Winterize Your RV

How to Winterize

Before you get started there are a few items you will need to have. These items can be found in most RV parts stores.

  • Non-toxic RV antifreeze (the amount depends on the layout and length of your plumbing lines; two to three gallons will normally do)
  • A water heater bypass kit, if not already installed
  • A wand to clean out holding tanks
  • A water pump converter kit or tubing to connect to the inlet side of the water pump
  • Basic hand tools to remove drain plugs

Now we can winterize the RV water system to protect it from freezing. Be sure to read your owner's manuals for unit specific winterizing guidelines. Follow the steps below that apply to your RV.

  • If you have any inline water filters, remove and bypass before starting.
  • Drain the fresh water holding tank.
  • Drain and flush the gray and black holding tanks. If your RV doesn't have a built-in tank flushing system clean the black tank out with a wand, or use a product like Flush King that allows you to clean both the black and gray tanks. Lubricate the termination valves with WD40.
  • Drain the water heater. Remove the drain plug and open the pressure relief valve. Caution: never drain the water heater when it is hot or under pressure.
  • Open all hot and cold faucets; don't forget the toilet valve and outside shower.
  • Locate and open the low point drain lines. There will be one for the hot and cold water lines. Using the water pump will help force water out, but turn it off as soon as the system is drained.
  • Recap all drains and close all faucets.
  • Bypass the water heater. If you do not have a bypass kit installed the water heater will fill up with antifreeze before it goes through the waterlines, wasting six gallons of antifreeze.
  • Install a water pump converter kit, or disconnect the inlet side of the water pump (the line coming from the fresh water holding tank). Connect a piece of clear tubing to the inlet side of the pump and put the other end into a one gallon container of non-toxic RV antifreeze.
  • Turn the water pump on and pressurize the system. Starting with the closet faucet, slowly open the hot and then cold valves until antifreeze appears. Replace the antifreeze container as required.
  • Repeat this process on all faucets from the closest to the farthest away. Don't forget the outside shower if equipped.
  • Flush the toilet until antifreeze appears.
  • Turn the water pump off and open a faucet to release the pressure. Go outside to the city water inlet. Remove the small screen over the inlet and push in on the valve with a small screwdriver until you see antifreeze. Replace the screen.
  • Pour a cupful of antifreeze down each drain. Pour a couple of cups in the toilet and flush into the holding tanks. If your water heater has an electric heating element make sure it is turned off. This will protect the element if the unit is plugged in while being stored.
  • Make sure all the faucets are closed.
  • Consult your owner manuals for winterizing ice makers and washing machines.
  • The unit is winterized.