Is it time to winterize again?

If you live in the deep south, winterizing your RV may not be necessary, however for 90% of the country, it’s just another annual procedure, and you must do it to keep your pipes and tanks from bursting.

Parking your RV for the winter requires some preventive measures so it will be ready to use next spring. You’ll also be glad you did it when you don’t have costly repair bills due to the damaging results of winter. Now the question is how do you prepare it for winter, and who will be doing it? If you’re like me and you enjoy performing the routine maintenance on your RV, not to mention saving a few dollars, the “who” part is answered, now let’s get to the how!
(Recommended Video and product links at the end of the post)

Before you get started there are a few items you will need to shop for. These items can be found in most RV parts stores and Walmart:

  • Non-toxic RV antifreeze (The amount depends on the layout and length of your plumbing lines. Two to three gallons will normally do)
  • A water heater by-pass kit, if not already installed.
  • A wand to clean out holding tanks.
  • A water pump converter kit, or tubing to connect to the inlet side of the water pump.
  • Basic hand tools to remove drain plugs.

Be sure to read your owners manuals for unit specific winterizing guidelines. Follow the steps below that apply to your RV.

  • If you have any inline water filters remove and bypass before starting.
  • Drain the fresh water holding tank. This will usually be a clear hose under your RV, near either the fresh water tank or the wet bay. The cap will be either a screw on or a PEX press on.
  • Drain and flush the gray and black holding tanks. If your RV doesn’t have a built in tank flushing system clean the black tank out with a Swivel Stick wand, or use a product like Flush King that allows you to clean both the black and gray tanks. Lubricate the termination valves with WD 40.
  • Drain the water heater. First open the pressure relief valve, and then remove the drain plug. Store the drain plug in the water heater compartment for safe keeping.
    CAUTION (never drain the water heater when it is hot or under pressure)
  • Open all hot and cold faucets; don’t forget the toilet valve and outside shower.
  • Locate and open the low point drain lines. There will be one for the hot and cold water lines. Usually they will be blue and red and located next to each other. Using the water pump for a minute will help force water out, but turn it off as soon as the system is drained.
  • Recap all drains and close all faucets.
  • Bypass the water heater. If you do not have a by-pass kit installed, the water heater will fill up with antifreeze before it goes through the water lines, wasting six gallons of antifreeze.
  • Install a water pump converter kit, or disconnect the inlet side of the water pump (the line coming from the fresh water holding tank). Connect a piece of clear tubing to the inlet side of the pump and put the other end into a one gallon container of non-toxic RV antifreeze.
  • Turn the water pump on and pressurize the system. The pump will turn off when the system is properly pressurized. Starting with the furthest faucet from the pump, slowly open the hot valve until antifreeze appears. repeat with the cold valve. Replace the antifreeze container as required.
  • Repeat this process on all faucets from the furthest to the closest away. Don’t forget the outside shower, if equipped.
  • Flush the toilet until antifreeze appears.
  • Turn the water pump off and open a faucet to release the pressure. Go outside to the city water inlet. Remove the small screen over the inlet and push in on the valve with a small screwdriver until you see antifreeze and then replace the screen.
  • Pour a cupful of antifreeze down each drain. Pour a couple of cups in the toilet and flush into the holding tank.
  • If your water heater has an electric heating element make sure it is turned off. This will protect the element if the unit is plugged in while being stored.
  • Make sure all the faucets are closed.
  • Consult your owner manuals for winterizing icemakers and washing machines.
  • Your unit is winterized!

This checklist is a basic guide that is intended to assist you in winterizing your RV. As with all advise, it would be impossible to cover every RV configuration. It is extremely important that you read your owner’s manuals for unit specific winterizing guidelines.

If you would like to see how this process is actually done in a video, this is my favorite one:

Amazon Product Links:

Tank Swivel Stick (pressure washer) – $21.01

RV Tank Flush (Attachable, removable Valve, Valterra Flush King) – $26.45

Suburban 232767 Water Heater Anode Rod – $7.24
(If you have a Suburban water heater, you might want to unscrew your sacrificial  Anode rod from the water heater and check if it is deteriorated. If so, you can pick one of these up and install it in the spring.)

Camco 36543 Pump Converter Winterizing Kit – Adapter and hose for your water pump. – $8.43

Camco RV Antifreeze Concentrate – 36 ounces of Concentrate Makes 1 Gallon of Antifreeze. $15.99

Camco 40126 Tornado Rotary Tank Rinser with Hose. (Permanent Installation) – $21.55

Camco 39062 Dual Flush Pro (Attachable, removable valve) $30.39

Summarizing (or de-winterizing) is much easier!

  1. Reverse all bypass valves.
  2. Close or cap any low point drains if you left them open.
  3. Replace the drain plug in the water heater and close the relief valve.
  4. Connect to city water.
  5. Open ALL WATER VALVES in the coach. You should have pink water flowing. Let the water flow for about one minute after it runs clear.
  6. Run the water until clear in the commode and the outdoor shower, if equipped.
  7. Sanitize the fresh water. Here is the article link.