Follow These Steps to Get Your RV Reay For Winter Storage
In Episode 51 I go over the essential maintenance steps that every RV'er needs to do to get ready for Winter if they live where it snows and or freezes. Even if you don't need to do an official winterizing project for the winter season this is still a good time check for leaks and potential problems.
Fresh Water: The starting point could be with the fresh water system and making sure it is drained of water. You will want to make sure to include the Water Heater and Fresh Water Tank(s). Some RV'ers prefer to blow the water out of the lines with a simple tool that screws into the city water hookup that uses compressed air to clear the line of water. This works very good and is inexpensive to do. Compressed air, a little bit of your time and a 5 dollar blow out plug! The other way to winterize the fresh water system uses RV Antifreeze that you run through the Fresh water system. RV Antifreeze won't freeze (read label for freeze points) and it is a food grade product so it is 100% safe to use in the RV Fresh Water System. Either way works very good. Some RV'ers take no chances at all and do both. They blow out the water lines and then add RV Antifreeze just to make sure. Keep in mind that toilets and ice makers have water valves that can freeze and making sure they are prepped is a must.
Holding Tanks: Make sure to drain the holding tanks as well. This should be done after every use but sometimes we forget or put it off for various reasons. Make sure the sewer hose is drained and clear of water as well. A sewer hose would almost always be dry but, you never know?
RV Covers: Many RV'ers prefer to cover their RV for Winter Storage and this is a good idea because it adds a layer of protection against the problems that come from exposure to moisture. I have even heard of some putting a tarp on the roof before the cover goes on and this can really add another layer of protection. As we know water finds it way into the RV through the tiniest cracks and crevices. In some areas and conditions you can't do too much!
On the Roof: Climb up on the roof and look over the entire roof. Keep in mind the roof is what protects everything underneath it. Check all of the seams, stanchions, vent bases, antenna bases, plumbing vents, solar panel mounts and anything else that is mounted to the roof. In most cases if there needs to be any resealing you can use Dicor Lap Sealant for these repairs.
Check the vent lids to make sure they are not brittle and ready to fall apart or have already fallen apart. To replace your vent lids you will need to know which hinge the lid has on it to get a replacement. For the record, the common vent that is called a 14 x 14 all have lids that are almost identical in size, the hinge is what determines which lid you need. Do the same with the Escape Hatch if the lid needs to be replaced except with escape hatches the lid dimensions help in determining which lid will fit.
I highly recommend adding Vent Covers made by Maxxair or Camco to help keep the 14" vents covered and protected from the elements. Not only do they extend the life of the lids they will also allow you to leave the vent lid open without the fear of rain or other things such as dirt/dust from easily entering into the RV. I have Maxxair covers on my RV and I have never worried about the lids being open anytime of the year. I also recommend that you use vent stuffers as well. The add some thermal protection for the RV in hot or cold conditions. The are probably more valuable in the summer time.
Thoroughly check the entire roof and everything on it for potential leaks and repair as needed. Only use products for the roof that are made for RV roofs. Sometimes RV'ers use products that are not made for RV's and the potential to ruin the roof is great. Check everything on the roof and the roof edges and make sure to take your time and seal/repair every potential leak.
For more details on Maintaining Rubber Roofs Check Out the 3 Part Podcast about Roofs.
On the Ground: Now that we are off the roof you will need to check everything else for potential leaks. That would include clearance lights, compartment doors, water entries, range vents, cable hatches, windows, specialty trim and anything else that has the potential to cause water damage. Be suspect of any possible leak. It could be years before the damage rears it's ugly head and now it is a repair job and not just a simple maintenance step.
Batteries: There is much debate on how to maintain batteries while in storage and in order to cut through the minutia I went to Interstate Batteries to get the straight scoop. I also found a really good resource online as well. This link will take you to the podcast I did just on batteries. Listen Now to Episode 44 about Battery Storage.
Tires: Keep the tires aired up to the maximum tire pressure that is recommended by the manufacturer of the tire.
For tips about tire maintenance Click Here!
Wrapping it Up For Winter: The last thing to do is determine if there are any repairs that need to be done now or can wait. If any need to be done make a list and do them now or wait and keep the list in the RV for springtime. A repair that could wait could be an Awning Fabric that is going bad and you your not going to be using it and it can wait until spring time. The main thing is to have your list made out and either knock the jobs out now or wait. If you wait and are having a service center do the work keep in mind that they can be really busy in the spring with long waiting periods to get your RV in to repair it. Plan for this in advance.