Tips for Preparing the RV for Storage
It’s that time of the year again. As summer comes to an end, so does RV season for many people. But, before you hang up the keys for another winter, check out this guide to ensure you properly prepare your RV for hibernation. How you prep and store the RV greatly affects its longevity and ensures that everything is ready and operational for the following spring. Shorelooksnice and Road & Home have partnered up to come up with a conclusive checklist, with a conclusive checklist, including winterization, maintenance, and as an added bonus, top tips from.
If you’re planning to continue RVing through the winter, be sure to look out for our post in October for our top tips on staying comfortable through the winter in an RV.
The most important part of preparing the RV for storage is proper winterization. This protects all of your plumbing systems from freezing temperatures.
Even if the RV is stored in a warm climate like Florida, it’s still a good idea to winterize because you never know when freak weather conditions will strike.
One time, my wife and I were RVing in Southern Arizona and flew out for a week to visit Danielle’s family. With the RV in storage but not winterized, there was a random winter storm with near-record lows. Our water filter burst from the ice expanding, but a few quick precautions would have avoided that mistake.
How to winterize your camper
- Disconnect the outside water source.
- Empty all tanks and drain as much of the water out as possible.
- Drain the water heater.
- Defrost the freezer and refrigerator.
- Blow out the lines using an air compressor.
- Optional: pump anti-freeze into the water lines as an extra step in case all of the water wasn’t blown out with the air compressor.
- Pour anti-freeze into all sink and shower drains and the toilet.
- Consult your manual for any other systems that need winterization like a dishwasher or washing machine.
- Top off the fuel tank and add a fuel stabilizer.
- Disconnect the batteries and store them where they won’t freeze.
Now that the RV is prepped and ready to take on winter’s freezing temperatures, it’s time to check some other maintenance items off the list. The RV will hibernate for up to 6 months, so it’s best to go that extra step to keep your investment in tip-top shape. Let’s start with the exterior.
Preparing the RV exterior:
- While it’s best to keep the RV in an enclosed storage unit, a covered concrete pad or a breathable RV cover are good alternatives. This protects the RV from the harsh winter elements and from sap, bird droppings or debris that could damage the roof
- Whether inside or out, make sure the RV sits on a dry surface, not sitting in mud or on asphalt. This protects the integrity of the tires.
- If storing the RV outside, cover the tires and lower the shades.
- Inspect the engine air filter and A/C filters to see if replacement is needed before next season.
- Deploy all of your awnings to make sure they are clean and completely dry.
- Check inside each cabinet and along each corner, crack and crevice for water damage.
- Check for cracks in the roof, caps or lap sealant.
- Check the tire pressure and tread for signs of leaks or aging.
- While the tanks are already empty for the winter, it’s a good idea to go ahead and
give them a good cleaning.
- Check the preventative maintenance guide and follow any recommendations.
- Spray all locks and hinges with a lubricant to keep them from getting stiff or plugged up.
- Lubricate the slide-out seals and mechanism.
- Check operation of all exterior lights.
- Clean the roof and outside very thoroughly. Anything stuck on the paint will be even harder to get off after it sits for a few months and could damage the paint.
- Put mothballs in the bays and cabinets to prevent mice from moving in.
- Check your hookups to make sure there haven’t been electrical surges that have damaged the connector.
Once the exterior is prepped and ready, it’s time to tackle the inside. No one wants a musty, dusty smell when you when you open up the rig in the spring. When we first purchased our RV, it hadn’t been touched for an entire winter. We stepped inside and a layer of dust covered everything, cobwebs were strewn all over, and that unmistakable musty smell permeated every cabinet. It took weeks for that smell to go away, so it’s best to avoid it in the first place.
A simple cleaning can do wonders to prevent this from happening to you. Break out that magic eraser and get to work! Clean until your shoulders hurt because any dirt or grime that’s there will be even harder to clean after months of sitting.
It’s also really important to remove everything from the RV. We once left a bottle of dish soap under the sink. Due to pressure fluctuations from changing temperatures, the bottom busted, and it leaked all over the cabinet. There’s nothing worse than opening up a cabinet in the spring only to find a sticky, leaking bottle of dish soap all over. On the plus side, the bottom of the cabinet was extra squeaky clean!
Preparing the RV interior:
- Empty the fridge and leave it open. Leave baking soda inside to absorb any odors.
- Do a thorough cleaning of all wet systems like the shower, toilet, sinks, and fridge. This will help prevent mold and mildew from forming.
- Clean all surfaces thoroughly to remove any food particles that could attract rodents.
- Leave all drawers and cabinet doors open to keep the air flowing.
Now that we’ve checked the major items off the list, you’re almost set! So far, we’ve covered everything from preparing your systems for freezing temperatures, taking care of preventative maintenance, and cleaning from the outside in. Now, here are some expert tips from other RVers:
- Schedule de-winterizing and repairs as far out as possible because mechanics and dealerships book up all summer long. Or, better yet, take care of that annoying sound or remodel in the winter so you don’t waste precious time in the summer.
- Make a list of everything currently wrong with the RV so that next season you’ll know if there is something new going on that you need to address and get checked out.
- Make sure all fluids are topped off including oil, coolant, and transmission fluid. That way, when you get it back out in the spring, you’ll know if you have any leaks you need to take care of.
- Set a reminder to exercise the engine and generator once per month on a 10-minute drive down the highway. The engine is the most expensive piece of equipment in the RV, and regular exercise keeps everything lubed and the seals from drying out. It also prevents flat spots from forming on your tires. Here is what to look for during the monthly exercise:
- Make sure to get the engine up to operating temperature.
- Run the dash A/C to keep the compressor lubricated.
- Run the generator and roof air conditioner to exercise them too.
- Check the transmission fluid.
- Check the drive belts for any signs of cracking.
- Check the tire pressure.
- When running the generator, make sure the A/C.
- Check coolant level and oil prior to starting the generator.
Follow these tips and guidelines to keep your RV in tiptop shape. This will maximize the amount of enjoyment you get out of your investment and avoid costly trips to the mechanic. Summer goes by fast and you want to spend as little time on repairs as possible.
If you stumble onto some needed repairs while you’re going through this seasonal process: Road & Home offers products for DIY Repairs. Save time and the hassle of heading into the dealership for repairs you could quickly and easily do yourself. Here’s a link to their site; you can find their products on Amazon, Lowe’s and Menards.
Just by taking a few extra steps to care for your RV, you can be sure to get the most enjoyment out of it for years to come.