Preparing Your RV for The Different Seasons
How do I prepare my RV for winter storage?
There are several things to do. Empty all the holding tanks (fresh water, grey water and black water), empty the water heater tank, empty the water lines, and charging your battery.
Let's take these steps one at a time or order the Winterizing and Storage video from Chief's RV Center RV Store page. The video walks you through all the steps of winterizing regardless of type of RV and also covers short-term and long term storage procedures. Video also includes printed out check list sheet for winterizing and for storage.
- Open your main fresh water supply drain mounted on the outside of the RV and let the water flow until the tank is empty.
- Dump your black tank first, then your gray tank (water in the grey tank helps flush solids and septic residue in the flexible hose line). Rinse out with fresh water before returning the hose to its storage compartment.
- To empty the water heater tank, open the drain plug or petcock drain valve on the RV exterior (open the water heater hatch and drain the tank be removing the screw-in plug or opening the valve found near the bottom of the tank).
- Once you have drained all the tanks you must either remove any remaining water in the lines or add RV rated antifreeze to prevent any remaining water from freezing. To blow dry the lines open all faucets (including the toilet flushing device and the shower head spray). Use compressed air to the city water external hose connection using a screw-in adaptor (available at any RV supply store). Apply air until the air is almost dry coming from all the open faucets. If you don't want to blow your lines dry you can add RV rated antifreeze. Follow the antifreeze manufacturer's instructions to meet the level of freezing protection required. Close the fresh water tank and water heater tank drain(s). Pour the required amounts of antifreeze into the fresh water tank (usually around eight gallons of this mixture is required; if you do not have a by-pass system for the hot water heat, which requires six gallons to fill before any fluid can begin to flow into the hot water lines). Turn on your 12-volt water pump (it may need to run several minutes to obtain water pressure as the hot water tank will require being filled before the entire system will pressurize. With the pump on, open and close each faucet (outlet), one at a time, until the tinted mixture of antifreeze and water flows from each outlet. (Don't forget the toilet and shower head spray outlets). Add one or two cups of the antifreeze to the water traps found below or near each drain outlet.
- Make sure to charge your battery to a full charge. Measure the specific gravity of the battery acid with a hydrometer to test for a full charge. A charged battery should survive the freezing temperatures with minimal effect.
Caution: Automotive antifreeze should NOT be used in the drinking water system as it is poisonous and leaves residue. Failure to drain the water properly from your RV prior to freezing weather can result in extensive damage to water lines, holding tanks, water heater and pumps. A discharged battery can freeze or be damaged.
How do I "de-winterize" my RV when the weather warms up?
To de-winterize you need to add fresh water to the system, run the pump and open all faucets until the water runs clear.
- Be sure to open the hot water heater bypass and fill and drain the fresh water tank.
- Blow out the burner assembly on all LP appliances, air the unit out and check all exterior seals and seams for weather cracking and reseal and caulk as necessary.
- Charge the battery and test all lights and systems. Plug into electric and test GFI breakers and wall outlets, test all AC appliances. Check wheel bearings and brakes, lubricate spring shackles and check LP hoses and tanks.
- How do I keep the "critters" out of my RV during storage?
- The best method for keeping the critters out is to use mothballs. The trick to using the mothballs is NOT to scatter them (you'll spend a lot of time looking for "strays" if you do so). Purchase some inexpensive disposable bowls with lids and pour the mothballs into these containers. Poke holes in the containers, sufficient for air flow, but small enough to keep the mothballs "contained" as they diminish in size over time. Place these containers through out your RV, even underbelly storage compartments.
- When it comes time to take your RV out of storage it is a simple matter of collecting the containers and airing out your RV.
- Another item worth mentioning is the use of fabric softener dryer sheets. Place these inside drawers and cabinets. These are supposed to be good mice deterrents.
Can I run my refrigerator continuously?
I feel the refrigerator does better when used on a continuos basis. Just make sure you maintain the proper fluid levels in your house battery. Inadequate DC voltage can damage the control board
Should I get electric brakes for my popup?
I would go for the braking system. GM (Workhorse), Ford, Chrysler, Freightliner, Spartan and all other chassis manufacturers that I can think of recommend using tow braking systems for weights in excess of 1,500 pounds and many of the manufacturers recommend braking systems for weights over 1,000 pounds.