As it gets a bit cooler outside, your RV is going to need some protection from the cold weather. This is because water notoriously expands when it freezes. This means it can lead to leaking or bursting pipes in your RVs water supply. You want to winterize your RV so that the water in it is replaced with antifreeze, which will remain in liquid form even at colder temperatures.
Save some money this winter by winterizing your RV yourself. You can do this with the following supplies:
A few gallons of marine/RV antifreeze—exact amount varies by make and model
A water-heater bypass kit if not already installed
A cleaning wand (see #2 below)
Water pump converter kit or tubing to connect to pump inlet valve
Hand tools to remove drain plugs
STEP 1: GET RID OF WATER FILTERS
As an RV, the first thing you need to do is remove or bypass any inline water filters because antifreeze can damage them. As you work on the filters, see if they need replacement. If you do need to replace them, you have all winter to find new filters at the best price.
To obtain these filters, you’re going to need your owner’s manual.
STEP 2: DRAIN THE TANKS
Then you want to drain the freshwater holding tank. To get to this tank, you have to know that it is accessible below your RV near an exterior wall and is usually centrally located so that it can deliver water to sinks and showers. Just locate the valve and open it. It is okay if it drains onto the ground, though if you are in an RV park your neighbors may not appreciate it.
Then, you want to find the drain plugs or valves for the black and gray water tanks. These tanks are usually by the exterior wall underneath your RVs bathroom. The drain valves should be easy to locate from there.
If you allow waste-water to remain in those for an extended period of time, this not only increases the risk of water freezing, but it lets potential harmful bacteria grow unimpeded. The tanks for black and gray water should only be drained at an approved dumping facility. Your drain hose should be properly attached at both ends before you start draining. It’s an easy mistake to make, but one you’ll instantly regret.
Drain the black water tank first. If your RV does not have its own tank-flushing system, you can utilize a cleaning wand to flush the black water tank. Products like Flush King also help flush out both waste-water tanks. When you’re done, it assists in lubricating the termination valves with WD-40 for future use.
Draining the black water tank first allows the gray water to flush out the drain hose, keeping it cleaner for future use and storage.
STEP 3: DRAIN WATER HEATER AND LINES
DRAINING THE WATER HEATER
The water heater should not be hot or under pressure when it is drained. Be sure to shut the water heater off and let it cool. You don’t want to be burned.
There could be different places to turn off your water heater. It’s best to turn them all off. One power switch is on the water heater itself, accessible from the outside of the RV. The other is on or near the control panel in your RV.
The next step is to stop the water that is going into the water heater. Usually there’s a valve within a foot or two of where the pipe or hose enters the water heater.
Now, can open the pressure relief valve. Wait until water stops running from the PRV before moving on, and leave the valve open.
At this point, get a bucket. It’s crucial because it’s time to drain the water heater.
While it’s draining, check the water in the bucket for rust, sediment, or scaling. If you see these things, you might want to flush your water heater again, replace your anode rod, or start saving for a new water heater.
STEP 4: DRAINING YOUR RV’S WATER LINES
Open all faucets and locate and open the low-point drain plugs on the system. Flush the toilet to remove water in the tank. If you have an outdoor shower, be sure to drain it as well.
Once the water is drained, you need to recap all the drains and close all faucets.
STEP 5: BYPASS THE WATER HEATER
You’re about to add antifreeze to your plumbing system, but filling your water heater would waste six to ten gallons of antifreeze. It makes the dewinterizing process more difficult if the hot water tank isn’t bypassed.
Many RVs come with a bypass installed, but if yours doesn’t have one, visit an RV repair facility to have one installed.
STEP 6: ADD ANTIFREEZE
Now you need to pump the antifreeze in your system. This will help you when your plumbing when the thermometer dips below freezing. There are two ways to do this:
- You can put in a water pump conversion kit
- You can utilize the inlet side of the water pump
Water pump conversion kits will come with details on their instructions on how to use them. If using the inlet side of the water pump, disconnect the line coming from the freshwater tank and attach tubing that connects to the inlet. Put the other end of the tubing into a container of non-toxic marine/RV antifreeze. Then turn on the pump, which will pressurize the plumbing system.
Starting with the closest faucet to the pump, slowly open the hot and cold faucets until antifreeze comes out. Once you see antifreeze, close the faucet. Do this to all faucets, working from closest faucets to pump to the farther faucets. As you pump antifreeze through the water lines, you may need to replace the antifreeze container. Don’t forget the outdoor shower.
Next, be sure to flush the toilet until antifreeze appears in the bowl. Introduce antifreeze into the drain lines and holding tank, so pour a cup of antifreeze in each drain and into the toilet bowl. Flush the toilet.
Now, it’s time to turn the water pump off. You’re going to open a faucet to release the pressure in the system. Go to the city water inlet valve. Remove the small screen and push on the valve with a screwdriver until antifreeze comes out. Replace the screen and close the inlet. Double check that the water heater’s heating element is switched off and that all faucets are closed.
STEP 7: ADD DAMPRID SPILL FOR MOISTURE COLLECTION
Now that you’ve made it this far, you’re going to add the DampRid Spill For Moisture Collection inside the RV to prevent mildew and moisture and mold inside over the storage period. This will maintain your upholstery and walls, otherwise you risk odors and dampness when you return to get your RV.
STEP 8: THE BATTERIES
With you intending your RV to sit for several months in cold weather, you need to take out the battery and bringing it indoors can extend the life of an auto battery and help it keep its charge.
Batteries should be placed in storage in a place that is warm, dry place, with something underneath them in case they leak (cardboard or any sort of mat works well). Some recommend using a battery maintainer to help the battery keep it charged.
RV WINTERIZATION COMPLETE
Your RV is now ready for winter!
While you are winterizing your RV, you may find some issues with your RV that need to be addressed. In the past, many RVers used RV repair shops almost exclusively unless their RV was disabled. These days, however, RV service centers are overburdened by the high number of RVs in need of repair. We hope you enjoyed these steps from PDX Auto Storage to get the info you needed to winterize your RV.