How To Winterize A Camper?

During winter, campers need protection from freezing temperatures and snow. This process is called winterizing. It helps seal plumbing and appliances from damage by draining water systems. Winterizing a camper ensures it stays in good shape until warmer weather returns.

Getting a camper ready for winter takes some work, but it’s worth it to keep everything functioning well. With some simple steps, you can shelter your camper from harsh winter weather. After winterizing, your camper will be protected until next summer’s camping trips!

Winter brings freezing weather that could harm plumbing and appliances in campers left exposed. To safeguard an RV or trailer over the colder months, owners must winterize its water system. This article will outline the basic procedure for winterizing a camper or RV yourself. Following these steps keeps everything inside undamaged until spring.

Why Winterize Is Important?

Why Winterize Is Important?

The main reason to winterize your camper is to prevent damage from freezing temperatures. When water freezes in pipes and appliances, it expands which can cause ruptures or cracks. Moisture is also created as temperatures fluctuate that can result in mold or mildew issues if not addressed. By draining all water systems and adding RV antifreeze to the plumbing, you create a barrier against freezing that keeps everything in good shape.

Another benefit of winterizing is avoiding other weather-related problems like leaks. Unprotected pipes running under your camper could spring small fractures from freeze-thaw cycles and heavy snow loads. Rodents may also try to nest inside appliances or walls if water sources aren’t removed. With a little prep work now, you avoid a lot of headache and expense down the road.

Cost For winterizing A camper: How Much

Winterizing your camper each year means getting it ready for cold weather. The main costs include fixing up the plumbing and doing basic maintenance inside and out.

DescriptionCost (First Time)Cost (Subsequent Years)Total Cost (Over 5 Years)
DIY Plumbing Work$45-165$30-45$105-225
Professional Plumbing Work$125$625
Exterior and Interior Upkeep (per incident)$15

Note that the cost range for DIY plumbing work and total cost over 5 years may vary between $105 and $225.

While pros get it done fast, doing it yourself means saving lots of money in the long haul. Your first year has more expenses as you gear up. After that, winterizing each fall is low cost. Just takes half a day to complete. Overall, learning how to winterize can put cash in your pocket season after season.

Supplies Needed And Optional Tools:

Before you start the winterizing process, gather the necessary supplies:

To winterize a camper, you’ll need:

  • Owner’s manual
  • Cordless drill (square driver bit)
  • Socket wrench and socket (1-1/16″)
  • Adjustable wrenches
  • Flashlight
  • RV antifreeze (3-4 gallons)
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Sewer hose
  • Pump siphon kit (if needed)
  • Water heater bypass parts (if needed)
  • Anode rod for protection

Having the right equipment makes preparing for winter a breeze. Follow the manual and you’ll be set.

Some Other Handy (Optional Tools) Tools Include:

  • Cleaning wand if no built-in tank flush
  • Black tank cleaning solution
  • Vinegar to clean hot water heater
  • Rubber gloves for protection

The air method needs a tankless compressor, blow-out plug and pressure regulator. This guide focuses on using antifreeze for winterizing campers. The air method works too but takes extra equipment.

How To Winterize Your Camper Yourself?

  1. Winterizing camper plumbing: Drain black and gray tanks, go to dump station. Turn off water pump, hook up sewer hose, drain tanks, flush tanks.
  2. Get water heater ready: Hook up city water, turn off power and pump. Release pressure.
  3. Drain water heater: Check temperature, drain water. Check anode rod. Bypass water heater, check for bypass system, access and bypass.
  4. Drain fresh water tank: Turn off pressure, drain tank and low points.
  5. Flush water lines with antifreeze: Turn off faucets and pump, connect antifreeze, flush all interior and exterior taps.
  6. Finish up: Pour antifreeze in drains, check heaters off and taps closed. The numbered headings make winterizing process easier.

Perform Winterizing Maintenance On The Interior, Exterior, And Chassis:

Perform Winterizing Maintenance On The Interior, Exterior, And Chassis:

Now we need to make sure the camper itself stays safe from freezing temperatures. Let’s check the outside thoroughly. Look over the roof, windows and walls for any cracks or leaks that need sealing. Make sure the vents and overhead storage are closed tight too.

Prepare Inside Camper

  • Clean all surfaces so no food or items can get moldy or freeze
  • Drain water from sink, shower, toilet by removing traps
  • Disconnect hoses from water lines and drain remaining water
  • Drain water heater tank and bypass or remove heating elements
  • Pour RV antifreeze into all drains to prevent freezing

Prepare Outside Camper

  • Check for leaks or drafts around all doors, vents, windows and seal if needed
  • Drain water from outside shower or attachment lines
  • Wipe down outside surfaces to remove dirt or leaves

Prepare Under Camper

  • Inspect undercarriage and check for cracks or leaks in pipes or tanks
  • Drain fresh water tank by using dump valves or going to a dump station
  • Pour RV antifreeze into any low lying areas like pipes or tanks as protection
  • Cover underside with protective wrap if long term storage

Prepare Wheels And Running Gear

  • Inflate tires to proper pressure and cover if storing outside
  • Engage leveling jacks if not being towed and storing on level ground
  • Grease hitch components and slide out mechanisms

Prepare Electronics

  • Turn off main battery switch and any wall switches
  • Disconnect battery cables from chassis and house batteries
  • Cover or unplug any outdoor connection points

Review Completion

  • Check that all drains are clear and lines are drained or antifreeze filled
  • Wipe away any residual moisture and seal all access points
  • Store camper in insulated or heated garage or cover for protection

How Long Does It Take To Winterize A Camper?

The length of time it takes to winterize a camper can vary depending on the size of the RV and your experience level, but on average most people can complete the full winterization process in 2-4 hours. For a first timer, it may take closer to the higher end of that estimate as you get familiar with the proper techniques. But once you’ve gone through the process once or twice, you’ll be faster at it in future seasons.

With experience, many RVers can winterize a typical sized motorhome or travel trailer in just 2 hours or less. Having all your supplies organized ahead of time is also key to working efficiently. Following the step-by-step instructions will help keep you on track. So block out an afternoon to winterize your camper – with focus you can get it fully protected for winter within a half day or less.

What Happens If I Don’t Winterize My Camper?

What Happens If I Don't Winterize My Camper?

If you don’t winterize your camper, bad things can happen over the cold months. The water in your pipes and tanks can freeze and burst the lines. This destroys the plumbing and causes expensive damage. All the water left in will expand as ice and break apart the pipes and tanks.

Other things like your water heater can get hurt too. If you don’t drain it, the water inside may freeze and crack the heater tank. Mice or bugs could also get inside easier and mess things up if you skip winterizing steps. They might chew on wires or make nests that are hard to clean out. It’s best to take the time to prep your camper properly before winter arrives to prevent costly repairs from freezing damage.


At what temperature do I need to winterize my camper?

When to winterize camper:

  • Cold outside for long time – If it stays very cold at 20 degrees Fahrenheit or below every day.
  • Can’t keep under part warm – If you can’t make the bottom of your camper warm with heat or blankets.
  • Tanks not hot – If your fresh water and used water tanks don’t have heat to stop freezing.

Do you put antifreeze in the fresh water tank of a camper?

You can put antifreeze in the fresh water tank but it wastes it. Most people just empty the fresh water tank and don’t use it. Then the antifreeze goes right into the lines without filling the tank first.

Do campers need special antifreeze?

Other antifreezes are not safe if you drink them. Be sure to only use the special antifreeze meant for RVs when putting it in your water lines and drain traps. The safe RV kind will say so on the label, helping you tell it apart from antifreeze not for drinking water that could make you sick.

Final Thoughts

It is important to properly winterize your camper to protect it from freezing temperatures during the winter months. Carefully following the outlined steps ensures the plumbing and appliances are sheltered from damage. While winterizing requires effort, the process only needs to be completed once in the fall. Breaking the tasks into easy steps and using the owner’s manual makes the job manageable. Most of the work involves cleaning, draining water from lines and tanks, and adding antifreeze for protection.

Be sure to check for any drafts or openings that could let in cold air, and seal them. Once finished, camper owners can rest assured their RV interior will be safe until spring. Regular winterizing saves on expensive repairs down the road by avoiding freezing issues. It is a small investment that pays off through keeping the camper in good condition for future camping seasons. Proper preparation now means worry-free camping come summer.

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