How to Dewinterize a Camper

Last Updated on October 12, 2021 by Jessica

One of the best and most important things to know about owning an RV is how to dewinterize a camper. It’s awesome because it means that camping season is finally here! Properly dewinterizing your camper is the only thing that stands between you and getting back into the great outdoors.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at the simple steps you need to take to dewinterize your camper and hit the RV parks again. By following each step and doing precisely what it says, we’ll have you back to the campground in no time.

Every RV is different and has its own special quirks, but each of these steps will apply to almost any make and model of camper.

Check and Re-Check Your Tires

Checking your tires and making sure that they aren’t balding or flat is step one to getting back on the road. A flat or balding tire is the quickest way to ruin a camping weekend, so make sure that they are filled to the specified limit and in good condition.

Use a tire pressure gauge to make sure they have enough air in them. If your tires are under-inflated or over-inflated, it’s bad news for your next RV trip.

Make Sure Your Battery is Fully Charged

Next, you will want to use a voltmeter and check the charge level of your batteries. You will want to make sure that your batteries are fully juiced for moving slide-outs in and out and powering all of your battery-operated equipment.

This battery-operated equipment includes your lights, awning, power jacks, and trailer hitch, so you don’t want to be stuck without these important things ready to move.

Flush Your Water Pipes and Valves

If you or someone else properly winterized your RV, then you should have filled the water lines with a pink antifreeze fluid. To properly drain this without making a mess, start on the outside with an outdoor shower or another outdoor spigot. You will then have to go to each water fixture in your camper and open the hot and cold sides.

Make sure that each bathroom faucet, kitchen faucet, shower, and toilet is flushed and drained. After the pink fluid disappears, let the water run for several minutes to restore proper flow. Your faucets and showerhead may sputter at first, but a steady flow should occur within several minutes.

It might seem like a lot to do, but you need to make sure you winterize your RV this way, so you can keep it safe throughout the winter.

Fill Your Propane Tanks and Check for Leaks

If you have appliances such as a stove or furnace that operate on propane, making sure that your tanks are full is crucial. You may even have a fireplace, other lp gas-fired appliances, or a water heater that needs propane to work, which is why an empty tank could lead to a rough time at the campground.

Once your propane tanks are full and ready to go, check your gas lines to ensure no leaks. You will want to check where the gas connects to the tanks and where they connect to each appliance. A gas leak can be not only expensive but also extremely dangerous.

You can usually get propane at the campground you’re staying at or if you need to go elsewhere, you can check many gas stations or even places like Uhaul in some cases.

Replace the Batteries in Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

On the note of checking for gas leaks, you will also want to change out the batteries on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and check to make sure they’re working. If, heaven forbid, you should have a fire or gas leak, a sensor may be the thing that saves your life.

If you hear an “annoying beep” don’t try to shut it off. This is your alert that things are not going right and you need to fix the issue you’re having with your propane.

Dump Your Gray and Black Tanks

Because you just flushed your water pipes and de-winterizing fluid, your black and gray tanks will be full of water and need to be dumped. This can all be done when you initially hook up at a campground or an official dumping site.

This isn’t your potable water tank. These two are only for your wastewater—and other things that go into the tanks.

Change or Clean Your Water and AC Filters

If you utilize a water filter between the campground spigot and where it connects to your camper, you should change filters at the start of every new camping season. If you use a water softener, then you should also regenerate your softener as needed. Additionally, making sure that your outside water hose is clean and ready to roll is also a good idea.

You shouldn’t have to replace your air conditioner filters, but you’ll want to make sure that they’re clean and dry. Occasionally, it will also be necessary to recharge your air conditioner and have it serviced by a professional RV technician. Few things are worse than a hot weekend without an AC.

Keeping your RV air conditioner filters clean can keep you from dealing with muggy days without an air conditioner.

Ensure Your Water and Drain Pipes Aren’t Leaking

After flushing all your drain lines and water lines, you should see if there are any visible leaks. If you look underneath your RV and don’t see water dripping from any pipes or insulation, then you should be in good shape and ready to hit the outdoors.

If you discover that you have a leak, then you will want to have it repaired immediately. Most RVs are made quickly and cost-effectively, and the plumbing system isn’t made to last forever. The odds are that sooner or later, one of your pipes will spring a leak.

Catching the leak before it gets too bad will keep you from getting water damage.

You can see some leak horror stories on this forum page and you don’t want that to be you.

Get Pumping

Checking your water pump is very important to make sure you’re ready to spend time in your RV. To do this, turn off the water on the outside of your RV and all the faucets on the inside.

Next, turn the pump on and listen carefully to make sure it starts up. After it runs for a few minutes, your water pump should turn off. If this happens and the pump doesn’t start up again, your pump is working correctly.

Time to Heat Things Up

Finally, once everything is working and your system is leak-free, start filling your water heater with water. To do this, you will have to access your water heater and open the valves on the hot water side of the tank.

Pro Tip: If you turn your water heater on before there is water in the tank, you will ruin the element in your water heater and have to replace it.

After the water heater is full, turn it on and wait for half an hour or so. Turn the hot water side on in your camper and check to see if you have any heat. If you don’t, then it’s probable that your water heater isn’t working correctly, and you will need to have it checked by a professional.

Final Thoughts

By following these simple steps at dewinterizing your RV, you should be able to get back outside in no time. These things can be accomplished with minimal effort and few tools, making the dewinterizing process as easy and painless as possible.

Don’t forget to check out my article articles on the site like the ones about How to Remove RV Roolf Sealant and How to Do an RV Power Awning.

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Jalin has been RVing since April 2021, along with his wife Kate and their Goldendoodle, Harper. They spent 4 months in Elkhart, Indiana, and lived in Traverse City, Michigan during the warm weather. Their winter plans are to head to Orlando, Florida. They live in a 36 foot Palomino Puma and are absolutely loving it. Jalin's day job has been working as an HVAC professional but it's transitioning to full time writer and RVer.

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