How I Winterize my RV


Drain all of the water tanks,

Completely drain all black, gray, and fresh water tanks at a sanitary dump station.


Remove water from the hot water heater and the water lines

The first thing we want to remove water from is the water heater.  Most water heaters will have a drain located on the bottom of the heater.  This allows for water and lime buildup to be removed from the tank.  Open up the water heater drain.  You will most likely have little chunks of lime deposits drain out of the tank along with the water it held.  Once the tank has been drained then reinstall the plug.



At this point, attach a little plug (commonly called a Blowout Plug) to your RVís city water



 inlet.  These plugs can be purchased from most RV stores (example will carry the Blow Plug.  Connect the other end of the Blow Plug to your air compressor.  Set your air compressor to 30 psi, with a maximum air pressure of 50 psi, and start blowing air into the water inlet. While your compressor is blowing air into your water lines, walk around your RV and open up water valves, one at a time, to blow the water out from the lines.  When the water has been blown out then close the valve and move on to the next water opening.  Remember to flush the toilet. Don't forget the shower head and the outside shower if you have one. Donít forget to open up both the hot water line and the cold water line.  Once you have done each and every fixture in the rig, you should have most of the water out of your freshwater system. Remove the air source and bleed off any remaining pressure by opening a faucet.  


Pump Antifreeze through the water lines.

Technically at this point we can say our RV has been winterized.  However, if you wish to absolutely make sure your water lines are protected you can perform the following.  The reason for putting antifreeze through your lines is in case any water collects at low levels of your water lines and freezes.  This could be enough to blow a line.  Putting RV antifreeze through your lines will eliminate this from ever being an issue.


In order to easily pump the antifreeze throughout your water system, you can install a valve on your water pump inlet piping that allows your pump to draw antifreeze directly from the bottle. It's available from most any RV parts source. Alternatively, you can remove the existing hose from the inlet side of your water pump and attach a short piece of hose to reach into the antifreeze bottle.


 You can also install a bypass line for the water heater if you wish to save a little money.  A bypass line saves you money by limiting the amount of antifreeze you install.  Most water heaters use 6 to 10 gallons of water.  If you didnít install a bypass you would have to add an additional 6 to 10 gallons of antifreeze to your system.  Depending upon what you pay for antifreeze, installing a bypass can save you $10 to $30 each year in RV antifreeze expenses.  The following pictures are examples of bypass lines.  Take notice that the water lines have little on-off valves so that the line can be opened or closed to allow the bypass.





Now, run the RV water pump which will pull the antifreeze out of the jug and into the system.  Open each fixture, allowing it to flow until you see pure antifreeze. Monitor the level in the antifreeze bottle and make sure it doesn't run dry. Remember to flush the toilet and operate the toilet sprayer if installed. Don't forget the shower head and the outside shower if you have one.  Once you have done each and every fixture in the rig, you should have full protection against freezing pipes in your water system.


Freshen up your water tanks. 

Now, you need to freshen up you water tanks from a summers worth of use.  Pour in one cup of Laundry detergent into the black and the gray water tanks.  Usually you will dump the detergent directly into the shower drain and the toilet as the tanks will be below these two drains.  Then pour 10 gallons of water into both of these drains to add to the gray and the black water tanks.  Dump a bag of ice down your toilet so that it has something solid in the tank to help in the scrubbing process.  Drive around for a good 10 to 15 miles being sure to go up and down hills.  This allows the ice to scrub the sides of the black water tank and the detergent to clean out both tanks.  The movement of the cubes will clean stuck toilet paper and feces from the sensors, and give the tank a great scrub without damaging the seals.  When you go to dump the tanks for the last time, bring some 30 weight oil with you so you can put it on your fingers and work it over the stems of the black and gray water tank valves.  Then work the stems in and out a few times.


Final Winterizing Details.

Once you have the RV parked in itís final storage spot for the winter, pour some RV antifreeze down each drain to protect the trap.  Pour more antifreeze in the black and another into gray water tanks.  Close the toilet flush valve and pour a little antifreeze into the toilet bowl.


You could cover all external vents, such as the furnace outlet, to prevent critters from entering. Make sure that there are no easy routes for mice into your rig by covering or duct taping possible access holes.

Check the condition of the roof, roof vents and roof seams and correct any possible leak producing conditions. Now is a good time to take a close look at the whole exterior of the RV and take care of anything that needs fixing.

You could put the RV up on blocks and cover everything to prevent weather and sun damage.  I've been told that a tire sitting in the same position for months on end weakens it to the point where it may develop a flat spot.  I leave this up for you to decide how you want to do this, but I'm playing the safe route and making sure that my tires are up in the air, covered, and not supporting any weight for the winter months.


If you do put a cover on your camper then be sure to use some sort of rag to cover up the sharp corners.  The covers are usually breathable lightweight cloth that tears easy.