How to Get Your RV Ready for Winter – Camping or Storage
Ready to put your RV up for the winter? Or are you only halfway through this year’s RV adventure? For both seasonal enthusiasts and fulltime RVers, fall represents a pivotal time for preparing your vehicle for the upcoming cold weather season by either winterizing your RV or prepping it for winter camping. If your RV is going to be in a cold climate where temperatures will reach freezing, there are important, protective steps to take to prepare for those harsher weather conditions. And whether you’re getting ready for winter camping or looking for tips for winterizing your RV, we’ve got you covered with our checklist on how to get your RV ready for winter!
Winter Ready Checklist for RVs:
A close inspection of your RV exterior is an important part of winterizing your RV, winter camping prep, and annual maintenance. Check your RV’s roof, sidewalls, and windows for any loose sealant, damage, or gaps that could allow winter weather and pest access to your RV interior. (Always practice extreme caution when on an RV roof, and if you’re not comfortable or able to check all parts of your RV make an appointment at your local service center to have the inspection completed by a trained technician.)
For those conducting their own inspection and (if needed) repairs, Dicor’s Seal-Tite™ Cap and Lap Sealant is popular for a reliable quick fix, and there are also complete kits for window and corner seals.
Whether you’re about to put your RV in storage or hit the road, checking your tires (including the spare) is always a good idea. Look for uneven wear patterns that might indicate alignment issues, test air pressure and tread to make sure they’re within recommended levels and look for any damage to sidewalls or rims.
If you’re about to hit the road for a winter camping trip, make sure that your RV is equipped with appropriate cold weather gear and an emergency kit. That way in case of an unfortunate wintertime road issue, like a flat tire, you’re prepared to either fix it or wait in freezing conditions for help to arrive.
For those winterizing RVs understand that when your RV sits for several months under thousands of pounds of weight without moving, the tires can take a beating. So, if your RV has leveling jacks, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to raise the rig off the ground. Outside jacks can also be used. If neither of these are possible, be sure to park on a paved or concrete surface to prevent the tires from sinking into the ground, set the parking brake, and use wheel chocks. If possible, move your RV about one-half tire revolution a couple of times through the winter to help redistribute the weight.
3. Windows & Vent Covers
Window and vents can be two vulnerable areas on an RV where winter elements can seep in, an unwanted occurrence whether you are winter camping or have your RV in off-season storage. So, look around your rig, if there are components you can see out of (like windows, skylights, or vents) it’s best to have a cover for them for winter.
Depending on the current condition of your coach, prepping windows and vents with covers for winter might mean:
- Repairing existing RV pleated shades
- Getting new door, windshield, and/or RV window shades
- Adding shades to rooftop components including skylights and vents
4. RV Plumbing
Important to both winterizing your RV for storage and prepping for winter camping is a thorough understanding of the water and plumbing systems onboard your coach. In the face of freezing temperatures, any water on your RV poses a risk and common wintertime issues include frozen waste pipes, burst water lines, and cracked fittings – all costly problems to fix.
Start with a detailed inventory of systems and appliances on your rig that use water, so that you can be sure every element of your RV water system is ready for freezing temperatures. Which of the following common water features would you need to include on a checklist of how to get your RV ready for winter?
- Fresh water tank
- Fresh water hose and hook-up
- Gray and black water tanks
- Water pumps
- Water heaters
- Water filtration units
- Hydronic heating systems
- Piping and exterior connections
- Refrigerators and freezers
- Ice makers
- Washing machines
Once you have your checklist of components work through it meticulously following manufacturers’ instructions for preparing the unit or system for below zero temperatures.
Winter camping preparations for RV water systems will often include insulating and/or heating options for these elements while those winterizing RVs will be draining water from the system and preparing it for idle storage.
5. RV Interiors
Though it is not most people’s favorite chore, a deep clean of your RV interior is necessary before winter storage or your first winter camping trip. Make a thorough sweep of your entire rig, paying special attention to your kitchen or any areas that stored food as to avoid attracting hungry critters during the lean months of winter. Make sure to remove all old food and beverages. If needed thaw, then wipe down your RV freezer and fridge. Thoroughly clean out kitchen cabinetry and drawers. Finally, launder any fabric elements in the kitchen and dining areas like towels, rags, napkins, curtains, and removable cushion covers.
If, after the deep clean, you’re storing your RV for winter you’ll also wash any bedding or other RV linens and fold them away for off-season storage. Remove any valuables or electronics from your RV. And once cleaned, leave that RV refrigerator or freezer door propped open.
If the deep clean is part of prepping your RV for winter camping, this is also the ideal time to test appliances to make sure everything is in good working order. Key components to test considering the cold temperatures include your furnace and hot water heater. Check out Airxcel’s YouTube channel for best practices if your RV has a Suburban or Aqua-Hot system.
Fill all propane tanks, especially for those prepping for winter camping as you do not want to be out boondocking and run out unexpectedly. When winterizing your RV remove external tanks and store them in a sheltered location (never inside the RV). Then by covering the tank connection fittings on your RV with plastic bags and rubber bands you can keep pests out.
7. Engine & Batteries
If you have a motorhome there are special considerations for either running your engine in the wintertime or storing it for an extended period of disuse. Either way you’ll want to consult your user manual to see what steps are needed to prepare your engine for the rigors of winter temperatures.
For those winterizing an RV for storage you’ll also need to have a plan for your batteries. Batteries should be fully charged, and in a climate where freeze is possible, removed and stored in a dry, warm location. If that’s not an option, disconnect cables (negative side first) for safety. And like with all crucial components check with the manufacture for proper care and maintenance instructions.
If you spend time now prepping your RV for winter camping or winterizing your RV for storage, it will make what comes next much easier whether that’s a wintertime road trip or springtime de-winterization!