Winter Prep

Simple steps to get your RV ready for winter.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

Hunting season is winding down, and as northern waters freeze over, many sportsmen start thinking about putting their RVs into storage. But before you do, take these simple steps to winterize your RV. It will save you some major hassles (and possibly expensive repairs) next spring.

Antifreeze Up: Completely empty the water system using the rig's built-in, low-point drains, and unscrew the drain plug from the water heater. You can blow the remaining water from the system with an air chuck adapter that allows you to connect an air hose to the rig's water fill fitting. Another option is to buy a couple of gallons of RV-style, freshwater-system, potable antifreeze. Pump it through the plumbing using the rig's built-in winterizing hose and run each faucet until the pink antifreeze appears. If the RV has no winterizing fitting, dump the antifreeze in the freshwater tank and use the water pump.

Prep for Pests: Plug small external openings with coarse steel wool to keep rodents and insects from getting inside through the furnace exhaust, water heater exhaust, hose or electrical cord access hatches and similar openings. Don't forget to remove the steel wool come spring! Wrapping the rooftop air conditioner and refrigerator vent housing with plastic tarps will also deter small invaders. In the interior, sprinkle a handful of mothballs inside cabinets and storage compartments to help keep critters out.

Check the Fridge: Check for any perishable foods forgotten in the cabinets. Left undetected, they'll make a mess and attract rodents.

Thoroughly clean the refrigerator with a mild disinfectant or a bleach-and-water solution to prevent mold and foul smells. Prop the refrigerator and freezer doors open to maintain air circulation. fill the tank: If the rig is a motor home, run the fuel tank nearly empty, then top it up right before the coach goes goes into storage. A full tank leaves less trapped air in the tank, which can cause condensation and rust. When filling up, add the proper amount of gasoline or diesel stabilizer such as Sta-Bil (available from an auto-parts store) to preserve the fuel and avoid deterioration problems.

Remove the Battery: Take the battery out, clean it thoroughly and store it inside where it's not subject to freezing. Store the battery in a fully charged state to keep it in better condition.

It's also not a bad idea to buy an inexpensive trickle-charge "battery maintainer" designed for long-term battery storage that you can leave plugged in and connected.

Cover Up: If your rig is going to be stored outdoors for the winter, cover the roof with a waterproof tarp. Crack open the roof vents to help maintain air circulation and deter mildew growth. If the tarp is large enough to stretch down the sides, crack open a window or two as well.