Winterizing Your RV & Camper

As the summer winds down, and you are preparing for the kids to go back to school, most of us are sad to see it go, but taking steps to ensure that your RV or Camper are ready for winter are vital. If you are relatively new to this whole process, we have the steps you will need to get ready for winter.

1. Your Water System

You do not want your pipes to freeze, they will crack and this will cause a lot of unnecessary stress plus cost you financially. To avoid this, you will need to fully winterize your water system, there will be guidelines in your owner’s manual to follow. Large RV’s with washing machines, dishwasher, etc. will require extra steps for winterization, but all units do have basic steps:

  • Make sure the water heater is off, then drain and flush ALL pipes. To remove all water, open all the faucets while draining.
  • When you fill the system with antifreeze, a good non-toxic one, make sure it has reached all of the faucets, you can even pour antifreeze into all the drains.
  • You will need a water heater bypass kit, some RV’s will have these pre-installed, but if yours does not, then you will need one.

2. Remove the Batteries

Winter temperatures can be very detrimental to your RV/Camper, you will want to protect the batteries.

  • Turn off the RV’s disconnect and breaker switches. When disconnecting the battery, remove the negative cable first, (If the cables are not labelled, maybe label them for when you are ready to reconnect them in the spring.)
  • Store fully charged batteries in a warm, dry place. Do not store them on a concrete floor, this will slowly drain the power from the battery.
  • Large RV’s and Campers will have specific instructions as they will have multiple batteries. It is usually recommended to keep these ones installed, but you will need to consult your owner’s manual. If you are leaving these ones installed, you will still want to disconnect the negative cable. Check the battery charge throughout the winter and recharge when necessary.

3. Applying a Protectant to the Exterior

You will want to protect the exterior of your RV/Camper from the elements. To accomplish this, you will want to buy a good quality wax or protectant formula that is compatible with the composite of your unit. To apply this, you will want to make sure you clean the exterior of your unit, checking for cracks and split seams. If there are any cracks, patch those areas with a sealant that is correctly specified to your unit, then wax the entire exterior.

4. Your Awning Needs to be Cleaned

While you are waxing and preparing the exterior, you might as well clean and dry your awning as well. It is vital to make sure the awning is completely dry to prevent molding, this is the same for pop up trailers with fabric or canvas siding. 

  • You will want to loosen any hard dirt or grime with a dry soft brush
  • Hose the dirt off from top to bottom
  • You can use a mixture of ¼ cup of dish soap with ¼ cup of bleach in 5 gallons of warm water to wash the top and bottom sides of the fabric. (You have to dilute the bleach or it will damage the awning fabric)
  • Once you have your cleaning solution on the awning, roll it up for anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours. This will allow the cleaning solution to do its job.
  • Unroll and rinse very thoroughly once the solution has had time to work
  • You need to let your awning fabric time to dry completely, allow it to air dry completely before you can roll it back up.

If you encounter stubborn mildew, you will want to wipe the affected area(s) with white vinegar, this will kill the mildew. You will need to rinse the fabric with clean water after, you may want to do a second wash and rinse after this.

*Be careful to NEVER use a strong detergent or stain remover, because it will destroy the repellency on the fabric. Also avoid using hard-bristled brushes, petroleum-based chemicals and caustic household cleaners.

5. Remove, Clean & Replace the AC Filters

While you are working on the exterior of your RV, you should also clean the exterior of your air conditioning. Once a year you should do this, so when you are winterizing is the perfect time. Remove the cover shroud, then using compressed air, blow the dust, bugs, leaves and other debris out. When you clean the inside, you will need to go and remove the ceiling cover and wash and replace the intake filter pads.  Using a cover on your air conditioner will help to maintain it.

*If you are using it continuously throughout the summer, or frequently, it is recommended that the intake filters should be cleaned or changed twice a month. Do NOT use the air conditioner without a filter in place.

6. Locks and Hinges

This is a very quick and easy step. Just take a few minutes and go around and lubricate the locks and hinges before storing the RV. This will help prevent creaks, jams and breaks in the springs.

7. Cover Your Wheels

If you are planning on storing your RV outside for the winter, covering your wheels will protect them from the elements. The sidewalls on tires are susceptible to UV damage, this can weaken them over time, covers can help minimize the effects of UV rays. Tire covers will also help with premature cracking on the sidewalls of your tires.

Tire in shade: 29.5? C
Tire in full sun: 42.2? C
With white cover in sun: 37? C
Black tire in sun: 57.8? C

The rate of damage due to sun and heat exposure doubles, once the damage is done it cannot be reversed.

8. Avoiding Mould & Mildew

Minimizing moisture damage in your RV is critical and if you plan to store it nearby with a power source you can use a dehumidifier a few times throughout the winter and this will do the trick. There are a few options:

  • Leaving the roof vents cracked open a ¼” will help moisture escape
  • Using a chemical dehumidifier
  • Using a humidifier

If you are using a tarp to cover your unit, try using a breathable fabric to prevent water and condensation from occurring.

Reference Links:

https://gorving.ca/blog/9-steps-to-winterize-your-rv/

https://gorving.com/what-to-do/winterizing-your-rv

https://www.stonesrv.com/how-to-clean-your-rv-fabric-awnings/3941/

https://www.sgicanada.ca/news?title=how-to-winterize-your-rv

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