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Winterizing and Storing Your 5th Wheel, Travel Trailer, RV or Motor-Home

The travel season is coming to a close, the kids are back in school, moms and dads are all back working forty hours per week or more. Poor weather conditions have started to settle in around the country (unless you live in California where it's in the eighties and nineties in the middle of October.)


It's time to start covering the summer time toys and getting them all set for a long winter's nap. Now that the Rig is safely parked and nestled in it's winter nesting spot it's time to cover your summertime fun mobile to keep her clean and looking good for the next summer season. Where do you begin? What do you need to know before you finalize the storage process for your travelling fun-mobile?

An RV Cover is an Ideal Solution To Protect Your Investment

It has been said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and a quality RV cover is surely a great way to help protect the exterior body of your motor-home. Before you cover your RV for a long cold winter's nap you need to follow a few directions and tips to keep your precious investment safe from other harmful elements that winter can bring.



Beginning The Winterizing Process

As the winter season approaches and you prepare to get your vehicle ready for the long season of non usage you need to keep a few things in mind. First off you need to have a space adequate to park the oversized vehicle. Even if it's a small travel trailer or pop up tent trailer. Many newer housing tracts have HOA (home owners association) restrictions against storing these types of vehicles on or around the property.

If you are fortunate enough to have the space on your property that's great otherwise you'll need to rent out a space at your local RV storage facility. Once you have parked the vehicle it's time to roll up your sleeves and get the rig ready.


First Things First Empty The Interior

In the grocery store they use an acronym FIFO (First In First Out ) as they restock shelves. Since we aren't restocking shelves in a store we use the acronym EMG everything must go. Empty out the refrigerator completely. No need in leaving food top spoil or rot and stink up the coach's interior. Once you have removed the perishable foods it's time to remove all of the non perishable items to. Glass bottles and canned goods can freeze or explode depending on the temperatures.

Nest remove all of the clothes and personal belongings from the motor-home or trailer. Remove all of the linens, towels and blankets. Now that you've emptied the vehicles cupboards, cabinets and refrigerator it's time to get cleaning. Scrub the interior down and vacuum the floors to remove all of the dirt and debris from your RV. Left unattended the dirt can become more and more difficult to remove.

Clean The Pipes & Plumbing

As time goes by during the long winter sabbatical your motor-home and it's plumbing are at risk of stagnation or worse freezing pipes. Also the grey and black water would fill the 5th Wheel trailer, RV or motor-home with a very unpleasant odour. The long rest is the hardest on the plumbing. Fresh water turns stagnate and pollutes the inner pipes and holding tanks which could lead to a really bad experience for your vacation the next year. All of this type of neglect adds up to unnecessary costs and expenses for repair. Let's make sure that you avoid this costly mistake by taking a few simple steps.

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Prepare The Plumbing

    1. It's time to visit the local dumping station to empty out all of the fresh and waste water in your holding tanks. Try to empty out everything you can although you probably wont get out every last drop it's a good start to avoid frozen plumbing lines over the cold winter months.
    2. open up the tank drains to remove excess water from your plumbing system, turn on all faucets to drain the remaining water in your holding tanks, hot water heater and shower system. Everything must go. toilets

Start with a good high pressure nozzle to blast away left over debris in the waste water tanks, as you travel the waste and sludge get stuck around the upper parts of the tank and this needs special attention to remove the debris. Scrub down the holding tanks, remember to close all faucets and drain plugs before you begin scrubbing with the high pressure attachments otherwise you will have other messes to clean.

  • To clean the fresh water tanks you need to create a cleaning agent by adding 1 cup of bleach to 15 gallons of fresh water and then drive for a few miles down the road to agitate the cleaning agent in the holding tank. Then once again completely drain the water holding system before you sign off on the interior cleaning and holding tanks.

Getting Ready For The Harsh Freeze Of Winter

If you live anywhere in the USA or Canada and you experience the cold deep freeze of winter, then you are very familiar with bursting water pipes around the house. This same scenario can happen with your indoor pluming on your traveling palace too. There are ways to prevent this from happening. One of the simplest solutions is to treat the indoor plumbing so winter isn't a threat.

  1. Take the time to eliminate excess water by using a compressed air wand and force the excess droplets out of the system. There are precautions you need to use so you don't damage weaker or antiquated plumbing. This is by far the easiest way to remove the possibility of freezing.
  2. Be sure to add a few gallons of anti-freeze (the RV type not yoru engine anti-freeze - you want to use an environmentally safe and non toxic version for this task.) Cycle the anti-freeze throughout the entire system by cycling the water pump for a few minutes open the various faucets and let the solution work its magic through the entire rv plumbing system. If you have a water heater bypass hose you can save several gallons. Add a cup to each drain, sinks and lavatories as well to finalize the anti-freeze prepping.

Enforcing Rodent Control For The Winter

Mice, rats and all the other cute and furry critters that scurry about may seem innocent enough but they can wreak havoc on your coach and cause costly damage too. I can remember when my wife and I stopped using our motor-home at the end of last summer we had not gotten around to winterizing the rig yet and within in a few days we returned and found little rat prizes all over the coach. On the counters, on the floor, even in cabinets where they had chewed their way into them.


You can pick up these little fellas almost anywhere you travel. They have no problem finding a warm spot to nestle and they aren't house broken by any means. Rats and squirrels are notorious chewers they eat through wood, plastic, wiring and they will not stop.

This chewing results in massive repair bills to your motor-home and frustration for you the one shelling out the bills. Not to mention the stench of urine, the health risks from feces and airborne bacteria.

Now it's time to make your RV inaccessible to these enemy forces. This may take a little longer than your normal drop off the RV at your local storage facility but hey an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of a cure. You can start by sealing any access points under the body of your coach with expansion foam (use caution when doing this; the foam may expand more than you think.)

Check all cabinets, drawers and storage spaces to see if you see any daylight coming through. If you can see light your enemies can get in. Fill in the gaps with foam or silicon to avoid unwelcome guests. Again do a double check for any remaining food item that may be an attractant for rodents.

You may even want to use mouse traps if you are close enough to check them every week. You surely would not want to come back after winter to an RV with a dead rodent that would be quite gross. The other entry points are the vents for your stove, fridge, your gas dryer and how water heater. These exhaust vents are a great entry point for rodents to get into your motor-home and start nesting. That is definitely an unwelcome guest, no one wants to come back to a RV with a new family squatting in the premise.

These vents can attract more than rodents, birds will nest, snakes, spiders and ants too. They are attracted to the sweet smalls and the protection from the harsh cold environment. Seal the opening with foil, duct tape, cardboard, mesh screen or any other material that you can get your hands on. Close your sun roof(s) and all of the windows. Check the vents on top of the RV to ensure that they are sealed from intruders.

Cover your air condition unit, seal off the chassis, repair any exposed seams with sealant to help prevent keep enemy intruders out. Turn off all dashboard temperature controls and close all vents to prevent rodent access.

Protecting and Purging the Propane (LPG system)

If you haven't already realized that weatherization of your coach for the winter is a big job you're definitely starting to realize that now. Interior cleaning, plumbing servicing, access point protection, and the list keeps on going. Now for the LPG side of your rig. A full LPG tank will handle the weather better than a partially full one.


Turn off the valves to the LPG tank(s) cover them or remove them for storage. If you remove them for storage don't store them inside the RV take them home and place them in the garage for the winter. Plug the hoses and tanks; bag and tie them to protect them from dust, dirt, bugs and rodents. Be sure that the refrigerator, stove, oven, furnace, water heater and all gas powered appliances are turned off.

Leave the refrigerator door(s) propped open, clean out the left over residue from any spilled liquids or sauces in the fridge, leave the freezer open and catch the water droplets, drain the liquid out of the freezer. Give the interior a final once over

Treat The Tires With TLC

Consider the amount of abuse your RV tires get during the travelling season, supporting thousands of pounds of weight and pressure, road degradation, pot holes, low air pressure, hot weather, snow and icy conditions. Now compound that with several months of stationary activity. Your tires will show signs of wear and fatigue.



If you have a vehicle with a leveling system use it to take the stress off of the tires. Otherwise a couple of heavy duty jack stands on each axle to remove the weight would be helpful.

Protect Your Electrical and Battery Systems

If you've sealed off the entry points from rodents your internal wiring should be safe. For the battery itself if it's a maintenance free type you should just remove the negative cable to open the connection and remove any ground shorts from the electrical system. You can actually remove the entire 12V battery from the RV and keep it in a safe, warm place for the winter.

Turn off the main electrical breaker on the motor-home electrical panel to safeguard the 120V electrical system. Unplug all the electrical appliances to protect your system from a surge of electricity after winter and to help protect the 120V system as well.

Remove all battery operated devices such as fire alarms, smoke detectors, etc... If your unit has an on board electrical generator follow your manufacturers instructions for weatherproofing and storage. Remember to top off all fluids in the engine compartment, top of fuel level to minimize freezing of the fluids.


As you can see this is a very thorough list of items and tips for storing your RV for the winter. If you follow all of these tips it will make storing your RV easy and help to avoid accidental damage from winter. You'll be able to sleep comfortably knowing your investment is well protected.

You can find more resources from these links below but you'll see we have covered everything for you in this neat and tidy reference guide. Yo can refer to the idiot's guide, KOA campground has an great article on winterizing and storing your RV also the folks at FCMA has a great set of tips for your reading pleasure as well.

No matter if it's emptying the black and gray water tanks, winterizing your RV, protecting your interior plumbing or any other weatherproofing of your motor-home we have your best interest in mind.

October 23, 2015
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