How To Winterize An RV: 9 Tips & Tricks

RV lifestyles are just as varied as the people who drive them and there is no right or wrong way to live the RV life. While some owners choose to use their rigs year-round, others might take the winter months off. If you fall into the latter category, this article is for you, as we are going to talk about how to winterize an RV. 

While everyone has their own way of doing things, most RV owners follow general guidelines for preparing their vehicle for winter. Here are some tips and tricks for RV winterization. 

#1. Clean and Prep Interior

While beginning the process of winterizing a camper, you will want to start inside the rig. Remove all towels, blankets and sheets and empty the cabinets and drawers throughout the vehicle.

It is also important to unplug all electric appliances, cover and store them away. Empty, clean and defrost the fridge/freezer before unplugging for the down season.

Disconnect and remove all batteries from sensors, detectors, remotes, and clocks. Take all batteries and electronics out of the rig.

Placing natural dehumidifiers throughout will help prevent mold growth. Another tip is to place cans of dry-packs silica around the RV.

Give the entire interior a once-over cleaning; dust, mop/vacuum and wipe down countertops and cabinets.

A proper cleaning on the interior of your RV before winter begins can help prevent issues before they happen. 

#2. Rodent Prevention

An empty RV can be seen as a sanctuary to rodents, bugs and insects, and even one tiny mouse can create giant damage. These next few tips will help stop a rodent infestation before it begins.

First, after cleaning the inside, carefully check for any possible openings. Use a metal dish scrubbing pad that is non-rusting to plug any open spaces. Place cedar chips and/or dryer sheets on counters and floors to deter entrance.

Another hack for small openings is to use an anti-rodent foam insulation. Most insects are repelled by the scent of peppermint, so it’s recommended to place peppermint packets throughout the RV interior, specifically in the areas where food and garbage was kept.

Another tip is to place ant and roach baits inside the rig. Using some-or all- of these tips can prevent pests from creating a mess.

#3. Power Down

Another part of winterizing RV motorhomes and trailers? Disconnect the vehicle from shore power and be sure to turn the main breaker to the ‘off’ position. These actions won’t take long but it’s important to not overlook them while you begin to RV winterization. 

While washing the exterior of your RV, pay attention for any problems that could worsen during the winter months. Look for cracks, dry rot or broken seals along windows. 

#4. Washing

Completely wash the exterior of the RV, cleaning debris from the slides and the seams. This step will help prevent leaks and tears. A clean rig will make detecting issues easier to spot.

Fully extend the awning and wash it; let it dry completely and then roll back up for the season. Place a slip-on awning cover as a final step of weather protection.

#5. Check for Needed Repairs

Next thing to know when learning how to winterize an RV? You need to inspect the seams and seals and repair any torn or cracked areas. Look over all exterior areas for any type of damage. If the problem is not something fixable on your own, schedule a repair with a reputable company.

#6. All About the Water

When winterizing a camper, all the water from the rig’s system will need to be emptied. Hot water heater and holding tanks, waterlines and toilet; all lines need to be flushed to prevent freezing. Replacing the water should be potable antifreeze. Pump this product into the water system, filling it completely full. Doing so will prevent cracking, freezing and other damage caused from cold temperatures.

Another tip is to remember to turn off the faucets and close off the valves; remember to recap the drains, too.

Clean the sewer hose and store it within the RV.

#7. Tire Prep

It’s important to take care of your tires. Being able to rotate the tires a handful of times throughout the winter is an alternative to using jacks. If going to the RV and rolling the RV up enough to create a half-tire rotation isn’t an option, it’s recommended to use leveling jacks to protect the tires from getting flat spots.

Either way, it is also a good idea to place tire covers on to protect the tires from weather damage, but you’ll still want to check the tires out before hitting the road next spring. 

#8. Storage Options

Where will you keep the RV during the cold months? While some people store RVs under a shelter at their home, others opt to store at a rental storage unit. If neither of these options work, covering the rig with a breathable tarp is important. Also, place a waterproof tarp on the ground for the RV to rest on during the off-season.

Taking the winter off from RV adventures is perfectly fine, especially when you know how to winterize an RV.

Prefer to take your break without winterizing? You could sell your RV before the sold season hits. Another option is to purchase a four season RV and keep the fun going right on through the winter season. National Vehicle can help you accomplish either of these things!

About Debra Pamplin

Since 2007, Debra Pamplin has worn her freelancing hat proudly. Though she has written about music and RV topics over the years, travel writing has always been her priority. Since the beginning of her career, she has had many articles published on a variety of topics. Websites such as USA Today Travel, Coldwell Banker and have published her stories. Her byline has appeared in numerous print publications and popular websites over the years.

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