Yes, You Can De-winterize your RV: Here is How

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the ice has thawed—do you know what that means? It’s time to de-winterize your RV!

The snow and ice have melted, temperatures are rising, and the sun is making its way out of hibernation—it’s finally spring! And, you’ve probably itching to take your recreational vehicle out for quite some time now. But before you get too excited, you’ll need to de-winterize your RV properly for warmer weather.

Winter is over? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While you could take your recreational vehicle to a service center, many choose to de-winterize the RV on their own. It’s not too difficult, but if you don’t follow the proper protocol you could end up discovering winter damages halfway through your first trip. Not ideal, to say the least.

So, without further ado, here’s some advice for a seamless de-winterizing process!

No more winter? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A quick note: Make sure you stay with your RV throughout the entire de-winterizing process. It will likely take the better part of a day but if you leave in the middle of the task you might come back to an unintended swimming pool in your beloved RV.

Charge Your Batteries

When de-winterizing your RV, you’ll want to check your batteries for any wear and tear, including cracks that may have developed from frozen water. Batteries lose power in cold weather so it’s likely they’ll need to be charged and reconnected to your RV.

Prep your RV for spring travel © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Propane Power

Next step, propane power!

To start, make sure everything is turned off when testing the propane system. Then, open the valve about ¼ of an inch and check for any propane leaks by smelling the inside of the RV or by putting a soapy sponge by the connectors to see if any air bubbles appear. Assuming that you don’t find a leak, test your gas appliances and let them run for a few minutes. (It may take several minutes or more for the gas to work its way through the lines). If things shut off, try turning them back on—there may be air pockets in the line that just need to be pushed out.

Once inside the RV, also check for any water damage (this doesn’t have to do with propane but its good practice regardless). Inspect all vents and the areas surrounding the AC unit which tend to receive the most water damage. Finally, look inside cabinets and closed spaces—there may be some unwanted critters that snuck their way into your RV.

Prep your RV for spring travel © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Flush the Water System

The most important step to de-winterizing your RV is prepping the water system for use. When it comes to winterizing your RV, you probably followed one of two methods: using an air compressor to get all the water out of the vehicle or adding non-toxic antifreeze to your tank to ensure no water turned to ice over the cold winter months.

If you went the air compressor route, you won’t have to deal with draining antifreeze and can move along to prepping the water heater. If you did add antifreeze, you’ll have to make sure it’s out of your drains and into your holding tanks before you sanitize the system.

Prep your RV for spring travel © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For the anti-freezers, connect your water hose to a fresh potable water supply and fill your tank. Then, run water through every faucet, both hot and cold. You’ll also want to test toilets, showers, the refrigerator’s ice machine, and dishwasher during this time. Once the color from the antifreeze is gone and you have clear water, you can turn off the water supply drain pressure from the system using low point drains. At this point, you can install all filters back into the system that you removed during the winterization process.

If your coach is equipped with a water heater, you’ll need to install a drain plug, open the water heater valves, and close the by-pass valve on the water heater. This ensures that your antifreeze doesn’t get into your hot water tank. Turn on the fresh water supply, open the hot water faucet until the water heater is filled, turn on your faucet, and wait until the water flows through without any air.

Prep your RV for spring travel © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Now, We Sanitize!

Next, sanitize the RV water system by using a household bleach-water mixture (roughly a quarter-cup of household bleach for every 15 gallons of water that your fresh water tank holds) and flushing it through your water system.

Prep your RV for spring travel © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

First, make sure all drains are closed (for obvious reasons). Next, fill the tank with the sanitizing mixture, turn on the pump, run it through the hot and cold faucets, close the faucets, and let it sit for at least three hours. Drain the bleach mixture, refill your fresh water tank with potable water, and flush out the system to get rid of any remaining bleach (no one wants to drink bleach water).

Finally, check your holding tank levels and dump excess waste if necessary at a suitable waste disposal site.

Not the way to care for your tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check Your Tires

During the harsh winter months, your tires may have taken a beating. Check for any cracks or irregular bumps, and use a tire pressure gauge to measure the psi. (Check your user’s manual for recommended psi or utilize your RV’s tire-pressure monitoring system).

Worth Pondering…

My parents live in the part of the United States that is Canada. It is so far north that Minnesota lies in the same direction as Miami. They have four distinct seasons: Winter, More Winter, Still More Winter, and That One Day of Summer.

—W. Bruce Cameron

Prep Your RV for Summer Travel

The weather is getting warmer and summer will soon be here

Now is the time to start planning your summer travels. But prior to booking a campsite, owners of recreational vehicles should perform some basic and routine maintenance to ensure that their road trip goes smoothly. Preventative measures and maintenance will reduce the risk of problems.

It is a much better to take care of any problems while at home rather than having to deal with costly repairs while on the road. Trouble-free camping makes for happy camping.

Plug it in and turn it on © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plug it In – Turn it On

After taking the RV out of winter storage, plug it in to shore power, turn on the LP gas, and connect to city water to ensure that all electric and propane appliances function normally and there is no evidence of water leaks. Also run the air conditioning units and furnace, turn on the refrigerator and freezer, start the water heater, and power up the generator and run with a full load.

Connect to city water © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check and Double Check

Top off the fluid levels in your batteries, check all hoses and belts for cracking, and all fluid levels on a motorized RV. Also check the converter and/or inverter for proper voltage. Check the headlights and turn signals. Take a look at all your hitch and towing equipment. Check fire extinguishers, smoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector, and propane sensor.

Turn on the refrigerator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kick the Tires

Check the age of the tires—RV tires usually age out before they wear out.

Hook up the sewer and flush the tanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check that all tires are properly inflated. Improperly inflated tires means more money for fuel. Under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by up to 4 percent, according to International Energy Agency. Proper inflation also reduces the incidence of tire failure and blowout.

Or drive to the nearest dump station © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you have a travel trailer or fifth wheel trailer you may need to pack wheel bearings.

Clean the tires and rims and inspect them for evidence of any splits or cracks in the sidewalls and weatherization damage.

Not the way to care for tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jack it Up

Regardless of your RV type, check the jacks and leveling systems, the awnings, crank and run the generator and service if required.

Open awnings and check for frayed or ripped material. Remove stains and mildew with special awning cleaner and allow awning to dry before rolling back up. Check hardware for functionality and replace as needed.

Keep the RV clean © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keep it Clean

Regular cleaning of a recreational vehicle is essential for its maintenance and to ensure the longevity of your RV especially after a long winter in storage. Cleaning starts with your RV roof, because whatever lands on your roof eventually ends up everywhere else on the RV. Always exercise extreme care when working on the roof of an RV, especially when wet.

Cleaning starts with the RV roof © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When inspecting the roof look for tears or holes. Beware of small slices that can allow water intrusion. Get any holes or slices repaired immediately.

Look for peeling, cracking, or openings in the sealants and if found should be cleaned, dried, and resealed.

Cleaning includes the side mirrors…oops, a late snow fall © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Next clean the front of the RV including side mirrors, the side walls, and back using a quality RV wash such as McGuire’s. The safest and easiest way to reach the upper part of the RV is with an extension pole system.

Pay special attention to the seams where the wall joints, storage bay doors, marker lights, and appliance outlets are found. Remove dirt, bugs, tar, and other road residue from the surface of your RV.

Finally, it’s time to wax the beast © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Inspect the side walls and around windows and doors for cracks or voids in the seams and seals. Scrape and reseal any affected areas with the appropriate sealant.

After a general clean with the soap and water it’s time to wax the beast with a quality product such as McGuire’s Wash and Wax.

Worth Pondering…

The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.

—Ben Stein

Is Your RV Road Ready?

Are you and your RV ready for a brand new camping season?

There’s something magical about a summer road trip. And it’s a standby in literature and movies—from John Steinbeck’s classic Travels with Charley to Smokey and the Bandit.

Much has changed in RVs over the years © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Times have certainly changed since Steinbeck and his dog Charley made their way across the country 54 years ago. But one thing hasn’t changed: A summer road trip is still the best way to see America, see its natural wonders, national parks, historic sites, and big-name tourist attractions.

But RVers still travel with and pamper their pets © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Hitting the open road can be the highlight of any spring or summer camping expedition but don’t let preventable maintenance issues put a damper on your vacation.

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance includes inspection of the entire unit from top to bottom on a regular basis © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Preventive maintenance is designed to prevent or identify potential problems that could lead to mechanical breakdown, malfunction, or failure of a component or system. Don’t confuse this with regularly scheduled maintenance (SEE below).

Inspect all the roof and window seals of your RV and reseal any that are showing signs of damage or aging.

Washing and waxing your rig on a regular basis is an important part of preventive maintenance © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Check awnings for damage, mildew, and insects.

Examine the hitch system for wear, loose bolts, and cracks.

Check for cracks in hoses and fan belts and replace if necessary.

Check all lights. Make sure headlights, fog lights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals are all functioning properly.

Preventive maintenance includes the interior of the rig © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Preventive maintenance applies to the RV interior as well as the exterior. Stains become more difficult to remove when vinyl or leather is allowed to become dry.

Scheduled Maintenance

Schedule maintenance as required by the owner’s manuals © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Scheduled or routine maintenance is performed in intervals normally based on time, mileage, or hours.

Note: It is absolutely essential that you read your owner’s manual and warranty information in regards to who is responsible for what when it comes to scheduled maintenance. Adhere to the service schedule outlined in the manual. Scheduled maintenance that is required by the manufacturer and not performed can void your warranty.

Safety Alarms

Maintenance includes ensuring that all safety features are operational at all times © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Check Smoke, LPG, and Carbon Monoxide alarms for proper operation and replace batteries as needed.

Battery Care

See y’all down the road and happy and SAFE RVing © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Check the water level in your batteries monthly. Remove the vent caps and look inside the fill wells. Check the electrolyte levels. The minimum level required for charging the battery is at the top of the plates. When you add water, use only distilled water and fill the cell to 1/8 inch below the fill well. Also remove any corrosion on the connections with a wire brush and baking soda/water solution.

Tire Maintenance

Not the way to care for your tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Tire manufacturers stress that there are four main considerations concerning tire care:

  • Proper air pressure should be maintained
  • Under-inflated tires can cause handling problems, increased tire wear, and even sudden tire failure
  • And don’t just check the pressure at the start of the season, but every time you are heading out
  • Age of the tires: RV tires usually age out before they wear out; tires should be inspected annually, especially after the first five to six years, regardless of the mileage

Emergency Road Service

A quality road service plan provides peace of mind for problems that occur down the road © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Even with the best preparation, issues can still arise with your RV, so it’s a good idea to sign up for a roadside assistance plan.

Like any insurance plan, Emergency Road Service is an investment that you hope you’ll never need. But if you spend much time on the road, sooner or later you’ll have a breakdown.

See y’all down the road and happy and SAFE RVing © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Excellent plans are available from CoachNet and AAA.

Your plan should provide coverage for emergency gas/fuel, lockout service, tire changes, and jump-starts. These services should be available no matter where you travel. Think about your needs and ensure that your emergency assistance plan will meet them. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does my plan cover all vehicles that we normally travel with: motorhome, toad, trailer?
  • Does my plan include a lodging allowance if we aren’t able to stay in our RV?
  • Am I covered in the U.S. and Canada?
  • Does my plan have an upper limit? A deductible?
  • What hoops do I have to jump through to get reimbursed if I have to pay cash for service?
See y’all down the road and happy and SAFE RVing © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Shop around. Match your plan to your needs and your budget—and you’ll drive with peace of mind this spring and summer.

See you down the road and Happy and Safe RVing!

See y’all down the road and happy and SAFE RVing © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Worth Pondering…

Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.

—Fitzhugh Mullan