Last night the temp’s dropped for the first time, you woke up this morning with a heavy layer of frost on the windshield, so what’s next? Well if you don’t take care of that expensive RV sitting in the back yard, next spring it will cost you a ton of money to get it repaired before you can go camping. Having owned all types of RV’s over the past 30 years winterizing is a yearly task that really doesn’t have to take that much time to accomplish.
There are a couple different ways to get the water out of the lines, tanks, and pump that make up your water system, some easier than others. These instructions will concentrate of what is believed to be the easiest. Other methods will be covered at the end.
You will need one power tool, an air compressor. If you don’t own one, and you plan on owning an RV for many years to come, I would seriously recommend you go out and buy one. It doesn’t have to be a big one, just large enough to have an air storage tank. The small compressors that run off your car battery, and are designed to air up your flat tire in an emergency are not recommended for this project. They just don’t make enough air quick enough for the job and you need to be able to adjust the air pressure setting.
A trip to Walmart, or your local RV dealer to obtain the little plastic adapter to hook your air hose to the City Water hookup will be the next step. It will cost only a couple dollars, while your there grab One gallon of RV water system antifreeze. WARNING!!!!! DO NOT USE AUTOMOTIVE ANTIFREEZE….. POISON!!!!! RV antifreeze is pink in color and is non-toxic.
The first step is to drain the Water Heater Tank. Remove the plastic drain plug (it can be metal too) and allow the water to drain out. When its empty reinstall the plug and snug it down. Don’t get carried away, you can strip the threads out of your aluminum tank if you tighten it to hard.
Next plug in the air compressor and let it build up air pressure. Set the regulator to 5 psi, then clip the air hose onto the adapter you have installed in the City Water connection. After the air pressure stabilizes the squealing will stop, go inside the RV and going one at a time, open each water faucet, drain the water out, then close the faucet. Be sure to get them all, kitchen, bathroom, and don’t forget the toilet. After you have done all the faucets go back to the first one and do them all again. It will take 3-4 repetitions before you will be blowing only air and no water out the faucets.
Unplug the air hose, go back inside and turn on the 12volt water pump. Run it for a minute or so to make sure no water is sitting in it. Then hook the air hose up again and bleed the faucets one more time. This may seem repetitive, but the goal is to make sure all the water is blown out without disconnecting a bunch of stuff or pumping antifreeze through all the water lines.
When your convinced there is no more water, disconnect the air hose. Then open all the faucets to allow air in the system. Some RV’s have drain valves located at the lowest point in water lines. They usually have a metal ring you can pull on to open the valves, allowing the water lines to gravity drain to the ground. Open these valves as well. Before you call it good go to each drain and the toilet and pour a cup of RV antifreeze into each one.
Your water system is safe to store for the winter, but your not done yet. While inside the RV there are a few things left to do. Go through the cupboards, any left over canned goods, or food needs to be removed. Anything with a battery in it needs to have them removed. Portable radio, TV remote, smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, clock, make sure you got them all. Battery’s will freeze and burst creating a real mess, possible ruining things.
The battery on the hitch of your travel trailer, or the one in your fifth wheel, disconnect it and take it indoors. They will drain if left attached to the electrical system, then freeze and split. Some class A motor homes have solar charger’s on the roof, if so equipped make sure the solar panel is open to sun light throughout the winter. If you cover your RV remove the battery as the solar charger won’t work if it is covered or snow has accumulated on the roof.
Covering your RV to protect it from Ice damage, or shield it from sun damage is a good idea. I use the readily available Blue Tarp. Get one large enough to cover as much of the RV as possible. If you use rubber bungees to snug the tarp down, make sure you have the hooks below the body so rustling in the wind will not damage the paint on the side of your RV. I prefer to use nylon cord to fasten the tarp, however you tie down the tarp, make sure it can’t whip in the wind as it too will be abrasive against the finish.
That’s it, a couple hours work and your investment is properly protected. Through out the winter keep an eye on how much snow is sitting on the roof, any more then six inches could lead to structural damage.
Another way to winterize the water system included bypass lines for the water heater, and pumping RV antifreeze through the water lines. A choice that works, but requires disassembly and using up to five gallons of antifreeze. I prefer to just blow the lines clear of water and minimize the use of chemicals.