Winterizing Your RV: Step-by-Step Guide to Protect Your Investment


As someone who loves the RV lifestyle, I know how crucial it is to properly prepare your home on wheels for the colder months. Winterizing your RV isn’t just about comfort; it’s about protecting your investment from the severe risks posed by freezing temperatures. Damage from burst pipes or moisture build-up can cost a fortune to repair and put a premature end to your traveling adventures.

What You Need to Know Before You Start

Before you dive into the winterization process, it’s important to pick the right time. Depending on where you live, the timing can vary. Generally, you should plan to winterize your RV before the first freeze of the season. As for what you’ll need, gather your tools and materials early. This includes non-toxic RV antifreeze, a water heater bypass kit, a water pump converter kit, air compressors, and basic hand tools.

Step-by-Step Guide to Winterizing Your RV

Draining and Blowing Out Water Lines

First up, let’s get all the water out of your pipes. Start by draining the freshwater holding tank, then open all faucets, and flush the toilet to clear out most of the water. Next, connect an air compressor to the water line and blow out the remaining water. This is crucial to prevent any residual water from freezing and causing damage.

Adding Antifreeze to the Plumbing

Using RV-safe antifreeze is key here. Pour enough antifreeze into your plumbing system to fill all pipes and drains. Make sure you get the antifreeze into all fixtures, including the toilet and shower, to protect every part of your water system from freezing temperatures.

Taking Care of the Water Heater

Before adding antifreeze, you’ll need to drain your water heater and bypass it (if your RV isn’t already equipped with a bypass valve, now might be a good time to install one). This prevents antifreeze from getting into the heater, which can be costly and unnecessary.

Preparing the Interior

Clean thoroughly and remove any food or perishables. Moisture can be a big problem in closed spaces over winter, so use moisture absorbers and leave doors (including fridge doors) open to prevent mold and mildew.

Battery Maintenance

To avoid the bitter disappointment of dead batteries come spring, either remove your batteries and store them in a cool, dry place, or ensure they are fully charged and disconnected to prevent drain.

Sealing and Protecting the Exterior

Check and seal all windows, doors, and other openings with weather-stripping or caulk. If you’re using a cover, make sure it’s breathable to avoid trapping moisture.

Additional Tips and Reminders

Don’t forget to check your RV insurance for coverage specifics during off-season storage. Also, it’s a good idea to check on your RV periodically during the winter. This helps catch any issues early, like unexpected leaks or rodent invasions.


Q: How much antifreeze should I use in my RV?
A: You’ll typically need 2-3 gallons of RV-specific antifreeze, depending on your RV’s plumbing system.

Q: Can I just drain all the water instead of using antifreeze?
A: Draining alone isn’t recommended because it’s tough to remove all the water, and any residue can freeze and cause damage.

Q: Is there anything special I need to do for diesel engines in cold weather?
A: Yes, using a winterizing additive in your fuel can prevent it from gelling in cold temperatures.

Q: Should I cover my RV during winter storage?
A: Yes, using a breathable cover can protect your RV from weather elements and debris.

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