RVing Tips | How To De-Winterize Your RV

Last Updated on August 13, 2021 by Christina

It’s been an especially long and harsh winter. But there is a silver lining to the frigid temperatures and snowfall amounts the likes few of us have seen before.  Like a tall glass of water after a long day cutting grass and pulling weeds, we are now as ultra-ready for this spring and summer’s camping season.

But first things first, before the first s’more can be cooked over the campfire, we need to make sure our RVs are ready. That means de-winterizing the RV. It also means cleaning the exterior and interior of our campers, but that’s for another day. Today we’re to talk about de-winterizing the RV.

De-Winterize MotorhomeLast fall, we dutifully winterized our RVs.  This spring, we must set aside a sunny afternoon to de-winterize them. (Here’s a thought: why don’t we say we’re “summer-izing” our RVs?)

A quick disclaimer here: I don’t pretend to know everything there is to know about RVs. In fact, I know just enough to be dangerous. The following is merely what I do when I de-winterize my camper, which is a hybrid travel trailer. You might do more, or less, for your RV, especially if yours is a motor home.  I would expect a few differences if you have a toy hauler or a folding pop-up camper, too.

Blog PostThe first thing I do when I de-winterize my camper is to give it a thorough inspection from the outside in. What I’m looking for are any obvious signs of damage, or repairs needed, such as cracked vent covers, failed sealants and flat tires.

On the inside, I’m usually looking for signs of critters which might have made a home inside my camper. Open up cupboards and drawers, too. Excrement, gnawed cabinets and scattered pillow stuffing is what I’m looking for; so far we’ve never had furry four-legged squatters (knock on wood). Aside from that, then I’m looking for signs of water damage, such as discolored walls or ceilings.

Provided there’s nothing that needs fixing, then I’m putting the camper back together.

I start with re-installing the battery and propane tanks, which I removed in the fall. A quick check of turning the lights on makes sure the battery is good, while soap bubbles determine whether the propane lines are leaking.

From there, it’s time to take care of the plumbing. First, I screw the drain plug back into the water heater tank. Then, I close the faucets for the kitchen sink and the shower. (Each fall, I leave the faucets open and the drain plug out as extra precaution in case any water in the lines should freeze.) Following that, I turn off the water heater bypass.

Then it’s time to flush out the RV antifreeze. By now I’ve already filled my fresh water tank, so it’s just a matter of opening each faucet, starting with the one closest to the water pump.  An empty milk jug at the faucet spout captures the spray as water exits the line. Don’t forget the shower and toilet.

Next, I sterilize my fresh water and black water tanks and plumbing. Some people, like me, use a small amount of bleach to do this, while others use chemical products sold at retail centers. The main thing is to be sure to flush out your tanks and lines completely when done.

Finally, test your refrigerator and other appliances to make sure they work.

That’s all there is to it!

See you next week when we talk about cleaning the exterior.

Rick Kessler

Gr8LakesCamper celebrates the world of RV Camping in the Great Lakes region. Gather around the campfire and share tips, ideas and stories on RVing, camping and travel destinations. Follow Gr8LakesCamper on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and the Gr8LakesCamper blog.