Our Guide for De-Winterizing your RV

Spring is just around the corner, and it’s time to think about getting your RV ready for the upcoming camping season. The first step in this process? De-winterizing your RV. 

Luckily, RV de-winterization is a pretty straightforward process, meaning it shouldn’t take too much of your time. That said, if you’ve never done it before, it might be a little bit confusing. This article will help walk you through the process step-by-step so you know your RV is well taken care of and ready to hit the road. 

What is RV De-Winterization?

First, let’s take a minute to talk about what it means to de-winterize an RV. Hopefully, you winterized your RV before putting it into storage back in the fall. De-winterization is simply the process of undoing what you did before storing the rig so that it is ready to go camping whenever you are. 

When Should I De-Winterize My RV?

When you choose to de-winterize your RV will depend a lot on where you live and how soon you plan to go camping again. It’s important to understand that an RV’s water system should be winterized any time the temperature will dip below 30 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 20–30 minutes at a time. (As mentioned in When Should You Winterize Your RV?

Therefore, if you are still seeing overnight temperatures in the 20s, or if the odd cold snap could still make its way through your state, it’s probably best to keep the RV winterized a little bit longer. If you aren’t likely to see temperatures that cold in your area again until fall, you’re good to go ahead and de-winterize your RV. 

How to De-Winterize a Motorhome or Trailer

You might think that all you have to do to de-winterize your RV and have it ready for spring camping is clear the water lines of antifreeze. This just isn’t true. There are actually several steps you should take when de-winterizing motorhomes or trailers in order to ensure everything is in tip-top shape and ready for camping season. 

Make a plan on when you’re going to de-winterize your vehicle.

Inspect the RV’s Exterior

The first thing you’ll want to do after pulling your RV out of storage is carefully inspect the exterior. Look for cracks in the seals and patch them up. Inspect for damage to the roof, and fix any issues you find there. Check high and low for areas that might have accumulated mud or mildew. Give the RV a good scrub.

Re-Install Batteries

With the outside of the rig all cleaned up and resealed, the next step is to re-install those batteries you removed at the beginning of winter. This is an easy enough process; just make sure you get the cables connected to the correct terminals. 

Fill Propane Tanks

While you’re checking things out, go ahead and give those propane tanks a look too. If they’re full, great! But if not, you probably want to top them off before heading out on your first adventure of the season.

Check Out the Tires

Be sure to inspect your tires before your first trip as well. Tires can become damaged when sitting for long periods of time, especially if they were sitting in the sun. Even if the tires look perfectly fine, make sure to check the expiration date as well as the tire pressure, and add air or replace as needed. 

Inspect and Clean the Interior

With the outside finished, you will need to head to the interior of your RV. Carefully inspect the walls and ceilings for signs of water. Dark spots, mushy spots, or wet spots indicate a leak that will need to be tracked down and sealed. You may have to do some water damage repair if the leak is extensive enough.

You’ll also want to look for evidence of pests and take steps to get rid of any little critters that may be making themselves at home. If you do find pests, watch out for damage they may have caused and make repairs and clean up as necessary. 

Of course, you’ll also want to scrub everything and get it looking and smelling good for your first trip.

Make sure to test appliances and water before depature.

Test All Appliances 

While inside your RV, take a few minutes to test all of the appliances to ensure they work. If anything isn’t working properly, you will need to order parts and get it up and running again before you can go camping. 

Test Alarms

In addition to the appliances, the alarms in your RV will also need to be tested. These include the smoke alarm, the carbon monoxide detector, and the propane gas detector.

This is also a good time to give your fire extinguisher a good shake to ensure the contents don’t solidify. If your fire extinguisher is getting old, you should probably just replace it entirely. 

Take Care of Your Generator

If you have a generator, you will want to check it out as well. You should run your generator at least once a month even throughout the winter, and exercising your generator as you de-winterize the RV is definitely a good idea. This is also a good chance to change the oil, air filter, fuel filter, and spark plug if these things are due to be changed. 

De-Winterize the RV Water System

Last but not least, you will need to de-winterize the plumbing in your RV. This is relatively simple, but there are several steps involved:

  1. Close all faucets.
  2. Connect the RV city water inlet to a potable water source and turn the water on. 
  3. Look and listen for leaks in the system.
  4. Open the cold side of the faucet nearest the city water inlet. Do the same with the hot side. Let the water run until it is completely clear and then turn it off. 
  5. Repeat this process at every faucet, working your way away from the city water inlet. 
  6. Once all faucets are running clean, fill your fresh water tank. 
  7. Run the water pump and repeat the process of opening each faucet individually and running them until the water comes out clear. 
  8. Sanitize the fresh water system. 
  9. Ensure the water heater tank has a plug in place. 
  10. Open the water heater bypass valve.

At this point you can consider your RV completely de-winterized and ready to hit the road. Where will your spring camping adventures take you first?

About Chelsea Gonzales

Chelsea Gonzales has been living in an RV and traveling with her family for 7 years now. She road schools her two children, using various travel experiences as lessons in history, science, geography, and more. During their time on the road, the Gonzales family has had the pleasure of touring the 48 contiguous United States as well as parts of Canada. They have learned a lot along the way and Chelsea is happy to share some of that knowledge through her writing.