How to Prepare Your RV For Winter

Photo by on

It’s never fun to call it quits on camping season. Some of us even experience what we call “the winterization blues,” a mild to severe case of gloominess that can linger until the rig gets reopened in the spring. But for many RVers, whether they like it or not, camping season does come to an end, and winterization is a sad reality.

Our best bet is to take some precautions and do it right. Here are six quick tips to show your RV some winter love and make sure she is ready to hit the road come spring.

Empty the cupboards and medicine cabinets

Get all food and liquid items out of the RV! This includes hand soaps, toothpaste, shaving cream, and the like. These bathroom items can freeze and crack in the winter, leaving a sloppy mess in the spring when they melt. A friend of ours ruined the medicine cabinet one winter by leaving a tube of shaving cream in a dark corner of the bathroom. Don’t Do It!

Vacuum until it hurts

People tend to be gifted at getting crumbs into every imaginable nook and cranny of a RV. When it’s time to shut down the shop, make your RV as critter proof as possible. That means getting down on your hands and knees and working that vacuum until your back hurts. Follow up with a wet mop for good measure.

Scrub that fridge

Your RV refrigerator can get all kinds of nasty during the winter months, but not if you scrub it until it shines. Leftover food residue will get moldy and make your fridge look a middle school science experiment. Propping open the fridge and freezer doors is also a must if you don’t want a nasty surprise come spring.

Protect your RV plumbing system

Water is your RV’s worst enemy during winter storage, so make sure to get it all out of your tanks and fill them with antifreeze. If you are not confident with this relatively easy process then we suggest having your RV winterized by a local dealer or mobile RV repair service. This will only cost around $100.00. If you prefer to do it yourself, make sure you follow the instructions of your dealer or manufacturer, since each RV has different requirements. If you are not in a cold climate, we’d suggest that you at least drain all your lines and tanks.

Cover your tires

We always cover our RV tires when we are setting still for a few days and always covered them during the off season before we became Full-time RVers. It is a very important stop that is a simple and inexpensive precaution. RV tires can look healthy to the eye and have excellent tread, but extensive exposure to the sun can degrade the rubber and cause weather cracking.

Buy a quality RV cover and use it

When we bought our first RV, the salesmen recommended using a good quality cover for the RV during the winter. He suggested that we purchase a cover that would repel water BUT it allowed it to breathe so mold would not grow. We didn’t really want to spend the extra money but we did it anyway. However, the good quality cover, that the RV salesman recommended, tore very quickly. So, we can not personally recommend a specific brand or type of cover. We’d suggestion getting on the RV forums to ask others what they use so you can learn from others personal experiences.

Now that you have your beloved memory-making machine to bed for the winter, it is critical to keep the winterization blues at arm’s length. We have a tip for that as well…start planning your next great RV adventure!

Living in a RV during Winter – No Running Water – The Generator Died

As full-time RVers & gate guards in Texas, we work in remote locations and run off a diesel generator, use a portable freshwater tank and an external tank to dump our tanks into.  Well, the Polar Vortex hit the state of Texas hard.  Parts have seen snow & freezing rain that have not seen this type of weather for years.  Since this is not a normal occurrence in Texas, many people and companies have been caught off guard.  The rolling black outs, water in cities shut off trying to conserve so that everyone can have access to the items we just take for granted.  When I wake up in the morning I like to jump right into the shower. 

Well…with the Polar Vortex took that luxury (?) away from Ed and me.  Our water, we hope, is frozen at our portable freshwater tank and we have not split pipes inside our RV.  We initially did the “water circulation” method that had been recommended to us.  Ed found the water had stopped so when investigating he found a piece in our freshwater connection had broken causing the water not to circulate.  Well yes, the part was broken however after Ed did the repair, thinking we were good, the water froze in the hoses.  The “water circulation” method did not work.  Possibly it would have if the temps had not dropped so severely.  But then we decided to fill our fresh tank and run off our RV fresh tank until the temps warmed up.  Approximately every 30 minutes we would run our water to keep things moving inside the RV hoping not to freeze the pipes.  Well, when doing that, I think, well we hope, that our RV freshwater tank ran out.  Our gauge reads empty, so we are hoping and praying that it is true and that the cold temps have not turned our tank into a block of ice. 

Ed removed the plug from the freshwater tank, drained our hot water heater and opened all faucets to remove any excess water in the lines.  We are hoping once the outside temps get above freezing, we will find the external freshwater tank was the issue & our pipes and tanks are fine.

It is interesting and challenging BUT what has come out of this situation so far, Ed said; oh, heck now, I know we can boondock.  Gotta love him.  Now warm up so we can go boondock on a warm beach.

At our second day, during my shift, I woke Ed up early because our commercial generator, that is provided by the company we are working with, started surging.  Since we grew up in Iowa, we knew what the cold weather does to diesel if not a winter blend and/or anti-gel put into the fuel.  Yep yep our generator was gelling up and shut down.  We thought our company support man had put anti-gel in the fuel, but he had not.  Our support came from Fort Worth, which is approximately a 3-hour drive but considering the road conditions it took him a few more hours to arrive.  During that time Ed was able to get our personal generator running so we could run the furnace and portable heaters. Our support arrived with anti-gel and additional fuel filters.  Thankfully, it did not take our support and Ed long to get it running again.  Cross our fingers as I type this, the generator is running fine and we are warm. 

After I (Dora) got 4 hours of sleep, we got permission from the site supervisor to leave our gate unsupervised, go to town to refill our propane tanks and find a truck stop to shower.  The 2nd day of no shower sure makes a person feel yucky.  It was difficult to find propane as many companies were out.  Luckily, we found one place that had not run out yet.  As Ed states in the video, we believe they changed an outrageous amount, but he had us.  We needed propane.

Once our propane tanks were filled, we decided to go to Walmart to get more gallons of water.  Boy oh boy were we shocked when the shelves were empty.  They had flavored waters but who wants flavored water to use to flush with or in your coffee.  We left empty handed but felt ok because we can use a bucket to get water to fill gallon containers out of our external freshwater tank.

After leaving Walmart empty handed, we sat in the parking lot calling several hotels to see if we could rent a room OR if a pool area had a shower so we could get cleaned up.  That too was a bust.  The cheapest shower was going to be $120 because we had to rent a room.  Well, my budget, or anyone’s budget, should not allow a $120.00 shower.  We started calling campgrounds to see if we could pay them for 2 showers.  Our first call was met with a genuinely nice southern woman.  We explained our situation and she said, oh yes dear, the showers need renovated yet but your more than welcome to stop in and get your showers at no cost.  Yes, they were not the best condition, but the water was HOT.  Ed and I both felt like a million bucks.  A big shout out to Miss Ellie’s RV Park in Waskom, TX!

During our drive back to the job site we enjoy some beautiful scenery AND a few deer.  The ride back was wonderful.  I guess a good shower can give you a new lease of life.  #itsagoodliferv  Since this video is in real time.  I guess we will see how much longer before the crew gets back to work and we have running water.