As the idyllic summer season of RV travel winds down, it's time to think about preparing your RV for winter. The winterization process is crucial to protect your rig from the harshness of the cold months. We've already covered RV dewinterization in a related article, and in today’s article, we will guide you through the complex yet easy to accomplish process of RV winterization. So, let's dive in and conquer the art of winterizing your RV.
Why Winterize Your RV?
It's essential to understand why winterizing your RV is a necessary step before we delve into the how-to. Winterizing your RV is all about protecting your investment. Winter and the freezing weather that comes with it can cause a lot of damage to the plumbing in your RV. Expanding pipes and even your tanks can freeze over, resulting in thousands of dollars of avoidable damage.
This isn't just about preventing a messy leak; it's about avoiding the costly and time-consuming repairs associated with burst pipes and damaged fixtures. Moreover, it's about ensuring that when spring comes around, your RV is ready to hit the road without any issues.
Things You’ll Need
Before you get started on the process of winterizing your RV, it's important to gather all the necessary tools and supplies. Here's a list of what you'll need:
- Non-toxic RV/Marine antifreeze (2-3 gallons)
- A water pump converter kit or basic tubing
- A water heater bypass kit (if your RV doesn't have one)
- A tank cleaning wand and flushing system
- Various tools such as a cordless power drill, socket wrench, flashlight, and needle-nose pliers or a screwdriver
Remember, every RV is unique, so you might need additional tools depending on your RV's configuration to prepare your RV for winter.
Step-by-Step Guide to Winterize Your RV
Armed with the right tools and an understanding of why RV winterization matters, it's time to dive into the step-by-step process of winterizing your RV.
Step 1: Drain Tanks & Flush
The first thing that you’re going to need to do is to flush your black and gray water tanks. It's vital to ensure that no wastewater is left sitting in your tanks over the winter months. Start by emptying both tanks out and then cleaning your black water tanks thoroughly.
Step 2: Drain Water from the Water Heater
The next step is to empty your water heater. After turning it off and letting it fully cool, remove the drain plug or anode rod to let the water drain out. Remember, draining the water heater when it's hot or under pressure can be dangerous, so always wait until it's cooled down and depressurized.
Step 3: Open Faucets and Remove Drain Plugs
After draining the water heater, open all the faucets (both hot and cold) and remove all drain plugs to allow the water to drain from the tank. Keeping the water pump on can expedite this process. Just remember to turn it off once the water pressure drops to prevent any damage to the pump.
Step 4: Replace Drain Plugs and Close the Faucets
After you have drained your faucets, make sure to close them and to put the drain plugs back in to prepare your RV for antifreeze.
Step 5: Bypass the Water Heater
You must bypass the water heater before you add antifreeze. This is important because you don't want antifreeze filling up your water heater, as this is both unnecessary and wasteful. If your RV doesn't come with a bypass system, you can either install one yourself or have it done by a professional.
Step 6: Connect the System to the Antifreeze
Next, you'll need to connect your system to the antifreeze. If you have a pump converter kit, you can use this method. If you don’t you can also use a water intake line that you connect directly to the antifreeze. After you have connected the system, let the water pump circulate the antifreeze throughout the entire plumbing system.
Step 7: Open All Faucets Until Antifreeze Appears
Starting with the faucet closest to the water pump, slowly open each one until you see the colored antifreeze flowing out. Repeat this process for all sinks, showers, and toilets in your RV. Don't forget about any external showers or faucets.
Step 8: Pour Antifreeze Down All Drains
After running antifreeze through the entire water system, pour a little extra down each drain and into the toilet. This ensures that the antifreeze reaches all parts of your plumbing system and protects the exterior termination pipes from freezing.
Step 9: Final Preparations
After you've completed the above steps, you can turn off the heating element for your water heater and close the faucets again. At this point, your RV's water system is ready for winter storage.
Step 10: Don't Forget About Appliances
Certain appliances in your RV might also need winterization, such as ice makers and washing machines.
Winterizing an RV is not just about preventing potential damage that can set you back, it's also about protecting your investment well into the future with routine maintenance. So, whether you're an experienced RVer or a newbie, understanding how to winterize your RV is a crucial skill that will serve you well for years to come.