How To Winterize a Camper


Most people often find it too cold to go camping shortly after October or November. However, just parking your RV or camper in a safe spot will not be enough—not if you want it ready to drive once spring comes along. That’s where knowing how to winterize a travel trailer, or RV comes in.

Winterizing refers to the process of getting your camper ready for the cold, freezing temperatures of winter. If your home has ever experienced frozen pipes, you know the damage frozen water can do to plumbing. How to winterize an RV camper essentially involves draining your RV’s plumbing system to protect it from that kind of damage.

How to Winterize a Camper

Why and When Do I Need to Winterize My RV?

Figuring out how to winterize an RV is essential for all RV-ers looking to hunker down for those chilly Washington winters. As fall starts to come around, it will be time for you to winterize your RV and get it ready for winter storage.

It’s best to start getting ready to learn how to winterize a travel trailer for living in safely before winter hits; once the temperature dips below freezing, that’s when things start to get hairy.

Camper winterization will prevent the same kind of issues you would face in your own home during winter: burst pipes, cracked tanks, and water damage. It will protect your electrical systems, engines, and tires, too.

How To Winterize an RV

You can choose from two different methods when you want to know how to winterize an RV trailer: with antifreeze and without antifreeze.

How To Winterize a Camper Trailer With Antifreeze

This option is the easiest winterizing method. Here is what you will need:

  • Two to three gallons of non-toxic camper antifreeze (the amount you will use depends on the size of your rig)
  • Water pump converter kit
  • Tools to remove and reinstall the heater drain plug
  • Black tank flush nozzle or wand
  • Heater bypass kit

Once you have all you need, follow the simple steps below.

1.      Drain Your System

Drain every tank in your RV. Empty and flush the black and grey holding tanks. Rinse the inside of the tanks, making sure that they are ready for storage.

2.      Drain Your Water Heater and Interior Lines

Before doing this, make sure that you have switched off your heater and waited a few hours for the water to cool. Also, disconnect it from any water source. After draining your heater, wrap plumbers tape on the drain plug’s anode and reinstall it.

Open your gray tank dump valves, turn your faucets on, and open low-point water drains. Use a pump to force the remaining water out of the interior lines. Recap the drain and close your faucets and the gray tank valves.

3.      Bypass Your Heater and Fresh Water Tank

Bypassing your heater helps you avoid filling your tank with antifreeze. Bypassing your freshwater tank also enables you to draw the antifreeze only into your camper’s water lines.

4.      Run Antifreeze Through the Lines and Down the Drains

Run antifreeze through all the water lines in your camper, including interior and exterior showers, kitchen sprayers, and drinking water taps. Remember to pour antifreeze down the drains to protect your P-traps from freezing.

How To Winterize a Camper Without Antifreeze

If you do not want to use antifreeze, you can learn how to winterize a camper using compressed air. Start by draining your system and heater. In this method, however, you will not replace your heater’s anode rod.

Instead, you will close the pressure relief valve, connect your air compressor, and pump the air through your camper’s lines.

Once finished, bypass the heater and any filters your camper has, and then blow out all the water lines. Open your RV’s low-point drains and every faucet. Once the water stops coming from the drains, close them and turn your taps off.

How Much Does RV Winterization Cost?

This is tricky because this depends on what model you have and whether you’re hiring someone to do the RV winterization for you.

Typically, camper winterization costs anywhere between $75 and $200, depending on the factors listed above.

How to Winterize a Camper Trailer’s Engine, Power Supply, and Electrical Systems

How to Winterize a Travel Trailer’s Engine

Check your fluids to make sure everything’s filled and in good working order. This includes gas, oil, transmission, windshield wipers, steering, and brake fluids. Make sure to add a fuel stabilizer to your engine, too.

While you’re here, you should flush out your plumbing and water systems for the winter and use RV antifreeze for all of your pipes to keep them from getting damaged.

How to Winterize an RV’s Power Supply

Check your main and auxiliary batteries and make sure they’re working properly. If they are not working, replace them before the spring. Otherwise, disconnect and keep them stored somewhere warm and dry.

How to Winterize a Camper Trailer’s Electrical Systems

Shut off all of your circuit breakers and make sure all of your appliances and electronics are working properly. This includes your refrigerator, any kitchen appliances, and smoke alarms.

Replace anything that isn’t working properly, and keep your power off while in storage.

How to Winterize Your RV’s Tires

Check your tires for any problem, like low pressure or holes. Fill them up if they are low on air, and replace them if they need replacing.

When you put your RV in storage, use an axle to elevate your tires and place them on cement blocks to keep them off the ground.

How to Winterize the Propane Sources and Fittings

Disconnect your propane tanks from the source and refill them if necessary. Remove them from the RV and keep them stored in a safe place for the winter.

How to Winterize an RV’s Exterior, Roof, and Awning

First, check for any damages on the front of the RV. Fix any cracks or leaks with sealant when necessary.

Check the roof for any animal waste or wasp nests that could cause problems if left alone, and use an RV awning cleaner to clean it if necessary.

Reliable Used RVs for Sale

Contact Kirkland RV Sales for the very best used campers. We provide an extensive range of options, including Skyline, Winnebago, Thor, and Monaco. Call us at (425) 318-7613 to find out more.

Recommended Article: How to Keep RV Pipes from Freezing While Camping