How to Winterize a Camper? (Easy Guide)

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Last Updated on November 7, 2022 by Ted Mosby

“Winterizing an RV is cheap, repairing is not”

Campers who love traveling in snowy conditions, when the thermometer drops below freezing, you have to winterize your RV so that you can enjoy your trip to the fullest rather than thinking about protecting the plumbing system of your RV all the time.

The term “winterize” means preparing something, such as a house or automobile that can cope with extremely cold weather conditions. This term is often used for RVs since travel trailers are both of them; a home and an automobile.

Talking about Winterizing an RV, you have to protect not only its plumbing system but also its exterior, interior, and chassis components for the bitterly cold weather conditions coming ahead.

However, the very first step that you have to take while Winterizing an RV is to protect its plumbing system from damage since it is the very basic and common problem that the majority if not all the RV owners face during freezing temperatures.

The reason why it is so critical to protect the plumbing system of an RV is the water flow that remains in the water tanks or lines can expand, freeze, and break lines. I mean it will cost you hefty money to prepare it again.

I’m here to explain how to winterize an RV’s plumbing system, as well as its other components in as simple as possible words.

With that being said, I will also make sure that all of the tips I’m going to share with you are foolproof against the damage that can be caused to your RV by harsh weather conditions.

So, let’s get started!

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How to Winterize a Camper?

1. Draining the Plumbing System

Draining RV Plumbing System

Since protecting the plumbing system of an RV is the very first step that you have to consider while winterizing an RV, it means even if there is a little water remaining in the pipes or lines, it can freeze, expand, and break the line.

Moreover, the majority of travel trailers’ plumbing systems can be found buried under the cabinets and walls, and you have to spend a considerable amount to fix them again.

It is not all about draining the water lines only since you have to purge the whole plumbing system.

You can do that in two ways mentioned below,

Use a Compressed Air to Blow the System


Blowing the system with compressed air is the easiest way that you can use to protect your RV’s plumbing system. You can buy find a good Air Compressor and a Blow Out Plug from these links.

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However, regardless of how easy this method is, it also has a drawback since there is no guarantee that you have expelled all the water from the system. Anyhow, here are the steps that you will have to perform to winterize a travel trailer,

  1. Firstly and foremost, you have to block the water supply from the outside water resource that supplies water to your RV. Also, you have to turn off the propane as well.
  2. Now, the second steps that you have to do are to bypass the water heater since you don’t have to drain the water heater. The majority of travel trailers come equipped with a pre-installed bypass valve. However, if your camper doesn’t have it, you can buy and install a cheap one.
  3. If your camper is equipped with a washer and dryer, Ice-maker, refrigerator, and dishwasher, you can read the owner’s manuals to get assistance about winterizing them.
  4. Now open all the faucets. It includes the outdoor shower (if you have one), and tub and shower.
  5. Now open the plumbing system drain to drain out the water. If you are unable to locate valve locations, you can see the owner’s manual.
  6. Now, flush the toilet to drain out the water from the line.
  7. Connect the blowout plug. It would be best if you connected it to the city water inlet rather than connecting it to the fresh water tank.
  8. To make sure you don’t damage water lines, adjust the blow-out plug to 30 PSI.
  9. Now connect both blowout plug and air compressor.
  10. Turn on the compressor to start emptying the water until all the water is blown out from both the faucets and drain valves.
  11. Now, turn off the air compressor and disconnect the blowout plug from the inlet.

After you are done, clean and flush both grey and black water tanks and drain the freshwater tank entirely and close the valves.

Now to protect the drain valves and seals of grey and black water tanks, pour the antifreeze. You have to do the same with shower and sink drains, as well as pipe traps.

2. Filling the Plumbing System with Antifreeze

Winterizing RV using Antifreeze


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Another way to winterize an RV plumbing system is by using antifreeze, which will also make sure that all the water is blown out. For that,  it entirely depends on how big your travel trailer is to determine how much antifreeze you are going to need.

You can pump antifreeze through the system in two ways. One, you can use an external hand pump, or else you can use your camper’s internal water pump. If you have decided to do that using your travel trailer’s internal water pump, you have to make sure that your RV is equipped with a pump bypass kit.

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Moreover, if your camper is equipped with a water filtration unit, you have to bypass it as well.

Here is how you can do that while using an external hand pump,

External Hand Pump to Winterize an RV

Note: To drain all the water, follow the steps from 1-6 given above.

  1. The thing that you have to take care of bypasses the water heater. Failing to do so, you will be required to have more antifreeze to finish the process.
  2. Now attach the antifreeze bottle to the intake siphon on the hand pump. For assistance, you can see the owner’s manual. After that, you need to connect the output of the hand pump to the city water inlet.
  3. Now shut all the fauces and drain valves.
  4. Open the hottest side of the highest faucets first.
  5. Now, blow in the antifreeze into the system until you see the bright pink color coming out from the other side of the faucet.
  6. Now shut the hot side and move to the cold side. Repeat the same process and then close it.
  7. Now, do the same process with other faucets, like bathroom, sink, shower, and toilet, respectively.

3. Camper’s Internal Water Pump to Winterize an RV

Using the RV’s internal water pump to winterize an RV is almost the same as what I have discussed above.

However, the only thing that makes the slightest difference is it bypasses the valve that is used to draw the camper’s antifreeze to the pump and then expand it all across the water system.

Tips to Winterize an RV Effectively

Here are a few tips that you should consider to winterize a camper,

1. Winterize RV Tires

Since your RV tires are holding a weight of thousands of pounds for a prolonged time, they might develop flat spots. If your camper is equipped with leveling jacks, see the manufacturer’s manual to lift your camper off from the ground.

If you don’t have leveling jacks, move your camper one-half tire to distribute the weight. Moreover, make sure you have parked your RV on a concrete surface, which will help tires against sinking into the soft ground affected by winters.

2. Winterize RV Engine

Top off the fuel storage tanks to avoid condensation from forming. You can also use a fuel stabilizer. Keep the engine idle for some time to make sure additive makes way through the system. Moreover, also ensure that the radiator is filled with antifreeze.

Check other components, such as brake fluid, oil, and windshield washer system. Furthermore, ensure that the windshield washer system is factory formulated with antifreeze.

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3. Protect Electrical System

To protect the 120V AC, turn off the camper’s main circuit breaker. Detach your RV from shore power. Moreover, disconnect batteries from components, such as alarms, detectors, clocks, and radios.

Furthermore, to keep out pests, make sure that you have blocked the exhaust pipe with aluminum foil or steel wool.

4. Protect Awnings

If your RV is equipped with an awning, extend them to full and clean them using an awning cleaner that you can easily find from a store that provides RVs accessories. Let them dry and stow.

Moreover, you can also purchase awning covers to protect the fabric.

5. Remove Propane Tanks

Don’t keep propane tanks inside your travel trailer. Remove external propane tanks and store them under a shelter. Now, cover the connections of propane tanks on your RV with something to keep insects away.

6. Protect Interior

It would be best if you cleaned the interior, such as cabinets, refrigerator, stovetop, oven, etc. inside your camper. Moreover, take out the toiletries and vacuum all the interior. Keep the refrigerator door open to make sure it is dried and thawed.

7. Remove Food and Beverages

If you have any food and beverages inside your RV, take them out. Canned foods can be frozen and burst, which will make a mess and invite the insects. If you have packed foods inside, remove them as well.

8. Protect your Camper from Weather

Try to park your RV under a shelter. If you don’t have one, you can buy an RV Cover that is easily available around made exclusively for RVs. Moreover, if you are living in a region where snow and rain occur more often, it would be best if you speak to an RV cover manufacturer to get the best possible solution.

Check this article when you need to Dewinterize your RV.


Do I need to winterize my camper and why?

Yes, you should winterize your RV in freezing weather conditions. If you don’t, the water will freeze in water lines. As a result, it will expand and then burst out. Another reason why you should winterize your RV is it is an inexpensive way to protect your RV rather than spending a hefty amount repairing it.

How to protect RV holding tanks in freezing weather conditions?

The best way to make sure that your RV’s holding tanks are safe is to use antifreeze, which will prevent them from freezing.

Wrapping Up

You have to put some effort to winterize an RV, and it will be worth it when you plan to go out camping in snowy and freezing weather conditions.

Above I have discussed everything in detail on how to winterize an RV.

I sincerely hope you will find this guide helpful. For further assistance and queries, contact us using the contact form. 

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About Ted Mosby

I am Ted Mosby from Cleveland, Ohio. I am a Freelance Architect. I live in New Jersey, USA right now and I take my RV every alternate weekend. I own a Forest River Berkshire XLT Diesel 45A Class A Motorhome. As I am a Freelancer I can work anywhere so most of my work is done inside my camper remotely.