How to Winterize RV

How to Winterize RV

Question: Can you help me on how to winterize our RV? I would like to know the steps involved, how to handle the washing machine, water heater, etc.
Answer: If you would like to actually see how to winterize your RV, check out the Winterizing and Storing your RV DVD

Here are a few items you will need to have. These items can be found in most RV parts stores:

  • Non-toxic RV antifreeze (the amount depends on the layout and length of your plumbing lines. 2 to 3 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.

Here are the steps to winterize the RV water system to protect it from freezing. Be sure to read your owner’s manuals for unit specific winterizing guidelines. Follow the steps below that apply to your RV.

  • If you have any inline water filters remove and bypass before starting.
  • Drain the fresh water holding tank.
  • Drain and flush the gray and black holding tanks. Clean the black tank with a wand. Lubricate the termination valves.
  • Drain the water heater. Open the pressure relief valve and remove the drain plug. CAUTION (never drain the water heater when it is hot or under pressure).
  • Open all hot and cold faucets; don’t forget the toilet valve and outside shower.
  • Locate and open low point drain lines. Using the water pump will help force water out, but turn it off as soon as the system is drained.
  • Recap all drains and close all faucets.
  • By-pass the water heater. If you do not have a by-pass kit installed the water heater will fill up with antifreeze before it goes through the water lines, wasting six gallons of antifreeze.
  • Install a water pump converter kit, or disconnect the inlet side of the pump (the line coming from the fresh water holding tank) and connect tubing from the pump into a gallon of RV antifreeze.
  • Turn the water pump on and pressurize the system. Starting with the closest faucet slowly open the hot and then cold valves until antifreeze appears. Replace antifreeze jug as required.
  • Repeat on all faucets from the closest to farthest away. Don’t forget the outside shower.
  • Flush the toilet until antifreeze appears.
  • Turn the water pump off and open a faucet to release the pressure. Go to the city water inlet. Remove the small screen over the inlet and push in on the valve with a small screwdriver until you see antifreeze. Replace the screen.
  • Pour a cupful of antifreeze down each drain. Pour a couple of cups in the toilet and flush into the holding tank.
  • If your water heater has an electric heating element turn it off. This will protect the element if the unit is plugged in while being stored.
  • Make sure all faucets are closed.
  • Consult your owner manuals for winterizing icemakers and washing machines.
  • The unit is winterized.

Comments for How to Winterize RV

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May 24, 2015

How to refill my hot water heater after winterizing.

by: Cindy

We just bought a 1998 Seabreeze 36′ 5th wheel. I t was winterized when we bought it and we have flushed all the lines of antifreeze but cannot figure out how to refill our hot water heater. We have water everywhere but none of it is hot. Where do we find the valve that the previous owner says he shut off to by-pass the hot water heater for winterizing so we can now fill the tank and have hot water. HELP!!! Freezing showers….LOL

Nov 23, 2010


by: Anonymous

The standard winterizing info is awesome. However, everything that is standard may not apply to your RV specifically.

I have a 2006 Pure Sport 5th-wheel Toyhauler 38′ model#35-2L-5 and though i am pleased with the trailer, I am not pleased with the lack of info on it. Just winterizing it has been a nightmare. Will have to take it in and have it done because I thought I had a fairly good idea on how to do it. Does anyone out there own one of these and do you have any ideas or info to help me….Thanks.

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