Some folks in our community are lucky enough to RV full-time, but if you’re like many people, cold weather marks the end of your RV excursions in favor of cozying up for the holidays with family. All good things must come to a (temporary) end, eh? Anyway, with winter fast approaching, it’s important for RV owners to be proactive and protect their motorhomes from the elements ahead. Without further ado, here are 10 tips and tricks to help you winterize your RV.
1. Empty and defrost the refrigerator
The refrigerator is often the culprit of bad smells, and even the smallest morsels of old food can attract ants, spiders, roaches, and other pests to the party. To make sure you thoroughly clean your RV’s refrigerator, you’ll need to take everything out of it and defrost it. You’ll then want to take special care to wipe down high-traffic or high-spillage areas, like the butter box and the vegetable trays, if you have them. Giving your refrigerator a deep clean helps prevent bad smells, mold/mildew, and pests from taking over your RV while it’s in storage for the winter.
2. Thoroughly clean the interior of your RV
And we mean thoroughly! Make sure you scrub every nook and cranny of your RV, especially the kitchen, and especially if you have children. Empty all the drawers and cupboards, and try not to store anything that might attract bugs or other pests inside your winterized RV. Remembering that mice are attracted to soft things to build nests with, remove all of your bedding, towels, and linens, and give them a good cleaning before storing them somewhere other than your RV. And finally, make sure to unplug and safely store all of your electrical devices.
3. Carefully inspect your RV for openings
As you move on down the highway, it’s normal for the joints in your RV to come loose in areas. This isn’t usually a problem when you’re actively using the RV, but it can present areas of egress for unwanted visitors when the RV is in storage for the winter. You’ll want to crack open your RV toolkit to find a sealant like Dicor, Eternabond tape, or plumbing tape (depending on where the opening is) to build a new barrier between the interior of your RV and the outside world.
4. Wash the exterior of your RV
Give it a really good scrub down! She worked hard for you all year long, now she deserves a bath. But seriously, make sure you clean all the debris from the slides and seams of your RV to prevent leaks or stains and keep your home-on-wheels in pristine operating condition for next season.
5. Schedule maintenance for your RV
And follow through with it! The last thing you want is to be blindsided by a mechanical repair or an oil change that you didn’t know you needed when you go to take your RV out in the spring. Better to stay ahead of the game on maintenance to prevent more costly repairs down the line. Transwest offers scheduled maintenance for RV owners, so be sure to check us out!
6. Drain every last drop of water from every water system in your RV
This will keep your pipes clean and mold-free. Make sure to clear water from all water lines, holding tanks, hot water heaters, the toilet, the refrigerator, and any other appliances you may have that use water.
7. Pump potable antifreeze into your water system OR vacate the plumbing lines
Once all the water is removed from all water lines, you’ll want to prepare your RV’s water lines to protect them from freezing. RV owners have two different ways to do this.
The first is to run RV antifreeze throughout your plumbing lines. You’ll likely need a couple of jugs of antifreeze to complete this task, and you may need a kit with a hose and adapter that attaches to the on-demand water pump. There are three different types of RV antifreeze available: ethanol, propylene glycol, and propylene ethanol. Although ethanol is the least expensive, propylene glycol is the most popular choice because it is considered the safest to use and leaves less aftertaste once water is run through the pipes again.
The second way to protect your plumbing lines is to use an air compressor to force water out of the plumbing lines. You’ll use a special adapter to connect the air compressor hose to your city’s water connection on the exterior of your RV, and you’ll also need to remove any inline water filters you may have installed. The only downsides to the air compressor method are that the process can put a lot of pressure on your plumbing fittings, which may damage them, and some water may remain in the peaks and valleys of your plumbing lines. This can cause water to settle back into those areas once the air pressure is removed.
8. Dehumidify and spruce up the interior of your RV
Natural dehumidifiers can help prevent mold from growing in your RV during the long winter months. You can also use cedar chips and dryer sheets to mask moldy smells and keep pests away.
9. Protect your RV’s tires from dry rot
As the thing that distinguishes your motorhome for its mobility, tires are a very important part of your RV experience. They are also pretty expensive, so it’s important for you to take good care of them. To protect your RV tires from dry rot, you’ll first want to check that they are kept at the recommended tire pressure. Both over and under-inflated tires can lead to rot, so make sure to keep that pressure within the recommended range.
Next, use tire covers to inexpensively and effectively protect your tires. They come in materials from vinyl to canvas and are easily purchased online. And the last thing to do to protect your tires is regularly move the RV. Tires are meant to be used, and they can age more quickly when not used. Try to move your RV, even if it’s in storage, at least once a month to keep the tire sidewalls from cracking.
10. Start dreaming of next year’s adventures!
Feel confident that you can winterize your own RV?
Not deterred by this list of to-dos? Still interested in joining the legions of happy RV owners traveling the world every day? Transwest’s friendly and knowledgeable staff is always available to help you choose from the highest quality RVs (and more) from top manufacturers. Find a location near you, or shop our online inventory and let our experts help you find the perfect new or used RV for you to explore the world and winterize when you need to rest.