7 Winterize Camper Steps: How To Winterize A Camper

7 Winterize Camper Steps: How To Winterize A Camper

Want to know how to winterize a camper? In this post, we cover 7 important steps to consider when you are planning to winterize an RV or camper!

Campervans are a great way to travel the country and enjoy some of the best camping spots and vacation destinations.

But chances are you’ll stop using your RV over the winter months, and if you don’t take care of your camper properly during the winter then it can be a real pain to get going again next spring.

Winterizing a camper means preparing it for the cold season. There are several steps you have to take to keep your camper in good condition and avoid any damage, and winterizing the camper prevents any issues from occurring.

By taking care to properly winterize your camper, you can rest easy knowing that it will stay in top shape and be ready to go once spring comes around.

If you aren’t sure how to winterize a camper and want to know where to start, then you’ve come to the right place.

This handy guide will take you through all the steps you need to follow to make sure your camper is all set for storing until you’re ready to hit the road again in the warmer months.

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What Does Winterizing A Camper Involve? 

There are several steps that are involved when you consider how to winterize an RV or Camper. These serve two main purposes: cleaning the interior to prevent the build-up of bacteria and pests and preparing the major parts of the camper to protect them over the colder months.

Winterizing your camper ensures it stays safe over the winter; if you don’t properly winterize your RV, you risk it becoming damaged and uninhabitable.

When you’re winterizing a camper, you need to go through some important processes, including cleaning, draining, and winter-proofing the pipes and electricals (as these can be damaged in the cold).

We’ll go through each step in a bit more detail to ensure you have all the key steps covered! 

How Do You Winterize Your Camper?

How Do You Winterize Your Camper?

As mentioned before, you have to complete several steps to properly winterize your camper. Here we’ll cover each step, looking at what it involves and how to do it.

1) Tidy The Interior

First things first: you need to clean your RV. Throw out any trash, and clear out any food stored in cupboards or your fridge. Wipe down all surfaces to get rid of stubborn dirt and grime.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it will make a huge difference to your camper when you’re taking it back out of storage.

Cleaning doesn’t just involve getting rid of dirt and rubbish, however; you should also take this opportunity to wash fabrics like the curtains or bedding.

You can also deep clean the furniture and carpet (if you have any) by using cleaning products. If you don’t have fabric cleaner, you can use baking soda to help deodorize your fabrics – just sprinkle it on, leave for 10 minutes, and vacuum it up.

Not only does cleaning your camper before putting it into storage mean that you don’t have to deal with dirt and mold in the spring, but it also helps prevent pests from making their home in your RV.

2) Switch Off Electricals

The electrics in your RV will continue to drain power even when the camper itself has been switched off, so make sure you power off all the electricals directly.

These include the camper fridge, microwave, lights, and anything else that’s plugged in or connected to the power.

You should still charge your camper’s battery before you use it again, but this way you’ll avoid the battery draining completely and possibly even being irreparably damaged.

3) Drain All The Water Tanks And The Water Heater

As temperatures drop, any water left in your camper will expand, especially in colder temperatures where the water freezes. This leaves your camper’s pipes and water tanks in danger of bursting, which is one of the easiest ways to total an RV.

You’ll need to replace all the water in your camper with antifreeze to prevent this, but before doing so, you have to drain the water first.

An RV contains three water tanks: a freshwater tank that supplies taps and showers, a gray wastewater tank that collects and recycles used water, and a black tank that collects toilet water and acts as a sort of septic tank.

The RV will also have a water heater, as well as a network of pipes that connects all these components to each other.

Start by draining the black tank. You’ll have to go to a designated RV dumping area to do this, or you may dump your RV waste at home if you know how to safely and legally do so. You can typically find dumping stations at camper supply stores, rest stops, and garages.

Once the black tank is empty, rinse it out with a hose to remove any lingering solids. Now, repeat with the gray tank – because this water is cleaner, you don’t have to repeatedly wash each tank. 

Emptying the water heater is a bit more complicated. Switch it off before you start, making sure that it is fully cooled and that there is no more pressure built up inside.

Now, remove the anode rod/drain plug and let the water drain. From here you can switch the water pressure back on for 2-3, which will help flush out any build-up of solid matter on the walls. Replace the anode rod once you’re done.

Now you can finally empty the fresh water tank. To do this, open all your taps on cold and switch on your shower until no more water comes through.

There will still be some water leftover in all the tanks and pipes, and this will still be an issue over the winter, so you’ll need to find another way to get rid of the last few drops.

4) Remove Any Remaining Water

The best way to get rid of any residual water is with a compressed air gun. Use it to clear out the remaining moisture from your water tanks, and to force the last few drops of water through your RV’s pipes. 

Don’t worry if you miss a few drops. As long as you can’t see any visible water and you’re sure that you’ve drained the plumbing, you should be able to rely on the antifreeze to protect your camper from any lingering drops.

It’s still important to drain as much as you can, however, so do your best to get rid of every possible bit of water left.

5) Bypass The Water Heater

Some RVs have a bypass already built into their water heater, and if that’s the case you should make sure that the heater’s being bypassed.

To do this, you first need to find the access panel for your water heater. This is on the inside of your RV, and will typically line up with the service hatch on the camper’s exterior.

Open this to gain access to the water heater. From there, you can adjust the valves on the bypass pipe.

Bypassing your water heater will save you a lot of antifreeze when it comes to winterizing your camper. Without bypassing it, you’ll end up using at least 3-5 gallons of antifreeze just for the water heater alone.

If you don’t have a bypass you’ll probably have to deal with the cost, but as long as you have a bypass you can save yourself plenty of effort and money.

6) Fill Your Water System With Antifreeze

With your RV’s plumbing prepared, now you can start replacing the missing water with antifreeze. Make sure you get RV-suitable antifreeze, as normal varieties will be toxic and harmful in your water tanks.

Locate your RV’s water pump (where you’d typically refill the water tanks) and hook it up to your antifreeze.

Start filling up the RV with antifreeze; it might take a while for it all to be pumped through, but you need to make sure it’s all full to ensure that there isn’t any damage to the pipes or tanks.

Turn on one of the faucets at the furthest spot away from your water pump, and wait until the pink antifreeze starts to come through.

Repeat with all the other faucets, as well as the shower and toilet, until the antifreeze is present in all of your RV’s drains. At this point, you can stop pumping the antifreeze through and turn off all your faucets.

Add some extra antifreeze to the camper’s P-traps; these are the trickier parts in your RV for the antifreeze to reach, including the sinks,  shower drains, and the toilet bowl.

Add an extra few cups of antifreeze to these P-traps just to be safe, and your RV’s plumbing system is all set for the winter.

7) Cover Your Camper

Finally, it’s time to put your RV into storage. The last thing you want to do (apart from some final cleaning checks) is cover it up and store it for the winter.

Ensure all doors and windows are sealed and cover the camper with a large tarp or specialized winter camper cover. Check to see if there are any exposed areas such as the tires, and cover these up too if the tarp doesn’t reach. 

When your RV has been put into storage, congratulations – you’ve successfully winterized your camper and gotten it ready to endure the cold and harsh months ahead!

Final Thoughts – How To Winterize A Camper

Looking after your camper will help you get the most out of it. And just like in any form of maintenance, properly winterizing your camper is crucial to keeping it in good condition.

As long as you take good care of your camper and follow these simple steps, you’ll have nothing to worry about and your camper will be ready to go come spring.

So all you have to do now is winterize your camper, and you’ll be able to enjoy a clean and well-maintained RV when it starts to warm up. Enjoy!

Marco Santos

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