RV Advice

8 Easy Steps to Winterizing Your RV Plumbing System

September 22, 2023

8 Easy Steps to Winterizing Your RV Plumbing System

The end of fall generally marks the end of the camping season. It is the time to reminisce about all the fun and exciting moments spent with friends and family and start planning next year’s epic excursions. A large part of this planning process includes winterizing your RV. RV water lines are highly susceptible to freezing temperatures. If they are not properly winterized, issues like holes and cracks can develop and compromise your RV’s operation. In areas where winter temperatures drop significantly, it is crucial to safeguard these regions to ensure your vehicle is ready to roll when warmer weather returns.

Here is a concise guide to what winterizing your RV with antifreeze will look like:

  1. Drain tanks and water heater.
  2. Open all faucets and low-point drain lines.
  3. Bypass the water heater.
  4. Connect antifreeze to the water pump.
  5. Pressurize and run antifreeze through faucets.
  6. Flush the toilet and pour antifreeze into the drains.
  7. Repeat for every faucet.
  8. Consult manuals for additional appliances.

Keep reading for a more detailed step-by-step instruction on winterizing your RV plumbing system.

Why Is It Important to Winterize Your RV’s Plumbing System?

Your RV’s plumbing system consists of various unique components, from its tank and pumps to hoses and fixtures. These locations are constantly filled with water used to flush toilets, power showers and fill sinks. When temperatures start to drop, this system is extremely vulnerable to damage. Water expands when it freezes, which can cause these parts to crack and lead to leaky pipes and burst lines. Winterizing your RV replaces this water with antifreeze, which remains a liquid despite cold weather.

Items You’ll Need to Successfully Winterize Your RV

There are tons of RV repair facilities out there you can turn to for help, but you are more than capable of winterizing your vehicle yourself. RV owners often wonder how much antifreeze they will need to use. Typically, the quantity of non-toxic RV antifreeze required ranges from two to three gallons. The exact amount depends on your RV’s plumbing lines’ length and layout.

Before getting started prepping your RV for winter, you will have to gather a few other materials first. Here is what you will need:

  • Water heater by-pass kit
  • Cleaning wand
  • Water pump converter kit
  • Tubing
  • Basic hand tools

RV Winterizing Steps

Make sure you flip through your owner’s manual to learn more about the specific winterizing steps you will have to take for your specific RV brand and model. Once you do that, you will be ready to tackle the following steps to successfully store your RV for winter:

  1. Drain tanks and water heater: Remove your inline water filters and bypass them before draining. Once ready, drain your freshwater holding tank and water heater and flush out gray and black water tanks.
  2. Open and drain faucets: Use your water pump to empty faucets and low-point water drain lines. Recap all drains and close the faucets when done.
  3. Bypass the water heater: Bypass the water heater to prevent wasting six to 10 gallons of antifreeze.
  4. Connect antifreeze to the water pump: Install a water pump converter kit and connect tubing to the water pump and a one-gallon jug of RV antifreeze.
  5. Pressurize the system: Turn on the water pump to pressurize the system.
  6. Start close: Beginning with the pump’s nearest faucet, open hot and cold valves until pink-colored antifreeze appears.
  7. Repeat for every faucet: Repeat the process on all faucets, starting with the closest to the farthest. Don’t forget the outside shower. Close the taps when finished.
  8. Protect your drains: Pour a cupful of antifreeze down each drain and add some to the toilet and flush into the holding tank to prevent any water from freezing. Turn off your water heater’s electric heating element for additional protection in storage.

Additional RV Winter Protection Tips

Safeguarding your RV for winter storage goes further than just your plumbing system. Consider the following RV winterization tips:

  • Invest in a specially designed RV cover.
  • Cover your tires.
  • Add fuel stabilizer to your gasoline.
  • Remove batteries and store them in a cool location.
  • Inspect and repair the exterior.
  • Clean the interior and lay down pest traps.

Now that your unit is winterized, you will be ready to hit the road without unpleasant and expensive issues. If you want to stay at a campground during your trip, check out Kampgrounds of America’s nationwide site offerings for an unforgettable RV camping experience.

About the Author: Kampgrounds of America

Kampgrounds of America is the largest system of open-to-the-public campgrounds in the world, with over 500 locations across the United States and Canada. Founded in Billings, MT in 1962, KOA’s family of campground brands – KOA Journey, KOA Holiday and KOA Resort – today serve more than a million camping families each year. KOA is dedicated to “connecting people to the outdoors and each other” by providing people with a variety of camping experiences and the information they need to make the most of their camping trip. Read more of their camping and travel resources by visiting KOA.com/blog.


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