How to Winterize Your RV for Colder Weather

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Winter is coming, and with it colder weather, looming snow storms, higher winds, and a big challenge for RV owners. RVs are particularly susceptible to freezing temperatures, because of their plumbing systems and interstitial areas where water can build up and freeze, which causes major problems when your RV thaws out in the spring.

In this post, we’ll show you step-by-step instructions for winterizing your RV, so you don’t have to worry on the first trip of spring. If this process feels overwhelming, don’t worry – the experts at Blue Dog RV are happy to winterize your RV for you! If you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer, however, read on.

Remove and Bypass the Water Filters

Before anything else, you should remove the water filters from your unit, and bypass them as well. The winterization chemicals you’ll add later can damage water filters, plus you can see if they need replacing when you remove them!

Drain Black and Gray Water Tanks

One of the most important things you can do before leaving your RV to sit for the winter season is to empty the wastewater tanks. Water left inside those tanks can become a breeding ground for bacteria, as well as freeze, expand, and crack the tank or other parts of your plumbing system.

To avoid a potentially dangerous situation regarding wastewater, you’ll want to drain both tanks, starting with the black water tank and moving to the gray water tank afterward. Finally, clean the black tank with a black tank cleaner or cleaning wand to ensure bacteria don’t grow during the winter.

Drain Water Heater and Water Lines

First, turn your water heater off and let it cool down and depressurize. After that, remove the drain plug and open the pressure relief valve to drain the water out of the unit. For your safety, don’t drain the water heater if it’s hot or under pressure! Turn it off and let it depressurize first to avoid an accident.

After the water heater is drained, drain the lines by opening all of your RV’s faucets, both hot and cold, to let all the water in the system drain out.

Bypass Your Water Heater

Now that you’ve removed all the water from your RV, you’re about to start adding things – but before you do, you need to bypass the water heater. Some RVs have bypasses already installed, but if you don’t have one in yours, we’ll be happy to install one for you at Blue Dog RV.

The reason you need to install a bypass is to ensure antifreeze won’t get into the water heater, which can cause a major issue when you turn the heater back on in the spring.

Add Antifreeze

Finally, you’ll want to fill the system with an antifreeze that will keep the pipes protected from the changes in temperature that come with winter. Before adding the antifreeze, you’ll need to install a water pump converter kit – or you can place the inlet side of your water pump in the jug of antifreeze.

Then, close all the faucets and drain lines on your RV, and turn on the water pump. That’ll pump the antifreeze all through the water system and pressurize it.

After the system’s been pressurized, turn on the hot water in each faucet til you see antifreeze come out. Then do the same for the cold water faucets. After doing the same thing for both hot and cold faucets one more time, turn off the water pump and open all the faucets.

Then, remove the small screen in the city water inlet on your RV. Use a small screwdriver to push on the valve inside until you see coolant working its way out, then replace the screen and close the inlet.

Finally, pour additional antifreeze down the drain of each sink in the RV, and double-check that the water heater’s heating element is turned off, and close all the faucets.

Get Help from the Experts at Blue Dog RV

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While winterizing an RV isn’t necessarily complicated, it’s a specific series of steps, and a mistake can be very costly. If you want to make sure it’s done correctly, you can always see the experts at Blue Dog RV. We have locations all over the country, and can perform pretty much any RV maintenance you might need.

So with winter right around the corner, don’t wait – click the image below for your Winterizing Your RV checklist or come to Blue Dog RV to get your RV winterized today! If you’re ready to just get another RV, we are an RV dealer as well and are more than willing to help you find your next adventure.


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