Winterizing an RV


Click on when it appears below for photos.

  • 1- Materials Required
    • 2 or 3 gallons of non-toxic antifreeze, (the pink stuff), (CC: S500 Non-Toxic Antifreeze per Gallon @ $5.95).
    • 4 cement blocks.
    • 4 sets of 2x4's, 4x4's & 1x4's.
    • Smart Battery Minder, (CC: E366 Battery MINDer @ $44.89).
    • A short piece of white hose with a male garden hose connector on one end, a connector that's compatible with your compressed air source on the other and an inline filter in the middle to be sure oil or other contaminants do not get into the RV water system. lnline paint sprayer filter, fittings and hose clamps are available at your local auto parts store. Click here for Photo
    • 2- Modification to the RV you might want to make.
      • Replace the Hot Water Heater Drain Plug with a Elbow & Valve. Click here for Photo--- Note: Even the Drain Plug in Atwood Heaters that have an Anode attached to it, there's a Drainable Anode available, (CC: A282 @ $8.95).
      • If your RV doesn't already have one, add a By-Pass Kit to your Hot Water Heater, (CC: S029 or S123 either @ $19.95). Saves you about $36.00 for six additional gallons of non-toxic antifreeze.
      • Add a RV Pump Conversion Winterizing Kit so you can use your water pump in the winterizing process, (CC: S030 Winterizing Pump Converter Kit @ $14.75 ). Click here for Photo
      • 3- Draining the Water System
        • Drain and Flush your Black & Gray Septic Tanks.
        • Add a little Tank Deodorant to the Black Water Septic Tank via the Toilet.
        • Close the black water septic tank gate valve the leave the gray water septic tank gate valve open.
        • Leave the Septic Drain Cap off at this point and put a pail under the septic drain connector to catch plain water and non-toxic antifreeze overflow from the gray water septic tank that may occur during the winterizing process.
        • Drain your Fresh Water Tank.
        • Turn your Hot Water Heater's water input to "By-Pass".
        • Drain your Hot Water Heater's Tank.
        • I've been told that putting a flea collar or some moth balls inside the Hot Water compartment near the burner will keep the creapy crawly things away.
        • Run the Water Pump a short while with the sink cold water faucet open to evacuate the last bit of water from your Fresh Water Tank and the pipe from the Tank to the Pump.
        • If possible, use compressed air, step 4 below, to blow out the pipes as the next step in winterizing the water pipes. If not, be aware that there are extra steps required when adding the non-toxic anti-freeze. Also, additional antifreeze will be required to expel the water & antifreeze mixture to insure the system is filled with pure antifreeze.
        • 4- Use Compressed Air to blow the lines in the Water System.
          • Limit the compressed air source to 40psi to prevent inadvertently rupturing a pipe connection inside your RV. If you are using a compressor, set the hose pressure to 40psi. If it's a portable air tank that you fill at the gas station, just fill it to 40psi.
          • Make up a short piece of hose with a male garden hose connection on one end, a male air hose quick connect on the other that matches your compressed air source and the inline air filter in the middle. Click here for Photo
          • Connect your short hose adapter to your compressed air source and the other to the RV city water input on the side of the trailer.
          • Turn on the compressed air and start blowing compressed air into the water system.
          • Begin with the faucets at the highest level, probably the kitchen sink first, the bathroom sink second, followed by the shower, (outside shower too, if you have one), then the toilet and finally the low point drain valves.
          • Just open the cold-water faucet till a steady stream of air comes out. Close it and open the hot water faucet using the same procedure.
          • Repeat the process for the other four locations where water is used as indicated above.
          • You should only have one faucet or valve open at a time to maximize the pressure required to expel the water from the water system pipes.
          • The water system still has a small amount of water in it and that water will surly freeze if the ambient temperature goes much below freezing. That's why it's recommended that you fill the water system pipes with non-toxic antifreeze next, see step 5 below.
          • 5- Putting Non-Toxic Antifreeze in the Water System.
            • Remove the cap from your RV Pump Conversion Winterizing Kit Valve, attach the hose and move the valve to accept anti-freeze from the hose.
            • Place an open gallon of Non-Toxic Antifreeze next to the RV Pump Conversion Winterizing Kit Valve so that the hose will reach the bottom of the jug.
            • If you did not blow out the lines in the water system with compressed air, step 4 above, prior to this point, be sure you follow the next few sub-steps:
              • Because there is still water in the water system pipes, when you start to run the non-toxic antifreeze into the system, in the beginning of the process the anti-freeze is diluted and it will take extra antifreeze to get the system to all pure antifreeze.
              • This means as you make sure that you run more liquid out of each faucet to get pure anti-freeze, dark pink.
              • You might need an extra gallon of antifreeze or so during this process.
              • When you finish with putting anti-freeze in the water pipes, remember, the anti-freeze that ran into the traps may be diluted, so add some additional anti-freeze to the traps at this time.
            • Be sure all valve and faucets are closed, and then turn on the water pump.
            • One at a time, open each faucet, hot and cold, till you get the pink antifreeze coming out then close the faucet.
            • Be sure to do the toilet and the shower, (& outside shower), through to the shower head.
            • Keep checking the antifreeze supply to be sure the gallon has not run out.
            • When it get close exchange the antifreeze bottle for a full one.
            • You can consolidate the almost empty antifreeze bottles later.
            • By this time there should be enough antifreeze in the drain traps, however if you were really fast turning the faucets off, you might add a little antifreeze in each trap.
            • With the pump still turned on, you have to back flush the city water connection, any filter that might be installed and the pipe running to it. Just pull the hose screen off the city water connection and using your finger or pencil, the eraser end, and not a knife, depress the check value ball. Watch out, the water behind the check valve is at pump pressure. Release the check valve ball when you see pink antifreeze flowing from the hose connection.
            • Now turn the pump off.
            • Open all the faucets in the trailer to relieve the pressure that might build up if anything that's left in any of the lines freezes, especially in extremely cold climates.
            • WARNING - One of the first things you must due in the spring is close all the faucets and especially the low point draim valves which are easy to forget.
            • Finally, put a pail under the low point drains and open these valves too. Don't worry about any antifreeze that escapes. It's replaced by air and that doesn't freeze either. Just look at it as starting to purge your water system for your first Spring use!
            • Some RV owners recycle this antifreeze that comes out of the low point drains but you can never be sure it's pure antifreeze!
            • Make sure both gate valves on the septic tanks are open.
            • WARNING - One of the first things you must due in the spring is close both gate valves to prevent the back water septic tank from back flushing into the gray water septic tank.
            • Leave the Septic Drain Cap off and cover the opening with a screen and clamp it in place with a septic hose clamp to keep out critters that might like to crawl into your septic system. Click here for Photo
            • Add a little mineral oil to the toilet bowl to prevent the seal from drying out over the winter.
            • 6- Putting the RV up on Blocks.
              • Putting your RV up on blocks is easy if you have a Hydraulic Leveling System like one from HWH.
              • You can do it with just a Tongue Jack, no problem.
              • First get you Cement Blocks and pieces of wood distributed.
              • You'll need to them along the frame where your manual says to put the jack to change a tire. For a travel trailer they go just under the front end of the trailer and just behind the rear wheels.
              • Now, using the tongue jack lower the front end of the trailer as far as it will go, well almost.
              • Put a cement block and appropriate pieces of wood under the frame just behind the rear wheels on each side. Be sure to use the same amount of wood on both sides, assuming the ground is level.
              • Now run the tongue jack up till the trailer is just past level with the front higher.
              • Put the other two cement blocks with appropriate wood on top just under the front of the trailer along the frame. Click here for Photo
              • Retract the tongue jack till it's off the ground.
              • You want the front of the trailer slightly higher than the back so the snow/rain with run off the back for the most part and the wheels just off the ground.
              • 7- Covering the RV.
                • First thing you want to do is check on any thing that will snag or cut the cover or tarp once it's in place.
                • Put the radio antenna down.
                • Add protective foam or tennis balls to corners and sharp ends of the awning, etc.
                • Place a piece of foam along the edge of the roof over the main doorway to prevent drips and icicles.
                • Put the cover or tarp in place and secure it so it won't flap or chafe.
                • Be sure the main doorway is accessible so that you can gain access for periodic inspections which should about once a month.
                • 8- Battery Maintenance.
                  • Disconnect your Deep Cycle Battery or Batteries and put inside in your Garage or Basement.
                  • Connect a Smart Battery Minder it/them.
                  • If you can leave your RV connected to shore power then install an old Sealed Car Battery, not a dead one but not a good one either, in your RV as you will need lights for those periodic inspections and converter/chargers don't like not having a battery connected to them.
                  • 9- Removal of all Items that might Freeze or be tempting to critters.
                    • All cleaners.
                    • Tooth Paste, Liquid Soap, Hand Cream, and any Spray Cans.
                    • Beer, Soda and Wine (I had a wine bottle explode; it wasn't pretty).
                    • All Food Stuffs.
                    • Spare Septic Deodorant.
                    • 10- Final List.
                      • Clean the entire RV inside.
                      • Cleaning the outside can wait till spring, especially if you're storing your RV outside.
                      • Turn off the LP Tanks.
                      • Recheck the presure in the Tires.
                      • Depending on your maintenance schedule, check the brake linings and repack the wheel bearings.
                      • Add new Ant Traps in the bottom of ALL the cabinets and out side storage compartmants.
                      • If you have shore power install a couple of "Plug-In" type air fresheners to keep your RV smelling good.
                      • Put an open container of Baking Soda in the refrigerator.
                      • If you're not connected to shore power, prop the refrigerator door(s) open a crack to prevent mold.
                      • 11- Last but not least, inspect your RV at least once a month to be sure things are OK.

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