RV Winterization Tips

by Tim Harrison 1 year ago

As winter draws near we start to worry about the pipes in our RV. 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. We want to look out for you and your unit by providing a few ways to help your trailer survive these winter months. Keep in mind that each unit is different and some additional steps may be involved such as ice makers, washing machine, ext kitchen, in-line pump strainers, etc. It’s important not to leave water in any of these features. 


1. Remove and Bypass the Water Filters

Before you do anything, consider removing and bypassing any in-line water filters from the unit. Winterization chemicals you’ll add to your unit will damage any water filters. It’s usually a good idea to see if those filters need to be replaced while you’re taking an inside look. 


2. Drain Your Black and Gray Water Tanks

Not only can those tanks be a breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria, but the water can also freeze and cause issues. Drain both lines, starting with the black water tank and then the gray water tank. Once both are drained, clean the black tank with a special black tank cleaner or a cleaning wand. Just remember that it’s exceptionally important to not let wastewater sit in your RV all winter long.


3. Drain Your Water Heater and Water Lines

You’ll need to get the water out of your water heater.  Don’t drain the water heater if it’s hot or has pressure built up. Wait until the temperature and pressure come down. So start by turning it off and let it cool down and not be under pressure. After that, you can remove the drain plug and then open the pressure relief valve. This will let the water drain out. From there, make sure to open all the faucets (both hot and cold) and the hot and cold drain lines. Don’t forget to flush the toilet and get the water out of that valve! This helps drain all the rest of the water out of the system.


4. Bypass Your Water Heater

Before adding anything to your RV, you need to make sure you bypass the water heater. You don’t want any antifreeze making its way into the water heater. Some RVs will have a bypass already installed. If your RV doesn’t have this feature, then come into RV Depot and we’ll be happy to install one.


5. Add Antifreeze to Your RV

Before you can add antifreeze, you’ll either need to install a water pump converter kit, or you can disconnect the inlet side of the water pump and place it inside your source of antifreeze. From there, you’ll need to close all faucets and drain lines. Then you can turn on the water pump taking in the antifreeze into the water system. 

With the system properly pressurized, go around to each faucet and turn on the hot water until you see antifreeze, then do the same for the cold water. Once you complete that, turn off the water pump and open all the faucets. From there, go to the city water inlet and remove the small screen in there. Use a small screwdriver to push in on the valve until you see coolant working its way out. Replace the screen and close the inlet. When that is all said and done, pouring some additional antifreeze down the drain of each sink in the RV is never a bad idea. 

Alternatively you can also blow out the lines instead of adding antifreeze. You want to do this between 35-40 PSI. By blowing air through the lines at high pressure you can ensure that there isn’t any water left in your lines




Yes you can still use your RV while it’s winterized! You can winterize your RV and still go camping; you won’t be able to fill your fresh water tank or water heater. Rely on careful use of water jugs and antifreeze. Just add roughly equal parts antifreeze to your gray and black tanks as you add liquid to them, to be sure things don’t freeze up. This is extremely important for the black tank. 

If the steps above sound too troublesome or just aren’t something you want to do, join us at RV Depot and have our highly qualified service technicians do it for you. Keep your rig protected from the weather! You can buy winter covers made especially for your RV, which we sell in our parts store.


For other winterization tips and tricks, you should really look in your RV’s owner’s manual. Different classes of RVs and different products will have other needs that will need to be tended to before you can store your RV for the winter. For instance, motorized units put the parking brake on. Top off the fuel tanks to prevent condensation from forming and add a fuel stabilizer. Let the engine idle for several minutes and make sure the radiator is filled with automotive antifreeze. Check all fluids.