If you own an RV, you have a gateway to endless fun travelling in the spring, summer, and fall seasons.

The perfect time for taking out your RV is during the month of November as well as October. During these months the chilly season is usually right around the corner.

Covered and parked RV in winter
Winterizing your RV will keep in tip-top throughout the winter.

As winter starts to roll around, it’s time that your RV needs some extra care and attention.

Winters can be tough on your RV, making it prone to wear and tear. It has to go through a process called “winterizing”. This process protects your vehicle from damage caused due to extreme weather conditions.

This article covers all the bases regarding winter-proofing your RV. It’ll also help you keep your RV in tip-top shape. This way it’ll be ready to go when spring comes around.

Are you ready to learn more? Then let’s dive in.

What Temperature Should You Winterize An RV?

If you love to travel, you might be on the road a lot. You might even be tempted to keep traveling until you see the first signs of snow. However, that can be too late! You need some time to winterize your RV properly.

Even if you use your RV throughout winter, you should do some basic preparation beforehand. Once the temperature reaches an average of around 20 degrees Fahrenheit, you should consider winterizing your RV.

Also, if you don’t have a heated tank in your RV, and the furnace doesn’t operate properly, then it’s time for you to winterize your RV.

Let’s have a look at how you can winterize your travel trailer on your own, without any expertise or first-hand knowledge.

Using Antifreeze to Winterize Your RV

Using antifreeze is the best way for winterizing your RV. It is readily available in supermarkets and hardware stores. You can find a special pink-colored antifreeze solution for RVs.

Be careful to use only the recommended antifreeze liquid to prevent damage to your plumbing system.

To winterize your RV properly, you need the following:

  • 3 gallons of RV antifreeze
  • Basic hand tools
  • Water pump converter

Make sure that your RV has a water heater bypass kit and tank flush nozzle installed. Otherwise you’ll need to buy these separately.

The amount of RV antifreeze you need also depends on the size of the rig. Before you get on with it, make sure to consult the owner’s manual for any considerations.

Draining the Plumbing System

The first thing to do is to drain your plumbing system completely. This is an essential step to perform before parking your RV away for storage. Do this regardless of the weather.

man draining plumbing system
Draining the plumbing system is an essential step for Winterizing your RV

Once all the tanks are drained, turn off the water pump and remove the freshwater hose. Then, connect it to the sewer dump and flush out the grey and black holding tanks.

If any of these are not available, rinse out the tank using a tank flush nozzle.

Next, open the drain inside your freshwater tank and empty it out. Once this is done, close the valve again. Now, switch off the water heater, and you’re ready to move to the next step.

Drain the Water Heater

Let me add a forewarning here: make sure to leave your water heater for several hours after turning it off. This allows the temperature to come down to normal and you can handle it without burning your hands.

Also make sure the water source is detached, and turn off the water pump before you drain the heater. These components can cause a pressure buildup inside it.

Lastly, check the pressure relief valve to ensure that there is no pressure.

Once you’ve done everything, remove the drain plug after opening the valve.

Let the water drain out into the ground. This shouldn’t take long.

After draining the heater, put the drain plug back. If it doesn’t fit properly, wrap the plumber’s tape around it.

Drain Interior Pipes

Important note: Remove the water filter and turn off the valves. This way the drinking water lines aren’t affected.

Next, open the dump valve of the gray tank and switch on all the faucets inside your RV. These include the water outlets in the kitchen, toilet, or outdoor shower.

Look for any low point water drains, and open them up. Using the water pump, flush out any residual water from the pipes. Don’t overuse the pump, as it can get damaged if it runs dry.

Once you’ve removed all the water from the lines, you can turn off all the faucets and water outlets, as well as the low point water drains.

Close the valves of the gray tank and remove it from the sewer tank.

Bypassing the Water Heater

Behind a removable panel or the water heater, there will most likely be a bypass kit. If it’s there, use the owner’s manual to bypass the water heater. This will prevent the antifreeze liquid from going inside.

If your RV doesn’t have a bypass kit, then you can easily get one from a camp or hardware store.

Bypassing the Freshwater Tank

If you have a newer and upgraded RV, it might already have a winterization valve pre-installed.

 If this is the case, then all you need to do is to turn the valves into the specified position to bypass the freshwater tank.

You can find out the correct valve in the RV’s user manual. It’ll also include a pipe or tube where you can pour in the antifreeze. If your RV doesn’t have this system, then you can grab a water pump converter kit from the market.

Alternatively, you can remove the pipe that connects the freshwater tank with the water pump.

Place one end into a jug full of RV antifreeze, while the other goes into the water pump inlet. This will cause the liquid to pump through the pipes without going into the tank.

Pour Antifreeze into the Pipes

Turn on the water pump, and you’ll see the antifreeze being pumped into the lines. Next, open up all the faucets inside your RV to pump out the antifreeze.

Make sure all water outlets are open, and you can see the pink liquid flowing.

Once the entire solution has been drained out of the lines and faucets, you can close the taps and turn off the water pump.

Pour Antifreeze into the Drains

The next step requires adding antifreeze into each drain to prevent the U-shaped pipes inside the drainage system from freezing.

Then, flush the toilet bowl after adding a couple of cups of antifreeze. This way all of the residual water is also drained.

You can leave some inside the bowl to prevent any damage to the valves during winters.

And that’s how you do it!

You can easily drain out your entire plumbing system and pump it with antifreeze within a few hours.

This will completely weather-proof your RV and make it suitable for use in any season.

Can You Winterize an RV Without Antifreeze?

Using antifreeze to winterize your RV is a convenient and effective method. It protects your drainage and plumbing system from freezing in the winter.

However, you can also use compressed air for this purpose, but it’ll still require the use of RV antifreeze.

You’ll also need a couple of other tools and equipment to perform winterization. This makes it time-consuming. Whichever method you choose, the use of antifreeze is necessary.

However, it can be quite difficult to drain out antifreeze completely from the system, which is why most RV owners frown upon it.

So, if you’re one of those people, you can try out some basic methods to ensure that your lines don’t get frozen.

The most important step is to drain out all of the water from the pipes and drains inside your RV. This is so the lines don’t burst due to ice formation inside.

What Does It Mean to Winterize An RV?

Winterizing refers to protecting the RV against the harsh winter conditions. This involves a thorough cleanup of the plumbing system, to prevent damage.

In the cold months, when your RV is parked, the water inside your pipes can get frozen due to extreme cold.

This is why RVs are winterized before the actual winter season arrives. So, let’s discuss why it’s necessary for you to do so as well.

Is It Necessary to Winterize a Travel Trailer?

An RV, or travel trailer, is perfect for people who love taking road trips every now and then. However, you can’t travel all the time.

So you have to store it before the harsh winters as it’s impossible to drive it around when there’s snow everywhere.

Winterizing your RV means to prepare it to withstand the below-zero temperatures. It’s always advisable to park your RV a few weeks before the expected start of winter. This way you’ll have enough time to winterize it.

cracked pipes
Winterizing can keep your RV pipes safe from damage. Trust me, you don’t want to find out you’ve got a busted drainage system on the road!

Winterizing helps prolong the life of your RV. It also makes it ready to use when the snow starts melting and spring comes around. This way, you’ll be on the road without having to worry about the plumbing or drainage system.

During winter, the extreme weather freezes water inside the pipes of the RV, causing them to expand and crack.

When the temperature starts rising and the ice melts, the water will leak through the newly-formed cracks, rendering your plumbing system unusable.

How Long Can You Keep a Camper Winterized?

If you winterize your RV in October or November, chances are you might not get to use it for 2-3 months.

Especially because most areas experience heavy snowfall till the end of January. In some cases, it might also take up to 4 months!

However, there’s no reason to worry, as the winterization process keeps your RV protected throughout the winter season.

All you need to do is to drain out the antifreeze before using your RV again, and you’ll be good to go.

If you don’t use or move your RV for a year or two, the antifreeze will keep your pipes and drains protected from extreme weather. Antifreeze doesn’t evaporate as quickly as water does, and it keeps your lines protected for longer.

Conclusion

There comes a time every year when you have to park your RV and wait for the snow to pass.

Winterizing is an essential process that allows your travel trailer to stay in perfect shape. When spring comes around, you can simply fill up the tanks and be on your way.

I hope this article helps you understand how you can winterize your RV and prevent your pipes and tanks from getting damaged due to extremely low temperatures.

If you’re looking for similar information on other topics, I suggest you read up on our other articles too.

Thank you for reading, and have a nice day!

-Craig