How To Winterize Your RV?

By Kyle & Olivia Brady | Founders of Drivin' & Vibin' | We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

How To Winterize Your RV?

Many RVers store their rigs for the winter, then anxiously await Spring to see if they have any pipe issues from freezing.  Rather than spending those cold months worrying about upcoming repairs, some owners have decided to learn how to winterize an RV. 

Here’s your opportunity to do the same.

Keep in mind: this is a step by step guide for generic RVs. Your RV may have a few variations or nuances that can be found in your owners manual.

When Should You Winterize Your RV?

If your RV will be in temperatures that are consistently 32 degrees F or less for 24 hours and longer, you should winterize the RV.  This protects pipes, water tanks, and your peace of mind.

It will also help you avoid costly repairs in the future. 

How Long Does It Take To Winterize an RV?

The entire process of winterizing can take just 20 to 30 minutes if you are properly prepared with the items necessary to complete the job. 

If not, the procedure can take hours as you chase down products and tools. Being familiar with your RV water system will also save you time.

Products You Will Need To Winterize Your RV

Collect the following items before you start the winterization process:

  1. RV antifreeze – 2 to 3 gallons should be enough, but you will discover exactly how much you need for your particular rig after you’ve winterized it the first time.
  2. Water heater bypass kit – get one installed if your water heater does not have one put in by the manufacturer
  3. Tubing to connect water pump inlet OR a water pump converter kit
  4. Tools to remove and install drain plugs

How To Winterize an RV: Step By Step

#1Read your vehicle manual, as each rig may have slight differences in winterizing guidelines.  Note, too, if your RV has a built-in winterizing system. Your RV may require special processes,

#2 Remove all inline water filters.  This includes those under the sink or at the outside water spigot.

#3Empty all water tanks.  Open and drain the fresh water holding tank.  Dump the gray water and black water tanks at a dump station, backflushing them or using a tank wand to clean them.  Make sure the water heater has been off long enough for water to be cool, then drain it, as well.

#4Open hot and cold low point drain lines by removing plugs.

#5Turn on all faucets (including outside shower) and flush the toilet to get any water out of the lines.  Use water pump, if need be, but turn it off immediately when water is gone.

#6Close all faucets and cap all drains when pipes are empty.

#7Bypass water heater lines, either by using existing bypass (usually requires just the turn of a handle) or have a bypass kit installed on your water heater.

#8Run antifreeze through the water system.  This is done by using an installed water pump converter kit, or by disconnecting the tubing between the pump and the freshwater tank and replacing it with a piece of tubing that is attached to the pump on one end, with the other end placed in a gallon of antifreeze.  Then turn on the water pump and it will pull the antifreeze out of the jug and through the water system.  You will need to turn the pump off as one gallon is emptied, to replace it with a full gallon jug, then repeat the process until your water system is full of antifreeze.

#9Slowly turn on each faucet, starting with the one closest to the water pump in your rig (including outside shower) and flush the toilet.  When all have pink antifreeze coming through their lines, you have put enough into the system.  Turn off the water pump.

#10Turn off all faucets.

#11 – Pour a cup of antifreeze down each drain (sinks, shower, and toilet, flushing it again).

Now You Know!

Winterizing an RV is not a difficult or time-consuming task if you have the equipment you need, are familiar with your rig’s water system, and you follow the steps listed above.

It might take you 20 or 30 minutes to complete the process, but it will save you the stress of worrying about the health of your home on wheels every time the temperature drops below freezing.

Your RV will be ready for all the amazing free-camping sites next spring!

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2 comments

  1. This was a very helpful article as we are looking for our very first rig my question is if I want to winterize in December and then decide to drive to Tucson in January to camp but then go back to freezing temperatures in Albuquerque in February do I need to keep re-winterizing every time I take my rig out?

  2. I been rv’n since before it was called rv’n, this was probably the best description of winterizing I have heard, I’m sure it will be of great help

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