Now that fall is upon us; it’s time to get your RV ready for winter storage. Even if you plan on using it once or twice during the winter season, you should get it ready to protect it from the cold. If you store your RV in a climate-controlled storage area, you should still prep it in the event that the storage unit loses power. The last thing you need is to have to repair broken pipes when you are ready to take that first trip in the spring.
Drain the Plumbing
Empty the freshwater and holding tanks. Rinse the tanks and drain the hot water heater. Once you drain everything, turn on all of the faucets to make sure you don’t have any water left in the system. Turn the taps off and make sure the water pump is off. You could pump non-toxic antifreeze through the system, but it’s generally not required as long as you get all of the water out of the entire system. If you do leave water in the hot water heater, you will need to add antifreeze to the system.
Batteries hate the cold. The cold drains a battery if you don’t use it at least once per week. Remove the house batteries and store them in a cool place. If you have a basement that doesn’t get below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, you could store them in the basement. Leave the engine battery in as you’ll be starting the RV every couple of weeks throughout the winter.
If you do have to leave the house batteries in, make sure they are charging when you run the RV every couple of weeks. You may have to let the RV run longer than a half an hour to make sure all of the batteries charge.
If you have a motorized RV, add fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank. Start the RV and run it for about 10 minutes. If the RV is diesel, add fuel stabilizer for diesel—be sure the brand you choose keeps the fuel from gelling. If the fuel gels in the cold, it could be expensive to get the gel out of the system. Diesel tanks also build up condensation. Keeping the fuel tank full will help reduce condensation formation. It would be best if you planned on starting your RV every couple of weeks and letting it run for about half an hour.
Start the generator while the RV is running to make sure the fuel stabilizer gets through the generator system. Fuel stabilizer prevents the fuel from breaking down and it prevents deposits from stale fuel from gumming up the fuel system.
Keep the Mice and Bugs Out
All kinds of critters will be looking for a sheltered place to hide out for the winter. Make sure the seals on the storage bins are tight. Put mothballs in the storage bins and lock them. Wash blankets and pillows and store them in plastic bags either on the beds or in the closets. Large trash bags that are tied tightly will keep the mice from burrowing in your bedding.
Spray around the bottom of the RV with bug spray, just as you would spray your house. If the spray you choose doesn’t discolor the RV—test it in an inconspicuous place—spray around the doors and windows.
Put mothballs in the water heater compartment and the refrigerator compartment if they are accessible from the exterior. Add mothballs to interior storage such as closets and under-bench storage.
Be sure to remove all food from the RV, even canned goods. Give the RV a good vacuum to make sure there are no crumbs left to tempt any critters.
Tires and Roof
Cover the tires with tire covers to protect them from the sun. Although the sun doesn’t have a lot of heat during the winter, the UV rays will still cause dry rot. Cover the top of the RV with a tarp to protect the roof. If you get a lot of snow, you’ll have to get up on top to shovel the snow off the roof. Once you get most of the snow off, you can pull the tarp off to get the rest of the snow off, and then put the tarp back in place.
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