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How to Winterize Your RV? – 2 Incredible Methods!

Fact checked by Ronal Dowens

how to winterize your rv

We recommend that RV winterizing should be done as early as possible during the fall season because you’ll have less time to winterize it when winter gets close. A well-done job will prevent internal and external damage to your RV as you store it for a while during the snowy season.

To winterize a travel trailer, removing your RV’s batteries, food, and water from your RV is essential. This article will teach you how to winterize your RV and tips on other things you must do in camper winterizing.

This guide is perfect for dummies just starting with RVing and even for veteran campers who want to winterize a 5th wheel camper!

There are two ways to winterize a water system: antifreeze and air compressor. Below is the list of tools and materials that you need. Make sure you don’t forget to put them all on your checklist!

To Winterize RV With Antifreeze, You Will Need

best-way-to-winterize-a-camper

  • Non-toxic antifreeze (about 4 gallons)/ or an air compressor and blow-out plug
  • A tool kit with a socket wrench (1-1/16”), ½” male pipe thread fitting (or quick connect fitting, depending on your water pump)
  • Screw gun
  • Channel locks
  • Blow-out plug
  • Teflon tape or Rectorseal
  • A water pump converter kit
  • Towels

Method 1: Winterize an RV with Antifreeze

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Step 1: Empty all the tanks

You should ensure that any electric elements are off to avoid damage and accidents. Then, empty all tanks, including:

  • The fresh water tank
  • The black water tank
  • The galley
  • The gray tanks
  • The water heater tank

Make sure the water is already cool when you start draining it from the heater tank. The water heater tank is a bit trickier to drain; that’s why we need to use the channel locks to remove the water heater’s plastic plug to drain it. If it’s plugged with an anode rod, use a socket wrench.

Use the relief valve to control the flow of the water that will come out of the heater. Once the water is all drained, put back the plug. We recommend putting a Teflon tape or Rectorseal to seal the heater well.

Regarding the fresh water tank, make sure you open its faucets to drain more quickly, then plug them back.

Step 2: Bypass the water heater

There are three valves in the water heater bypass, and you will work on them to successfully bypass your water heater.

  • Close the valve going to the water heater.
  • Open the valve in the middle, which is the bypass valve.
  • Close the valve going out of the water heater, then into the main line.

Doing these to the valves will make the cold water flow straight to the hot water side and prevent any water from going into your water heater.

Step 3: Bypass the fresh water tank

You should find out the winterization valve in your RV or use a water pump converter kit to bypass your freshwater holding tank.

Make sure you disconnect this tank’s lines with the water pump to prevent the antifreeze from getting into the tank.

Step 4: Put the antifreeze into the system

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Use your screw gun to unscrew the cover of your water pump. Once you have access to the water pump, disconnect it from the fresh water tank, then connect it to the fitting instead.

Open your gallon of antifreeze and insert the end of the fitting inside it so that it can draw antifreeze into the water system.

You can now turn on the water pump but ensure that all the faucets are closed before doing so.

Step 5: Turn on the hot and cold water faucets.

camper-winterizing

With the water pump turned on, you can start turning on the hot and cold water faucets. Remember to turn the faucets on one by one.

When you run the faucet, the water should turn pink, signifying that some antifreeze has already flowed into the system.

You should also do this step to the toilet bowl, tub, and showerheads (both bathroom and outdoor showerheads). Once done, you may turn off the water pump and clean up any mess with paper towels.

Step 6: Pour more antifreeze into the drain.

If you have more antifreeze left in the jug, finish your winterizing process by pouring it into your drains to have some “extra defense” for the cold.

Related: 7 easest steps to winterize RV without antifreeze.

Method 2: Winterize RV with Air Compressor

Step 1: Empty all the tanks.

The first steps in the air compressor method are similar to the antifreeze method. Again, empty all of the tanks first before doing any winterization process in the plumbing system.

Remove the water heater’s plug using channel locks to drain it — if it’s an anode rod, use a socket wrench. Control the water’s flow using the relief valve, and once the water heater tank is drained, put back its plug. Make sure that the tank is sealed properly.

Step 2: Bypass the water heater.

This step is also similar to the one in the antifreeze method. Again, there are three valves that you should turn to their proper positions so that water won’t flow into the water heater tank.

Close the valve that’s going into the water heater and the valve that goes out of the water heater, then open the bypass valve.

Step 3: Set up your air compressor.

Dial down the pressure to around 30 to 40 PSI. Do not go more than 30 to 40 PSI because too much pressure can cause damage to your pipes.

Before connecting the air compressor to your system, remove any inline filters in your RV. After that, attach the blow-out plug to your RV’s water inlet and finally connect your air compressor to the system.

Step 4: Turn on the hot and cold water faucets.

This one is another similar step to the antifreeze method. Turn on the faucets one by one but instead of waiting for pink fluid to come out, wait for air — let the air compressor push out all of the water until you can only feel pure air from the faucet.

Do this to both hot and cold water faucets, and do not forget the toilet bowl, tub, and showerheads (both bathroom and outdoor showerheads).

Step 5: Pour antifreeze into the drain.

Yes, you also need some antifreeze in the air compressor method. A gallon of antifreeze should be enough.

Finish your winterization process by pouring some antifreeze into the drains so the p-traps won’t freeze.

Helpful Tips

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Our water system is not the only thing that you should winterize. Here are more things you should know and some winterization tips that can help.

  • Protect the tires of your RV. There are tire covers that you can purchase in both physical stores and online stores.
  • Remove your batteries and keep them in dry storage. Prevent them from draining as well with the help of a battery tender which you can purchase online too.
  • Put some insulation on your windows and doors and ensure they’re shut.
  • Place some natural dehumidifiers to prevent mold from building up.
  • Unplug your electrical appliances.
  • Clean your RV’s interior.

Conclusion

Why is it important to learn how to winterize your RV properly? Winterizing the RV is necessary for every RVer to do before the winter season. Doing this will save your RV from not only damage but also your time and pocket.

The best way to winterize a camper depends on how protected you want your system to be from the cold, or it can also depend on how cold it is in your location. Either way, we hope that our article is able to help you learn the process of winterization. Safe travels, and thank you for reading!

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