How To Dewinterize An RV: A Step-By-Step Guide
With winter fading and spring around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about pulling your RV out of storage. Whether you stored it in a garage, in the yard, or in a temperature-regulated facility, there are a few things you’ll need to do to get it ready for travel again.
If you took the proper steps to safely store your RV for the winter, it will be fairly easy to get it ready for the camping season. Spring is a great time to perform a vehicle check and take note of anything that is empty, old, or in need of replacement.
Dewinterizing an RV takes a bit of time, but it’s worth it to have a clean, safe, and fully-functional vehicle at the end. Below we have a guide that will walk you through each step of the process. Your RV may or may not need to go through every step, depending on how well you prepared it for storage. Either way, it’s good to know how to dewinterize an RV because you’ll need to apply this knowledge every year.
Drain antifreeze and sanitize
One of the most important parts of dewinterizing is dealing with the water tanks. In most cases, the water inside the RV is completely drained and replaced with antifreeze before storage. This protects the pipes and internal systems from freezing and breaking during the winter, but obviously, you won’t want to have antifreeze in your drinking water once you get back on the road!
First of all, take your water heater out of the bypass mode. You’ll need to flush out every part of your water lines, including the sinks, showers, toilet, water heater, etc. Connect your RV to a fresh water line and run water through every faucet. Don’t forget to include the bathroom in this step as well! Run fresh water through the system until the liquid runs clear.
At this point, all the antifreeze is in your grey or black water tanks. Dispose of this safely at your nearest dump station. Next, you’ll want to sanitize your plumbing to get rid of any remaining antifreeze or bacteria. You can do this by adding 1 cup of bleach for every 60 gallons of water.
Run this mixture through the plumbing until you can smell the bleach. Turn off all faucets and let the mixture sit in the pipes for 12 hours. Once this time has passed, refill the tank with fresh water and run it until all traces of bleach are gone.
Reinstall/Charge RV batteries
Batteries are another important part of knowing how to dewinterize an RV. Some people continue to charge their batteries throughout the winter, while others prefer to remove them and store them in a temperature-regulated environment.
Be sure to check the battery charge before reinstalling them. Charge them up to their full capacity and top off the water in lead acid batteries. You should always use distilled water for this purpose. If your batteries don’t hold a charge very well, now is a good time to replace them.
Hook up propane appliances
Propane is the next important step. Place propane tanks back in their proper spot and hook them up. You’ll want to test them to make sure everything is safely installed and there are no leaks.
Open the LP valve a tiny amount (about 1/4 inch) and place a soapy sponge near the connectors to see if any air bubbles appear. If so, you have a leak on your hands. Immediately shut off the propane and consult a professional if this happens.
If everything is in working order, reconnect the tank to the appropriate appliances such as the water heater, stove, and anything else that runs on propane. Just make sure everything turns on and off before you head out!
Check your RV tires
Part of knowing how to dewinterize an RV includes taking care of the vehicle itself. Tires often lose pressure during long periods of storage, especially if the temperature has been fluctuating. Exposure to hot and cold temperatures leads to a loss of pressure, which could leave your tires looking flat and underfilled.
Check all of your RV tires with an inflation gauge. Your owner’s manual or the tire manufacturer should have the appropriate information on how much to fill them. This is also a good opportunity to examine the tread. If the tires are looking worn down, maybe it’s time to consider getting a set of replacements.
Refill tanks, fuel, and other vehicle fluids
The hardest part is over now! Now you just need to focus on getting your RV roadworthy again. Fill up your water holding tanks, stop by the gas station, and check the levels of your other vehicle fluids.
Getting an oil change in the spring is also a good idea. If you have a motorhome, make sure you have plenty of windshield cleaning fluid as well. All of these liquids were probably drained over the winter, so don’t forget to replace anything.
Check and repair seals
Now it’s time to inspect the interior of the RV. Make sure the seals are all in good condition. if these are damaged, your RV will be harder to heat and cool. It could also let in more moisture and humidity, which can lead to mold and water damage.
Use your eyes and hands to check the seals around each window, door, and vent. Use caulk to fix any minor damage, and consider replacing the seals if the damage is severe.
Clean inside and out
Next up, it’s time for some spring cleaning! If you cleaned your RV before putting it into storage, you won’t have to do much. However, if not, this is a perfect time to get everything clean and sparkling.
Sweep and mop the floor to get rid of any stubborn dirt. Wipe down the work surfaces and clean out the cupboards. Washing the windows is another important aspect that’s often overlooked!
Finally, give the exterior of your RV a nice thorough cleaning as well. Pay special attention to the roof and make sure that there are no cracks or rips near the seams. Once everything is cleaned to your liking, apply a protective coating of wax.
Repack travel essentials
Now you know how to dewinterize an RV. The final step is just to repack the vehicle with all the essentials you need for traveling. It’s time to bring in some shelf-stable food, bedding, toiletries, appliances, and the other comforts you might need.
Make sure you also bring a 72-hour kit, emergency medical supplies, jumper cables, and other things you need when you’re away from home.
Taking an RV out of storage can seem like a daunting task, but it’s not so bad once you break everything down into manageable pieces. Now your vehicle is ready to hit the road again and you can enjoy the warm weather of spring and summer.
Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool such as RV LIFE Maintenance from RV LIFE. Not only can you keep all of your documents in one place, but you’ll also receive timely reminders when maintenance is due to help you avoid costly repairs and potentially serious accidents.