A recreational vehicle is very much like a home. Your RV needs to be winterized to protect it from cold weather damage. The steps you need to take for preparing your RV for winter will depend on whether you plan to use it or store it during the coldest months. RV winterizing can be done professionally but most of the work is not too difficult for owners to do themselves.
If you are storing your RV for the whole winter you need to protect your water lines from freezing. A compressed air adapter that screws onto your fresh water inlet will allow you to fully remove all of the water from your system. You can get this adapter at most RV dealers or camping stores. The first thing you need to do is empty your holding tanks. Empty and flush out your black water tank and then your grey water tank. When you finish emptying the gray water tank leave the valve open. Completely drain any water from your fresh water tank.
Once your holding tanks are empty install the compressed air adapter into the fresh water inlet. Open the faucet furthest down the line and begin applying compressed air to your system using no more than twenty psi. Allow the air to force the water out and then close that faucet and continue the process until each faucet is clear. Do not forget your toilet line. Now remove the drain plug from your hot water tank and drain it. When you have completed these steps close the by-pass valve for the water heater if you have one. The by-pass valve reduces the amount of antifreeze you will need to add making your job less costly. If you do not have a valve you should add one if at all possible.
You now need to fill your water lines with antifreeze. Never use regular antifreeze in your water lines; you must use non-toxic RV antifreeze. Disconnect the line that runs between the fresh water tank and the fresh water pump. Insert this line into a container of RV antifreeze and start your water pump. Once pressure has built up in your system open each faucet valve individually until the colored antifreeze becomes visible and then shut off the faucet. You need to do this for your toilet also. Once all of the water lines are filled with RV antifreeze you can reattach your fresh water line to the tank. A three way valve installed between the pump and fresh water tank will eliminate the need to disconnect the line when you are winterizing and save you time.
Finally close the grey water valve and pour RV antifreeze into the toilet and each sink drain. Make sure you have enough antifreeze available for the size of your system. If you do not want to use compressed air to clear the water from your lines you can skip this step but you must follow the steps for draining your holding tanks and adding the antifreeze.
Look at your RV just like it is a home. Check your window and door seals and replace any that may allow water or air infiltration. Check the roof of your RV for damage and inspect caulking around roof openings. It will be best if you can store your RV under an awning or tarp to protect from winter weather.
If you do plan to use your RV frequently during the winter you still need to remove any black and grey from your holding tanks and drain the fresh water in your system. Follow the steps for using compressed air to remove the water from your faucets and toilet. You do not need to fill the entire system with antifreeze but you should add some to your drains. You can get back on the road more quickly and easily if you do not have to clear the RV antifreeze from all of your water lines.
In addition, add insulation to your exposed lines to reduce the chance of freezing. Fresh water lines can be wrapped with electrical heating tape that you can turn on when you are using your RV in the winter. Always follow any recommended maintenance procedures for your RV’s engine, cooling and electrical system as well. Finally check your heating system to be sure it is fully operational and you can enjoy some great winter camping.