Now that we’re entering the colder months, it’s time to start getting your camper ready for storage over winter.
While this might be a hard time of year for avid campers (I know that’s the case for me at least!), there’s going to be plenty of opportunities to get back to camping when the weather starts to warm up again.
But while you may not be using your RV over the winter, you still need to make sure that you’re maintaining it – if you don’t properly winterize your camper, you could come back to some pretty severe and expensive damage in the spring.
Don’t worry, however – I’ve made this simple guide to help walk you through the steps needed to winterize your camper. Just follow these instructions, and you’ll be ready to get back out there in no time!
Why should I winterize my camper?
You might be wondering why you should bother winterizing your camper. There are a few different reasons why.
First of all, winterization protects your camper from damage in the cold winter months. Freezing temperatures will cause the water in the pipes to freeze and expand, damaging the internal plumbing.
It also stops other things inside the camper from being damaged by cold or pests while it’s in storage.
Winterization also prepares the camper for storage over winter. You don’t want to open it back up in the spring to find tons of dirt and pests.
Proper winterization not only reduces any harm and damage to your camper, but also helps make sure that your camper is ready to use when things start getting warmer again.
How to prepare my camper for winterization?
Before you can winterize your camper, you first need to get it ready. Unfortunately, a lot of this will come down to cleaning.
Remove all food and drink inside, as this will go off and attract pests.
You should also take out any personal items and valuables, as you won’t need to keep these in your camper while it’s in storage. Take out any other items that may be damaged by the cold, such as curtains or leather furniture.
Don’t forget to switch off and disconnect all electricals as you won’t be using these and they might corrode if left over the winter. You should also defrost your fridge and freezer if you have them.
Lastly, you’ll need to give your camper a deep clean, as this will be harder to do in a few months. Crumbs and rubbish can also harbor bacteria and will attract pests.
It’s also a good idea to know ahead of time where your local drainage station or a draining area is nearby, as you will need to go here to empty all the internal tanks of your RV.
How to winterize my camper?
Now that you’ve gotten the camper ready to winterize, it’s time to get right into it!
The water system is one of the most important things to prepare for winter, as water will expand if it freezes, damaging the tanks and the pipes.
Take your camper to the nearest drainage station, and empty out the black, gray, and freshwater tanks (doing it in order of black then gray then freshwater will mean the cleanest water drains out last, giving all the tanks an easy clean).
You should also flush out the black tank, which can be done at most RV drainage stations. If you can’t flush the black tank out, just wash it out manually with a water wand or specialized cleaning solution.
Now you’ll need to make sure the water heater has cooled down and hasn’t got any pressure built up. From here, you can drain the water heater.
Don’t be worried if any chunks of lime come out in the water – this is completely normal and nothing to be concerned about. Turning on the air pressure will flush out any remaining water and built-up sediment.
To get rid of any remaining water in the tanks and pipes, first open all the internal faucets and flush the toilet a few times until everything runs dry. You can then use compressed air to clear out the last few drops in all the pipes.
Make sure that you bypass the water heater before adding any antifreeze – you don’t want any getting in there. Your camper may already have a water heater bypass; if not, you can get one at most RV supply stores.
Ensure that the water heater is properly bypassed to stop antifreeze from getting in.
Now it’s time to add the antifreeze. First, start by closing all the faucets and low-point drains so the antifreeze doesn’t just flow out straight away.
You shouldn’t use normal antifreeze like you would in your car – make sure that you’re using specialist RV antifreeze, which is made specifically for campers and is non-toxic and safe to use in drinking systems.
After everything is prepared, you should begin putting the antifreeze through your water system. This is much easier if you have a water pump converter, which will pass the antifreeze throughout all of your camper easily.
You should be using around 4 gallons of antifreeze (don’t worry if you have some left over, you’re better off with some to spare).
To check if the antifreeze has gone through the water system properly, start running the faucets until antifreeze comes out. When the antifreeze begins coming through, it’s spread around the camper.
You might want to add a cup or so to the toilet, sink and shower to make sure all the gaps are filled.
And there you have it! Now that everything has been drained, cleaned and refilled with antifreeze, your camper is fully winterized and ready for storage.
With your camper all set to store over winter, the only thing you need to do now is put it away.
While this is always going to be a bittersweet moment, just remember – now that your camper is fully winterized, you’ll be able to take it back out with no issue in the spring.
And with everything all sorted ready for then, it’s time to kick back and enjoy the winter.