How to Winterize an RV: 5 Steps

A gas-fired boiler controller

If you’re an RV camper, you know that it’s that time to think about putting your rig away for the winter. According to RVDA of Canada, approximately 2.1 million households in Canada own an RV which makes up 15 percent of all Canadian households. It’s essential to make sure that your RV winterizing is not only done on time but done properly, so you don’t have to worry about major problems with your rig come spring.

We are an Alberta energy company that serves people who own many different vehicles. Here are some handy tips if you’re getting ready to winterize an RV. If it’s done right, you should be in good shape to get back out onto the road when the weather warms up and the snow clears.

Step One: Your Water System

The biggest thing to consider when thinking about how to winterize an RV is its plumbing and water system. The water set up in an RV is relatively complicated, and if the water stays in the wrong places and it freezes it can cause major problems. Follow the steps below:

1. Disconnect the outside water source, whether it comes from the city or a water tank.
2. Drain the water system from the cold, hot and freshwater tanks.
3. Open the petcocks to empty the pipes.
4. Flush the toilets and open the faucets to remove any remaining water inside.
5. Empty your water heater.
6. If your RV does not have one, by-pass your water heater with a kit.
7. Add antifreeze to all sinks, faucets and shower drains.

Consult your owner’s manual to confirm the following:

1. The source of your outside water.
2. The location of your three tanks.
3. Where to find the petcocks.
4. How to empty your model of water heater.
5. How to by-pass the water heater properly.
6. How much antifreeze to add to each area of your RV.

Step Two: Put Away Your Food

It may seem like no big deal to leave food in your RV over the winter since it’s going to be cold inside. However, rodents and other animals will look for shelter when the weather turns. Part of RV winterizing is making sure that all food is removed not only from your cabinets but also from your refrigerator and freezer. The last thing you need to deal with is an infestation that will require professional exterminators to eliminate.

Step Three: Check Your Doors and Windows

Winterizing an RV involves trying to keep as much cold air, moisture and wind out of the vehicle as possible. The biggest culprit when it comes to cold air getting inside is the doors and windows. Make sure you carefully inspect the RV in the fall to see if there are any gaps in the window frames or cracks in the windows themselves. You can either patch those frames or use some caulk, but make sure to seal them regardless. When it comes to doors, use weatherstripping to protect the interior of your vehicle.

Step Four: Check Your Vents

An important thing to remember when considering how to winterize an RV is to carefully check all vents in the vehicle. These can include plumbing and roof vents and a vent for your air
conditioner if your model comes with one. Seal the vents to keep as much air out as possible, and check for any cracks that could invite moisture in.

Step Five: Give it a Good Clean

Finally, you should take the time to clean your RV diligently and remove any loose parts and store them properly. Cleaning can help minimize the chance that mold or bacteria will grow, so pay close attention to the cooking area and bathroom.

It's Time to Put it Away

When you're done winterizing your RV, you still need to take a few precautions. If your RV is going to be parked outside, try to keep it out of the sun and use a cover if you have one. Make sure that you engage the emergency parking brake before you leave it and put wheel chocks down so the RV is less likely to roll or move around.

Ultimately, winterizing an RV is an important step if you live in Alberta. Keeping your RV in the best shape possible will help it last. Don't let your annual camping, fishing or cross-country road trip be deterred by the effects of winter on your RV. We hope that this guide helps you take the necessary steps to ensure your RV is kept safe during the winter.