environment, you can just keep your batteries on a battery tender.

If you have regular lead-acid batteries, check the fluid level before putting your camper in storage. Top off your batteries with distilled water to the appropriate level if necessary. In doing so, this will ensure the batteries are fresh and ready to reinstall when you pull your camper out for the Spring camping season.

Don't forget to turn OFF the battery switches and turn OFF the inverter if you have one installed.

Lubricate every moving part in and on your RV before putting it in storage mode. Use spray silicone to lube all door locks and the legs of your level up system. Use dry graphite spray to lube the hydraulic slide mechanisms. Top off your unit’s hydraulic tank if necessary. Likewise, you'll need to run your generator and change the oil. Lastly, check the hoses and connections around the tank and pump for leaks and weeping fluid. Your RV winterization process is almost complete!

Now, let’s do your walk-around to make sure your RV winterization has all its T’s crossed and I’s dotted.

Final Inspection

Conduct a complete walk-around of your RV exterior. Here’s a quick checklist to help you not miss anything:

  • Ensure the propane tank valves are CLOSED for storage
  • Cover the tires of the RV to prevent damage from UV rays and to mitigate degradation and dry rot
  • Check to make sure every cargo door is locked or secured
  • Make sure there are no tree limbs or branches rubbing on the roof of your RV
  • Ensure the television antenna is properly secured
  • Carefully coil the electrical umbilical cord that plugs into your tow vehicle and store it inside the pin box of your fifth wheel
  • For travel trailers, stow your electrical wires in a sealed plastic bag with a rubber band wrapped around it to ensure no water intrusion
  • Place pest deterrent on your fifth wheel's pin box with the electrical cable to prevent rodents from feasting on the cable.
  • Coil your RV's emergency brake cable and store it behind the wiring on the outside of the pin box so it's not hanging down or exposed. Low hanging cables place an unnecessary strain on them and their attachment points.
  • If your travel trailer or fifth wheel is being stored outside, we recommend putting a lock on the fifth wheel pin or travel trailer ball hitch.

We hope these RV winterization tips help as a guide and reminders of how to winterize your fifth wheel or travel trailer. Be aware, this list is not all-encompassing. There may be other items specific to your RV's setup or personalization that you'll need to do. We would recommend consulting your manufacturer's owner's manual and/or service department before undertaking any winterization procedures. Consulting an online owners forum, such as the  Heartland Owners Club , would also be recommended. If you're not the DIY type, many  dealerships  offer winterization services. Finally, when you're all done, put your calendar up and start marking off the days until you can pull your camper out again for the Spring!

This article was written by Dan & Lisa Brown of  Always On Liberty .

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Neighbor Blog

The Ultimate Guide to How to Winterize a Camper or Travel Trailer

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Through the spring, summer, and fall, you enjoyed priceless adventures in your trusty travel trailer.

Now, as the traditional camping season draws to a close and winter arrives, you may have decided that winter camping isn’t for you. 

To ensure your camper is ready to use when spring comes around again, you’ll need to know how to winterize a camper and prepare it for storage .

The winterizing process can be tricky, especially for a new RV owner. Therefore, follow these critical steps to ensure your camper is safe and protected through the winter months.

What are the steps for how to winterize a camper? The basic checklist includes these steps:

  • Drain and Clean Your Water Tanks
  • Drain Your Water Lines and Hot Water Heater
  • Winterize Your Plumbing System
  • Wash Out the Sewer Hose
  • Clean Out Your Camper Completely
  • Empty the Refrigerator
  • Unplug All the Electronics
  • Make Sure Your Propane Is No Longer Connected
  • Seal All the Gaps
  • Clean the Awning
  • Wash and Wax Your Trailer to Have It Looking Its Best
  • Choose the Right Location for Your Camper
  • Tuck Your Camper in for the Winter

What to Do Before You Start Winterizing Your Camper

Before getting started on the process of how to winterize a camper, schedule any necessary maintenance and repairs , including the following: 

  • Schedule having a professional install a water heater bypass kit or a water pump converter kit.
  • Install any upgrades. 
  • Contact an RV repair technician to make any necessary repairs. 
  • Give your camper a professional maintenance check. 

How to Winterize a Camper

Step 1: Disconnect All Electricity: Batteries and Solar Panels  

During the travel trailer winterization process, the most important thing is to stay safe. Therefore, your first step should always be disconnecting your electrical system, including your batteries and solar panels . Store your RV batteries in a cool, dry area where the temperature is between 50 and 90 degrees year-round. 

You can leave your solar panels attached to the top of your camper’s roof but disconnect all electrical wires. Be sure to cover the panels with a protective tarp if you plan to leave them atop your roof. 

Step 2: Drain and Clean Your Water Tanks

You’re ready to winterize your water tanks once your electricity, batteries, and solar panels are disconnected. Most travel trailers will have three water tanks you need to drain and clean: 

  • Fresh Water Tank 
  • Black Water Tank 
  • Grey Water Tank 

Your camper should be parked at a campground or dumping station with the sewer hose connected throughout the entire tank draining process. 

  • First, drain the fresh water tank by removing the low-point plugs and opening the low-point drain valves underneath your camper.  
  • Open the low-point drain for the freshwater tank to ensure maximum drainage. 
  • Next, drain the grey water tank and black tank. 
  • After draining the black water tank, flush the tank until you see clear water coming out of the sewer hose. 

Step 3: Drain the Water Lines and Hot Water Heater

Once you’ve drained the black, gray, and freshwater tanks, you must clean out your water lines and hot water heater tank. The best way to do this is by completely draining the water lines and water heater tank. Any water left in your lines or tank could freeze and expand during the winter, causing them to burst. 

Draining the Water Heater

To drain your water heater, close the inlet valve near the heater to prevent water from flowing to the tank. Next, turn the water heater off and give it time to cool down. After several hours, remove the anode rod or your water heater’s heating element near the bottom of the heater tank and allow the water inside of it to drain out. 

You may also need to open your water heater’s pressure relief valve to ensure all the water in the tank drains out. 

Draining the Water Lines 

Next, turn off your camper’s water pump and open all of your kitchen and bathroom faucets. Leave the faucets open while the water inside the lines slows to a trickle and then disappears. If you’re lucky enough to have a washing machine and dishwasher in your travel trailer, you’ll also need to drain those.

Step 4: Winterize Your Camper Plumbing System

When it comes to your RV plumbing system, you have two choices for winterizing : antifreeze or compressed air. Both methods will help protect your pipes against freezing throughout the winter, and each has advantages and disadvantages.

While your plumbing systems and holding tanks are the most prone to damage if they aren’t winterized correctly, you won’t want to skip this step (even despite the risk involved).

*Note: If you use antifreeze to winterize your camper’s plumbing system, keep in mind that you will have to blow out the antifreeze again at the end of the winter (or before you use water in the camper again). 

Option #1: Using Antifreeze to Winterize Your Camper’s Plumbing System

Antifreeze can help prevent your lines from freezing and ensure that any water remaining in your plumbing lines will not freeze. Before you add antifreeze, you must bypass the water heater , as the antifreeze that trickles into the hot water tank can cause irreparable damage. 

Pro Tip for Bypassing Your Water Heater: Some campers come with a water heater bypass already installed. If you don’t know whether or not yours has one, check with a professional before adding antifreeze! If yours does not have a pre-installed water heater bypass, you will need to install one before proceeding. 

When winterizing your camper’s plumbing system with antifreeze , make sure you buy two to three gallons of non-toxic camper or RV antifreeze and perform the following steps: 

  • Close all your water faucets and ensure your water heater is turned off. 
  • Locate your camper’s water pump. Consult your owner’s manual if you aren’t sure where the pump is located. 
  • The pump should have a hose attached to the pump at one end and plugged at the other. 
  • Remove the plug and dip the end of the hose into a bottle of antifreeze. 
  • Close the pump valve traveling to the fresh water tank, and open the valve on the end of the antifreeze hose. 
  • Turn on the water pump to pump antifreeze into your plumbing system. 
  • Open each hot and cold faucet in turn until you see the antifreeze coming out. Do this with every faucet in your camper, including outdoor showers. 

*Note: Once you’re finished, pour a few cups of antifreeze down every water drain and toilet bowl in your camper to keep any water remaining in your holding tanks from freezing. 

Option #2: Using Compressed Air to Winterize Your RV Plumbing System

If you don’t like the idea of using antifreeze to winterize your travel trailer, here’s how to use compressed air. 

First, make sure you have the right materials on hand for how to winterize a camper plumbing system.

  • An air compressor
  • An adjustable pressure regulator 
  • A blowout plug that fits into the city water inlet of your camper

Next, make sure you’ve already flushed and drained your black and gray water tanks.

Once that’s complete, drain the freshwater system (if you haven’t already). 

Then, bypass the water heater using a pre-installed bypass valve or by installing one yourself. 

Attach the air compressor to the city water inlet on your camper. Note that you’ll likely need an adapter to attach the air compressor to the water inlet port. Once you have a tight fit, turn the air compressor on, but keep the pressure below 40 psi, preferably closer to 30, as too much pressure can damage your water lines. 

Open each hot and cold faucet and water fixture one at a time. Starting with the fixtures closet to the air compressor and working your way around the camper, open each water fixture until nothing is coming out of the faucet besides air. Don’t forget about your outdoor shower and toilet, as well. 

Turn off the compressor and disconnect the hose from the city inlet port.

Pour some antifreeze down your drains and toilet bowl and into your black and gray tanks. 

Remove all low-point drain plugs, including the water heater drain plug.

Pro Tip for How to Winterize a Camper: You can’t expect to get every drop of water out of your system using compressed air. Plan to use a cup of antifreeze per water fixture to prevent any remaining water from freezing and causing problems for your camper over the winter.

Step 5: Clean the Camper and the Refrigerator, and Unplug All Your Electronics

It’s essential to thoroughly clean the inside of your camper, including your refrigerator, pantry, stove, closets, and other appliances–especially if you don’t want a pest problem on your hands come spring. 

It’s also a good idea to remove any bed sheets, towels, food, and nonperishables from your camper so they don’t get stagnant and stale while your rig is in winter storage. That way, when you open up your camper next spring, it will be clean and ready to go! 

Finally, unplug all of the electronics that are currently plugged in inside your camper, including the following: 

  • DVD or Bluray players
  • Charging stations for your phone
  • Your coffee maker
  • The water pump
  • Your microwave
  • Anything else plugged in throughout the camper

Keep in mind that extreme cold can be brutal on electronics. If you live in an area that sees dramatic temperatures during the winter, consider removing some of those electronics from the camper and storing them in a climate-controlled location throughout the winter.

Step 6: Make Sure Your Propane Is No Longer Connected

Because you won’t be actively living in your camper during the winter, you won’t notice if there’s a propane leak. Therefore, you should disconnect your propane hose, remove the tanks , and store them in a warm, dry area during winter. 

Step 7: Seal All the Gaps

Small gaps and leaks in your camper could lead to big problems over the winter months, when pests may begin to creep in. Seal all the gaps throughout your camper to protect your investment.

Here are some areas to check:

#1: Gaps Around Windows, Doors, and Outlets

The main problem areas concerning pests and water leaks are the caulk joints around your windows, doors, and exterior outlets. Check each of these areas to ensure they’re thoroughly sealed so that nothing can get into your camper from the outside. 

#2: Cracks on the Roof

Next, climb on top of your roof to check the perimeter as well as around any vents and pipes protruding through the roof. This is especially important if you’re leaving your camper uncovered, as it will be very prone to leaks.  

Step 8: Clean the Awning

Once you’re finished with the roof, the next step is to clean your awning. To do this, fully extend the awning and use a specially purposed awning cleaner to clean the top and bottom of the awning fabric. Spray the cleaner onto the surface of the awning and use a soft scrub brush to wipe it off.  

You should also take this time to check your awning for cuts, wear and tear, and cracking and consider replacing it if any of these issues are present. 

Step 9: Wash and Wax Your Camper to Have It Looking Its Best

In addition to having a clean RV inside, you also want the exterior washed, waxed, and clean as a whistle. This is especially important before putting your camper into winter storage. Remember, any dust, bugs, and grime that you neglect during winterization will be more of a hassle to remove when bringing your camper out of storage the following year. 

Step 10: Choose the Best Location for Your Camper

With your camper fully winterized, your next step is to find a safe and affordable storage location for your rig. Ideally, look for covered and climate-controlled storage to protect your RV from pests, cold weather, hail, ice, rain, and snow. You should also try to find a flat, secure location so your RV doesn’t roll away or fall prey to burglars. 

Step 11: Tuck Your Camper in for the Winter

Last but not least, you’re ready to tuck your camper away for the winter. Keeping your camper covered and protected is a good idea whether you’re storing your camper indoors or outdoors. The best way to do this is with a tight, breathable travel trailer cover .  

If you’re looking for a safe and affordable location to store your travel trailer, consider using Neighbor , a peer-to-peer storage marketplace for boats , cars, and RVs. Neighbor gives you access to storage locations near you to ensure your camper stays safe and secure until you’re ready to de-winterize and use it next year . 

Additional RV Winterization Resources

Browse all our winterization guides:.

  • How to Winterize an RV
  • How to Winterize a Car
  • How to Winterize a Boat
  • How to Winterize a Camper or Travel Trailer
  • How to Winterize a Motorcycle
  • How to Winterize Lawn Mowers
  • How to Insulate a Garage Door
  • How to Winterize a House
  • How to Winterize a Sprinkler System

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winterizing a 2020 puma travel trailer

How to Winterize Your RV: RV Winterization 101

  • Jason Midgley
  • November 19, 2018
  • RV Safety & Maintenance

RV Winterizing 101

When you are an avid RV enthusiast, winterizing your RV can be one of the saddest times of the year.  But hopefully your enthusiasm is strong enough to prepare properly, in order to beat Old Man Winter and prevent him from doing damage.

Why You Should Winterize Your RV

RV winterizing can be avoided by heading to warmer climates for the season, which I personally highly recommend!

However, the reality is that most owners find themselves in need of winterizing at one point or another. Even if you’re a full-time traveler, you may find the need to winterize if you’re having an extended stay with family for the holidays, traveling across the country late in the season, or even camping in winter climates where you can’t keep your components from freezing.

Water lines are usually the first thing that comes to mind when people think about winterizing. It’s true, water left in your system can do some real damage when it freezes, yet there are a lot of other things to be looked at during the process, as outlined in this article.

If you fail to winterize, the penalty can be costly.  Just the water heater alone can cost more than $1,000 to replace if it freezes and cracks. 

Winterizing is not just to prevent damage from cold weather.  Any RV that sits unused for a long period of time is susceptible to damage, even in warmer climates. Any time it will be parked, and unused for an extended period of time – it should be winterized .

Supplies You’ll Need to Winterize Your RV

Depending on which winterization method you choose, you’ll need different supplies. 

First, you’ll need the tools necessary to drain your water system and water heater, like a water heater plug wrench or a 1″ socket extension. Then, you’ll need things like: 

  • Non-Toxic RV Antifreeze
  • Air compressor with blowout plug
  • Black tank cleaning wand
  • Mouse traps
  • Tire Covers
  • Winter-Ready Engine Coolant

Should You Pay Someone to Winterize Your RV?

Any reputable RV service center can perform the duties of winterizing your water system. While the cost usually starts around $90, it can easily rise to over $200 if you have a washing machine, dishwasher, or an ice maker in your freezer.

But there will still be items for you to handle on your own. If you choose to make winterizing a DIY project, you could have as little as $10 and an hour of your time into the same functions that will be provided at the service center.

Keep in mind that those costs double if you take the RV back to the service department to have the winterizing process reversed and the unit prepared for your summer adventures.

How to Winterize Your RV Step-By-Step

Learning how to winterize your RV by yourself isn’t hard and you’ll save money! Plus you’ll know that you aren’t missing any steps in getting your beloved RV winter ready. 

Here’s how to winterize your RV on your own, step-by-step. This thorough guide takes you through protecting your RV water systems with 2 different methods of draining and also includes preparing the entire RV for winter. This includes the tires, electronics, batteries, appliances, and more. 

1. The Water System, Supply Side

When water turns to ice, it expands by 10%. That 10% expansion can result in cracked lines, valves, and a non-repairable water heater. You have to get the water out of the lines, and there are two common practices to do just that.

First, for either practice , you need to drain all the water out of the water heater. 

  • Completely unhook from city water and make sure the water pump is  off
  • Make sure the switch is off for the electric side of the water heater. The electric element will burn out if there is no water in the tank and it is accidentally turned on.
  • If you have an inline water filter, either remove it or bypass it during the winterizing process. It may be a good idea to change that filter in the spring when you get your RV ready for use.
  • On the water heater, run the hot water until there is no hot water left, then remove the lower plug with a 1” socket with extension. This plug generally is part of your anode rod, which is a consumable product and needs to be inspected every year or more frequently depending on use, and replaced as needed. Note: not all water heaters have anode rods.  Keep this in mind when you prepare your RV for summer use.

RV Winterizing Water Tank Plug

  • After draining, reinstall the plug-in order to pressurize the tank. Don’t worry about using thread tape or compound, since you will need to remove the anode rod again to make sure no water was introduced into the tank.

Draining the Water Supply, Common Practice #1: (RV Antifreeze)

Pump non-toxic RV antifreeze through all the water lines.

In order to do so, you will need to pump the antifreeze through your water pump, and also through your city water inlet.

You will need a hose to attach to the water pump and a hand pump to attach to the city water inlet in order to get the antifreeze through the system.  Make sure you bypass your water heater so you don’t waste 6 gallons of antifreeze.

Do NOT use engine antifreeze . The RV antifreeze product is pink and is specifically formulated for your RV water system.

Pump the antifreeze through until each water line is clear of water and is completely replaced by the antifreeze. Do not forget the outdoor shower, outdoor kitchen, and black tank flush, if your RV came equipped.

How to Winterize Your RV: RV Winterization 101 1

Draining the Water Supply, Common Practice #2: (Using Air Compressor)

Pump air through all the water lines.

In order to do this, attach a blowout plug to your city water inlet where you can then connect your air compressor. Then you can use the compressor to blow air, pushing the water out of the lines. 

Keep in mind that most RVs are rated for no more than 50-60 psi of pressure, so keep your air pressure below 50 psi while performing this task.

Your water heater is most likely 6 gallons, so it will take a while to fill up before allowing you to open up your valves to allow the water to be pushed out. 

Open the valves on all of your faucets (kitchen sink(s), bathroom sink, indoor & outdoor showers) hot and cold sides, until air is the only thing coming out. 

There is still a chance of water being trapped in the water pump. Therefore, it’s recommended to either store the water pump in a warm location or pump a small amount of antifreeze through it.

2. How to Winterize Your RV Water System, Drains & Holding Tank

  • Dump all holding tanks as you normally would. Then flush the black tank thoroughly with a wand. Some RVs come equipped with a black water tank flush, which can be used instead of a wand.
  • Remove all low point drain plugs and store in a safe place for winter. Be mindful of the water level in your fresh tank, which can take a long time to drain and that it doesn’t flood the area it’s draining to.

Low Point Drain Valves

  • Pour antifreeze into the drains. At a minimum it should be enough to fill the p-traps where water usually sits. You will need to do the same with the toilet.

3. How to Winterize Your RV Refrigerator

Empty the refrigerator of all food and drink. If your fridge is equipped with an ice maker, consult your manufacture’s literature to see how to remove all water from the system.  Otherwise turn off the power and defrost your fridge and freezer, making sure water does not leak on the floor. 

Be sure to do the same with an outdoor fridge, if you have one. After defrosting, it’s a good idea to give the inside a good wipe down.

Keep the doors partially open during its storage period, there are handle clips that can be purchased at an RV store to do just that.

4. What To Do With Food When Winterizing Your RV

Like the refrigerator, all cabinets should also be emptied of food and liquids.  While they may store just fine and not go bad, it’s not worth the risk of attracting insects and rodents who could do great damage to your RV.

5. Water Hose Winterizing

Make sure that the water hoses you use to fill your tanks or hook up to city water are drained and stored in a clean area.

6. Winterizing Your RV Batteries

A battery that is not fully charged has the potential of freezing and splitting.  A battery that has discharged by more than 50% will lose much of its useful life.  If you cannot keep a trickle charge on the battery while it sits outside, then remove the batteries and store them in a warm area. 

Either way, make sure to disconnect the batteries so they won’t discharge quickly, and only disconnect and store them after you have fully charged them.

7. Considerations for Your RV Roof When Winterizing

All roof vents should be closed so that melting snow cannot enter the RV.  Keep in mind that heavy snow loads can cause serious and expensive damage.  While you may choose to put a cover on your RV, any large amounts of snow should be removed.  You can also store your RV under a shelter that will keep snow from collecting on the roof.  Local storage facilities rent out covered spaces for RVs and RV shelters can be purchased for as little as $1,100.

Heavy snow loads are not just hard on your roof, but also on your axles.  Snow loads can increase your total weight over the suspension capacity. On average, 1” of snow weighs one-pound per square foot.  Therefore, if your roof is 8’ wide and 30’ long, just 1” of snow will add 240 pounds of weight.  It would only take one snowfall of 12” to add almost 3,000 pounds. 

Use caution when clearing snow off the roof. Instead of using a shovel, push the snow off with a 24” broom, to reduce the risk of damages.

8. Getting Your Electronics Winter-Ready

Along with disconnecting the house battery, you should also remove all batteries that are in electronic devices such as remote controls and smoke detectors.  Leave the lids off, so that you remember to install fresh batteries once you put your RV back in service.

9. What to do About Linen and Clothing

Remove all linens and clothing so that they do not become damp from humidity or become living quarters for rodents and mold.  This includes bed linens, blankets, pillows, kitchen towels, rags, bathroom towels, washcloths, and personal clothing items. Use the opportunity to wash, repair or replace as needed for a fresh feel when you head back out on the road.

10. Preventing Rodents Entering Your Winterized RV

Take precautions against mice that may enter your RV for a safe haven from winter.  Seal off all entry points that were missed by your manufacturer, install deterrents such as peppermint extract so they won’t want to come in, and set up traps for those that do decide to have a house party.

To learn more about your RV and RVing, sign up for RVers Online University today!

11. little known winterizing tip: clean it up inside & out.

Clean your RV from top to bottom on the outside. Any road grime on the frame or exterior walls can cause erosion depending on its structure, so don’t let that erosion continue all winter long. This is a good time to inspect the roof, walls, and seams while your cleaning. Repair any spots that could cause potential leaks or further damage.

Clean the interior – floors, inside cabinets, and counters of course. But don’t forget the window sills, door jams, and kitchen appliances too.

12. Winterizing Your RV Tires

All tires should be filled to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure. Use tire covers or sheets of wood to block the tires from the sun’s UV rays to help prevent rot.  Park with your tires on solid ground, possibly on top of pieces of wood in order to keep your tires from sinking in the ground, which can make it difficult to move when taking it out of storage.

13. How to Winterize a Motorized RV

In addition to disconnecting or removing the starter battery, there are a few more cautions that need to be taken. 

Make sure the engine antifreeze is rated for your climate so your engine block and components don’t split during a deep freeze.  A premix engine coolant (antifreeze) of 50/50 will have a freeze point near -50°F.  You can easily test your own coolant temperature rating with an inexpensive refractometer, available at almost any chain auto parts stores. 

Place Sta-bil fuel stabilizer at the correct ratio for expected time stored, and the amount of fuel in the tank.  Keep in mind that Sta-bil is formulated in two different blends, one for gas and one for diesel.

14. Winterizing Your RV Generator

Using the fuel shut off switch, run the generator out of fuel.  Place gas stabilizer in any remaining fuel if you do not remove it completely.  This will keep the carburetor from clogging up during storage, which will make for a time-consuming DIY repair or a costly visit to your mechanic.

Now You Know How to Winterize Your RV

Knowing how to winterize it yourself will teach you more about the components in case you have any problems down the road. If you do choose to have an RV tech winterize the water system for you, don’t forget about the tasks that are not included in the service.

The owner’s manual can be a great supplement for the particulars of your system, and you can also find DIY videos on YouTube for the step by step process of winterizing your water system.

Your RV is an investment, it’s your home, and it needs to be taken care of.

How to Winterize Your RV: RV Winterization 101 4

Jason and Hillary Midgley

Jason and Hillary Midgley are full-time Nomadic RVers out of Fairbanks, Alaska.  Jason is a custom weld fabricator by trade, doing work on the road and selling his own fabricated shoehorns.  Jason enjoys his time behind the camera taking photos of all the places they stop during their travels to share with others. Hillary is a retired school teacher who creates teacher related resources and education supplements, marketed to professional educators, including the road-schooling community.  Fulltime since selling their house in July 2017, Jason and Hillary can be found traveling with their two golden retrievers.  All the adventures of the Midgley family can be found at www.rvlikemidgley.com

4 Responses

I’m new to rving have a 95 E350 Born Free 24 foot it’s really a cool RV and recondition it like I have automobiles any helper, so be great like to find some more Born Free owners

To ensure that your winter camping is very safe and relaxing, you will need to prepare your RV both internally as well as externally to ensure that it is set for the cold weather. By preparing your camper for harsh weather, you can protect your engine and other RV components from freezing and other damage. An adequately insulated RV will keep you and your family warm to make your winter camping experience more comfortable and enjoyable.

the facts have been discussed is really important. Thank you so much for sharing a great post.

You can winterize the RV with air compressor. You can Winterize the RV with Air Compressor. Take off any inline filters from your RV before connecting the air compressor to your system. Next, connect the blow-out plug to the water inlet on your RV, and then connect the air compressor to the system.

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COMMENTS

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  3. Winterize Your RV in 9 Easy Steps: Keystone RV Guide

    STEP-BY-STEP. Drain the water heater via access valve on the outside of the RV near the kitchen. Open low-point drains, typically found underneath your vehicle near the water heater. Open all hot and cold faucets, including those outside the coach, if you have them. Open the fresh water drain on your RV's undercarriage.

  4. How To Winterize RV Travel Trailer Water System

    Here's a quick video for the RV travel trailer owner who wants to winterize their RV in 16 easy steps. Our model trailer is a Visa Ultra Light but the proces...

  5. How To Winterize A Travel Trailer (Step by Step Guide)

    Add a few inches of RV pump antifreeze to winterize your toilet to the bowl. Next, flush the bathroom several times until the antifreeze appears in the bowl. Inline water filters, turn off the bypass valve, and open all of your RV's faucets until the antifreeze comes out. Step # 4: Disconnect And Drain The Battery.

  6. How to Winterize a Travel Trailer: The Complete Guide

    Travel trailer wheel bearing maintenance is vital because it keeps the wheels rotating. You should do it once a year or when you cover 2,000 miles (3,219km) for small trailers and 10,000 miles (16,094km) for larger trailers. Regular checks will also alert you of potential problems. To check travel trailer wheel bearings, visually inspect the…

  7. Winterize my travel trailer

    Winterize my travel trailer. ... _____ 2018 PUMA 31 BHSS 2017 RAM 2500 LARAMIE 6.4 HEMI 4X4 E2 WDH Troy, Josie and our 2 K9 co-pilots Breck and Maggie USN 86-92 3 nights camped so far in 2020 11-04-2018, 11:40 AM #5: Smk. Member . Join Date: May 2018. Posts: 37

  8. How To Winterize Your RV

    Once drained, turn the water pressure on and flush out the sediment for 2-3 minutes. Remove the anode rod if old and leave it out during winter; make a note to install a new one in the spring. 3. Bypass the Water Heater. Before adding anti-freeze to your RV, you need to make sure you bypass the water heater.

  9. How to Winterize a Travel Trailer

    Winterize a Camper for Beginners: Clean and inspect interior and exterior. Disconnect batteries, propane, and solar panels. Drain and clean waste water tanks. Drain the fresh water tank and water lines. Drain the water heater. Prevent pipes from freezing (blow out water lines or pump in antifreeze) Store your RV properly.

  10. 13 Steps for Winterizing Your RV

    Regarding 13 Steps to winterize RV's, Step 7, Winterizing the on-board water system, you need to qualify that is not regular automotive antifreeze, which is poisonous. This can be done by stating it should be a RV Water System Anti-freeze, with Propylene Glycol. This can be purchased at RV supply stores and sometimes ACE Hardware.

  11. RV Winterization Tips

    If your travel trailer or fifth wheel is being stored outside, we recommend putting a lock on the fifth wheel pin or travel trailer ball hitch. We hope these RV winterization tips help as a guide and reminders of how to winterize your fifth wheel or travel trailer. Be aware, this list is not all-encompassing.

  12. The Ultimate Guide to How to Winterize a Camper or Travel Trailer

    The basic checklist includes these steps: Drain and Clean Your Water Tanks. Drain Your Water Lines and Hot Water Heater. Winterize Your Plumbing System. Wash Out the Sewer Hose. Clean Out Your Camper Completely. Empty the Refrigerator. Unplug All the Electronics. Make Sure Your Propane Is No Longer Connected.

  13. RV Winterization Basics For Beginners

    In this video, we'll go through the step-by-step process of winterizing my 2020 Keystone Bullet 243BHS travel trailer using RV antifreeze. While you may have...

  14. How to Winterize Your RV: RV Winterization 101

    How to Winterize Your RV Water System, Drains & Holding Tank. Dump all holding tanks as you normally would. Then flush the black tank thoroughly with a wand. Some RVs come equipped with a black water tank flush, which can be used instead of a wand. Remove all low point drain plugs and store in a safe place for winter.

  15. How to Winterize an RV

    Note: This is general RV winterizing advice that applies to most travel trailers or 5th-wheels. Before you get started, review your owner's manual for any unit-specific guidelines. Some RVs come equipped with built-in winterizing controls, too. Drain the plumbing system One of the biggest concerns for an RV in winter is the water lines.

  16. 9 Easy Steps to Winterizing Your RV

    Find your low-point drains, usually found near the water heater under your unit. Open both drains completely. Turn on all faucets, both hot and cold, including; tub, sinks, showers (indoor and outdoor). Locate the fresh water tank drain on the outside of the unit. This could look like a valve or just a cap covering the drain, open the drain.

  17. 2020 Palomino Puma 30RKQS specs and literature guide

    2020 Palomino Puma 30RKQS Specs and brochures. Also search nationwide inventory for Puma 30RKQS for sale. Edit Listings MyRVUSA. ... View 2020 Palomino Puma (Travel Trailer) RVs For Sale Help me find my perfect Palomino Puma RV. Specifications Options. Price. MSRP. $33,575. MSRP + Destination. $33,575.

  18. 2020 Puma For Sale

    PUMA 32RBFQ 32RBFQ. 2020 Puma by Palomino Travel Trailer bought new in 2020 and used less than a dozen days. It is a 2-bedroom sleeps 10. Queen bed with closet, small. Private Seller. Porum, OK. $19,995.

  19. Winterizing Palomino 1251

    Timothy Young. Junior Member. Join Date: Oct 2021. Location: Empire, MI. Posts: 1. Winterizing Palomino 1251. I'm not new to winterizing a camper, yet I'm new to winterizing my new 2021 Palomino 1251. I'm sure most truck campers have similar winterizing methods, but does anyone have recommendations, step-by-step instructions or video links?

  20. 2020 Palomino Puma 31RLQS specs and literature guide

    View 2020 Palomino Puma (Travel Trailer) RVs For Sale Help me find my perfect Palomino Puma RV. Specifications. Options. Price. MSRP. $36,396. MSRP + Destination. $36,396. Currency.