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This page I wrote for my old rv website before developing the Vanabode as the best travel vehicle for cheap easy long term road trips. People still like big rv's despite the much greater cost and trouble to operate, so here's what I know about them.

Winterize RV for Storage

The RV storage guide covers other aspects of how to prepare and store your rv. For winterizing though first, empty and flush out your holding tanks. This process is expected to protect your water lines and appliances from freezing and then bursting during winter months. Drain your fresh water tank and your water heater (leave the drain plug out of your water heater until spring).

Your water heater will drain a little faster if you open a couple of hot water taps in your unit! Do NOT open the safety valve on your water heater because it might not seat properly again. This will cost you when you need to replace it in the spring! Visit RV spring startup for information on pulling your rv OUT of storage. By-pass your water heater either by purchasing a water heater by-pass kit which costs about $30.00 or by removing the two water lines on the back of the water heater and joining them together with a temporary by-pass.

Blow your water lines out with air pressure (don't exceed more than 40-50 p.s.i) you would do this with a blow-out plug. Buy a small air compressor or use gas stations air compressor used for filling tires. One person should hold the air hose on the blow-out plug which you have screwed onto your city water connection while one person opens the faucets, hot and cold, plus toilet flush, one at a time, until no water comes out.

Put 2-3 gallons of non toxic antifreeze (pink color NEVER green) through your RV plumbing system. Disconnect the water line from your fresh water tank at the pump side and use a separate suction line sold by some rv parts departments, or a pump winterizing kit consisting of a brass three way valve and suction line which stays attached to your pump permanently. Put the suction hose in the jug of antifreeze making sure it goes all the way to the bottom of the jug, with faucets turned completely off and your water heater by-passed, turn on your water pump. Open the faucet farthest from the pump. Wait until you see the antifreeze come out at a steady flow, turn off that faucet and do the next one, until you have done them all. Make sure to flush the toilet until it comes out steady. If your unit has an outside shower run the anti freeze there too.

Now poor a cup of antifreeze down each sink drain and bathtub shower drain to ensure your p-traps don't freeze. Turn the water pump off. Open all your faucet and toilet valve by sticking something in the hole.

Batteries - remove your batteries for winter rv storage by disconnecting the cables and removing the battery altogether. Store battery in a warmer part of your house but not inside where people sleep. If you are leaving them in the rv connect a smart battery charger to them and leave connected to shore power.

Moisture Control - I do not recommended covering your rv in the winter months stored outside. Using tarp's to cover it may keep water and snow off, but moisture will still get underneath. Worse, moisture under the tarp will be trapped, unable to evaporate. The result is mold or mildew. If you do cover the unit, use something that is breathable when winterizing your rv.

One way to control moisture inside the rv when stored is to place something inside that will absorb the moisture like a chemical absorbent. Most come in a plastic container, and you simply open it and set it inside the camper. It will work similar to silica gel, and absorb the moisture from the air. The plastic container keeps any moisture from draining onto the floor, or the product from causing any stains. Most moisture removers are made from Calcium Chloride, the same stuff you melt ice off from a sidewalk with.

Tires & Suspension - some people jack up their RV's and set them up on blocks or stands, others take the tires off and store them in the garage. Neither of these steps is really necessary. Tires will dry rot regardless of where they are.

Control Rodent, critters, pests and bugs - nice start looking for a nice winter home about the same time you're putting the RV up for the winter. Your RV is a perfect place for them, dry, wind proof, off the ground, deserted, and possibly even heated. These furry little creatures are highly destructive too, they will chew cloth such as curtains or furniture, wiring and electronic equipment.

First rule of thumb is to NOT leave anything edible in the coach. No dry goods, wrapped stuff, packaged stuff, anything. Secondly, leave bug poison on the floors and in the cabinets for insect control. Thirdly, you need to close exterior holes.

Mice are relatively small to begin with, and they only need a tiny opening to get into the RV with. The underside of an RV has a few holes that will allow them through. The only way to find them, is to get underneath of it, and look for them. You'll have to really scrutinize the underside of the rig. If you find any opening underneath the rig that you can fit your baby finger into, then you need to close that opening. Some people recommend stuffing it with aluminum or brass wool, it won't rust like steel wool does. Having a can of spray on expanding insulation works well too, though it can be messy if you get it on you. Hope this helps in making plans to winterize your rv.


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