Winterizing your RV is very important. However, if you have never done it before, it can be confusing. I thought how many people own an RV but pay someone else to winterize it for them. With that idea in my mind, I went above and beyond with the details provided in this article on how to easily winterize your RV yourself.
Follow this 10-step guide on how to easily winterize your RV yourself. If you are not the type that wants to read long and detailed articles, here is a printable checklist on how to winterize your RV. Happy camping!
1. Required tools for winterizing an RV
- A small air compressor that can adjust to 20 pounds PSI
- A blowout plug to attach to the air compressor
- Three gallons of RV food-safe pink antifreeze
- Phillips screwdriver
- Flat head screwdriver
- Water bucket
- Wrench and a socket(if your water heater has an anode rod)
2. Drain the gray and black wastewater tanks
When winterizing an RV by yourself, it is essential to start by removing all of the water. The gray water tank is used to collect the water from the sinks and showers. The black water tank is used to collect the wastewater from the toilet. Both of these can freeze in the winter. This is why it is important to empty them completely.
To empty the gray and black wastewater tanks from your RV, you will need to attach the sewer hose and attach it to a sewer receptacle. Then, stretch the sewer line over to your RV and connect it to the dump station. Open the black water tank first by pulling the largest of the two valves.
When the black wastewater tank is empty, pull the second valve to start emptying the gray tank. Wait for about five seconds and then push back the larger valve(for the black tank) back in. Once done, push the second valve back in, remove the sewer hose and close the dump station.
3. Drain the fresh water tank
Draining the fresh water tank is something that you want to do each time you are about to drive your RV, not only when you are about to winterize your RV. This is because driving with a full fresh water tank will cause the water to slosh left and right and hitting just a small bump on the road may cause the water tank to fall out.
Before you start draining your fresh water tank, you need to make sure that the water heater is turned off. There is a control panel that controls the water heater inside the RV. However, some RVs might have an on and off switch on the actual heater, so make sure that one is turned off as well. Next, make sure that all of the faucets are open. This includes the outdoor shower (if you have one).
Underneath the RV on the outside, about in the middle of the RV, there is a drain valve that sticks out. This valve is attached to the fresh water tank. To drain the fresh water tank, you need to open the drain valve. Allow it to drain completely. This may take a while depending on how much fresh water you have in the tank. Also, if your RV has an anode rod, make sure that it is removed.
4. Check if there is any water left in the water lines
What most people forget when winterizing their RVs is to check if there is any water left in the water lines. Turn on the water pump and place an empty bucket in your kitchen sink and bathroom. Turn on the faucet and drain the remaining water.
Once there is very little water in the lines, the faucet will start spitting air and water. Let it do that for about a minute, just to make sure that there is absolutely no water left in the lines. When there is no water left, turn the water pump off.
5. Drain the low-point drains
With all the faucets still open, go outside the RV and locate the low-point drains. They are often located on the rear side of the vehicle, next to the tires. It is a red and blue hose sticking out from the RV. Inside the low-point drains, there is a 1/2” NPT thread that has to be removed in order to drain them. Remove those and let the water drain. Keep the low-point drains open for the next step.
6. Drain the hot water tank
First, turn off the water heater and let the water in the tank cool down before draining it. Then, open the exterior door of the water heater to access the relief valve. The valve is located on the front of the water heater near the top center. Pull out on the handle of the T&P valve and allow water to drain from the valve until it stops. Most RV water heater tanks hold up to six gallons. Then, release the valve and it should snap back on.
If you have a water heater with an anode rod, remove it to drain the water. However, remember to release the pressure from the tank first.
7. Attach a blowout plug to the city water connection
With the low-point drains still open, attach a blowout plug to the city water connection. The blowout plug has an air inlet on one end same as the valve stem on the tires and a thread on the other side that connects to the water connection on your RV.
Turn on the air compressor and apply low pressure of about 20 PSI for several seconds. This should push out any of the remaining water through the low-point drains. Once there is no more water coming out from the low-point drains, remove the blowout plug.
8. Attach the blowout plug to the black tank inlet
Move the same blowout plug from the city water connection and attach it to the black tank inlet. Right above the black tank dump valve, there is an inlet for the black tank. Once you install the blowout plug, apply about 20 PSI of pressure using the air compressor for several seconds. This will allow for minimal water to be pushed out to the sewer drain.
9. Cover the water inlets
Put a cap on the city water and black tank flush line inlets.
10. Add the antifreeze into the water system
Before you add the antifreeze into the water system, there are a few steps that you need to do. The hot water tank is usually hidden behind a panel under the stove in the kitchen. You will need to remove the panel and turn the tank’s bypass valve to bypass the hot water tank. This is done because you don’t want to fill the hot water tank with antifreeze.
Next, locate the water pump. On most RVs, the water pump is located next to the bed on the driver’s side. If you are not sure where your water pump is located, turn it on for a second and try to locate it by sound. With the water pump turned off, locate the fresh water intake line. You may already have a hose on this line that can be used to winterize the RV. If not, replace the intake line at the water pump with a siphon line.
Insert the siphon line into the jug of pink food-safe RV antifreeze and turn on the water pump. Quickly go outside and verify that the low-drain points are dripping pink antifreeze. This is how you verify that the RV antifreeze is in the system. Then, close the low-drain water points.
Basically, you want antifreeze in the water system and in each line. So, go inside the RV and open one faucet at a time. Make sure that they also are dripping pink RV antifreeze. You need to even flush the toilet until the water is pink.
Once every faucet both inside and outside the RV is leaking pink fluid, remove the siphon line from the jug of RV antifreeze and replace the fresh water line.