Winterizing Your RV: 7 Steps to a Frost-Friendly Vehicle
As fall fades and cold weather starts to settle in, people do all sorts of things to prepare for the winter
ahead. For RV owners, that means winterizing their vehicles and making sure to protect them from any
potential damage the wintertime may cause.
Like any vehicle, an RV is sensitive to extreme temperatures and can suffer internal and superficial
damage if left unprotected throughout winter. If you’re planning on giving RV adventures a break while
temperatures are too low for travel, remember to put protective measures in place first.
What Does “Winterizing” Entail?
The term “winterizing” refers to the process of readying an RV for the freezing cold of a typical North
American winter. Between November and February, temperatures drop significantly, leaving even the
biggest of camper vans vulnerable to external and internal damage.
Fortunately, there are plenty of effective ways to prepare your RV for the winter months. From draining
your water system to dehumidifying the inside, this 7-step list has got your back.
Drain The Water System
The most crucial part of winterizing your RV is draining the water system.
When water freezes, it expands, causing cracks to develop in any pipes or connection points with
residual moisture in them. If you do nothing else to winterize your RV, do this. At a nearby sewer
hookup or water-dumping station, completely flush out your gray and black water tanks.
If your RV doesn’t have a built-in water flushing system, you can alternatively use a cleaning wand to
clear out the tanks. Other drainage tasks include:
- Opening all faucets until no more water flows out
- Closing all faucets tightly
- Removing drain plugs
- Draining the water-heating tank
Finally, pour antifreeze directly into gray and black water tanks, as well as any toilet, sink, basin, or
shower drains. This will protect your pipes from freezing during the winter.
The last thing you want is to open your garage next spring to a fissure-riddled RV that requires a hefty
bill to fix. Cracked pipes are no small expense, but proper drainage is a great preventative tactic.
Apply Protective Wax To External Surfaces
Part of the RV winterizing process includes protecting the external surfaces from elemental damage.
Rain, wind, hail, and snow can all wreak havoc on your RV’s outer body. To prevent superficial damage
from occurring, invest in some high-quality protective wax.
When buying a protective wax sealant for your RV, choose one compatible with your vehicle’s
composite nature, as different car bodies require different sealants. Wax the entire external body of
your RV for the best results.
Keep Your Awning Clean And Dry
While you’re busy protecting the outside of your RV with wax sealant, it’s a good opportunity to give
your awning a thorough spring (or shall we say winter) clean. The aim here is to not only clean the
awning so that it’s free of any dirt, stains, or dust but also to make sure it’s completely dry.
A wet – or even damp – awning will freeze over during winter. This will result in a stiff, damaged, and
moldy awning that’s much harder to clean when spring rolls around. Rather do it now and save yourself
the time later.
Remove Your Batteries When Not In Use
If you’re planning on abandoning your RV adventures for a couple of months while you celebrate the
holidays at home, it’s important to remove your batteries first. Any period of dormancy longer than a
few weeks means you should temporarily relocate the batteries.
Wintertime is a car battery’s worst nightmare. Before removing the batteries, turn off breaker switches
and RV disconnect, and always remove the negative cables first.
You can store your RV’s batteries in a temperate, dry area. Above all else, don’t store your batteries on a
concrete floor unless you want to buy new ones next season. Concrete is potentially a battery killer.
Larger RV systems may come with instructions regarding battery storage. If you have that, use it as a
guide. Regardless, remember to check your battery charge regularly and recharge if necessary.
Get Locks And Hinges Serviced
If you want a smooth-functioning RV when spring comes around, you need your vehicle’s locks and
hinges serviced properly before it gets too cold. This is an easy step that doesn’t involve a lot of effort,
but it makes a massive difference to the preservation of your beloved RV.
To DIY it, simply grab some lubricant from your local hardware store and apply it generously to any locks
or hinges you can find. This will prevent the frost from tightening or shrinking your locks.
Use A Dehumidifier
Mold and moisture damage are a major concern for RVs that hibernate during the winter. If you’re
storing your vehicle somewhere with a nearby power source, running a dehumidifier through the
internal space at least once a week is a good idea. This will mitigate moisture buildup, leading to less
mold and mildew.
If you don’t have access to a humidifier, you can still prevent moisture from accumulating by placing
absorbent materials inside your van. One of the most popular moisture-absorbing products for RVs is
Damprid RV, which is widely available at auto stores. Otherwise, cat litter in a stocking works well, too,
as it absorbs dampness and moisture.
Cover Your RV’s Wheels
If you’re going to store your RV outdoors during winter, covering its wheels is absolutely essential. You
can find tire and wheel covers at most auto stores, and they’re well worth the investment.
There is some debate about whether covering your entire RV in a tarp is a good idea. Some say it
protects the external shell from the elements, while others say it simply traps moisture. If you do opt for
full tarp coverage, get a material that’s breathable enough to let moisture out when needed.
Winterizing Is the Only Way To Go
RVs are impressive vehicles, but they require maintenance to stay functional. From waxing them to
changing the water filters regularly, there’s a lot you can do to protect them from the harsh winter
When temperatures start rising, you can get back on the road and look for new boondocking locations
to check out.
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