“A Comprehensive Guide to Winterizing Your RV: Step-by-Step Instructions and Must-Have Supplies


As the winter chill sets in, it’s time to give your RV the care it deserves to brave the freezing temperatures. Winterizing is a crucial process that involves more than just draining the water tanks. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through each step, providing detailed instructions and highlighting the essential supplies you’ll need.

Empty Water Tanks:

• Locate the drain valves for the fresh water and gray/black water tanks.
• Open the valves and let gravity drain the water from the tanks.
• It’s a good idea to do this at a designated dump station to properly dispose of wastewater.
Why It Matters: Starting with an empty fresh water tank is the foundation of effective winterization. A dry tank means the antifreeze can work its magic without dilution, providing robust protection against freezing temperatures. It’s like giving your RV a clean slate to face the winter with resilience and readiness. So, ensure your tank is thoroughly drained, and you’re on your way to winning the winterization war!

Bypass the Water Heater:

• Find the water heater, usually located on the exterior of the RV.
• The bypass valve is typically near the water heater.
• Using a water heater bypass kit, configure the valves to divert water away from the water heater, preventing it from filling with antifreeze.
Why It Matters: Bypassing the water heater during winterization serves a dual purpose. First and foremost, it conserves your precious antifreeze, ensuring it’s used where needed most. Secondly, it protects the water heater from unnecessary exposure to chemicals, prolonging its life and functionality. Think of it as giving your water heater a winter vacation—safe, dry, and ready to resume duty when the temperatures rise again

Flush the System with Compressed Air:

• Connect an air compressor to the RV’s city water inlet using a blowout plug.
• Set the compressor to a low pressure, around 30-40 psi.
• Open each faucet and fixture inside the RV one at a time, starting from the highest point and working your way down.
• Also, don’t forget to flush the toilet and open any exterior shower or water connections.

Add Antifreeze to the Plumbing System:

• Close all faucets and fixtures to build pressure.
• Pour a sufficient amount of non-toxic RV antifreeze into the fresh water tank.
• Use an RV water pump converter kit to connect the water pump to the fresh water tank.
• Turn on the water pump, and it will draw antifreeze into the plumbing system.
• Open each faucet, one at a time, until you see the pink antifreeze coming out.
Why it matters. Flushing the RV plumbing system with RV antifreeze is crucial for protecting against freezing temperatures. It preserves plumbing components, prevents water pump damage, ensures even antifreeze distribution, and eliminates excess moisture to prevent mold. This cost-effective measure simplifies spring de-winterization and safeguards the RV, avoiding potential damages and repairs.

Toilet and Holding Tanks:

• Flush the toilet until you see antifreeze in the bowl.
• Pour a cup of antifreeze down each sink and shower drain to protect the P-traps.
• If your RV has separate black and gray water holding tanks, add antifreeze to each to prevent freezing.
Why it matters. This step safeguards key components of your RV’s plumbing system, ensuring they are protected from freezing temperatures and ready for use when the weather warms up. It’s a proactive measure to prevent potential damage and maintain the functionality and hygiene of these essential facilities in your RV.

Exterior Components:

• Disconnect any hoses or filters connected to the exterior of the RV.
• Drain and store these items separately.
• If your RV has an ice maker or external shower, ensure they are also winterized following manufacturer instructions.
Why it matters. Disconnecting and draining hoses or filters is crucial to prevent freezing, which can cause these components to crack or become damaged. Winterizing an RV’s ice maker and external shower is equally important, as residual water left in these systems can freeze and lead to costly repairs. By ensuring these components are winterized, you protect them from winter-related damage, ensuring they function properly when you’re ready to use your RV again.

Protect Water Pump:

• Turn off the water pump.
• Disconnect the inlet side of the pump and connect the pump converter kit.
• Open a faucet to relieve pressure, and briefly run the pump to clear any remaining water from the system.
Why it matters. Turning off the water pump, disconnecting the inlet side, and using a pump converter kit are essential steps to protect the pump. This process relieves pressure, preventing potential damage, and running the pump briefly clears any remaining water. By taking these measures, you ensure the water pump remains intact and functional during winter storage, preventing costly repairs and ensuring a smooth start when you’re ready to use your RV again.

Exterior Water Lines:

• If possible, disconnect and drain any exterior water lines.
• Insulate exposed pipes or use heating tape to prevent freezing in extremely cold temperatures.
Why it matters. Disconnecting and draining exterior water lines is crucial to prevent freezing, which can lead to pipe damage. Additionally, insulating or using heating tape on exposed pipes is essential in extremely cold temperatures. These measures protect the plumbing system, ensuring it remains intact and functional during winter and preventing costly repairs.

Check Seals and Roof:

• Inspect the seals around windows, doors, and roof vents for any signs of wear or damage.
• Repair or replace damaged seals to prevent leaks during the winter.
• Clean the roof and check for any potential trouble spots.
Why it matters. Inspecting and repairing damaged seals is vital to prevent water leaks around windows, doors, and roof vents. Cleaning the roof and checking for potential leaks ensures that your RV remains watertight. By addressing these areas, you safeguard against water damage, maintaining the structural integrity of your RV and preventing issues like mold or rot.

Cover or Store Indoors:

If possible, store your RV indoors to provide the best protection from the elements. – If indoor storage isn’t an option, use an RV cover to shield it from snow, ice, and UV rays.
Why it matters. Storing your RV indoors is the optimal choice as it provides the highest level of protection from weather elements such as snow, ice, and UV rays. Indoor storage shields the vehicle from direct exposure, preventing potential damage and extending its longevity. If indoor storage isn’t feasible, using an RV cover is the next best option. The cover acts as a protective barrier, minimizing exposure to the elements and preserving the exterior finish of the RV. This step is crucial to maintain the aesthetic appeal and structural integrity of your RV, ensuring it’s ready for your next adventure.

Remember, proper winterization is crucial for maintaining your RV and preventing costly damage. Take your time and follow these steps carefully. Safe travels (or hibernation)!


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