Winterizing your RV: Part 1
The cold weather is fast approaching, bringing many happy camping trips to a chilly end. If winter camping isn’t your style, you’ll probably be putting your RV in winter storage until the snow melts.
When you’re preparing your RV for winter storage, there are a lot of things you need to consider. If you don’t properly take care of your RV, you could be looking at some heavy costs.
There are many options for storage, depending on what type of RV you have. If you own a smaller trailer like a pop up trailer or a truck camper, it’s possible you could fit it in your garage safely.
Whether it’s in your garage, your driveway, or another storage location, follow these safety procedures. You’ll not only keep your family and home safe, but you’ll have a lot less to deal with in the spring.
Your First Step: Inspection
Before you do anything, conduct an inspection of your entire RV. Regardless of whether you’re going to continue using it or you’re storing it, you should always be ready to go for a new season.
Search for cracks in the inner and outer lining. Check all windows, materials, and awnings for tears or holes. You also want to check out the door handles to make sure they’re still in good shape. Put some WD 40 on them to make sure they’re good to go.
Check for cracks beside appliances, like your air conditioner. Fill them up with sealant if you see any. This will make sure the elements don’t find a way to sneak inside your vehicle.
Winterizing Your RV
Winterizing your RV is required, regardless of whether you’re using your vehicle or not. The most important part of this process is protecting your water system from freezing.
Empty out all of your tanks, both freshwater and wastewater. You should also empty the water from the toilet as well as the water heater. Everything should be dry and clean- or as clean as you can get it.
You won’t be able to get every drop of water out, especially the way some tanks are designed. That’s why the next step is important.
Run RV antifreeze through the water system once you’ve drained and cleaned it. Make sure you’re using a specially formulated RV antifreeze, because these ones are nontoxic and won’t pump potentially dangerous chemicals through your water system.
Disconnect, Shut off, and Unplug
This is one of the most important steps you can take before you store your RV.
Turn off your gas appliances and shut off the gas supply valve. Shut off the fuses and make sure nothing could be triggered by accident.
Any removable propane or gas tanks should be taken out and stored somewhere else. Never, ever place these in the RV.
Defrost your freezer, clean your fridge, and make sure those are unplugged as well. Leave an open container of baking soda in the fridge to prevent odor buildup.
You don’t want to leave anything plugged in, whether it’s a lamp or an appliance.
Every appliance in your vehicle will have come with a manufacturer’s recommendation for winter storage. When in doubt, follow those instructions to be sure.
Remove The Following Items
Clear all perishables out of the fridge and cupboards. This one seems a little obvious, but there’s always something you can easily overlook.
No one wants to deal with the mold or a lingering smell that might not go away by the spring. In addition, you could accidentally attract rodents or bugs that you don’t want.
Take the tires off. If you don’t, and if you can’t rest the wheels on a leveling system, then you’ll need to periodically move the vehicle around. This helps to prevent flat spots on the tires that could damage them by the spring.
Remove all batteries and store them in a cool, dry place. Make sure you clean them as well.
Batteries are expensive and storing them could risk freezing them as well as draining the battery, which is a complete waste.
Take out all of your linens, laundry, towels, and other textiles. If they stay in the trailer, they’ll just get damp or musty, and this way you can wash
them so they’re fresh when you leave for your next trip.
For outdoor storage, cover your whole RV. This will protect it from the elements, including snow, wind, and pollution.
If you’re storing your vehicle anywhere that it could be in direct sunlight, close all of the blinds and windows. Cover your wheels to protect them from the UV light.
It’s also important that you cover up vents, as well as any other areas that rodents or insects could get in. These little guys are always looking for shelter in the cold, but you don’t want them choosing your RV for that.
It’s also a good idea to leave ant and mouse traps inside just incase, but don’t use poison. This could linger and make your family sick when you go to use the RV again.
Other Important RV Winter Storage Tips
Do not store anything that might not be completely dry. The last thing you want to do is let mold and mildew build up for months. Make sure everything is clean, dry, and won’t damage.
Another way to prevent mold and mildew buildup is to leave your cupboard doors, drawers, and cabinets open.
If your RV is motorized, take it for a tune-up and an oil change before you store it. This will help prevent any major maintenance you might face when it’s been sitting unused for so long.
Also read Part 2 of our Winter RV guide!
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