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It’s Time to Winterize: 8 Steps to Safely Store Your RV

Carefree Covered RV Storage
An RV driving down a road through a snowy winter forest scene.
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If you're not intending to embrace the RV lifestyle in a warm winter destination, it's time to prepare your RV for hibernation. Ensuring your motorhome is properly winterized before storage is essential. This ensures it runs smoothly when the time comes for your next adventure.

What Exactly Does It Mean to Winterize Your RV?

Preparing your RV for winter, commonly known as winterizing, involves taking precautions to safeguard it against freezing temperatures typical during the winter months. Even if you reside in a warmer winter climate and have no immediate travel plans, it's advisable to follow these steps to ensure the security and proper storage of your RV, especially if it will be outdoors for an extended period.

When Should You Winterize Your RV?

If it's cold enough for you to pause your RV excursions, that's a good sign your rig needs protection against freezing temperatures. General rule of thumb: It’s time to winterize when the temperature falls below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping all systems — especially your plumbing — in good working order through the winter will depend on the steps that follow.

 

Give yourself a few days to focus on each task and prep your RV for its wintertime retreat. When springtime returns, you’ll be thankful you took care to prepare with proper winterization. 

How To Winterize Your RV: 8 Simple Steps

Note:  The advice provided here is of a general nature and may vary for your specific RV. Prior to initiating any winterizing process, refer to your owner's manual for precise instructions.

 

Cleaning supplies on the floor of an RV getting it cleaned for winterizing.

Step #1: Clean Up the Interior

  • Remove all food. You don’t want any smelly and spoiled surprises come spring. Plus, it’s a huge attraction for unwanted pests. (See Step #2.)
  • Ready yourself for a comprehensive cleaning. Empty cabinets and remove pull-out seat cushions to initiate a thorough clean. Cover all the basics: sanitize surfaces, sweep, vacuum, and more.
  • Defrost the fridge and freezer. Leave doors propped so they’ll stay open and prevent mold and mildew. It's a good idea to place baking soda or charcoal bags around to absorb odors.
  • Wipe fridge out with a Clorox wipe or other cleaning cloth to prevent mold and mildew. 
  • Clean the A/C filters and vents. This involves several steps, including disconnecting the A/C from its source, removing and washing the filter, then returning it when it dries. The same goes for vent cleaning, and here’s a great how-to video.
  • Keep the blinds lowered. This helps shield the interior from direct sunlight.
  • Identify and address water damage promptly. This process entails pinpointing the origin of the water damage and subsequently repairing or reinforcing the affected areas.

 

Step #2: Keep Pests Away

Ensure there's no chance for critters to make a home while you're away. A thorough cleaning is a crucial initial step, followed by addressing any potential entry points for small rodents and insects. Be sure to seal all possible entry points before leaving your RV parked for the winter.

 

  • Fill any cracks and openings with spray foam or silicone sealant.
  • Place rodent repellent throughout the interior. Mothballs and peppermint spray are also effective options.
  • Eliminate rodent nesting materials. This includes paper and paper products (e.g., paper towels, toilet paper), cardboard, and clothing.
  • Remember non-food items. In addition to removing perishable food, take out flavored and sweetened items such as toothpaste or sugar packets that might attract bugs and rodents.

 

Step #3: Remove All Water and Use Antifreeze

A couple bottles or RV anti-freeze sitting next to a hose and a pump.

 

Like safeguarding your home plumbing, it's essential to shield water lines from potentially expensive repairs caused by frozen pipes. Fortunately, there are various brands of antifreeze tailored for winterizing your RV. Before application, ensure to eliminate all freshwater and wastewater from tanks and lines.

 

  • Drain all water tanks, inspecting the shower drain, toilet, and water heater for any accumulation.
  • Pump out remaining water by attaching an RV blowout plug, opening all faucets and drains, and then pumping compressed air to clear all water lines. Here’s a great guide for winterizing your RV’s water system.
  • Use very low air pressure when blowing out lines, 20 psi and lower is recommended.
  • Add an RV-specific antifreeze mixture. If using an existing water pump to circulate, you’ll need to use a bypass kit to keep antifreeze out of the freshwater tank and water heater. 
  • Add a specialized RV antifreeze blend into all sinks and drains within the RV. For double sinks, pour 2 cups into each sink. Since P-traps retain water, neglecting to use antifreeze may lead to freezing and potential splitting of the P-trap.

 

Step #4: Fill and Stabilize Your Fuel Tank

A close up an RV fuel gauge on full.

 

Gasoline breaks down over time, and you don't want to run stale fuel through your engine next time you start up your RV. Leaving the tank empty leaves room for condensation damage, so you want to make sure to fill your gas tank to almost full:

 

  • Add fuel stabilizer to an almost full tank of gas and run the engine long enough for the stabilizer to disperse through the entire fuel system.
  • Use a good diesel stabilizer (if your coach is a diesel). Studies have determined that within 28 days of storage diesel fuel #2 begins to become contaminated and starts to degrade. Diesel fuel can only be stored from 6 to 12 months on average.
  • Get an oil change service and top off fluids like antifreeze, plus power steering, brake, and windshield fluids.

 

Step #5: Disconnect Batteries

A man showing a woman the battery in her RV and how to disconnect it.

 

Winter temperatures are bad for RV batteries. Add to that those months of not charging while it continues to drain, and you will return to a battery that needs replacement. To prevent this:

  • Remove the battery from your RV.
  • Check the water levels and fill it up if needed (wear eye protection and safety gloves).
  • Fully charge the battery. 
  • Store the battery in a warm, indoor location like a cellar. Don’t rest the battery directly on the floor. Use cardboard or other material as a mat.
  • Attach a battery maintainer to keep it charged during storage. Some sources say not to let it fall below an 80% charge.
  • Set yourself a reminder and check your battery monthly to make sure it is fully charged.

 

Step #6: Protect the Tires

An RV on jacks to protect the tires while being stored in the winter time.

 

Tires prefer regular movement and are sensitive to extreme temperatures. When leaving your RV parked for an extended period, it's essential to avoid flat spots on the tires. Use a jack at each axle or inflate them to the recommended pounds per square inch (PSI) and rotate them periodically. Failing to maintain them correctly may lead to the need for tire replacement after storage or, more critically, could result in a blowout during your next RV drive.

 

  • Use properly fitted tire covers to protect from UV rays.
  • When a jack is not available to lift the tires off the ground, utilize cardboard or blocks. This helps insulate the tires against freezing temperatures.
  • Check tire pressure after storage and inflate them before your next trip.

 

Step #7: Preserve the Exterior

A person washing a rv

 

Avoid letting dirt and grime accumulate, potentially damaging the external paint and seals. As a component of the winterizing process, it's crucial to clean and inspect the exterior of your RV. Pay special attention to the roof, sidewalls, seams, and windows to identify any leaks that may require re-caulking or sealing before storage.

 

  • Use mild soap and water to wash the exterior and tires thoroughly before protecting with a spray-on wax.
  • Apply UV protectant spray to all rubber seals and gaskets on the slide-outs and storage doors. Make sure UV spray is not tacky to attract dirt. Wash the seals with mild soap and water before applying.
  • Here’s a pro tip:  add baby powder to keep slide-outs from sticking.
  • Fit your RV with a winter cover to protect against UV damage and moisture. Be aware that we live in a desert climate. Dirt may be trapped under the cover and begin to scratch the RV. Covered RV storage is more beneficial to the RV and paint.

 

Step #8: Choose a Safe Location to Store Your RV

Ideally, you'll be able to park your RV for the winter in a shelter or under a roof:

  • Driveway or yard:  When opting to store your RV in your driveway or yard, select a location sheltered from wind, and ensure the RV is parked at a safe distance from trees that might pose a risk during wind or ice storms.
  • Street parking:  Before considering street parking for your RV, consult your city code. Parking regulations may exist that could prohibit such arrangements. There are other reasons why storing your RV at home may not be the best idea.

     
  • RV storage facility: 

     
    • Certainly, we recommend choosing a secure and reliable RV storage facility such as Carefree Covered RV Storage. Our facilities are available in both the Phoenix and Dallas/Fort Worth metro areas.
    • If our locations are not accessible to you, seek a facility offering covered parking, washing stations, vacuum services, air, water, and a dump station. These amenities will enable you to prepare your RV conveniently on-site before the arrival of the cold weather.
    • It’s also helpful to visit your RV every month or so to make sure it’s still safe and secure.

 

RV Winterizing Resources

Check out these additional winterizing resources to ensure your RV is as safe and secure as it can possibly be before you put it in storage:
 

 

 

This Carefree Covered RV Storage article was updated by
Curtis Jansson
Mr Tech Mobile RV Repair
RVIA/RVTI Level 3 Tech
mrtechmobilerv@gmail.com

 
(602) 350-5272

You can view his maps link where he displays work and RV related items here:

https://maps.app.goo.gl/Ymont874QSgvNfeH8

 

 

Come Home to Carefree Covered RV Storage

A picture of the Carefree Covered RV Storage welcome center in St Paul Texas.Explore our facility videos and street view tour, then visit us, and we'll assist in setting up your rig. Trust us with the storage of your recreational vehicles, and relish secure, premium covered RV storage. Benefit from our comprehensive high-definition security camera video surveillance, 365-day automated access, phone gate app, charging outlets, free wifi, complimentary self RV wash, sewer dump, and even complimentary bags of ice!

With Carefree Covered RV Storage, you can be assured of tranquility, security, and personalized, traditional service. We simplify the rental and payment processes online, help you maintain your vehicle effortlessly, and ensure you can hit the road promptly and continue living the carefree life!


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