Winterizing Your RV

19 September 2018


 As hard as it is to believe, another summer has come and gone. While you may still be enjoying some late summer/early fall camping, you'll soon be thinking of packing up for another winter. As the all important process of winterizing your trailer looms on the horizon, we've compiled some helpful advice along with a step-by-step guide to make this busy time of year just a little less stressful.

How To Winterize Your RV:

Step 1: Drain the entire system.

  • Drain the fresh water holding tank: Remove the drain plug or open the tank drain valve. After draining, close the valve or re-install the plug.
  • Drain waste water holding tanks: Grey, Galley and Black Water (be sure to do this at a dumping station)
  • Drain hot water tank: Remove the plug or anode on the outside of the water heater and leave until after step 4.
  • Drain water filter (if applicable) and dispose of cartridge. Re-install empty cartridge holder to prepare for running antifreeze.

Step 2: Bypass the hot water heater tank. Most RVs have a permanent bypass located on or close to the water heater inside the trailer. Simply turn the valve to the bypass position. 

  • The lower hose going to the water heater is the cold water supply hose. A valve and handle may be found on this line. Turning the valve perpendicular to the line will shut off water flow in that direction.
  • The upper hose going to the water heater is the hot water line from the water heater to all hot taps. A valve and handle may be found on this line. Turning the valve to perpendicular to the line will shut off water flow in that direction. Some upper hoses have one way valves that will not allow water to go back into the water heater from the top. 
  • The hose between the upper and lower lines is the "bypass line". It has the same type valve and handle as the other lines and must be perpendicular (closed) during regular use to force the water through the water heater. Turn this valve parallel to the line to open the bypass valve and allow water to bypass the heater during winterization.

*Some RVs have just one valve needed to bypass the water heater. It is usually located at the lower connection of the cold supply line and the bypass line. This valve must be turned to divert the water into the bypass line when winterizing.

Step 3: You must now pump non-toxic antifreeze through the water lines in order to guarantee that the water has been removed. Even the smallest amount of moisture can damage a toilet valve, a plastic faucet or other plumbing fixture. Use the 12 volt water pump to pump the antifreeze through the entire plumbing system. 

Quick Tip: A winterizing pump conversion kit is available to make this step easier. You can disconnect the water line from the fresh water tank and put it directly into the 4L bottle of antifreeze. This will use require less antifreeze compared to pouring it directly into the fresh water tank. With all faucets closed, turn the pump on. Watch the antifreeze level in the bottle go down and the pump should automatically shut off after 10 seconds. Keep an eye on the antifreeze levels through step 4 and change bottles when needed. 

Antifreeze should come out of the following:

  • Hot & cold kitchen taps. Run each individually until antifreeze comes out rich pink in colour and then shut off.
  • Hot & cold bathroom taps. Repeat as with kitchen taps.
  • Hot & cold shower taps. Repeat as with kitchen taps.
  • Toilet
  • Outside shower hot & cold taps
  • City water inlet: Before doing the city water inlet, shut off the pump and relieve the pressure using a faucet, then make sure antifreeze comes out of the city water entry. To do this, insert your finger into the inlet from outside, which releases the check valve. You may have to remove the screen to push the valve. Ensure each drain trap fills with antifreeze as you are doing each faucet.
  • A small amount should also go in the waste tanks to keep the slide valves from being damaged, as well as the shower drain.

Washing machines, dishwashers and ice makers will require specialized winter care - see the appropriate manufacturer's winterizing guide. 

Step 4: Once winterizing is complete: 

  • Return water heater bypass and pump conversion valves to the normal use position.
  • Put the plug or anode rod back in hot water heater.

Quick Tip: This is a good time to check the rod for corrosion and replace if necessary.

  • Close the gate valves on the waste tanks.
  • Wipe the sinks and shower/tub clean.

To download a printable .PDF version of this guide to take with you to the trailer, click here:

Preparing For Storage:

  • Remove any batteries: 12 volt main battery, smoke detector, radio etc. Store above freezing in your garage or basement.
  • Cover the windows on the inside to stop sun from fading carpets and fabrics. Use a solid material such as tin foil.
  • Cover any exterior vents to prevent snow from blowing in: furnace, fridge, water heater etc. 
  • Ensure the tire valve stems are not at the bottom of the rim. Mid winter thaws can damage the stem when refreezing.
  • Cover the tires with a light reflective material to stop the sun from damaging the tires. Pick up covers online or in store in our Parts Department. 
  • Put steel wool in any small openings on the underbelly of the trailer to stop pesky rodents from entering the trailer.
  • Lubricate the main door locks and luggage door locks.
  • Inspect exterior sealants and touch ups as necessary.
  • Clean and wax exterior, with extra care to any slides.
  • Use a chemical dehumidifier.
  • Leave roof vents open ¼”. (a little more if max air covers are installed)
  • Remove or retract all stabilizers so the trailer is only supported by its wheels and the front end jack.


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What our customers are saying

“Trailer is all set up & I have got to say I am beyond impressed with you guys and the 3 guys that delivered the trailer. I cant even put into words, they did everything so perfectly and made this experience a good one. Thank you thank you thank you!” ~ Brianna Somerton