RV Winter Storage Checklist: Tips and Tricks

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RV Winter Storage

Have you been driving around all summer long with your RV? Chances are, there is quite a bit of dust and grime accumulated all around your travel trailer. 

As winter comes around and you’re looking to store it away for the season, you’ll want to prepare your recreational vehicle for the downtime ahead. 

The Best Practices for Winterizing Your RV 

Are you preparing for the RV off-season? If so, follow these ten steps to properly winterize your RV. That way, it’s primed and ready for months of outdoor winter storage.

Wash Your RV’s Exterior 

After a long summer of outdoor adventuring, any seasoned RVer has seen their motorhome in a condition that borders between dirty and absolutely filthy. 

Before you do anything else, you’ll need to give your big rig a thorough scrub. Luckily, preparing your RV’s exterior for outdoor winter storage can be as simple as using mild soap and clean water. Your RV’s interior, however, will require much more preparation 

Deep Clean the Interior 

Prepping your RV interior for storage may be more physically demanding, but working through this RV interior cleaning checklist will offer some reassurance that you’ve covered all your bases. 

While giving the interior of your RV the royal cleaning treatment is a good start, cleaning alone won’t be enough. You’ll need to protect the interior of your RV from sun exposure, mildew, and unpleasant odors. 

To minimize sun exposure, close all windows, curtains, and blinds. You may also want to invest in RV sunshades or even an RV shade kit. 

As for mildew prevention, make sure everything is squeaky clean and that all perishables have been removed from your fridge and other storage spaces. 

It’s impossible to be completely odor-free come springtime, but draining water tanks and cleaning the pipes will help.

Drain the Water System

Draining out the water system in your RV is a crucial step in preparing your RV for the winter cold ahead. If you don’t drain out the water system of your RV, you run the risk of both bacteria build-up in the freshwater system, as well as the freezing and combustion of your RV’s water pipes. 

Although it depends on the specific model RV you have, some of the main steps required to drain out the water system of an RV include: 

  • Draining out the black and gray tanks as well as the water heater 
  • Opening interior and exterior faucets to remove excess water 
  • Pouring RV antifreeze throughout the plumbing system 

This is the DIY way to do it, but you can also get professional help for proper RV winterizing.

Remove Tires and Jack the RV Up (Optional) 

Sitting in one place for months at a time will create flat spots on your RV tires. If your tires develop flat spots, your only option will be to replace the entire tire, come spring. 

Use jacks and blocks to keep the pressure off your tires and prevent a costly replacement. 

As an alternative, you can take your RV out for a spin once a month or so to keep the tires safe from pressure damage.

Ensure the Windows Are Sealed for Pest Prevention 

Critters scurrying around may seem harmless enough, but just wait until they chew their way into your RV. While cute, small woodland creatures can cause extreme damage to your RV by chewing through almost any material. 

You can protect your RV against these furry forces by sealing every possible entrance into the RV. Cover pipes, windows, vents, and any place where visible sunlight is seeping through the cracks.

Lightly-scented dryer sheets are as cheap as they are effective in deterring pests, so tuck a dryer sheet here and there to keep your RV a pest-free zone. You’ll save yourself hours of time and hundreds of dollars by practicing pest control beforehand.

Use a Winter RV Cover (Optional) 

Prepare your RV for outdoor winter storage by using a cover. This is one item you cannot overlook, especially when storing your RV outdoors. 

Invest the extra money into a custom RV cover, as covers not suited to your specific RV model won’t fit as snuggly and, therefore, won’t seal off moisture between the cover and your motorhome nearly as effectively.

When fitted correctly, RV covers will protect against UV rays, weathering, animal droppings, tree sap, cold weather, and more.

As a final precaution, secure your cover tightly, and don’t forget to cover the wheels too. 

Pick a Safe Spot For Your RV

Storing your RV outside means you won’t have walls and locks to protect it. If outdoor storage is your storage type of choice, you’ll need to be selective about where you choose to park it. 

For example, parking your RV in an abandoned field off a back road probably isn’t a safe choice. Parking your camper behind a locked fence, on a driveway, or in a residential unpaved lot are all superior options. 

If you don’t have room on your property for proper RV storage, try renting space from someone in your neighborhood.

Take the Battery Out (Optional) 

Winter temperatures are bad news for RV batteries. Keep your battery safe from weather-related damage by disconnecting it from your RV before storage. 

Store the battery somewhere climate-controlled and cool, like a basement. Be sure to check and recharge the battery every couple of months as needed to ensure it doesn’t die.

Use Fuel Stabilizer

Fill your fuel tank to maximum capacity before storage. Any empty space in the tank could lead to damage via condensation. Letting a full gas tank sit around for months isn’t exactly ideal, so add a fuel stabilizer. This will stop the gas from breaking down or becoming stale over the off-season. 

After adding the fuel stabilizer, run your RV for several minutes to ensure even dispersion. 

Add RV Antifreeze

Chances are, if you’re storing your RV for the winter, it’s because the temperature dips well below freezing for weeks at a time. This means you need to take precautions and prevent freeze-related damage in your water system. 

To do this, drain and clean your pipes and tanks. After that, run RV antifreeze through the whole system. Bypass your water heater to save yourself an extra 10 gallons of antifreeze.

Do Periodic Checks

Now that you’ve got your big rig ready and tucked away for the winter, don’t just leave it sitting there unattended for the entire winter season.

Even if you’ve followed every step on this list, there’s a chance something could go terribly wrong. You don’t want to open up your camper in the spring and find unpleasant surprises. 

Plan to perform a check-up at least once every couple of months.

Unsure of Where to Store Your RV? Rent a Storage Unit

If you’re still unsure about how safe outdoor RV winter storage is (even when it’s covered outdoor storage), then you may want to consider renting out an indoor unit in a storage facility. You will also want to check out the price ranges of the storage units, as these may vary depending on location.

RV winter storage facilities offer climate-controlled units to ensure that freezing temperatures and harsh weather don’t creep in and damage your RV. 

By spending the extra on indoor RV storage, you can protect your RV’s exterior, plumbing system, and water system for the long haul. 

Conclusion

Most RV owners will agree that knowing how to properly store your RV is key to good RV maintenance. 

Once your RV is out of storage, you’ll be ready to embark on new RV adventures. When spring has sprung, check out this RV travel guide

Additional Winterization Resources

Browse all our winterization guides:

 

 

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