How to Prepare Your RV for Winter
28 October 2020
Not sure whether to drive to warmer climates or to stay for the winter? On one hand, RVing in the winter is a great way to experience your favorite winter sports and activities. On the other, the idea of keeping your RV warm in the winter is intimidating.
Intimidating though it may be, with proper preparation a snowy winter in your RV can be a fun and comfortable experience. We have got you covered with a handy checklist to get you started. Each section includes more in depth resources for each topic.
A note: Preparation is key. If you do not have time to prepare your rig for winter, wait until next year for your first foray.
Purchase an RV Skirt
This protects the batteries, plumbing and other components from being damaged by the cold. If you do not want to purchase a skirt and there is enough snow, you can pile snow around the outside of your RV as recommended in RV Share.
- How to: rv-camping.com
Windows are one of the main ways your RV loses heat. Although making your RV windows double paned would help, it can be expensive and may void your warranty, writes RV Blogger. Fortunately, there are many products that can be fitted to the inside of your windows to prevent heat loss.
- How to: RV Blogger has a good guide on how to do a variety of window treatments including bubble wrap, insulated curtains, plexiglass window insulation and more.
- Foam insulation boards
- Bubble wrap insulation
- Solar blankets
Seal Doors, Windows and Roof
Ensure your RV windows and doors are weather-proof by going over them with a layer of RV sealant or caulk. Check all over your RV for damage, cracks or anything that needs replacing. - How to:
Protect Pipes and Tanks
Unprotected pipes can burst in sub-zero temperatures, leaving you with a huge mess to clean up in the cold. To avoid this, wrap pipes and invest in a heated RV water hose. Tanks must never freeze. For the plumbing and grey/black tanks, you can add RV antifreeze by flushing it down the toilet and pouring it down the drains. There are also tank heaters for purchase if your RV does not have that built in. Some RVers completely drain their fresh water tanks for the winter so they do not have to keep them from freezing.
- Uncharted Supply Co recommends pouring 1-2 quarts of RV antifreeze down the sink drain and shower drain. Also pour 1-2 quarts down the toilet. The antifreeze will get diluted as you add more water through usual use so make sure to add more antifreeze continuously throughout your camping trip.
- Koa recommends applying heat strips to the freshwater hose and sewer hose, as well as around valves and connections most at risk of freezing.
Many rigs have a couple different methods of heating the inside of the RV. RV Share explains how to know which heating system to use at what time:
“Many rigs have both a “heat pump” that’s built into the rooftop unit and an onboard furnace that uses propane. How do you know which one is appropriate to use? The answer is simple: if it’s falling under 45 degrees or so, you’ll want to switch to your RV’s furnace rather than the heat pump. Your HVAC system is only rated to warm the space down to a certain external temperature, and if you try to warm a freezing RV with the unit alone, you risk burning it out entirely.”
Make sure you have plenty of propane. You can also supplement the built in heaters with low wattage space heaters like this one.
Prevent Humidity and Condensation
The last thing you want is for all that heat in one place to cause mold because of all the humidity and condensation. For that reason, come up with an effective way of removing some of that moisture from the air inside your RV.
Preparing your RV for a winter stay is important but well worth it! With a properly equipped RV, you can enjoy all your favorite winter activities with as little discomfort as possible. In future articles, we will be outlining different winter prep projects in greater detail. Until then, happy trails!