How Do You Winterize A Travel Trailer?

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After a great season of RV camping the sad time often comes when you have to put the camper away for the season. It is important to winterize your RV travel trailer to withstand winter temperatures if you store your RV travel trailer in most of the US or Canada during the winter months.

Failure to properly winterize your travel trailer could result in burst pipes and damage to your travel trailer plumbing system. It is important to winterize your travel trailer anytime the outside temperature is predicted to fall below 32°F.

Repairs needed on your travel trailer due to freezing are not covered under most limited warranties so you will want to protect your investment by properly winterizing your travel trailer. We also recommend you get someone to assist you when you begin to winterize your travel trailer.

how to winterize your rv camper

These RV checklists are provided for informational purposes only. We ALWAYS recommend you consult your owner’s manual for complete checklists and instructions on the items you need to safely operate and use your RV camper.

WHAT IS INVOLVED IN WINTERIZING YOUR TRAVEL TRAILER?

While it may seem as though there are tons of things to do to get your RV travel trailer ready for winter, there are really TWO major things think about:

  1. Externally and Internally protecting the RV from harsh weather & pesky visitors
  2. Protecting your water systems.

Winterizing your travel trailer may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but with a bit of practice and a good RV travel trailer checklist for reference, you will be winterizing your travel trailer like a pro in no time.

EXTERNALLY & INTERNALLY PREPARING YOUR RV TRAVEL TRAILER TO SURVIVE THE WINTER

You may think that winterizing your travel trailer simply means draining the water from your trailer and putting in an RV antifreeze solution to protect the water lines from freezing. Certainly, this is a vital aspect of winterizing your travel trailer before winter storage, but there are a few other important tasks to be completed in order to protect the external and internal components of your RV travel trailer.

RV TRAVEL TRAILER WINTERIZING CHECKLIST

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of winterizing a travel trailer, is understanding all the steps need to winterize your plumbing system. I know each year when it comes to getting my RV travel trailer out of storage and ready for the season, I can get a bit nervous about forgetting something. That is why I create RV checklists. The owner’s manual is invaluable, but having a handy checklist on your phone or printed out helps as you walk through each step.

Winterizing RV Checklists Spreadsheets

Many of these steps are the reverse order of what you will do when taking your travel trailer out of storage, I find it best if I have a checklist for both winterizing and de-winterizing my travel trailer.

winterizing rv checklists

Here is a quick rundown on how to winterize your travel trailer.

  1. Get on the roof of your travel trailer and check for any damage or signs of potential leakage so they can be repaired before you stow away your travel trailer for the season.
  2. Check all other surfaces and seams for any signs of cracks, leaks, or sealant failures and repair as necessary.
  3. Close all the windows and roof vents.
  4. Close the propane cylinder valve(s). If you don’t already have a cover for your propane cylinders, now is the time to purchase one and make sure your regulator is covered.
  5. Cover all external outlets to prevent mice and other rodents from entering your RV travel trailer.
  6. Cover your roof air conditioner.
  7. Disconnect 120-volt AC power to the RV
  8. Do not use stabilizing jacks during storage.
  9. Drain All Water Lines [Details Below]
  10. Drain and flush all holding tanks (Fresh water, gray water, black water, and hot water heater tank(s)) [Details Below]
  11. Remove all perishable items from the interior.
  12. Do not leave any liquids or items in your travel trailer that are susceptible to freezing.
  13. If at all possible, store your RV indoors under a roof. If this is not possible, consider investing in an RV tarp that can “breath”.
  14. Wash the interior and the exterior of your RV
  15. Remove all batteries from the RV and store in a place where they won’t freeze.
  16. Cover your RV tires with a cover that will prevent weather checking and UV damage
  17. To prevent damage from moisture and mildew, turn your cushions on edge.
  18. Turn off 12-volt DC/120-volt AC/propane to the refrigerator; defrost, and clean your refrigerator. You can use crumpled up newspapers or baking soda boxes in the refrigerator to prevent odors during storage.
  19. Install mouse traps throughout the RV travel trailer
  20. Store any linens and clothes in a sealed plastic bin to prevent access to rodents or other creatures.

WINTERIZING YOUR TRAVEL TRAILER PLUMBING SYSTEM

There are a few more steps you need to take in addition to the above checklist before you begin to drain your RV travel trailer fresh water system.

  1. Before winterizing the FRESH WATER system in your travel trailer, be sure to empty and flush your black and gray water tanks at a certified dumping station.
  2. Level your RV Travel Trailer
  3. Turn the water heater and water pump switches located inside your travel trailer to the OFF position.
  4. As you will be working with the water heater, also ensure your propane tanks are shut off.
  5. If you have any inline water filters remove and bypass before starting.
  6. Locate the outside panel access to your water heater. Turn the Water heater switch to the OFF position and turn the Water Heater Bypass Valves. (Consult your owner’s manual for the exact location of these valves)

HOW TO DRAIN THE FRESH WATER SYSTEM IN YOUR TRAVEL TRAILER

Now you are ready to begin the steps to drain the fresh water system. This procedure has to be done whether you choose to winterize your lines with compressed air or an RV antifreeze.

  1. OPEN all faucets, including the outside shower faucet if so equipped
  2. OPEN the “exterior fresh tank drain” valve on the permanent fresh water holding tank (if so equipped). This knob turns 45° to open or close.
  3. OPEN the “low point drains” on your FRESH WATER holding tanks (located underneath your travel trailer) and drain all the water ensuring they are completely empty. Leave the valves set to OPEN.
  4. Turn ON your Water Pump and run as needed. The process generally takes 15-20 seconds.
  5. Be sure to operate the toilet flush with the Water Pump on as well until the water stops flowing.
  6. Relieve the water pressure on your water heater using the pressure & temperature (P&T) relief valve BEFORE you remove the water heater drain plug. Otherwise, if there is any water pressure present the water will spray out of the opening when you remove the drain plug.

HOW DO YOU WINTERIZE YOUR TRAVEL TRAILER WITH COMPRESSED AIR?

While most people will choose to winterize their plumbing system with an RV antifreeze, it is also possible to winterize your plumbing system with an air compressor. This method will utilized an air hose to blow water from your travel trailer water lines.

SIX EASY STEPS TO USING COMPRESSED AIR TO WINTERIZE YOUR TRAVEL TRAILER

  1. Make sure all the FRESH WATER holding tanks are empty and drain valves are OPEN. (See above on draining the FRESH WATER tanks).
  2. Run the water pump until it is dry, this will take about 15-20 seconds.
  3. OPEN all the faucets and drains in your travel trailer. You will also want to operate the toilet flush lever until water stops flowing with the water pump on.
  4. It is generally best to also bypass your water heater by turning the water heater bypass valves. (Always Consult your specific RV Travel Trailer Owner’s Manual to locate your water heater and it’s bypass valves)
  5. Now, using an air hose and a blow out plug adapter, blow air through the city water connection. Any remaining water will generally blow out in five to ten minutes. You may wish to also purchase an air pressure regulator to regulate the pressure (around 30-40 psi) and prevent excess pressure from damaging your water lines.
  6. After you have blown the air from all of your lines, pour 1-2 cups of non-toxic RV antifreeze into all of your drains and your toilet to protect your P-traps from freezing.

Need Resources to De-Winterize Your RV? Check out the Ultimate RV Departure List Bundle, RV Packing Lists, and other Travel Resources in our Shop.

TRAVEL TRAILER ACCESSORIES NEEDED TO WINTERIZE FRESH WATER SYSTEM WITH COMPRESSED AIR

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HOW DO YOU WINTERIZE YOUR RV TRAVEL TRAILER WITH RV ANTIFREEZE?

The more commonly used method to winterize your travel trailer is to pump RV antifreeze through your water lines. After completing the previously mentioned steps for preparing your RV travel trailer for storage, dumping your black and gray water tanks, and draining the fresh water systems, follow these steps for winterizing your travel trailer with RV antifreeze* instead of compressed air.

*NOTE: You should never use automobile antifreeze in your travel trailer fresh water system as it is toxic.

  1. Make sure all the FRESH WATER holding tanks are empty and drain valves are OPEN. (See above on draining the FRESH WATER tanks).
  2. Run the water pump until it is dry, this will take about 15-20 seconds.
  3. OPEN all the faucets and drains in your travel trailer. You will also want to operate the toilet flush lever until water stops flowing with the water pump on.
  4. If your travel trailer is equipped with a water filtering system, replace the filter cartridge with a clear plastic bypass hose.
  5. Turn OFF your water heater 12-volt and 120-volt interior control switches.
  6. If you haven’t already done so, turn the water heater bypass valves to the BYPASS position now.
  7. Make sure the “fresh tank drain” and “low point drains” are CLOSED.
  8. If your travel trailer water pump doesn’t already have a hose built in, Camco makes converter kit that can be used to siphon the RV antifreeze. You can also place a garden hose into a container of RV antifreeze solution. Be sure you purchase enough to completely winterize the travel trailer (usually 2-3 gallons).
  9. Attach the other end of the hose to the City Water Fill.
  10. Turn the water pump ON.
  11. OPEN the hot water line on all the faucets (kitchen, bathroom, shower, and outside shower) until the RV antifreeze begins to flow continuously (Pink solution will come through the faucets).
  12. Close the faucet hot water lines and repeat with the cold lines on all the faucets.
  13. Do not forget to run the RV antifreeze through the toilet as well.
  14. When you are done adding RV antifreeze, remove the hoses from the container.
  15. To prevent staining, it is recommended that you rinse the RV antifreeze out of your sinks, shower, tub, and toilet with a soft, dry cloth.

TRAVEL TRAILER ACCESSORIES NEEDED FOR WINTERIZING YOUR TRAVEL TRAILER WITH RV ANTIFREEZE

If you still don’t feel comfortable getting your RV travel trailer ready for winter storage, you can always hire someone to winterize your RV travel trailer for you, but as you can see, with a good checklist and a bit of practice, it can easily be done.

Don’t Miss These Helpful RV Travel Trailer Resources & Free Printables

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