How to Winterize Your Motorhome

Are you new to RV living or still considering it and learning everything there is to know? One truth that many find daunting — but everyone will eventually have to come to grips with — is that your motor home wasn’t built to withstand harsh winters. You’ll need to give it a helping hand to get it ready. 

If you are unprepared and haven’t yet formed solid connections in the RV community, the prospect can be downright frightening. Take a breather and calm down, though, because winterizing your mobile home is less difficult than you think. We’ll guide you through the process. 

  1. How to Use This Guide

We’ve written this guide to provide RV-ers everywhere with an information-dense and actionable checklist designed to get their vehicles ready for the winter. You’ll get a lot of info, and we will leave no stone unturned, but make no mistake. 

Just like reading a movie review is nothing like enjoying a cinematic experience, our winterization framework definitely doesn’t infuse you with the magic of “yeah, I know what I’m doing.” If you’re an experienced RV-er, you can use it to make sure you didn’t miss anything crucial. If you’re new, your process is more complicated. 

At the very least, watch detailed videos to learn about every step you’re not already 100 percent sure about. If you can, ask a veteran motor home person to teach you the ropes. RV folks are a friendly and helpful bunch, so never be afraid to reach out for assistance!

Ready? Let’s dive in.

  1. Exterior Maintenance

Think of your exterior as the robust shell that protects your motor home from the elements and keeps the interior safe, and never take shortcuts when preparing it for cold weather.

  • Inspect your motor home’s roof for leaks, gaps, and cracks. If you identify any, use an RV roof sealant to take care of them.
  • Examine the seals around every window, door, and compartment that can be opened from the outside. If you spot any damage, promptly replace the weather sealing.
  • Inflate your tires and cover them to prevent UV damage.
  • Inspect your RV cover for damage and replace it if necessary. If you don’t have one, fix that as soon as possible.
  1. What You’ll Need

The supplies you may require include an RV roof cleaner, sealant, and soft-bristle brush, as well as window and door sealant, weather stripping, tire covers, a tire pressure gauge, and an RV cover.

  1. Plumbing and Water

Freezing weather is your plumbing system’s primary enemy, so get ready!

  • Drain your fresh, gray, and black water tanks.
  • Deploy antifreeze to your water traps and tanks.
  • Bypass and drain the water heater, using an air compressor to eliminate leftover drops.
  • Insulate your water pipes to stop them from freezing.
  • Disconnect any hoses.
  1. What You’ll Need

An RV water hose, antifreeze, a bucket, a water heater bypass kit, an air compressor, and pipe insulation will get you through this step.

  1. Interior Maintenance

Your motor home’s interior will need some attention before you store the whole operation away, as well. Never neglect this step!

  • Remove and clean all fabrics, including bedding, curtains, and tablecloths.
  • Use moisture-control measures to prevent mold infestations. Remember that mold can take hold in less than 24 hours if the conditions are moist enough. Allow for ventilation by opening the roof to a crack. 
  • Disconnect your batteries. Alternatively, use a trickle charger to maintain your charge through the winter.
  1. What You’ll Need

You’ll need your usual cleaning supplies, air-tight storage containers for fabrics, access to a washing machine, and moisture-controlling supplies like silica gel or calcium chloride-based dehumidifying tablets. Vent covers make the prospect of opening the roof a little less daunting. 

As for the battery-related portion of this step, you’ll need a disconnect switch or the appropriate tools. If you opt to go with the trickle charge option, you’ll require a trickle charger.

  1. Do I Really Have To?

Nope. 

If you’re an RV hobbyist with your primary residence in a region with cold winters, you probably have little choice but to winterize your vehicle and pack it away for the season. However, if you’re retired or self-employed, you have other options. 

You could take this opportunity to take your mobile home down to a warmer climate, essentially allowing you to skip the winter altogether. This route isn’t easier than winterizing your vehicle, of course, but it certainly is appealing. 

If you’re seriously considering it, you will need to:

  • Plan your route in advance, and decide how long you’ll stay in each place.
  • Arm yourself with the necessary equipment, such as GPS-enabled devices, road maps, and a compass. (Not to mention, potentially, your passport and all that other exciting stuff!)
  • Book the relevant campgrounds well ahead of time, and come prepared with a hookup adapter. 
  • Inform yourself about the amenities at your planned locations, including access to medical care, internet, and financial services.
  • Pack emergency supplies, including the equipment you need to handle breakdowns and a well-packed first-aid kit that considers prescription medications.

If you’re not quite ready for that kind of adventure yet, but you’re lost when it comes to getting your vehicle ready for the harsh and cold winter, don’t worry. A reputable RV service center or experienced motor home owner can potentially go through the process for you for a fee. If you go this route, don’t be content with buying a service. Insist on learning the ropes, so you’ll be ready next year. 

  1. Final words

Above all, don’t be scared. 

If the steps we outlined sound unfamiliar, rest assured that hundreds of seasoned RV folks have already made videos on all of these topics. Even better? Some have the exact motor home you do. 

RV-ing may primarily be about freedom, but it’s also very much about helping each other. Veterans are always eager to show novices the ropes, and you should never be scared to glean their wisdom. Soon enough, you’ll be showing others how it’s done!