How to Winterize an RV For Storage or Living

How to Winterize an RV For Storage or Living

Posted by RVCampersUSA on Jan 2nd 2017

How to Winterize an RV For Storage or Living a Complete Guide

As winter approaches, it's important to prepare your RV for the cold temperatures and potential freezing conditions. Whether you plan to store your RV or live in it during the winter months, proper winterization is crucial to avoid costly damages and ensure a comfortable experience. In this article, we will discuss the essential steps to winterize an RV for both storage and living, including methods to safeguard the water pump and prevent freezing of the pipes.

How to Winterize an RV for Safe Storage:

Properly winterizing your RV for storage can help protect it from the harsh winter elements. Here are some vital steps to follow:

1. Drain and flush the water system:

Begin by draining all the water from your RV's water lines, tanks, and hot water heater. Open all faucets and drain plugs to remove any remaining water. Next, use compressed air or a water pump converter kit to blow out the remaining moisture from the lines. Lastly, flush the water system with non-toxic RV antifreeze, which will help prevent freezing and potential damage.

How to Properly Drain and Winterize Your RV Fresh Water Tank

As the seasons change and the temperatures drop, it's essential for RV owners to take the necessary steps to protect their vehicles from potential damage. One crucial aspect of winterizing an RV is properly draining and winterizing the fresh water tank. In this blog post, we will guide you through the process of draining and winterizing your RV's fresh water tank, ensuring that it remains in optimal condition during the colder months.

Drain RV Fresh Water Tank: A Step-by-Step Guide to Winterize Your RV

Understanding the Importance of Draining and Winterizing:

Before we delve into the steps, it's crucial to understand why draining and winterizing your RV's fresh water tank is essential. Water expands when it freezes, and if any water remains in the tank during freezing temperatures, it can cause significant damage to the tank and plumbing system. By properly draining and winterizing the tank, you can prevent costly repairs and ensure your RV is ready for the next camping season.

Step 1: Gather the Necessary Supplies:

To begin the process, gather the necessary supplies, including a water pump converter kit, non-toxic RV antifreeze, a wrench, and a bucket. These items will help you complete the task efficiently and effectively.

Step 2: Turn Off the Water Supply:

Before draining the fresh water tank, ensure that the water supply to the RV is turned off. This step will prevent any additional water from entering the tank during the process.

Step 3: Drain the Fresh Water Tank:

Locate the drain valve or petcock on the fresh water tank. Attach a hose to the valve and place the other end into a bucket or suitable drainage area. Open the valve and allow the water to drain completely from the tank. Once drained, close the valve securely.

Step 4: Flush the Tank:

After draining the tank, it's essential to flush it thoroughly to remove any remaining sediment or debris. Fill the tank with clean water, then drain it again using the same process as in Step 3. Repeat this step until the water runs clear.

Step 5: Add RV Antifreeze:

To protect the plumbing system from freezing temperatures, add non-toxic RV antifreeze to the fresh water tank. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the correct amount to use. Turn on the water pump and open each faucet, one at a time, until the antifreeze flows through. This step ensures that the entire plumbing system is protected.

A lot of RVers ask, 

                   Can you add Happy Campers Tank Treatment with RV antifreeze to winterize?

The answer is yes! Just mix it in like you would with water and it will help keep your tanks fresh through winterization.

2. Protect the water pump:

To safeguard your RV's water pump from freezing, isolate it using a bypass kit or drain it completely. This will prevent any residual water from freezing and causing irreversible damage to the pump. Also, ensure that the pump is switched off during the winter months.

Follow these steps to winterize your RV's water pump effectively.

Step 1. Gather the Necessary Supplies:

Before you begin the winterization process, gather the necessary supplies. You will need non-toxic RV antifreeze, a wrench, a bucket, and a water pump converter kit. These items will help you complete the task efficiently.

Step 2. Turn Off the Water Supply:

Before starting the winterization process, ensure that the water supply to the RV is turned off. This step will prevent any additional water from entering the system during the winterization process.

Step 3. Locate the Water Pump:

The water pump is typically located near the fresh water tank or inside a compartment. Refer to your RV's owner's manual to find the exact location of the water pump.

Step 4. Drain the Water Lines:

To prevent any water from freezing and causing damage, it's crucial to drain the water lines connected to the water pump. Open all faucets, including the hot and cold water taps, to allow the water to drain completely. Don't forget to flush the toilet and run the shower to ensure all water is drained from the system.

Step 5. Disconnect the Water Pump:

Using a wrench, disconnect the water pump from the RV's plumbing system. This step will allow you to bypass the water pump during the winterization process.

Step 6. Install the Water Pump Converter Kit:

Attach the water pump converter kit to the water pump inlet. This kit allows you to draw antifreeze directly into the plumbing system, bypassing the water pump. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper installation.

rv water pump converter kit

Step 7. Add RV Antifreeze:

rv antifreeze

Pour non-toxic RV antifreeze into a bucket. Turn on the water pump and open each faucet, one at a time, until the antifreeze flows through. This step ensures that the entire plumbing system, including the water pump, is protected from freezing temperatures. Continue this process until you see the antifreeze flowing out of each faucet.

Step 8. Reconnect the Water Pump:

Once you have completed the winterization process, reconnect the water pump to the RV's plumbing system using the wrench. Ensure that all connections are secure.

Step 9. Test the System:

After winterizing the water pump, it's essential to test the system to ensure that it has been properly winterized. Turn on the water pump and open each faucet to check if the antifreeze flows through. If you notice any water coming out, repeat the process until only antifreeze is present.

3. Empty and clean the holding tanks:

Thoroughly empty and clean the black and gray water holding tanks. Use RV-specific tank treatments to eliminate odors and ensure the tanks are in proper working condition when you start using your RV again.

There are many different RV holding tank treatments on the market. If you've been using a tank treatment like Happy Campers holding tank treatment regularly, you probably just need to drain and rinse your tanks and then add RV antifreeze. If you haven't been regularly using a treatment or maintaining your holding tanks — use a professional quality tank cleaner like the Extreme Cleaner. 

Thanks to Changing Lanes, you can see it in action!

How to Winterize an RV if You're Living In It:

Living in an RV during the winter months can be a cozy and adventurous experience. However, it's crucial to properly insulate your RV to ensure comfort and protect against the cold temperatures. In this blog post, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to insulate your RV for winter living, allowing you to stay warm and comfortable throughout the season.

Winterizing your RV for living purposes requires a slightly different approach. Here's what you need to prioritize:

a. Assess Your RV's Current Insulation:

Before you begin the insulation process, assess your RV's current insulation. Check for any gaps, cracks, or areas where cold air may be seeping in. Pay close attention to windows, doors, vents, and any other potential entry points for drafts. Identifying these areas will help you determine where to focus your insulation efforts.

b. Insulate your RV:

Invest in insulation materials such as foam board or reflective insulation to cover the windows, vents, and other openings. Insulate the walls, ceiling, and floor using heavy-duty RV insulation or blankets. This will help retain heat and keep the interior temperature comfortable during colder months.

How to insulate your RV for winter living:

1. Seal Gaps and Cracks:

Once you have identified areas that require attention, seal any gaps and cracks using weatherstripping, caulk, or foam insulation. Apply these materials around windows, doors, and any other openings to prevent cold air from entering and warm air from escaping.

2. Insulate Windows:

Windows are a significant source of heat loss in an RV. Consider using thermal curtains or window insulation film to create an additional barrier against the cold. You can also use insulating window covers or bubble wrap to provide extra insulation.

3. Insulate Doors:

To prevent drafts, add weatherstripping around the edges of doors. You can also use draft stoppers or door sweeps to seal the bottom of the door. If your RV has a screen door, consider adding a clear plastic sheet to create an extra layer of insulation.

4. Insulate Vents and Skylights:

Vents and skylights can be insulated using vent cushions or insulating covers. These products help to reduce heat loss and prevent cold air from entering. Additionally, consider adding insulating foam boards to the inside of skylights for added insulation.

5. Insulate the Underbelly:

The underbelly of your RV is susceptible to cold air and freezing temperatures. Insulate the underbelly using foam board insulation or spray foam insulation. This will help to protect your RV's plumbing system and keep the interior warmer.

6. Use Insulating Materials:

Consider using insulating materials such as reflective insulation or foam boards to line the interior walls of your RV. These materials help to trap heat and create a barrier against the cold. You can also use rugs or carpeting on the floors to provide additional insulation.

8. Skirt Your RV:

Skirting your RV involves creating a barrier around the bottom of your RV to prevent cold air from entering and to keep the area beneath the RV insulated. Use materials such as foam board, plywood, or specialized RV skirting to create this barrier.

c. Heat source:

Utilize Space Heaters and Electric Blankets:

Install an auxiliary heat source in your RV, such as a portable space heater or a ceramic heater, to supplement the existing furnace. Ensure that the heat source you choose is safe for indoor use and does not pose a fire hazard.

To supplement your RV's heating system, use space heaters and electric blankets. These devices can provide additional warmth in specific areas of your RV, allowing you to conserve energy and stay comfortable.

d. Monitor Humidity Levels:

During winter, it's important to monitor humidity levels inside your RV. Excessive moisture can lead to condensation and mold growth. Use a dehumidifier or open windows periodically to maintain proper humidity levels.

e. Pipe insulation and heat tape:

Prevent frozen pipes by wrapping pipe insulation around all exposed pipes. Additionally, use heat tape, which provides an electric heat source to ensure the pipes do not freeze. Remember to keep the heat tape plugged in and monitor it regularly.

How to Keep Your RV Pipes from Freezing:

Regardless of whether you are storing or living in your RV during winter, preventing frozen pipes is essential. Here are some additional tips:

Keeping RV pipes from freezing is crucial to prevent damage to your plumbing system during cold weather. Below is a detailed guide on how to protect your RV pipes from freezing, along with some reliable sources for further information.

1. Insulate Exposed Pipes: 

Insulating exposed pipes is one of the most effective ways to prevent freezing. Use foam pipe insulation sleeves or heat tape to wrap around the pipes. This insulation helps to retain heat and prevent the pipes from reaching freezing temperatures.
(Source: [The Spruce])

2. Heat the Underbelly: 

The underbelly of your RV is vulnerable to freezing temperatures. Install insulation or use heated blankets or pads to keep the underbelly warm. This will help prevent the pipes from freezing and maintain a consistent temperature.
(Source: [Camping World])

3. Use Heat Tape on Water Hose: 

If you're connected to an external water source, wrap heat tape around the water hose. This tape provides a constant source of heat to prevent freezing. Ensure the heat tape is rated for outdoor use and follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper installation. 
(Source: [RVshare])

4. Keep Interior Temperature Above Freezing: 

Maintain a consistent interior temperature above freezing, even when you're not using the RV. Set your thermostat to a temperature that will prevent the pipes from freezing. Use electric space heaters or your RV's heating system to achieve this. (Source: [DoItYourselfRV])

5. Open Cabinet Doors: 

Open cabinet doors under sinks and near pipes to allow warm air to circulate around them. This helps prevent cold spots and keeps the pipes from freezing.
(Source: [RV Life])

6. Disconnect and Drain Water Hoses: 

If you're not using an external water source, disconnect and drain the water hoses. Store them in a warm area to prevent freezing. This step ensures that no water remains in the hoses to freeze and cause damage.
(Source: [Gone With The Wynns])

Remember, it's essential to consult your RV's owner's manual for specific instructions and recommendations on winterizing and preventing freezing pipes. Each RV may have unique features and requirements. By following these guidelines and utilizing reputable sources, you can effectively keep your RV pipes from freezing and ensure a trouble-free winter camping experience.


Winterizing your RV is vital to protect your investment and ensure a comfortable experience, whether you are storing it or living in it during the colder months. By following these comprehensive steps and tips, you can safeguard your RV's water system, prevent freezing of pipes, and enjoy a worry-free winter season. Remember, proper preparation is key, so don't overlook the importance of winterization to extend the longevity and functionality of your RV. Stay warm and safe!