Winterizing your RV for Cold Weather

Winterizing your RV Articles from Crabtree RV Center

Winterizing your RV for Cold Weather

When it comes to the winter months, it is important to make sure that your RV is prepared, so when you pull it out during the Springtime, you are ready to go. You want to make sure you winterize your trailer or camper to ensure that nothing breaks or gets damaged due to the cold. Crabtree RV Center is here to help you with some tips below on how to properly do this. Located in Alma serving the areas Fayetteville, AR, Russellville, AR, Poteau, OK, Fort Smith, AR, and Van Buren, Arkansas, we help any RV owner that comes on our lot.


The first step to winterizing your RV is to drain most of the water out of your plumbing, so start with your fresh water tank. Your fresh water tank can be emptied most anywhere, but you’ll need to head over to a dump station to empty your black and grey tanks. Drain your black tank, and then give it a rinse using a black tank flush or a black tank wand hose attachment. Since you’ll likely be storing your RV over the winter you’ll want to make sure you get your black tank as clean as you can. After you empty and flush your black tank drain your gray water tank. Next your water heater will need to be drained. Make sure your water heater is cool, and not pressurized when you empty the tank. Open the pressure relief valve at the top of the tank, then pull the drain plug to allow the tank to drain out. Close the valve and replace the plug when you’re done. As a quick note here, with your water heater tank emptied you may want to remove the heating element. If your water heater kicks on while the tank is empty, it will burn out the element and force you to get a replacement next season, so it’s best to either flip off the breaker to the water heater, or simply remove the heating element altogether.

Now you’ll need to empty out the rest of your plumbing, which will be faster if you open the taps in your RV. After you’ve got your faucets open crawl under your RV and find the low point drain plug. Pull the plug (or plugs, depending on the size of your RV) and allow the water to drain. Replace the plugs when you’re done, and make sure you close all of your faucets.

The Water Heater Bypass

Newer RVs make this step easy, as many modern motorhomes and trailers have a pre-installed water heater bypass system, if this is the case for you, then all you need to do is flip one or two valves and you’re all set. If you don’t have a water heater bypass installed, come in and see our RV parts and service department and we can help set you up with a kit you can install yourself, or take care of it for you.

Technically you can winterize your RV without bypassing the water heater, but this is pretty wasteful, as you have to fill the entire water heater with antifreeze before it can reach your hot water lines, which can use more than triple the normal amount of antifreeze you need and takes much longer.


To pump the antifreeze into your RV, you’ll need to first locate your water pump. If you don’t already know where your water pump is, the easiest way to do this is by turning the pump on and listening for it. Your water pump may be hidden behind or beneath a panel in your RV, and may require you to do some minor disassembly. When you’ve located your water pump hook up a water pump conversion kit (snap the inlet hose into the inlet side of your pump) and insert the inlet hose into a jug of RV antifreeze. Turn on your water pump, and go to the faucet closest to the pump. Open the cold water tap and allow it to flow until you see a steady stream of the pink antifreeze draining out, then close the cold water valve and open the hot, again waiting for a steady stream of antifreeze before closing it tightly. Move to the next closest valve, and repeat the process. Continue to move through the RV allowing antifreeze to reach a each of your faucets, and don’t forget about your shower, or your exterior shower! Keep an eye on your antifreeze and swap it out for a fresh jug if you start running out. Toilets should be ‘flushed’ until you get a solid flow of antifreeze there as well. When all of your toilets, showers, and faucets are winterized, shut off the water pump.

Reconnect your water pump, and take your remaining antifreeze with you. Pour a cup of antifreeze down each drain, and flush a cup down each toilet. Open a single faucet to ensure that your pipes are no longer pressurized, and then double check to make sure all of your faucets are closed securely.

Finishing touches

Go to your city water hookup and remove the filter screen for a moment, push your finger in to depress the check valve, then replace the screen and close the cap.

If you have other water using appliances in your RV, those will need to be winterized individually. This may mean your fridge, if it has an ice maker, or your washer/dryer if you’re in a larger extended stay RV. Consult your owner’s manual to winterize these products, or come in and see our service department for some help.

No matter what you may have questions about, Crabtree RV Center and our staff are here to help you find out everything you need to take care of your RV. Don’t feel like doing it yourself? Our service department is ready to help you get it done right. We are located in Alma serving the areas Fayetteville, AR, Russellville, AR, Poteau, OK, Fort Smith, AR, and Van Buren, Arkansas, Stop by our RV dealership today and let us assist you!

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