Updated: Aug 14
If you live in Texas you probably thought you wouldn’t need to winterize your RV before storing it for the season. I mean why would you? It hardly ever gets cold down here, and when it does, it rarely drops below freezing. However, in February 2021, Texas saw one of the biggest winter storms it’s faced in the past 70 years with the temperature dropping to minus 2 degrees Fahrenheit. There were rolling blackouts and many families went without heat, water, and power for over a week. Numerous RV owners found they had multiple water leaks from freeze damage when they took their vehicle out of storage and a vast majority of our work that spring was replacing water lines.
If you owned a travel trailer or a fifth wheel you are more likely to have experienced this firsthand. You prepare for a big trip, take the RV out of storage, load up all your gear and head out to your destination. After arriving you hook up to city water or flip on the water pump and nothing comes out of the faucet. Unsure of what could be the issue, you call a mobile service company that discovers multiple water fittings leaking due to freeze damage that caused cracking.
One way in which this could’ve been prevented is to winterize the RV before putting it in storage. If you plan on storing your RV for more than two weeks, especially during the winter, this could potentially save you hundreds of dollars in repair costs. Essentially, winterizing your RV is removing the water from the lines and adding antifreeze.
If you’re not familiar with winterizing, the process is simple. There are two main methods by which this can be done. The first is to drain and blow out all the water lines before adding antifreeze to the P-traps. Another method is to pump antifreeze into the lines after draining the water. Both methods attempt to prevent freeze damage to the waterline, fittings, and plumbing accessories.
You may be thinking that antifreeze couldn’t possibly be safe to drink, and you’re not wrong. Automotive antifreeze will contaminate the water system with toxic chemicals such as Ethylene Glycol. However, RV antifreeze uses non-toxic chemicals. Plus, it’s all removed from the lines the next time it’s taken out of storage for use.
There are two different kinds of antifreeze rated for different temperatures specifically made for RV plumbing. Unlike a car or truck, this antifreeze is going into your water lines used for drinking and maintaining good hygiene. Never use RV antifreeze in a combustion engine. RV antifreeze is rated between -50 degrees Fahrenheit to -100 degrees. Which one you choose is mainly a personal choice as temperatures are unlikely to reach these lows. However, it is worth noting that if the antifreeze is diluted it will be less effective.
Different manufactures for antifreeze include Camco, Starbrite, Splash, and Peak. The amount of antifreeze you purchase is dependent on how you intend to use the product. You will use 2-3 times more antifreeze if completely filling the lines versus filling just the P-traps. It’s important to note that washers and other appliances may also require winterization if you have these in your RV.
If you’re the do-it-yourself type, there are many videos and tutorials online for how to winterize an RV. I'll include a link to some of the most common tools and supplies used on our Facebook Page. But if you are new to RVing and don’t think you can tackle the task, our team at RV FIXIN here in Denton, TX would be happy to come out and winterize your RV if you’re in the area. We offer competitive rates and can handle most service needs of your RV.
So should you winterize your RV? If you plan on storing your RV for an extended period of time where cold weather may occur, yes, it's a smart idea to winterize the vehicle. The only time we don't suggest winterizing your RV is if you are a full-timer and live out of your vehicle. We will discuss protecting your RV from the cold in our next blog.
Camco Manufacturing - Winterization Playlist
Airxcel, Inc. - RV Group - Suburban Bypass Valve
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