Travel trailer RV parked at campsite in winter with snow covering ground
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Steps to Winterize RV: Pink Stuff and Other Tips

For weekend and part-time RVers, fall is an awesome time to take your RV out and enjoy those cool, crisp nights and brilliant fall colors. However, with winter around the corner and the end of the camping season near, RV winterization will soon be a top priority

Properly winterizing your RV is the key to placing it in its winter slumber so it will be ready, willing, and able to hit the road once those first signs of spring arrive in a few short months.

RV winterization tips

Compressed Air or Antifreeze Method


While your RV is in storage, it will be susceptible to extreme freezing temperatures during the winter months. There have been enough past winters to prove to us that almost no one here in the US can escape.

There are two methods for winterizing an RV: the blow out method or the antifreeze method. Note that both methods do require antifreeze.

Unless you plan on heating your rig continuously, your water lines could freeze and possibly split open. This could mean an indoor flood come springtime, or sooner.

To protect your water lines, there are two methods for winterizing: blowing them out with compressed air or filling them with RV antifreeze.  

Both methods require using some antifreeze. I recommend using Splash, which is specifically designed as an RV / Marine Antifreeze. One difference between the two methods is that the blowout method requires far less antifreeze. It will only be used in drains and holding tanks, rather than filling all of your water lines.

how to winterize your rv

Remember, it’s always a good idea to review your owner’s manual to ensure you understand the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance as well as any potential anomalies with the specific model of your recreational vehicle.

The Blow Out Method

This method is usually reserved for those who are located in slightly warmer climates or climates that only see a few nights of temperatures below 32 degrees each winter.  

STEPS TO WINTERIZE USING BLOW OUT METHOD

The following are general steps to get you through this process. You will need an RV blowout adapter, a standard oil-less air compressor, and one or two gallons of RV antifreeze.

  • The first thing you want to do is open your low point drains located under the RV
  • Once they quit draining, close the low point drain valve or retighten the cap on both the hot and cold lines.
  • Open the kitchen sink, bathroom faucet, toilet flush, shower faucet, and any outside showers or water spray ports.
  • Be sure to cycle both the hot and cold sides on all the faucets to get any residual water out, then close every one that you opened. 
  • If you have any water in the freshwater holding tank, open the low point drain for the tank and empty any remaining water.
  • Connect the RV blow out fitting to your city water connection inlet and charge your air compressor.
  • Be sure that you adjust the outlet pressure on the compressor to between 40-60 pounds of pressure (PSI).
  • Connect the compressor air hose to the blowout fitting and the air compressor. This will pressurize your water lines and your hot water tank to the compressor’s outlet pressure.
  • Slowly open the kitchen sink cold water valve and let the pressurized line empty into the sink.
  • Be sure to wait until the sink quits spitting and sputtering before you close the valve (the faucet will blow only air).
  • Once this is done you can repeat for both the hot and cold sides of every plumbing fixture inside the RV and the toilet flush.
  • Don’t forget those outside showers!
  • Turn off your air compressor and disconnect it from the RV. 
  • Empty your holding tanks and dispose of the waste properly.
  • Pour RV antifreeze in every sink to protect the P-traps, and pour antifreeze into the toilet bowl.
  • Use about 1/4 gallon of antifreeze in the drain lines of your sink.
  • Be sure you also open the toilet and pour about 1/4 to 1/2 gallon into the black holding tank.
  • This will keep the toilet and any water left in your holding tanks from freezing.  It will also protect the seals and keep them conditioned while the RV is in storage.

If you live in warmer climates that don’t see a ton of subfreezing weather and you plan on camping over the winter, the blow out method is for you.

tips and tricks for rv winterization

The Antifreeze Method

For those who live further north or who live in mountainous areas that see snow and sub-freezing temperatures throughout the winter months, RV antifreeze is the method to use.

WHAT IS RV ANTIFREEZE

RV antifreeze is made of ethanol, propylene glycol, or a mixture of both. It raises the freezing temperature to prevent your plumbing lines from freezing. The following are general steps on how to winterize your RV with antifreeze.

Depending on how big your RV is, it may take up to 6 gallons of antifreeze to fill all the plumbing lines, fixtures, and holding tanks for protection.

The antifreeze method is the most reliable method. It’s also the best way to prepare your RV for storage in a colder, subfreezing climate during the winter months.

STEPS TO WINTERIZE USING ANTIFREEZE METHOD

The following steps will guide you through a winterization process using the RV antifreeze method:

  • If you have an inline water filter, you’ll need to bypass this by either removing the filter element or removing the filter housing and replacing it with a bypass piece of plumbing.
  • With this method, RV antifreeze does NOT belong in the hot water heater. You will need to turn the water heater bypass valve located near the back of the water heater.
  • This will bypass the water heater and prevent any antifreeze from entering the water heater.
  • Remove the water heater drain plug (or anode rod if you have a Suburban brand water heater) and drain the water from inside the water heater.
  • Using a cleaning wand, clean out the mineral build-up at the bottom of the tank and replace the plug or anode rod, leaving the water heater empty for the winter season.
  • Drain any existing water from the freshwater tank using the low-point drains located under the RV.
  • Open both the hot and cold water low point drain valves (or remove caps) under the RV and then close them when it is empty (or replace the cap if removed).
  • Be sure to flush the toilet and open both hot and cold water faucets in the kitchen, bathroom, and shower (don’t forget the outside shower!) to remove any residual water from the system.
  • Be sure your holding tanks are empty. If they are not, be sure to empty them properly to remove as much residual water as possible.
  • Find the antifreeze inlet, or the water pump converter kit (you may need to install one if your RV did not come with a kit or port on the exterior of the RV).
  • Stick the inlet tube down into the jug of RV antifreeze. Turn the water pump on and begin opening each valve on each plumbing fixture inside the RV, allowing the pump to pull RV antifreeze into the system. Leave each valve open until pink antifreeze exits the faucet for at least 3-5 seconds.
  • Repeat for each plumbing fixture, both hot and cold including the toilet and any outside showers or spray ports. Replace the jug of antifreeze with a fresh one should it go empty during the process. 
  • Take ¼-½ gallon of antifreeze and pour it down each drain inside the RV, including the toilet.
  • This will allow antifreeze to fill the P-traps in each sink and into both the grey and black holding tanks. (be sure to open the toilet valve to allow some of the antifreeze to enter the black holding tank). 
travel trailer in the snow

Interior Maintenance


This article wouldn’t be complete without a few more RV winterization tips. Another important step that should be part of your winterization process is to care for the interior of the RV.

Be sure to remove any food products from inside the RV, along with any other items that you may not want to attract any furry four-legged friends or insects.

Related Reading: Keep Mice Out of Your RV

Also, remove any items like bathroom or beauty products that you do not want to freeze. We also take this opportunity to wash all of our bedding, wipe down all cabinets, and clean the entire bathroom, including the shower stall.

A clean RV will be much easier to de-winterize and prepare for another camping trip next season, especially on short notice. You will be glad you put in a little effort up front, trust me!

what you need to do to prepare your rv for winter

Exterior Maintenance


Of course now that you made sure the interior is ready for winter storage, do not ignore the exterior. A proper winterization process needs to ensure the seals, awning, windows, and roof are clean, secure, and protected. That exterior shell is your RV’s first line of defense against the winter elements.

I like to start with by completely washing our RV. That includes the roof, sides, front cap, and rear wall. Remove any dirt to reveal seal breaches or other potential issues.

Repair any seals that are cracked or showing signs of degrading and apply a good coat of wax to the front cap, sidewalls, and rear wall. Condition all slide seals, and apply lubricant to all moving slide and jack parts.

Trust me, there is nothing worse than starting off the camping season with an uncooperative (or leaking) slide!

Winter RV Storage


Now that your RV is fully ready for the “ravages of winter”, storing it will be the final step.

If possible, store your RV in a garage or other covered storage unit. Alternatively, a durable fabric cover is useful to protect your rig from the elements.

Covered storage is best at protecting your RV from the winter elements. If you do not have the option or resources to build or pay for covered storage, a fabric cover can be almost as good and give similar protection.

We have a cover specifically made for a fifth wheel that we cover ours with. It provides protection from the elements but allows us to keep the RV at home in case we want to take a quick trip or a long winter vacation to some warmer climates.

5th Wheel RV Cover
$329.99

5 Layer UV protection, waterproof, cover for 5th wheel constructed with durable rip-stop material.

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04/11/2024 10:36 pm GMT

Materials Used for RV Winterization


As mentioned above, both methods require the use of RV antifreeze.

Splash RV/Marine Antifreeze
$10.80

Add to RV plumbing systems to prevent water pips from freezing. -50 Point Freezing (F).

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RV Water Heater Tank Rinser
$9.99

Stainless steel RV water heater flush wand. 360-degree rotating spray, water shut-off lock.

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04/12/2024 12:01 am GMT

These are the supplies needed when winterizing the RV with the blow out method:

  • RV Blowout Adapter
  • Oil-Less Air Compressor
  • RV Antifreeze
RV Winterizing Blowout Adapter
$16.88

Flexible hose, garden hose connector, air compressor quick-connect plug, and shut off valve.

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04/11/2024 10:45 pm GMT
Automatic Portable Compressor


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No matter your RV type or your location, winterization is a process that all RV owners need to go through. Taking the time to accomplish the task properly will absolutely pay off in the end.  It’s worth taking these simple steps to ensure your motorhome, travel trailer, fifth wheel, or camper is properly prepared for winter storage.

Doing so will not only help you avoid costly repairs down the road, it will give you peace of mind that your rig will be ready for new adventures come spring!

Happy winterizing, and we hope to see you on the road!

preparing your rv for winter

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