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How to Winterize Your RV Completely – 11 Easy to Follow Steps

Writen by Tom Hank

Fact checked by Joseph Varney


Your RV is an investment that you must protect, and one way to do that is to winterize your camper. The cold season can potentially damage your small home, and winterizing it is the best way to keep your home warm and fully functional.

The good news is, we have the techniques on how to winterize your RV the right way.

Table of Contents

Materials Needed for the Winterization Process

In your project to winterize your RV, you need a couple of materials. But keep in mind that winterization is not all about your plumbing system. It caters to the overall protection of your RV.

  • 2-3 gallons non-toxic antifreeze
  • Sewage hose (for black and grey water tanks)
  • Water heater bypass kit (if none is available)
  • Water pump converter kit
  • Rubber gloves
  • Wax
  • Cleaning solution
  • Rag cloth
  • Anti-rodent foam insulation
  • Roach and ant traps
  • Peppermint granules
  • Fuel stabilizer
  • Winter-ready fluids
  • Propane tank cover
  • Moisture absorbing materials
  • Thick towels

Step by Step Instructions on How to Winterize Your Camper

The winterization of your RV is a necessary precaution that you must take to protect your smaller home. Whether you plan to park and not use your rig for the winter, or live in it during the cold months, there’s a need to winterize your RV.

And contrary to what many think, the process is actually easy. Winterizing your rig on your own saves you money, so read on and find out how.

Step 1: Consult Owner’s Manual

RV winterizing is a necessity for all recreational vehicles. But before you do anything, consult the owner’s manual of the RV first. Check if there are specific instructions to winterize your RV. And if there is a particular procedure to follow, then pay close attention to the instructions.

If there are no specific instructions on the winterization process, then proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Drain the tanks

Your RV is equipped with grey, black, and freshwater tanks, and you need to drain them all.

Open the drain valve of the fresh water tank, and turn on all the faucets until the water is drained. For the black water tank, dump the water in a dump station near you. The grey water tank typically drains together with the black water tank, so that’s one thing to worry less about.

Step 3: Drain the water heater

In winterizing travel trailer, you must take care of the water heater by turning the power off first. Then, let the water cool before you drain the water heater by opening the valve and letting the faucets flow with water.

Once the water is fully drained, close the faucets and recap the valve. However, don’t turn on the water heater yet.

Step 4: Water heater bypass

It is gravely important to bypass the water heater using a bypass kit so the antifreeze will not go to waste. Many RVs are equipped with a bypass valve, but there are those that don’t have one. If your recreational vehicle does not have a bypass available, then you need to buy one and install it.

Simply follow the instructions on the kit, and then proceed to the next step.

Step 5: Use antifreeze

With the help of a water pump converter kit, pump the antifreeze into the RV’s water system. Remember to turn the water pump on in order for the antifreeze to circulate. Depending on the size of your rig, you would need 2-3 gallons of antifreeze.

Once you put in the antifreeze, gradually open each faucet to allow the solution to flow.

Make sure that each faucet produces antifreeze when opened, and all machines using water are covered. Take note to flush the toilet and allow the antifreeze to flow. Pour antifreeze also down all the drains. And close all faucets afterwards.

Step 6: Clean the RV exterior

The next crucial step to winterize a camper is to clean the exterior. Use your preferred cleaning solution and rag cloth to clean the surface of the RV. Just remember to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands. Once the exterior is clean, let it dry and then apply wax.

The application of a wax is a protection for the surface of your rig when winter comes. It safeguards the decals of your camper throughout the cold months. Without waxing your RV, the exterior will deteriorate fast, especially since the cold can damage the surface.

Step 7: Take care of the RV interior

If you plan to park your RV without living in it for the whole duration of winter, then it is necessary to take out all food, trash, and anything that rots.

Free your rig from anything that will emit odor when not used, so when you come back, your trailer is fresh. Make sure that your fridge is empty, as well as your food cabinet.

But if you decide to stay in your rig during the cold season, then fill your fridge and cabinets with food. Stock on some canned goods, since it’s hard to go shopping under a freezing temperature.

Step 8: Protect RV from pests

One of the most important methods to winterize camper trailer is to ensure that no pests can fester inside and out. Use an anti-rodent foam insulation on every crevice or crack to prevent rodents from living in your rig.

Place roach and ant traps on every nook and cranny, as well as peppermint granules on areas where there is food or garbage. Keep in mind the cold season brings out the pests, so winterize your trailer properly.

Step 9: Winterize the engine and batteries

Winterizing motorhome will never be complete without taking care of the engine and batteries. Use fuel stabilizer on your engine as well as winter-ready fluids on your windshield, transmission, brake, and engine oil. The fluids you need are wiper fluid, coolant, brake fluid, and motor oil.

Take care of the battery fluid also by following the instruction manual of the manufacturer.

Make sure to charge all your batteries, and purchase some extra batteries for good measure. If you will not stay in your RV for the winter, remove all batteries and store them in a dry and warm place.

Step 10: Take care of your propane

During the winter months, make sure that your propane tanks are full. This is the best way to keep your tanks safe amidst the cold weather. Plus, it is best to cover your propane tanks with a thick blanket to keep the freezing temperature at bay. And don’t forget to remove the cover once spring blooms.

If you choose to leave your RV during the winter, it’s best to disconnect your propane tanks from the regulator. Store them in a safe place, but not in your rig to prevent issues involving leaking tanks due to freezing temperature.

Step 11: Place moisture absorbing materials

Regardless of whether you plan to live in your rig or leave it behind for the winter, it’s ideal to place moisture absorbing materials in different parts of your RV. It’s the safest way to dehumidify your smaller home, especially if you’re there. But if you stay in the RV, then an electric dehumidifier will do.

Why Winterization of Your Rv Is Extremely Important

The winter months are a beautiful season, but the cold days and nights can wreak havoc to your RV. The issue with freezing pipes is something that you want to avoid, and the best time to winterize your recreational vehicle is during the fall season.

Indeed, don’t wait for the beginning of winter before you do this task. Let’s find out the main reasons why winterization of your mobile home is extremely important.

  • Frozen plumbing system – When the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the leftover water inside your RV’s tanks, pipes, and water heater freezes.
  • And when this happens, the frozen water expands and leads to the damage of your plumbing system.
  • Bursting pipes is a common occurrence in RVs that did not go through winterization. Even if the lines are drained, water still pools inside and will freeze once the temperature drops.
  • Wall or floor damage – If you don’t winterize your RV, leaks can happen and damage the floor and walls of your vehicle. The result is costly repairs that could have been avoided.


Now that you have a clear picture on how to winterize your RV, you’re ready to take on the task yourself.

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