How To Winterize Your RV 11384

Winter’s hard on all of us, but it can be particularly hard on RVs. With lots of plumbing and areas for water and moisture to hide, winterizing your RV is a critical step in saving yourself a lot of expensive fixes once things start to thaw.

In the video above, we list a step-by-step walkthrough of the winterization process. If it feels overwhelming, don’t fret: your local Camping World can winterize your RV for you. If you want to follow along with a step-by-step process then you should keep reading. We’ll go over what the video touches on in detail below.

Steps To Winterize Your RV

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Image from Getty

Here are the steps discussed in the video above. If you follow all of the steps as outlined below, your RV will be as ready as it can be for winter.

1. Remove and Bypass the Water Filters

Before you do anything, consider removing and bypassing any in-line water filters from the unit. Winterization chemicals you’ll add to your unit will damage any water filters. Also, when fall and winter rolls around, it’s usually a good idea to see if those filters need to be replaced.

2. Drain Your Black and Gray Water Tanks

It’s extremely important to not let waste water sit in your RV all winter long. Not only can those tanks be a breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria, the water can freeze and cause issues. Drain both, starting withthe black water tank and then the gray water tank. Once both are drained, clean the black tank with a special black tank cleaner or a cleaning wand.

3. Drain Your Water Heater and Water Lines

You’ll also need to get the water out of your water heater. This means you need to turn it off and let it cool down and not be under pressure. From there, you can remove the drain plug and then open the pressure relief valve. This will let the water drain out. Don’t drain the water heater if it’s hot or as pressure built up. Wait until the temperature and pressure come down.

Once the steps above are taken care of, make sure to open all of the faucets (both hot and cold) and the hot and cold drain lines. This helps drain all of the rest of the water out of the system.

4. Bypass Your Water Heater

Before adding anything to your RV, you need to make sure you bypass the water heater. You don’t want any antifreeze making its way into the water heater. Some RVs will have a bypass already installed. If your RV doesn’t have this feature, then come into Camping World and we’ll be happy to install one.

5. Add Antifreeze to Your RV

Before you can add antifreeze, you’ll either need to install a water pump converter kit, or you can disconnect the inlet side of the water pump and place it inside your jug or source of antifreeze. From there, you’ll need to close all faucets and drain lines. Then you can turn on the water pump. This will take antifreeze into the water system.

With the system properly pressurized, go around to each faucet and turn on the hot water until you see antifreeze. Then do the same for the cold water. Repeat that for both hot and cold. Then turn off the water pump and open all the faucets.

From there, go to the city water inlet and remove the small screen in there. Then use a small screwdriver to push in on the valve until you see coolant working its way out. Replace the screen and close the inlet.

After that, you should pour some additional antifreeze down the drain of each sink in the RV. With all that done, you should double-check that the water heater’s heating element is turned off and all faucets are closed.

Get Help If You Need It

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Image from Getty

If the steps above sound too complicated or just aren’t something you want to do, come into your local Camping World location and have our highly-qualified service technicians do it for you. While doing it yourself can be rewarding, paying professionals to handle your home on wheels is never a bad idea.

For other winterization tips and trucks, you should really look in your RV’s owner’s manual. Different classes of RVs and different products will have other needs that will need to be tended to before you can store your RV for the winter.

Want to schedule a winterization service visit? Find the Camping World location nearest to you!

How to winterize your RV


  1. If i use an air compressor to blow all the water out of the lines, do I still need to put antifreeze in them?

    1. I wondered the same thing. It works for our sprinkler system, and I wouldn’t think it would be difficult to do it. Drain the water lines and blow out the gray water drains. It might cause some issues with the gray water tank smell getting into the trailer past a cleared P trap. At a minimum, it would drastically reduce the need for antifreeze. Black water tank would have to stay with antifreeze treatment, so I guess that actually would fill all the lines anyway.

  2. I might be camping in the winter if the temperatures stay above freezing. Is there anything I can do to prevent my pipes from freezing in between camping trips?
    Can I winterize the tank and still go camping if I don’t use the water or toilet?

    1. Hi Sue, if you’re not actually using the water system I would think you’d be okay. The other option is to get heating pads for the tanks and make sure the lines and tanks never get cold enough to freeze.

  3. I have food trailer with a 20gal fresh water tank, a 50 gal black water and an instant propane water heater. We will be using the water on several occasions maybe every other week or so but while it sits in between events how do we keep the water from freezing? Is this something we will have to do everytime we get ready to store it for a week a or two?

    1. Hey Don, If the RV is in freezing temperatures you may have to or find a way to keep the tanks and water lines warm. You can buy heating pads for your tanks that should help keep them from freezing.

    1. Hi Warren, I’m not familiar with your particular model. I’d say give the nearest Camping World dealership a call. They’ll be able to help you out

  4. If all (or nearly all) the water has been drained from the system, why is antifreeze necessary? It seems like even if a little bit of water were left in the system somewhere, it would have room to expand in a mostly empty system.

  5. I keep an electric heater on in my garage bathroom to keep pipes from freezing over the winter. Is it possible to do the same in the RV.

    1. Hey, Paul. Yeah, you can use a small space heater in the basement of your RV that should help keep your pipes warm enough to keep from freezing. Also, there are heating pads you can add to your holding tanks.

        1. Yep! The storage space underneath the RV is often called a basement. This is where I’d put a small space heater if the plumbing runs through there (most of the time it does). It really depends on the unit. Some travel trailers won’t really have a basement like a motorhome or a fifth wheel.

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