RV Roof Worx

Winterize RV - short guide

Published: 2023-09-19

Introduction: Importance of RV winterization

As the vibrant colors of autumn give way to the crisp chill of winter, many RV enthusiasts start to think about stowing away their mobile homes. To prevent damage from the cold and snow, you should prepare your RV for winter if you own one. This guide describes how to prepare RV for a long winter break.

Water draining is one of the essential stages in winterization.

Drain all liquids

Drain all liquids

This step is important for a few critical reasons:
Prevention of Frozen Pipes and Fixtures. If water remains in the plumbing system of your trailer and it freezes, the expansion can cause pipes to burst, tanks to crack, or fixtures to break.

Avoidance of Contamination and Mineral Buildup or Corrode. Over time, stagnant water can become a breeding ground for bacteria, mold and mildew growth and can lead to mineral buildup or corrode.

Avoiding Unpleasant Odors. If a waste tank is not properly drained, it can emit foul odors. By ensuring they're emptied and cleaned, you're eliminating potential sources of bad smells.

Weight Reduction. If you're storing or moving your RV to a storage place, empty water tanks can reduce the overall weight, making it easier to tow or maneuver.

Steps to drain all liquids:

  1. Empty the tanks that hold fresh water, waste water, and sewage.
  2. Turn on all the water outlets, including the shower head, and then open the valves that let the water out of the RV. Water heater should be turning off and not hot before emptying it.
  3. Take out any water filters from the water line before filling it with RV antifreeze.

Bypass and fill RV antifreeze

RV Antifreeze Introducing

Some water may still remain in your RV's pipes, valves, and fixtures even after you drain them. This water can cause harm if it freezes and expands when it gets cold. RV antifreeze can stay liquid at much colder temperatures than water, so it can protect your plumbing system from freezing.

Also antifreeze helps to keep seals, rubber parts, and moving components within the plumbing system lubricated during the offseason. This can extend the life of these parts and prevent leaks or failures when you de-winterize.

Bypass and antifreeze filling steps:

  1. At the beginning you should skip the water boiler by using a special bypass kit. That simple thing saves you multiple gallons of antifreeze.
  2. Fill your water system with RV antifreeze by using a hand pump or your RV's own pump.
  3. Turn on each water outlet (both cold and hot) one by one until the antifreeze coming out.
  4. Don't miss the toilet valve and the outside shower.

You can winterize your RV without antifreeze in your plumbing system by this way:

  1. Empty your freshwater tanks and water heater of water.
  2. Dump the waste water tanks at a suitable dump station.
  3. Clean and store your tanks with some RV tank cleaner. You need to rinse them well to get rid of the cleaner.
  4. Then, you should remove remnant water from the plumbing completely with compressed air:
    • Hook up an air compressor to the RV's water inlet. You can use a special adapter (also called a "blowout plug") for this step.
    • Turn on one water outlet at a time and let the compressed air push the water out. Avoid pressures above 40 psi to prevent damage of the water system. Turn on all the water sources, both hot and cold, including the shower, toilet, and outside shower or faucets, and let the water out.
    • Open the drains that are at the lowest point of the RV's plumbing system and get rid of any leftover water.Leave them open while you blow air through the system to make sure there is no water left, and then shut them afterward.
    • Flush the toilet once more to see if there is any water in it.
  5. Pour a small amount of non-toxic RV antifreeze into each drain to replace the water in the p-traps. This will stop sewer gases from coming up into the RV.

Check seals and seams

RV Seals and Seams

Winter months can be particularly harsh with a mix of precipitation – snow, rain and ice. If water infiltrates your mobile home through corrupted seals or seams and remains stagnant, it can create the conducive environment to grow mold and mildew.

If the seals or seams are not tight, they can let warm air escape and cold air enter, which can make the RV less cozy if you use it in colder months.

Water infiltration can weaken the structural components of an RV, leading to issues like delamination of the walls, floor sagging, and ceiling problems. Here you can see an example of a roof problem. It's so important to prevent leaks in time, because a big problem began from a simple crack. These repairs can be extensive and costly especially if Electronic Components and appliance be damaged.

Steps to Check Seals and Seams:

  1. Look for any gaps or openings on the outside of the RV.
  2. Re-caulk or seal as necessary.
  3. Pay particular attention to areas around vents, air conditioners, windows, and doors.

Defrost and clean the RV refrigerator

RV Defrost the Refrigerator

You need to clean and defrost your RV's fridge before you winterize it for several strong reasons.

By cleaning and defrosting the refrigerator, you remove the conditions for mold and mildew need to grow, ensuring you won't open your RV in the spring to an unpleasant surprise.

Food remnants can produce unpleasant odors over time, especially in a closed-up space. Cleaning out the fridge ensures you won't have to deal with foul smells when you're ready to use your RV again.

Also, food remnants can attract pests, which might see your closed-up RV as a great place to nest over the winter.

If your refrigerator has a significant amount of frost, when it melts, it could produce more water than the drip pan can handle, leading to potential water damage.

By taking care of this task in the winterization process, you simplify your preparations when you're ready to use the RV again.

Steps to Clean and Defrost the Refrigerator:

  1. Turn off the fridge
  2. Remove all perishables
  3. Clean the interior.
  4. Leave the door slightly open to prevent mold and mildew.

Protect the battery

Protect the Battery RV

A well-maintained battery is a safe battery. It's care Overlooking can lead to issues like acid leaks or, in extreme cases, explosions, which pose safety hazards. In freezing temperatures, a discharged or weak battery can freeze. A frozen one can crack its casing, allowing acid to leak out.

Batteries self-discharge over time, even when not in use. If a trailer battery is left discharged for an extended period, it can suffer from sulfation. This process and full discharging can reduce the battery's capacity and lifespan.

Steps to protect the battery:

  1. Disconnect and remove if you're in a very cold environment. Store it in a warmer, dry place.
  2. If the battery remains in the RV, consider using a trickle charger to keep it charged. If you've removed it, charge it every month or so.
  3. For batteries that require water, check the levels regularly.
  4. Ensure the battery terminals are clean and corrosion-free. Use a mixture of baking soda and water to clean them if necessary, then coat them with petroleum jelly or a commercially available protective product.

Care for the tires

Care for the Tires

Proper tires care can prevent flat spots, premature aging, and other damage that can occur when an RV is not in use.

Steps to Care for the Tires:

  1. Wash your tires well.
  2. Ensure that all tires are inflated to the advisable pressure.
  3. If the tires stay in one spot for too long while supporting the RV's weight, they can lose their shape. To prevent this:
    • If possible, move the RV a few inches every month to change the tires resting position.
    • Placing a piece of plywood or commercial tire jocks under each tire can distribute the weight more evenly and prevent the tire from sinking into soft ground.
    • If you can, raise the RV off the ground to take the weight off the tires.

Also there is some important actions that you shouldn't to forget to winterize your RV:

Empty the cupboards

Empty the cupboards

Remove all liquids that might freeze and burst, and consider taking out canned goods which can freeze and split.

Prevent pests

Prevent pests

Close any openings that might invite pests. Use steel wool for larger gaps and spray foam insulation for smaller holes. Consider natural repellents or commercial products to deter rodents and insects.

Cover up

Cover up

If you're storing your mobile home outdoors, invest in a quality RV cover. It should be breathable to prevent mold and mildew but durable enough to shield from snow, rain, and UV rays.

Insurance & security

Insurance & security

Make sure your RV insurance is up-to-date. Even in storage, unexpected events can occur. Also, if your mobile home is stored in a location away from home, ensure it's in a secure place.


Winterizing your RV is an essential routine to ensure your investment remains in good condition, ready to hit the road once the warmer weather rolls back in. By following this step-by-step guide, you can rest easy knowing your mobile home is safe from winter's grasp, but it might be a good idea to periodically check your RV throughout the winter months. Safe travels, and see you in the spring!

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