It’s spring again! The sun has started to show itself, and the temperature is increasing. The spring season for RVers means it’s time to dewinterize a camper. If winterizing means preparing your RV for the cold, de-winterizing is the opposite of that — you undo all of the preparations you did before the frost started to set in.
Dewinterizing an RV may take some time, so we suggest that you reserve a few hours in your schedule to do it. This article will provide you with everything you need to know on how to dewinterize your RV.
- 11 Detailed Steps to Dewinterize Your RV
- What to Prepare
- Step-by-Step Guide
- Step 1: Make sure that water lines are secured
- Step 2: Un-bypass the hot water tank first
- Step 3: Combine the liquid bleach with water
- Step 4: Turn on the water pump to fill the hot water tank
- Step 5: Drain the faucets by turning them on
- Step 6: Let the water-bleach solution sit in the system
- Step 7: After some time, flush out the water-bleach solution
- Step 8: Drain the hot water tank
- Step 9: Flush RV water lines with fresh water
- Step 10: Do some additional rinsing with the city water connection
- Step 11: Closely examine the connections for leaks
- Helpful Tips
11 Detailed Steps to Dewinterize Your RV
What to Prepare
There are many things to do in de-winterizing your RV as a whole. The cost to de-winterize RV is not that much as most of the things you need are cheap and already available at home.
Here are the tools and materials you need for unwinterizing the camper, specifically the water system. Make sure to acquire everything on this checklist!
- Liquid bleach
- Measuring cup
- Gallon jug
- Water filter
- RV water hose (make sure it can connect to the city water)
- Socket wrench
Step 1: Make sure that water lines are secured
To de-winterize the RV water system, you must put some water in it. You want to ensure that you tightened all hoses and pipes to prevent moisture from leaking from your plumbing system. You may use a socket wrench but refrain from securing everything too tightly.
Step 2: Un-bypass the hot water tank first
Make sure your water tank is in regular mode instead of bypass mode. Close the bypass valve using its knob or handle.
Step 3: Combine the liquid bleach with water
You will need to fill the water tank three times:
- First, put fresh water into the tank through a hose. Don’t make the tank full at this point; fill it up to around 30%.
- You’d want to disinfect the tank so it’s safe for drinking, which is why it’s necessary to use bleach here. I recommend common household bleach (I use Clorox) that’s combined with water in a ratio of 1 cup of bleach per 60 gallons of water. You may also go for 40 or 50 gallons of water per bleach cup.
Make the bleach-water mixture and pour it into the tank using a funnel.
- Then, add more freshwater to the tank until it’s full.
Step 4: Turn on the water pump to fill the hot water tank
Go inside your RV and turn on the water pump — this will fill the hot water tank, and once it’s loaded, the system will be pressurized. The water pump will automatically turn off once the system is pressurized.
Step 5: Drain the faucets by turning them on
Turn the faucets on one by one. Start with the hot water faucet at the kitchen sink, then work your way through all of the faucets in your RV, including those in the tub, outside shower, and toilet.
This step should flush antifreeze from the camper. Keep the faucet running until the water-bleach solution replaces the antifreeze. Turn the faucet off once the water-bleach solution has taken over the water system.
Step 6: Let the water-bleach solution sit in the system
At this point, it’s best to wait up to 12 hours for the bleach to sanitize the plumbing system. The pump should also be turned off here.
Step 7: After some time, flush out the water-bleach solution
Once you’re done waiting, open the fresh water tank drain located under the RV to drain the water-bleach solution completely. Don’t confuse the fresh water drain valve with the low point drain valve, which is on the underside of the RV.
Step 8: Drain the hot water tank
Open the hot and cold low point valves under the RV and the pressure relief valve so the hot water tank can drain. Close them when you’re done.
Step 9: Flush RV water lines with fresh water
This step is similar to filling your water system with the water-bleach solution, but this time, we use fresh water instead.
Fill the fresh water tank with filtered water to flush out the remains of the bleach-water solution in the plumbing system.
Just like above, turn all the faucets on one by one to run fresh water into the system again. Open each faucet for a few seconds before closing it. Once done, close the water pump.
Step 10: Do some additional rinsing with the city water connection
Remove the cap on the city water inlet and use a hose to run city water through the water fixtures. Usually, the pressure from the city water may be higher than what your RV can handle (around 40 to 60 psi), so you may need a pressure regulator for your hose.
Make sure to open all faucets to remove any residual bleach.
Step 11: Closely examine the connections for leaks
Check all water fixtures for cracks. These fixtures include the sinks, toilet base, dump valve (no water should leak from its cap), and sewage hose. If there are any leaks, hire a plumber and get them fixed.
Aside from your RV’s water system, there are more things to take care of in de-winterizing the camper. Here are more tips to help, whether you’re de-winterizing a small RV or de-winterizing a class C motorhome.
- You might ask, “When to dewinterize RV exactly?” We recommend you start de-winterizing three (3) to four (4) weeks before your first trip after the winter season.
- Examine your tire to see if it’s underinflated or deflated. While your RV is resting during winter, its tires lose at least two to three psi of air pressure per month. Traveling with underinflated or deflated wheels will risk an accident.
- Before you dewinterize the travel trailer, examine your RV’s exterior. Look for any damages to the body, roof, seams, etc. You should fix the damages before you set out on your journey again.
- Use a voltmeter to check the charge of your RV’s battery and extend its lifespan before reinstalling it. Your RV’s batteries still lose some power even if they’re not used.
- It is also good to replace your propane tanks if they’re broken. To see if your propane tanks have leaks, spray soapy water on the hose connectors. If bubbles form, your tanks have leaks. If your tanks are refillable, refill them in a propane station.
- Once your propane tanks are good, check if your gas-fired appliances work. Contact a certified RV maintenance service if any of them doesn’t work. Issues with propane should be left to professionals. You should also check your 120-volt appliances. Plug your unit first before doing so.
- Check your filters, air vents, and safety devices. If any of these are not working, have them replaced before you travel.
- Check your supplies and emergency kit. Make sure to restock and get all the necessary tools for RV maintenance, bottled water, medicine, and food.
- Make sure you keep documents related to your RV just in case of an accident or you get pulled over.
De-winterizing serves as a sort of checkup for your RV. Before going on your first trip, you need to determine whether or not your RV is in good enough shape to travel.
If you follow the steps and advice we provided in this article, you’ll have no trouble preparing your camper for travel. We hope our article can give you the correct information you need on how to dewinterize your RV. Safe trips and happy spring!
“Hi, I’m Francis’ husband—Calvin. Our story began with our shared passion for traveling. I have had a career journey for over 11 years at Ford Motor Company, where I took on the role of BMS SW Process Engineer.
Together with my wife, I have dedicated countless hours to exploring every nook and corner of the world. Ten years living in an RV may seem long, but time seems to fly by when I’m doing what I love with the person I love.
That’s why I am also a member of FMCA and have been a panelist on seminars at shows like FMCA’s 103rd International Convention & RV Expo in Gillette, WY, where I can showcase my adaptability and expertise.
Like my wife, I hope to help you see the beauty of traveling off the beaten path by sharing insights into this lifestyle. In addition to my corporate roles, I also launched our website – Outdoorbits, in 2015 and continue to contribute my knowledge and skills to the present day. And I’ll be completely honest with you—no hiding the truth or sugarcoating the possible challenges.
So, if you want to run away from the busy lifestyle to embrace nature, I’m your guy.”