RVs can be a great companion for all weather types. However, as an enthusiastic RVer, the responsibility to set up your RV for a particular weather condition falls on your shoulders. Like any other season, winter presents its own set of challenges. Thankfully, RVs are built as such to withstand seasonal changes albeit with some adjustments. The word adjustment may seem a bit complex here but trust me it is quite simple.
This blog will go through the necessary steps you’ll need to undertake to ensure the proper winterization of your campervan. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
Why Winterize an RV?
Before jumping to discuss measures to winterize an RV, it is important to know why it is so important. Winterizing a campervan is a part of its routine maintenance procedure and the right way to store it. Doing so protects the water lines from damage since water expands when it freezes. The plumbing system may seem simple from afar, but it is quite complex and costs a small fortune in case of repairs. Since RVs, in general, aren’t very well insulated therefore winterizing them should be prioritized before the arrival of winters.
Cost of Winterizing an RV
Winterizing an RV doesn’t weigh heavily on your pockets. However, it should be mentioned that it is a do-it-yourself (DIY) task, and most people tend to do it all by themselves. Even a first-timer would be able to do the task with the right tools. Expect to spend around $20 to $50 when winterizing an RV all by yourself. If you are someone who hasn’t winterized an RV before and you aren’t good with camper tools, we suggest that you pay a professional to do the job, at least for the first time.
Depending upon the size and class of your RV, a professional would charge you anywhere between $100 to $180 to winterize the RV. Of course, the more detailed a winterizing job would be, the heftier the charges would be.
Steps to Follow
- The first and foremost step to winterizing an RV is to ensure the availability of all the tools and supplies. Only simple tools would be needed to remove drain plugs. Further, a non-toxic marine/RV anti-freeze and a water pump converter kit would be required.
- The next step involves removing in-line filters to allow the anti-freeze to pump throughout the system. Once done, proceed to empty and flush both the gray and the black tank.
- Switch off the water heater tank and drain it all out after a while in order to avoid accidental burns. Afterward, turn on the water pump and all the faucets to drain the water from the tank. Turn off the pump once the pressure gets low.
- Bypass the hot water heater before pumping in the anti-freeze. If there isn’t a built-in bypass mechanism, there are aftermarket systems available in the market. Bypassing the hot water heater would avoid wastage of anti-freeze.
- Begin pumping the anti-freeze using a water pump converter kit. You can also utilize a water intake line if you can’t source or afford a converter kit.
- Turn on all the water outlet points (faucets, toilets) to ensure that they are now running on anti-freeze.
- Let the anti-freeze drain for a moment. This will ensure that the anti-freeze finds its way to the tanks. Anti-freeze in the tanks would ensure they are also ready to face the winters.
Winterizing Without Anti-Freeze
An alternative method to winterize an RV can also be used under extreme circumstances. Start by emptying the water lines by draining water through faucets, and tanks (including grey, black, freshwater, and water heater tanks). Switch the water heater bypass valve into bypass mode and turn on the pump to remove any leftover water. Afterward, open the water heater valve and let all the water out from it. Lastly, attach a compressor to the inlet valve and run it at a pressure between 30-50 PSI. Turn it off as soon as there’s no more water coming out.
This approach is used when there’s no anti-freeze available and is therefore referred to as winterizing without using an anti-freeze. Generally, the approach is used as a last resort and is not recommended under normal circumstances. This is because some water or moisture may still be left in some points such as p-traps, auxiliary water heater tank, and washing machine pump and drain.
Winter-proofing the RV
In case you are going to fully winterize your RV, there are some other steps that you should take. Taking care of the plumbing system is one small step of a bigger procedure. The other steps are briefly mentioned below:
- Taking care of the electrical system of an RV is perhaps one of the most underestimated winterization procedures. All you need to do is to turn off the RV’s disconnect and breaker switches. Make sure that you are disconnecting the negative cable first and then the positive one.
- Protective sealants are not just limited to cars and boats, RVs can also benefit from them greatly, especially in the winters. Applying a good quality wax or a protectant formula after a good wash ensures that your camper’s surface would be protected from road salt in winter.
- While we are covering the exterior, it is also vital to take care of the interior. A clean and dry interior leaves no room for the mold to foster, thereby eliminating nasty surprises in the spring and summer. Ensure that all the surfaces are well-ventilated and dried out before saying goodbye to your EV for long-term storage.
Since a winterized RV’s water system is full of anti-freeze, therefore, the water-run appliances/systems cannot be used. However, you can still use all the other amenities of your RV.
For the majority of RV owners out there, yes, it is compulsory to winterize your RV. For the rich folks who have heated garage facilities and those who don't venture out in their RV in winters, you can get away without winterizing the RV. Similarly, those in hot regions can also remain content without giving their RV the winterizing treatment.
Yes, but it is generally advised to winterize an RV before the arrival of chilly weather. This is because a certain level of exposure to an un-winterized RV can cause serious damage to its water system.
Ever since I was a kid, I've been fascinated by travel. I inherited this passion from my parents. Since my college years and to this day, I have had a passion for traveling in a motorhome. I am here to share my experiences with you.