There’s no denying winter is here when you look outside and see an inch or two of snow on the ground. Hopefully you’ve already set up provisions for your ‘home on wheels’ by putting it in storage, taking it in for winterizing, or driving it to a sunny climate for the season. (I choose door number 3!)
If you haven’t done any of the above, now’s the time to hop on it so your favorite toy 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. Now the question is how do you prepare it for winter, and who will be doing it? If you’re like a lot of RV owners, you enjoy performing the routine maintenance on your RV, so the “who” part is answered. As for the “how” part, the checklist below, provided by our friends at KOA, is about the easiest and most effective way to winterize your RV.
Before you get started there are a few items you will need to have. These items can be found in most RV parts stores, like Safford RV:
- Non-toxic RV antifreeze (The amount depends on the layout and length of your plumbing lines. Two to three gallons will normally do).
- A water heater by-pass kit, if not already installed.
- A wand to clean out holding tanks.
- A water pump converter kit, or tubing to connect to the inlet side of the water pump.
- Basic hand tools to remove drain plugs.
Now you can winterize the RV water system to protect it from freezing. Be sure to read your owners manuals for unit specific winterizing guidelines. Follow the steps below that apply to your RV.
- If you have any inline water filters remove and bypass before starting.
- Drain the fresh water holding tank.
- Drain and flush the gray and black holding tanks. If your RV doesn’t have a built-in tank flushing system clean the black tank out with a wand, or use a product like Flush King that allows you to clean both the black and gray tanks. Lubricate the termination valves with WD 40.
- Drain the water heater. Remove the drain plug and open the pressure relief valve. CAUTION (never drain the water heater when it is hot or under pressure)
- Open all hot and cold faucets; don’t forget the toilet valve and outside shower.
- Locate and open the low point drain lines. There will be one for the hot and cold water lines. Using the water pump will help force water out, but turn it off as soon as the system is drained.
- Recap all drains and close all faucets.
- By-pass the water heater. If you do not have a by-pass kit installed the water heater will fill up with antifreeze before it goes through the water lines, wasting six gallons of antifreeze.
- Install a water pump converter kit, or disconnect the inlet side of the water pump (the line coming from the fresh water holding tank). Connect a piece of clear tubing to the inlet side of the pump and put the other end into a one gallon container of non-toxic RV antifreeze.
- Turn the water pump on and pressurize the system. Starting with the closest faucet, slowly open the hot and then cold valves until antifreeze appears. Replace the antifreeze container as required.
- Repeat this process on all faucets from the closest to the farthest away. Don’t forget the outside shower, if equipped.
- Flush the toilet until antifreeze appears.
- Turn the water pump off and open a faucet to release the pressure. Go outside to the city water inlet. Remove the small screen over the inlet and push in on the valve with a small screwdriver until you see antifreeze. Replace the screen.
- Pour a cupful of antifreeze down each drain. Pour a couple of cups in the toilet and flush into the holding tank.
- If your water heater has an electric heating element make sure it is turned off. This will protect the element if the unit is plugged in while being stored.
- Make sure all the faucets are closed.
- Consult your owner manuals for winterizing icemakers and washing machines.
- The unit is winterized.
This checklist, of course, is a basic guide. As with many other checklists it would be impossible to cover every RV. It is extremely important that you read your owner’s manuals for unit specific winterizing guidelines.
If you would like to see how this process is actually done it is available on KOA’s “Winterizing & Storing Your RV” video or DVD. The video also has an entire section on the steps required to properly prepare your RV for winter storage. And, of course, if winterizing your RV is something you would rather not deal with, SAFFORD RV provides full winterization in our service department, and we are always ready, willing and able to help!
6101 Mallard Rd, Thornburg, VA
540 735 1100 / 800 719 3507