For many, when the summer days start to turn cooler, it’s time to winterize the RV and call it a season. Sure, there might be one or two short trips in the early fall, you know, to tailgate at a football game or to see the leaves change, but for all intents and purposes, the RV won’t really see any use again until spring.
But then there are some of you hardcore RVers who think, “Winter? That’s not gonna ruin my RV experience. Have RV, will travel!” This information is for you.
Just as you have to prep your brick and mortar home and your personal vehicle for winter use, that goes double for your RV. It’s enough of a pain when your pipes freeze at home or your car gets stuck in a snow bank. It’s the beginning of a nightmare when either event happens in an RV. Following the tips below just might help you avoid living through those experiences.
Wrap Your Hoses
An RV has a lot of hoses that help make it livable and usable. These hoses have to be protected. Do not let them sit on the ground or in the snow. They will freeze and no matter what the hose is used for, this won’t be a good thing. Wrap all hoses with heat tape or insulation in order to keep them warm and in working order. Also, if you can get away without certain hoses, such as with the water intake, unplug and store them in a warm area. The less liquid you have to worry about freezing and possibly cracking a hose, the better.
Antifreeze Is Your Friend
You will want to use RV antifreeze (it’s pink), in all the necessary places during the winter. As a matter of fact, make sure all of your RV coolants and fluids are at the levels they need to be. It’s also a good idea to keep some extra on hand, just in case.
Insulate and Weatherproof
Check all the windows and doors and check for drafts; if you find a faulty seal, replace it. You should also re-caulk areas that show any evidence of insulation issues. You can replace older, less efficient windows with more efficient double pane windows if that’s an option or you can cut up pieces of insulation and fit them into the windows, skylights and door jambs. After you’ve insulated and weatherproofed your RV, your own breath and body heat will cause condensation to build up inside the vehicle. Adding a dehumidifier can help prevent the growth of mold and/or mildew.
Test Your Heat Source Before You Need It
Whether you’re going to heat the RV with electric or gas, knowing the heat source works before you need it is a good idea. Fire up the furnace and see if it heats quickly. If you think there might be an issue, get it serviced. Also, if your furnace runs on propane, make sure you know exactly where to go to get more and that it’s readily available in the winter. Don’t assume that because the campground is open all year that the supporting stores are as well. That could be a potentially disastrous assumption.
Insulate Your Refrigerator
The coolant in your fridge will turn into a gel in temperatures below 20 degrees. This could spell disaster for your fridge as that gel is impossible to remove once it makes its way into the coils. To keep this from happening, insulate your fridge vents leaving just one open. This will allow for air circulation, but not enough to cause damage.
You’ll also need to complete the more traditional preparations for winter that comes with driving a vehicle in the cold and snow. You will want to make sure your tires are at the right pressure and in good condition. Depending on where you plan to travel, you might want to consider getting new tires to match the terrain.
Although not directly related to the RV, packing enough warm clothing so you can add or remove layers as needed is a good idea too. Layering clothing will not only help you keep heating costs low, you’ll also have extra fabric in the RV in the event you need to plug up a hole that’s letting cold air in. And pets or not, don’t forget to keep a bag of cat litter on hand in the event that you do get snowed in or stuck – it comes in very handy by helping tires gain traction.
Preparing for RVing in the winter months takes some time and attention to more details than you might notice during the summer, but you’ll be glad you did it once you’re on the road. So, prepare, embark and enjoy the next few wintry months … the RV way.