Winter Storage Tips For Southern
The following are some guidelines you can use when winterizing and/or storing
your RV. The steps for winterizing are pretty standard for most RVs and should
be done in the order listed. For storing, the steps can be done in pretty much
any order you're comfortable with, along with adding items to the list as
needed. The guidelines also assume you have some knowledge about RVs in general,
and your RV in particular (such as, knowing where your inlet lines for the fresh
water tank are located).
Winterizing Your RV
Drain and flush fresh water tank
Drain and flush gray water holding tank
Drain and flush black water holding tank
Drain and flush hot water tank
If you have low-point drain lines under your RV:
Open the hot and cold faucets in your RV
Uncap the low-point drain lines; let water drain completely
Recap Drain Lines
Close the hot and cold faucets
Blow out the water lines:
(Note: If you have low-point drain lines, this may not be necessary)
Screw on compressed air adapter onto main fresh water inlet
Apply compressed air, keeping pressure to less than 20 psi
Open each faucet, one at a time, to force water out of lines
Make sure to open each faucet in the RV, including the shower and toilet
Open hot water drain plug and blow out the water in this tank
Remove compressed air and compressed air adapter
Replace drain plug in hot water heater and close all faucets
Put Antifreeze in the water lines:
Use RV Non-Toxic Antifreeze ONLY
Approximately 1-2 gallons should be plenty
Make sure water pump is off and all faucets are closed
Close the Water Bypass Valve to your hot water tank
NOTE: If you don't have a Water Bypass Valve for your hot water tank, seriously
consider having one installed. Otherwise, in addition to the water lines you
will end up filling the hot water tank with antifreeze. It's not harmful, but
you'll use an additional six gallons of antifreeze.
Disconnect the water line where it joins the fresh water tank
- or -
If your RV is so equipped, shut off the valve coming from the fresh water tank
and open the valve for the winterizing inlet line
Place the water inlet line (either from the main system or the winterizing line)
into the jug or other source container with the RV antifreeze.
Switch on the water pump; it will start to suck up the antifreeze into the lines
Open each valve of each faucet slowly, one at a time, until the red antifreeze
starts coming out. Once flowing, shut off the faucet valve.
Note: If for some reason you can't drain the water lines using the low-point
drain lines and you can't blow out the lines with compressed air, you will have
to wait until the antifreeze pushes out the fresh water in the lines before
closing the valve. A rule of thumb; don't shut off the valve until the
antifreeze starts coming out.
Remember to also do this for the toilet and the shower.
Shut off the water pump
Remove the inlet line from the antifreeze, then either:
Re-attach the water line to the fresh water tank
- or -
Close the winterizing inlet valve and reopen the fresh water valve, if your RV
is so equipped.
Pour a small amount of antifreeze down each drain to ensure that the sink traps
have antifreeze in them.
Pour a small amount of antifreeze in the toilet bowl also. Note: Don't flush it
into the holding tank.
You Are Done !
Storing Your RV
The following items are useful when you will be storing your RV for any extended
period of time, not just for the winter.
For motor homes, fill up the gas tank. This will prevent moisture buildup in the
tank. Also make sure all your fluid levels under the hood are full.
Drain and flush all holding tanks; fresh water, gray water, black water and hot
Drain all water lines, using compressed air or at least the low-point drain
Note: If storing for the winter, follow the winterizing steps above
Close the LP gas tank valve's. If your LP tanks don't already have a cover,
consider purchasing at least a vinyl LP tank cover.
Disconnect shore electric power to the RV.
Remove all batteries from the RV and store in a place where they won't freeze.
Batteries that have been frozen will never again hold a proper charge, and will
more than likely have to be replaced.
Visually check your RV for anything that might need to be repaired. Make sure
you also check the roof.
Defrost and clean the refrigerator and freezer. Place open boxes of baking soda
or crumpled newspapers in the compartments to eliminate odors during storage.
Remove all perishable items from the interior. Include in this any items that
are susceptible to freezing, if storing during the winter months.
Cover all external outlets, such as furnace outlet, to prevent critters from
Thoroughly wash the interior and the exterior of your RV. You might also
consider shampooing the carpets inside and waxing the outside.
Close all windows; leave the roof vent(s) open ever so slightly for air
circulation during storage.
Cover the tires to prevent weather-checking.
Cover the roof air conditioner
Consider the purchase of a tarp to cover your RV during storage. Make sure you
invest in a good tarp that can breathe.
Storing Your RV Between Trips
Between trips, the following steps can be taken to protect your RV from the
elements, keep pests out and make preparing for the next trip easier:
Empty the holding tanks.
Remove all perishable food from cabinets.
Turn off the refrigerator, making sure the refrigerator circuits are off. Remove
all food from the refrigerator and leave the door open.
Clean the interior of the RV.
Pull shades and close blinds.
Turn off the propane cylinders and cover the regulator.
Cover the tires, if they will be exposed to the sun.
Preparing for Spring Start-Up
A. To begin spring startup on your unit:
Remove all protective covers and plugs. (Any duct tape adhesive left behind may
be removed with WD-40.)
Wash interior of your unit with mild soap and lukewarm water.
Turn on all lights, replace bulbs as necessary.
Check operation of all appliances.
Open all windows/roof vents to air out inside (clean and wipe with warm water
and liquid dishwashing soap).
Clean exterior of your unit with mild soap and lukewarm water - use a streak
cleaner such as "Reliable Products" - aluminum black streak remover or
comparable brand product.
Lubricate hinges, locks, and moving parts as necessary.
Reinstall any dry-cell batteries in clocks/smoke detectors etc.
Close water taps.
Remove moth balls and rodent bait from interior and exterior compartments. (Be
sure to remove from the vicinity of the hot water heater and refrigerator gas
B. Air Conditioner
Remove protective cover.
Remove air shroud and check cooling coils, blower fan and motor.
Vacuum or wash the condenser coil.
Clean the cooling fins.
Clean air filters.
Clean any dust from discharge air opening and ceiling grill.
See tips listed separately on "Refrigerator Operating Tips" sheet in your
Open the refrigerator side vent and look up to the roof vent and check for
nesting, remove debris if necessary. Remember to remove mothballs from the
vicinity of the gas burner assembly.
D. Water System
Close pressure relief valve on water heater. Remember to remove mothballs from
the vicinity of the gas burner assembly.
Close all drain valves and faucets (including shower head).
Flush out RV antifreeze by running water through entire system.
Reinstall drain plug (removed in the winterization process).
Add a few ounces of baking soda to the tank, drive around to mix solution, then
drain and refill.
If your water has a bad taste or strange odor, take these steps to kill bacteria
that may be present:
a. Fill fresh water tank half way with clean, fresh water.
b. Mix 1/4 cup of household bleach for every 15 gallons of tank capacity in a
container with a gallon or two of clean water and pour this mixture into the
c. Top off the water tank with fresh water. Go for a drive to mix the solution.
d. Pump water through each faucet so that all the lines are filled with the
water/bleach mixture from the tank. Usually, running a quart of water out each
faucet is adequate.
e. The hot-water tank holds at least 6 gallons of water. Run the hot water
faucets until this much solution has passed to insure that the old water has
been purged from the hot-water tank, and it is now filled with the water/bleach
solution from the water tank.
f. Let the water stand for several hours.
g. Drain the entire water system, hot water tank included.
h. To remove the bleach odor, mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with a gallon of water
and pour into the freshwater tank.
i. Fill the tank completely and pump this solution through the water heater and
rest of the water lines. This solution can sit in the system for a few days.
Driving the rig around the block will slosh water around and thoroughly clean
j. Drain the entire system and refill with fresh, clean water.
E. Awning Check
for damage/mildew by rolling out.
Inspect tires for wear.
a. Tires should be replaced if tread is worn down to 1/16 inch or if tread
sidewall is cracked, cut or flaking.
b. Select tires of the same construction, load range and size.
Reinflate tires with proper pressure.
Remove trailer from jacks or blocks.
For safety sake after a few miles traveling on your first trip in the Spring,
check the lug nuts to be sure they are still tight.
Check for insect nests and lint accumulation.
Turn on the electric power and turn on the thermostats (to check for operation).
Turn on the main gas supply to the furnace.
H. LP System
Open the main LP-gas valve and check the LP gas system for leaks. (Use soapy
water or commercial leak detector solution and brush to check each gas line
A rusted tank will not be filled by an LP gas attendant, sand and repaint if
Consult a trained LP-gas technician to correct any leak problems.
Check for short circuit between positive and negative battery cables with
circuit tester or ohmmeter. If no short circuit is detected then reconnect all
batteries and reset any electronic clocks/items etc.
J. Roof Vent
Look for signs of deterioration and reseal and caulk when needed with sealing
compound (also check the caulk around the windows.)
Note: Do Not walk on roof without proper support to distribute weight.
"Winterizing" - Chapter 12 - Woodall's RV Owner's Handbook
"Preparing Your RV for Storage" - Hans J. Gugger - Trailer Life magazine.
"RV Repair & Maintenance Manual" - Trailer Life - Edited by Bob Livingston
"Putting Your Wheels on Ice" - Michael Packard - Trailer Life - Dec. 1995
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