Another great RV season is about to close. The nights are cooler and darker, and the chill in the air means it is time to start thinking about winterizing the RV before you store it.
Why winterize? Proper winterization will ensure that when you re-open the RV in the Spring that there are no nasty or costly surprises. Not winterizing may also result in lost time on the road when it’s time to get started next season. Save the time, costs, and headache now. While there are minor costs associated with winterization to purchase supplies and gear, the small cost now far outweighs the potentially astronomical costs of repairing damage later.
Getting the RV Ready for Winter
There are a few simple steps you can take to make sure that your RV is winter-ready so that when it’s time to take it out again in the spring, it needs very little in the way of maintenance and you can just head out on the road.
- Give it the Once Over
Before you store it, give it a good once over, inspecting everything from bumper to bumper, inside and out. Pay special attention to latches and locks. It’s highly recommended to lubricate them before storing the RV to keep them from freezing and seizing over the long winter months.
Be sure to pay special attention to seals, windows, doors, and air vents. Look for cracks, any lifting of the sealant, gaps, or holes. If you find a hole or leak, it must be addressed before storing the RV. A leak that is not repaired can result in very serious water damage to the inside, exterior, and working parts of your RV. If you do identify an issue and aren’t sure what to do, Hiemstra’s can help! We have a full-service department. Or if you aren’t sure what to look for, we can also help you inspect and seal your RV.
Don’t forget to look at the tires too. Check for deflation or cracks. Test the tire pressure and add air if necessary. If you find yourself with a flat, consult the specialists at Hiemstra. They’ll know exactly what tire size and type you need, and they’ll be able to order and install it for you too. This is because when you store the RV, it needs to be level. A flat can cause a lean which can put undue stress on the RV’s other wheels, steering system, and exterior.
- Clean it Up
Give the exterior a good cleaning and don’t forget to clean up inside too. Wipe everything down, including inside cupboards and other storage spots. Sanitize the bathroom and kitchen and sweep and mop the floors. Don’t forget to wipe or vacuum mattresses and window dressings. The oven, microwave, and fridge should have been thoroughly cleaned as well.
You may be wondering why you need to clean it when you’re planning to clean it again when you open the RV. One word: pests. Even the smallest number of crumbs will attract furry friends. They’ll come for the crumbs and leftover microwave debris, but they’ll stay for the shelter. They’ll make themselves comfortable too, burrowing in your seat cushions and mattress and chewing on all your wiring.
- Power Systems
There are a lot of power elements that need to be winterized. A best practice for batteries is to fully charge them before disconnecting the grounding terminal. Consider replacing the battery ahead of winter if it’s old or leaky.
Power cords and small electrical appliances should be removed or at least unplugged. It goes without saying, but all the lights should be off, and the power should be disconnected by cutting power to all sources via the fuse box.
If you encounter a problem or a power system that isn’t functioning properly or isn’t shutting down as expected, Hiemstra recommends bringing the RV in for service instead of attempting to diagnose or repair the problem yourself. This is for your safety. Repairing power systems poses a significant risk to your health and safety, and to the RV, so it’s best to leave it in the hands of the capable professionals at Hiemstra.
- The Throne
You must winterize the toilet and shower systems to ensure longevity and optimal performance.
- The power and propane should already be off before winterizing the toilet.
- Follow all the manufacturer’s recommendations for draining your fridge, washing machine, dishwasher, etc.
- Open all your valves
- Start with draining the holding freshwater tank, then the other tanks
- Once drained, flush the toilet to clear remaining water from the system
- Pour RV antifreeze into the gray and black tanks to protect the drain valves and seals through all sink and shower drains so there is antifreeze in the pipe traps as well
- Add antifreeze to the toilet bowl to protect its flush valve and seals
Winterizing the toilet is serious business. Failing to do so or do it correctly can create very serious damage to the RV and result in costly repairs. We recommend bringing your RV to the professionals at Hiemstra. We’ll ensure that your throne is kept safe through the winter.
- Have it Serviced
Bring your RV to Hiemstra for service. We’ll address any issues, and perform an oil, lube, and filter service. Our trained team of professionals will make sure that there are no safety concerns, and that your RV is ready for its winter nap.
There are a few precautionary measures you must take to ensure that your RV is stowed away properly. This way, you will experience minimal issues when you take the RV out again next spring.
Consider these useful storage tips for winter trailer storage.
- Seal the RV: Even the smallest water leak can result in damage to your RV.
- Choose the Right Parking Spot: To protect your RV from the elements while it’s not in use, it is ideal to stow it away in a garage or under a roofed structure. If indoor storage isn’t possible, try not to park under a tree. Avoid covering the RV in plastic tarps as they trap moisture.
- Store the Batteries Separately: Do not leave any batteries in the RV.
- Add a Fuel Stabilizer: Adding a fuel stabilizer helps residual gas stay in good condition.
- Visit the RV: Be sure to check on your RV every few weeks through the winter. Clear any snow and the resultant moisture
When it comes to your RV, taking care of it properly all year round – including proper winterization and storage – will ensure many seasons of fun, adventure, and fond memory-making. To ensure that your RV is correctly winterized for the specific make, model, and features, always refer to the owner’s manual and follow all manufacturer’s recommendations.