How To De-Winterize Your RV
DISCLAIMER: This article is meant to provide an overview of the de-winterization process and give you general information on how it works. If you do not feel completely comfortable and competent with everything that is covered in this article, we recommend that you do not de-winterize your RV at home; instead, have a certified technician at a service center or dealership properly de-winterize your RV.
- Things you’ll need. You’ll need two tools: a screwdriver and a socket + torque wrench. You may need to purchase a new anode rod, freshener for your water system, a tube of silicone or caulk for your RV’s window seals, and a tube of sealant for your RV roof.
- To complete de-winterization, remove all the antifreeze from your RV’s water system by closing all your tanks, turning off the bypass on your water heater, connecting to city water, and flushing all the antifreeze from your system. Check your water pump to make sure it’s de-winterized and functioning properly.
- Next, clean and sanitize your water system by pouring a half gallon or one gallon of freshener into your fresh water tank, filling the tank the rest of the way with fresh water, and emptying the tank by running your water pump.
- Check the seals on your roof and windows. Additionally, inspect your batteries, tires, and appliances.
- If you didn't do a deep clean of your black water tank before winterizing, do a thorough clean-out with Unique Tank Cleaner to kickoff the camping season.
Getting Your RV Ready For Summer
The cold, cozy days of winter have passed and the warmer weather is quickly approaching! You’re probably itching to get out and enjoy the sunshine, but how do you prepare your RV to get back outside? Learn how to de-winterize your RV so you can hit the road with ease!
If you properly winterized your RV (see our article here), then the process of de-winterization should be smooth and relatively easy, since it is essentially the reverse of the winterization process. However, if you don't feel confident de-winterizing your unit yourself, or you are unsure of any of the steps below, it is probably best to have a certified professional complete the de-winterization process.
Even if you choose to have your RV, camper, or travel trailer professionally de-winterized, it is helpful to understand the process, which is outlined below. Also, since most RVs are similar, these recommendations should apply to your RV. Still, there are some processes that will be different on some units, so it is important to check your RVs user manual for instructions about de-winterizing your specific unit.
Before you begin the de-winterization process, you’ll need to gather supplies. First, you’ll need some tools, including the following:
- A screwdriver. A manual screwdriver will work, but an electric-powered screwdriver will make your job much easier!
- A socket and torque wrench for your water heater plug. Most likely, you’ll need a 1 and 1/16-inch socket.
Things that you may need to purchase:
- A new anode rod. These rods wear down with time, and it’s important to replace them in order to keep your RV’s water system from calcifying. They are relatively inexpensive. If your RV doesn’t have an anode rod option, there are other options for drain plugs.
- Freshener for your fresh water holding tank. A freshener product will clean and deodorize your water tank and lines. You will use this product as you wrap up the de-winterization process, but it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and purchase it before you begin.
- A tube of silicone or caulk. If needed, this will help you to reseal your RV’s windows.
- Roof sealant. If needed, this will help you to prevent a leaky RV roof or fill in holes you already have.
Now you’re ready to actually begin de-winterization! The process includes two basic steps:
- Remove all the RV antifreeze that has been in your water system over the winter.
- Clean and sanitize your water system so you can use it again.
What follows is a checklist of all the steps you’ll need to take in order to complete the two basic steps above.
How To De-winterize Your Camper
Close all your tanks. First, close or cap your fresh water tank. Second, close your black water and gray water tanks. Third, close the drain on your water heater. This may include replacing the anode rod or drain cap using the 1 and 1/16 socket. Fourth, close or cap your low point water drains.
Find the back of your water heater and turn off the bypass. On the outside of your RV, you’ll find the front of your water heater, so the back is located inside your RV, normally directly opposite of where it is on the outside. (You may need to use a screwdriver to remove panels or other items in order to access the back of your water heater). Once you’ve located the back of your water heater, turn off the bypass so that water flows through your hot water heater.
Remove all the RV antifreeze from your water system. In order to do this, connect your RV to a city water source and open all the faucets in your RV at once. This includes your outside shower (if you have one). You can also flush your toilet during the process. Next, turn on your water pump until all the RV antifreeze runs out of your water system. You should see only fresh water coming out of your faucets. Run both hot and cold water so that all areas of your water system are emptied of antifreeze.
Find and check your water pump. If your water pump has a winterizing kit installed, turn the valve so that water can flow from your fresh water tank through your system.
Clean and sanitize your water system. First, disconnect from your city water source. Second, add a freshener product (bleach) into your fresh water holding tank (between half a gallon and one gallon should be enough). Third, fill the rest of your fresh water tank with fresh water. Fourth, open all your faucets again and run your water pump until the fresh water tank is empty.
You’ve now de-winterized the water system on your RV! But you’re not done yet! Here are some bonus tips to make sure your RV is completely ready to go for the summer:
- It’s smart to check the seals on the roof and windows of your RV. These seals normally consist of silicone or caulk, which can be purchased cheaply.
- Inspect the roof and window seals on your RV for any obvious leaks, cracks, or other damage. (You can walk on most RV roofs, but check with your manufacturer if you are unsure.) The sealant on your roof should feel soft and pliable. If it feels hard or has cracks in it, it needs to be replaced. You may also want to clean your sealant seams or apply a UV protector product.
- You may need to recharge the batteries on your RV, as they likely have lost some charge over the winter. If you feel uncomfortable performing battery maintenance, have a professional RV repair service complete this step.
- Test all appliances. This step includes testing your LP gas system. A yearly leak test and gas pressure test should be performed by a professional RV repair service.
- It’s also smart to check the pressure of your tires. Most likely, they have lost some pressure over the winter.
- Finally, if your RV has an engine or generator, perform normal maintenance on these items, such as changing oil, topping off fluids, etc.
Deep Clean Your Black Water Tank
We recommend that you do a deep clean on your holding tanks twice per year. If you didn’t do a deep clean before you winterized your camper, it is best practice to do a deep clean when you de-winterize. To deep clean your holding tanks follow these steps using Unique Tank Cleaner:
- Dump your black water tank.
- Thoroughly flush out your black water tank.
- Close your black water tank valve.
- Fill your black water tank completely with water.
- Shake your bottle of Tank Cleaner well and pour the entire bottle into your black water tank.
- Let sit for 12-48 hours.
- Open your black water tank valve and dump the tank completely.
- Flush out your black water tank (we recommend flushing it for 20-30 minutes).
- Repeat twice per year, at the beginning of the season and at the end.
At Unique Camping + Marine, our expertise lies in the treatment of wastewater—not necessarily in de-winterizing or the specifics of plumbing systems, especially because every RV’s water system operates differently. We have written this basic guide based off information we found helpful in this article and this article. Both of these sites are recognized experts in RVing, so we believe you can feel safe using their recommendations. If you are still unsure about any of the information contained in this article, we recommend you simply take your RV into a qualified professional and have them properly de-winterize it.
If you have any further questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at email@example.com. We love to help our customers!