RV Winterizing and Winter Storage: Need to Know Information for the Off-Season

RV Winterizing and Winter Storage: The Other Stuff

Battery Storage

It is extremely important to protect your batteries from freezing. A battery will freeze if it discharges too much in cold weather, so you need to keep it well charged. The best practice for RV winterizing the battery is to remove it and store it in a warm place, but if you can keep a battery charger operating while in storage, that is OK too. Preventing discharge is also good for your battery’s long term health.

Critter Invasion


Mice and other critters are also looking for a safe place to winter, so try to close off as many possible openings as you can. The area where water lines come to the interior is always a potential entry path – mice can flatten themselves to fit through tiny openings. Besides prevention, it is a good idea to put out some mouse bait or traps so the little critters can’t thrive if they do get in. This is a commonly overlooked part of RV winterizing, yet one that could be costly if omitted.

Tire Protection

The cold can wreck havoc on your RV tires. Tire care should be consideration for everyone when RV winterizing. Most tire manufacturers recommend increasing the tire pressure when in storage and/or removing weight on the tires. You can pump the air pressure up to the sidewall maximum, or even up to 10 psi over, and you can use jacks to partially lift the RV frame to reduce the weight on the tires.

Preventing Snow Damage

This is one area where it pays to play RV winterizing defense. If snow and ice are heavy in your region, consider placing a wood shield over the roof skylights and refrigerator roof vent. Both of those are vulnerable to crushing if snow and ice builds up on them and then goes through repeated freeze and thaw cycles. You can make a simple shield with some scrap 2×4 lumber to make a rectangle and cover it with a piece of plywood or sheet metal. Set the covered box over the skylight or vent so that it carries the snow load.

To Cover or Not?


One hotly debated topic is the use of an RV cover for outside storage. Despite advertiser claims, they are a pain to put on and take off, so you probably don’t want one if you need occasional access to the inside. However, some covers have zip-in doors or slits to make access easier. The best covers are made from a material that “breathes” yet is water resistant. If you choose to cover, be very careful about leaving any place that can flap in the wind. A flapping cover will quickly wear away paint, decals, or even the gel coat from fiberglass. Also watch for sharp corners on the RV that can rub through the cover material.


Considering the damage moisture may do should be part of your RV winterizing process. Moisture build-up inside the RV can be a problem in some climates, so it is best to provide some air circulation if possible. If you can, leave a roof vent or window open a small amount. It may be necessary to put something over the vent or window to deflect rain and snow.

How To Winterize a RV Video

How To: Winterize Your RV's Water System
Watch this video on YouTube.

Conclusion: RV Winterizing and Winter Storage

Use these tips for your RV winterizing this off season and you should increase your chances significantly that your RV will be ready to go come spring. Not to mention the years you will add to the life of your RV.

About the Author

Gary Brinck, aka “RVRoamer”, is a well-known participant on major RVing sites and email lists. He serves on the staff at two RV websites and operates the Internet By Data Card Yahoo Group for folks who use cellular modems and hotspots to access the internet. He lives in the Ocala, Florida, area with wife of 48 years, Nancy, and together they travel several months a year in their 2004 American Tradition coach. Their journeys have covered much of the USA, including Alaska, and western Canada. They have also worked as workampers for 7 summers, at RV parks from Maine to Washington. Gary took an early retirement from IBM in 1993, after a 28 year career in computer systems design and software development. Early retirement gave him plenty of time to get deeply involved in RVing and the internet, and he soon put his skills and technical training to work to become an expert on RVs and to help others solve their RVing problems. Contact: Gary@RVForum.net


  1. Duanne Horst says

    Thanks so much for the information. Fortunately I remained hooked to electric so I can continue to run the refrigerator. I will try to find a reliable ceramic heater & set it to the lowest setting on the thermostat, enough to keep it from freezing inside the RV & hopefully near the water pump (limited access). Thanks again for the info.

  2. Duanne Horst says

    I live in the Gulf coast region, so freezing weather in usually not much of a concern. I do not winterize as I use the RV often (most weekends). When I leave the RV, I shut the water source off and drain the lines as best as I can. I turn everything else off except electricity to keep the refrigerator running. The underside of the RV is enclosed, but I don’t have any tank heaters. Mild freezing weather is usually not an issue. This winter we have had exceptionally cold weather getting down to 15 – 18 degrees a couple times. Last time arriving to the RV I noticed the water in the toilet partially frozen (left some water so the seal does not dry out), and one of the p-traps under the sink cracked. My question (sorry for the lengthy explanation), how can I safely keep the inside of the RV above freezing while I’m away? Light bulbs? Space heater on low setting? Right now I’m just wrapping everything I can reach. We just don’t get that kind of weather down here often!

    • says

      Hi Duanne,
      This weather lately has proven quite a challenge. Perhaps even more so for you given your weekend warrior use of your RV. If you are unable to winterize your RV then you dont leave yourself much of an option besides using some kind of heater. The hope is you have access to power where your RV is stored. In which case you could get a small ceramic heater with an adjustable thermostate that you could leave unattended. You could also use a oil heater or propane as long as it had a thermostat. The problem is there is always a risk that comes along with leaving a heater unattended.

      Typically there is one main bay that holds your black/grey/fresh tanks, your sewer connections, water pump, water filter, etc. This is the MOST important bay to keep warm. If you can get a heater going in there that may be enough to get you through a cold spell.

      Alternatively, if you have some choice on where you store your RV, try to park in direct sunlight out of the shade. This has always proved helpful for us.

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