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Winter RV Camping – Tips on Winterizing your RV

This is a little early in the year to plan for a winter RV trip but you may want to know how to go winter camping in your RV. What do you have to do to make your RV ready for winter? How can you plan it out so you can use your RV all summer long and then get it ready in the fall for a great winter trip?

You may have heard the term winterization – but do you know what this means? And, do you need to worry about it? What if you live in a climate that is warm-ish all year round? Do you still need to winterize your RV?

Here are some of the reasons you’ll need to winterize your RV and we provide you with some tips on how to do it.

Why Winterize my RV?

When RV owners hear the word “winterize,” it brings up thoughts of protecting the RV plumbing system from freezing temperatures. The definition of “winterize” is to prepare something, such as a house or automobile, to withstand cold winter conditions. This means that even if you live in a really temperate climate, there may be times when very cold conditions occur or you may drive to some northern parts of the country in your RV, in which case winterizing becomes vital.

This is an interesting topic because RVs are both a house and a vehicle. So, in addition to winterizing the RV plumbing system, you need to be concerned about preparing the RV’s interior, exterior, and chassis components for the harsh winter months too.

Do you live in northern Florida? Well, even there, temps have been known to go below freezing at times in December and January. You need to prepare your RV just in case these frigid temperatures happen when you are using or even not using your RV.

How Do I Go Camping in my RV in Winter Months?

Winter RV camping offers a break from the bustling summer season and a chance to relax in the beautiful snowy outdoors. Winter RV trips can be an affordable way to explore a popular ski destination or enjoy other outdoor winter recreation. If you are considering taking your RV out this winter, don’t let the cold weather get in your way. Use this guide to cold weather RVing to help you stay warm and safe during your wintertime RV camping adventure.

Here are five basic steps you would take to prepare for such an adventure:

  1. Install and Upgrade RV Insulation. Installing insulation is one of the best and simplest ways to keep a camper warm in the winter.
  2. Protect Your RV Plumbing. 
  3. Take Care of Your RV Engine.
  4. Prepare Your RV Furnace.
  5. Other Tips for Winterizing Your RV.

Here, we’ll give you some details on each of these steps but you can also find a full guide to winterizing your RV in 

1. Install and Upgrade RV Insulation.

Installing insulation is one of the best and simplest ways to keep a camper warm in the winter. RV insulation protects many vehicle components from damage and helps create a warm and toasty living space. Insulation around the base of the RV can also effectively block cold winter winds from damaging RV piping and sucking heat out of the camper. If you are heading out for a winter RV camping trip, try these tips for how to insulate a camper trailer and RV underbelly for cold weather camping:

  • Seal the windows and doors. 
  • Install window covering. 
  • Use heavy drapes. 
  • Insulate the floors. 
  • Install RV skirting. 
  • Most RV insulation can remain installed throughout the year and requires very little yearly maintenance. Window foil insulation can be easily rolled up and stored during warmer months, and RV skirting can be used year-round or stored in the summer.

2. Protect your RV Plumbing.

Freeze-ups are a common challenge for winter RV camping and can lead to plumbing damage. When ice expands in pipes and hoses, it can cause them to crack or burst if not properly insulated. Keep your water flowing this winter by following these tips for keeping RV pipes from freezing while camping:

  • Use heat tape on pipes and hoses. 
  • Warm your internal plumbing. 
  • Use the internal freshwater tank. 
  • Use a space heater. 
  • Add antifreeze. Adding a small amount of antifreeze in holding tanks can protect the valves from freezing.
  • Dump tanks wisely. Only dump tanks when they are full to reduce the risk of freezing. Keep waste valves closed when not in use.

3. Take Care of Your RV Engine.

RV engines and engine components need extra protection to withstand extreme winter temperatures. Before heading out for winter RV camping, inspect your RV batteries for any signs of corrosion or damage. Make sure your batteries are fully charged and securely connected. Batteries that are only partly charged are much more likely to freeze or die in cold temperatures.

Check your engine antifreeze and refill it with the proper concentration of antifreeze and water. While water may be effective for cooling an engine in warmer months, using at least 50 percent antifreeze is essential for RV camping in freezing temperatures. For camping in very cold regions, using an engine block heater can provide additional protection. Engine block heaters are meant to warm up your engine before you start it, and should run for about four to five hours prior to starting the engine if the temperature is below freezing.

4. Prepare Your RV Furnace.

Check your RV furnace before your winter camping trip to ensure it is in proper working condition. If camping in extremely cold temperatures, it is best to have an inspection performed by a certified RV repair technician. Clean your furnace using compressed air or a soft brush to remove dirt and debris. Check the furnace vents for any damage or obstructions that could prevent air from flowing properly and check that the furnace air return is not blocked.

When heating your RV in winter, you may also choose to use additional heat sources. Space heaters and catalytic heaters can make a huge difference for staying warm in a camper in winter. Remember that these heating methods can add moisture to the air which may cause damage to your engine and other RV components. Condensation in the engine or pipes can cause corrosion, and moisture inside your RV may lead to mold. Use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture if necessary and keep your RV warm and dry.

5. Other Tips for Winterizing Your RV.

If you need to winterize your RV to park it and not camp in it, there are many tips from the experts on how to do it. You will need some items to get the process started. Be sure you have obtained these items which 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 by-pass 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. 

The most logical place to start is to protect the RV plumbing system from damage, since this is the number one problem RV owners face during periods of freezing temperatures. If you don’t protect the RV plumbing system, any water remaining in the water lines or tanks can freeze, expand, and break fittings and lines. This could be a very costly mistake next spring.  

For more great tips on winterizing your RV, check with your El Monte RV Sales dealer, who can help you with any questions you may have. And, check out our pre-owned RV’s at El Monte RV Sales for some great buys.

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