RVing

Here are Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Winterize Your RV

A holiday travel trailer is seen parked in a outdoor garage. It is snowy day and the trailer appears to be thinking when is summer coming?

Winterizing your RV is a must if you live in a part of the country where the temperature drops below freezing. Honestly, even if that possibility is rather low, it’s still smart to go through the process of winterizing your RV if you don’t plan on using it much during the winter months.

By taking the necessary steps to winterize your unit, you’ll be able to go into the colder months with peace of mind, knowing that when you go to get your RV ready for camping in the spring, it’ll be ready and in good condition.

The most important thing you can do when winterizing your RV is to take care of the water system in your unit. With that in mind, let’s run through the steps you should take to winterize your rig.

Winterization Steps

Motor home in the winter, camping with a caravan
Image from Getty

Here’s what you’ll need to do to make sure that your RV easily makes it through the cold winter months.

1. Remove and Bypass the Water Filters

Most modern RVs come with in-line water filters. Before you can begin winterizing your rig, you’ll need to disconnect those water filters. From there, you’ll have to bypass the water filter, so you can finish the winterization process.

This is also a good time to look andย see if the filter actually needs to be replaced. If so, make a note to buy a new filter in the spring.

2. Drain and Clean Your Black and Gray Water Tanks

The next step in the process is to drain any and all water out of your gray and black tanks. These tanks are reserved for wastewater and that waste should not sit in your RV while it is waiting the winter out. It’s a breeding ground for everything nasty you can think of.

Drain the black tank and then the gray one. Then you should make a point to clean the black tank with a special black tank cleaner. That way it will be ready for action come springtime.

3. Drain the Water From Your Water Heater and Water Lines

In addition to draining your black and gray water tanks, you’ll also need to drain all the water out of your entire system, even your water heater. You can do the water heater by turning it off, letting it cool and depressurize and then removing the drain plug and opening the pressure relief valve.

With the water heater empty, open all faucets and drain lines. Make sure to do both the hot and the cold lines on each faucet, even outdoor ones.

4. Bypass Your Water Heater

Antifreeze should not enter the water heater. That’s why you need to bypass the water heater. Many modern RVs come equipped with a water heater bypass already installed.

If you don’t have one on your rig, you can install one, or you can go to a Gander RV & Outdoors service center and have the technicians do it for you.

5. Add Antifreeze to Your RV’s Water System

After your water heater has been bypassed, it’s time to add antifreeze to your RV. To do this, you either need to install a water pump converter kit or you can disconnect the inlet side of the water pump and place it inside your antifreeze container or jug.

Once you’ve done that, close all the faucets and drain lines and turn on the rig’s water pump. This will add antifreeze to the water system. Once the system is properly pressurized, turn on each faucet until you see antifreeze come out. Make sure to do both the hot and cold water.

After you’ve turned on all faucets, you should go outside the RV to the city water inlet. Remove the cap and the small screen. Then use a small screwdriver to push on and activate the valve until you see coolant coming out. Then replace the screen and cap on the inlet.

With all that done, pour a cup or so of additional antifreeze down the drain of each sink in the RV. Finally, double-check that the water heater’s heating element is turned off and all faucets are closed.

Other Winterization Tasks

RV winterization
Image by Jason Xu from Unsplash

If you’re putting your RV away for the winter, there are other things you may need to do to complete your winterization. These tasks can be found inside your owner’s manual. Look for them there and then follow the specific instructions to ensure that you finish them before winter sets in.

Also, it’s always a good idea to give the RV a good visual inspection both inside and out. If you notice anything that concerns you, consider calling your local Gander RV & Outdoors to see what you should do.

You can also call and just schedule a full winterization service if you don’t want to do it all yourself.


Not interested in winterizing your RV yourself? Find a Gander RV & Outdoors service center near you!

Step by Step instructions to winterize your RV

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