Winterizing an RV

 

Properly preparing your motorhome for winter is an essential part of owner maintenance. Failure to protect the unit from the effects of winter weather can result in unexpected damage leading to significant repair bills.

When a motorhome is exposed to freezing temperatures, it may be severely damaged by ice expansion in the water supply lines, water heater, washer/dryer, ice maker, holding tanks and faucets. To prevent ice expansion, all water must be drained from the Motorhome.

The following steps are a guide to winterizing the motorhome’s water systems, which is critical to maintain maximum durability over the life of your vehicle. A necessity for winterizing is the purchase of RV specific antifreeze. This antifreeze is usually pink in appearance and is a non-toxic, propylene glycol based mixture.

 

 

 

DO NOT USE AUTOMOTIVE ANTIFREEZE, it is toxic and poisonous!

 

Step by step procedure for winterizing units with the Anderson, 4-way valve system:

Prepare for winterization:

  1. Drain all water from the fresh water tank.
  2. Drain any water in the toilet.
  3. Dump and rinse your black and grey tanks. Dump the black tank first, then the grey.
  4. Drain your water heater by removing the plastic plug at the bottom unit, located behind the heater cover on the exterior sidewall of the unit. Replace the plug one the water has drained.

 

Starting the winterization procedure:

On the exterior of the coach, in the basement area, locate the city water connection, water filter, and low point water drains.

  1. Start with the "low point drains" and rotate the handle counterclockwise to open the valve. This should start draining water from the interior water lines. After the water has finished draining, close the valves, by rotating the handle clockwise,.
  2. Locate the valve that says "Water Heater Bypass". Rotate it to the “Bypass position”.
  3. Locate the fresh water tank drain valve. Open it, rotating the handle counterclockwise, and let the water drain. Once the water has finished draining, close the valve, by rotating the handle clockwise.
  4. If applicable, remove the fresh water filter canister and cartridge. Reinstall the empty canister minus the cartridge.
  5. If applicable, locate the ice maker valve. Access to the ice maker line will be in an area under the refrigerator or on an access panel on the exterior of the unit. Unhook the water line to the refrigerator and let it gravity drain. Close the valve.

 

Winterizing with Antifreeze:

Required items:

  1. 2-gallons (or more) RV specific non-toxic, propylene glycol based antifreeze
  2. 3-6’ garden hose, with ¾” connection for hook-up to the fresh water fill connection
  3. Locate the city water connection port and attach the garden hose.
  4. Locate the small black valve on the white panel and rotate it to the "winterize/sanitize setting".
  5. Insert the hose into a gallon of antifreeze. (Note you could end up using several gallons of anti-freeze here depending on the appliance configuration or and length of time each faucet run during the procedure.
  6. Turn on the water pump, as this should start drawing the antifreeze into the water lines
  7. Open the faucet or water valve furthest from the water pump. Turn on one (hot and cold) at a time until the antifreeze solution is observed, then close the valve Methodically and work your way through the entire water system on the coach.
  8. Include all water lines supplying showers and tubs, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers, ice makers and outside shower faucets. The antifreeze should be left in the sink, washer and shower p-traps and toilets during storage to protect those lines.
  9. Allow at least 2 cups to pass through the entire system for complete protection.
  10. Turn off the water pump and unhook the winterization hose.
  11. Open all faucets half way to relieve pressure on the valve seats during storage.
  12. Pour anti-freeze down the toilet, kitchen sink, bathroom sink and shower. This will ensure the P-trap and tank drain valves are protected.
  13. Wipe down all fixtures to clean to prevent staining.

 

Step-by-step winterizing procedure for units without the 4 way Anderson valve: 

Prepare for winterization:

  1. Drain all water from the fresh water tank.
  2. Drain any water in the toilet.
  3. Dump and rinse your black and grey tanks. Dump the black tank first, then the grey.
  4. Drain your water heater by removing the plastic plug at the bottom unit, located behind the heater cover on the exterior sidewall of the unit. Replace the plug one the water has drained.

 

Starting the winterization procedure:

  1. Locate the low point drains on the unit and open the valves by rotating the handles counterclockwise, to let the water drain from the interior water lines. Once the water has finished draining, close the valves by rotating the valves clockwise.
  2. If applicable, remove the fresh water filter canister and cartridge. Reinstall the empty canister minus the cartridge.
  3. Locate the water heater bypass valves will either be behind the water heater or near the fresh water tank. Rotate the water heater bypass valves to the bypass position.

 

Winterizing with Antifreeze:

Required items:

  1. 4-6 gallons (or more) RV specific non-toxic, propylene glycol based antifreeze
  2. Funnel
  3. Locate the gravity feed, fresh water fill. Pour 4-6 gallons of RV antifreeze into the fresh water tank using a funnel.
  4. Turn on the water pump, as this should start drawing the antifreeze into the water lines
  5. Open the faucet or water valve furthest from the water pump. Turn on one (hot and cold) at a time until the antifreeze solution is observed, then close the valve methodically working your way through the entire water system on the coach.
  6. Include all water lines supplying showers and tubs, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers, ice makers and outside shower faucets. The antifreeze should be left in the sink, washer and shower p-traps and toilets during storage to protect those lines.
  7. Allow at least 2 cups to pass through the entire system for complete protection.
  8. Turn off the water pump.
  9. Open all faucets half way to relieve pressure on the valve seats during storage.
  10. Pour anti-freeze down the toilet, kitchen sink, bathroom sink and shower. This will ensure the P-trap and tank drain valves are protected.
  11. Wipe down all fixtures to clean to prevent staining.

 

Step-by-step winterizing procedure for units equipped with the Aqua-Hot heating system:

Prepare for winterization:

  1. Drain all water from the fresh water tank.
  2. Drain any water in the toilet.
  3. Dump and rinse your black and grey tanks. Dump the black tank first, then the grey.
  4. Drain your water heater by removing the plastic plug at the bottom unit, located behind the heater cover on the exterior sidewall of the unit. Replace the plug one the water has drained.

 

On the exterior of the coach, in the basement area, locate the city water connection, water filter, and low point water drains.

  1. Start with the "low point drains" and rotate the handle counterclockwise to open the valve. This should start draining water from the interior water lines. After the water has finished draining, close the valves, by rotating the handle clockwise,.
  2. Locate the valve that says "Winterization Bypass ". Rotate it to the “Bypass position”.
  3. Locate the fresh water tank drain valve. Open it, rotating the handle counterclockwise, and let the water drain. Once the water has finished draining, close the valve, by rotating the handle clockwise.
  4. Bypass the water filter using the water filter bypass knobs
  5. If applicable, locate the ice maker valve. Access to the ice maker line will be in an area under the refrigerator or on an access panel on the exterior of the unit. Unhook the water line to the refrigerator and let it gravity drain. Close the valve.

 

Winterizing with Antifreeze:

Required items:

  1. 2-gallons (or more) RV specific non-toxic, propylene glycol based antifreeze
  2. 3-6’ garden hose, with ¾” connection for hook-up to the fresh water fill connection
  3. Locate the water/antifreeze connection port and attach the garden hose. Locate the valve on the white panel and rotate to the "tank" setting.
  4. Insert the hose into a gallon of antifreeze. (Note you could end up using several gallons of anti-freeze here depending on the appliance configuration or and length of time each faucet run during the procedure.
  5. Turn on the water pump, as this should start drawing the antifreeze into the water lines
  6. Open the faucet or water valve furthest from the water pump. Turn on one (hot and cold) at a time until the antifreeze solution is observed, then close the valve Methodically and work your way through the entire water system on the coach.
  7. Include all water lines supplying showers and tubs, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers, ice makers and outside shower faucets. The antifreeze should be left in the sink, washer and shower p-traps and toilets during storage to protect those lines.
  8. Allow at least 2 cups to pass through the entire system for complete protection.
  9. Turn off the water pump and unhook the winterization hose.
  10. Open all faucets half way to relieve pressure on the valve seats during storage.
  11. Pour anti-freeze down the toilet, kitchen sink, bathroom sink and shower. This will ensure the P-trap and tank drain valves are protected.
  12. Wipe down all fixtures to clean to prevent staining.

 

Winterizing Special appliances:

Coaches with Splendide washer and dryer installed:

  1. With the machine's power OFF, turn the WASH TEMP knob to HOT.
  2. Advance the Program Selector to REGULAR in Cotton Heavy Duty.
  3. Press the ON/OFF Button (IN) and let the machine fill until anti-freeze is in the drum.
  4. Advance Program Selector to RESET. Wait 5 seconds (Status/Door Lock LED will blink).
  5. Advance Program Selector knob to a SPIN position. Let the antifreeze drain from the drum.
  6. Advance Program Selector to RESET. Wait 5 seconds (Status/Door Lock LED will blink).
  7. Turn the Wash Temp knob to COLD.
  8. Advance the Program Selector to REGULAR in Cotton Heavy Duty.
  9. Let the machine fill until you see anti-freeze in the drum.
  10. Advance Program Selector to RESET. Wait 5 seconds (Status/Door Lock LED will blink).
  11. Advance Program Selector knob to SPIN. Let the antifreeze drain from the drum.
  12. Press the ON/OFF Button.

 

Washer/Dryer (Whirlpool)

  1. Remove the water hose from the back of the washing machine. Do this before you completely drain the washer of water. Make sure you remove any obstructions in the water hose by blowing through the hoses. This will help dispel some of the collected water.
  2. Now turn the washer on and run it on a fill cycle using warm water settings. Let the washer run this cycle for a few minutes to get rid of the water that has collected in the valve.
  3. To remove the water, set it up to run on the spin cycle. This will help complete the cleaning cycle.
  4. Pour about 2 gallons of RV antifreeze in the washing machine’s tub.
  5. Get a clean and dry towel and dry up the washer’s compartments. Also clean the lint filter before winterizing it. Make sure you also get rid of the gunk in the lint filter compartment as it usually gets filled up with dirty water.
  6. Completely remove the washer hoses including the water hose and the drain hose. Dry them up using the towel. Keep them inside the washer tub. Turn the washer off and remove the plug from the outlet.

 

If you have a Refrigerator Ice Maker:

  1. Shut off the RV water supply to the ice maker.
  2. Raise the ice maker shut-off arm until it locks in the off position.
  3. Disconnect the garden hose water inlet connection from the water solenoid valve.
  4. Protect connections by bagging and taping all lines and water solenoid valve connections with clean plastic bags and tape.

 

If you have a Dishwasher:

  1. Make sure there is no residual water in the dishwasher.
  2. Open the water valve until you see antifreeze in the basin.
  3. Pour about ½ gallon of antifreeze into the basin of the dishwasher.
  4. Run the dishwasher for a few seconds to distribute the antifreeze.

 

GENERAL - ALL UNITS

Draining the tanks and water lines in your motorhome is only the start of the winterization process. Complete this Storage and Winterization Checklist to ensure complete protection for your motorhome. An authorized Thor Motor Coach service dealer can help you in the winterization process for your convenience. When storing the motorhome for the winter, certain precautions need to be made to protect it.

Make sure to talk with your local dealer concerning any special requirements for storage in your particular geographic area. The following steps are general, and your dealer can help you choose those which are most appropriate for your needs.

 

BATTERIES

Add distilled water and recharge if necessary. If possible, remove batteries and store them in a cool dry place (approximately 50 – 60° F). Check them periodically and recharge as needed. Be sure that both the chassis and auxiliary (house) batteries have the proper electrolyte level and that they are fully charged. A discharged battery will freeze and may crack the case, causing severe damage to the battery and surrounding area. In storage, a battery will lose charge gradually over a 30 to 45 day period, even when disconnected by the use of the Battery Disconnect Switch. We recommend that the batteries be checked for charge at least monthly. You may wish to remove the batteries from the motorhome and store them in a heated area. However, even when warm, the battery charge level must still be maintained. A warm battery accepts charge much more readily than a cold one.

 

FUEL

Store with the tank full to prevent condensation buildup.

 

CHASSIS

Run engine for 30 minutes once a month if possible. Prepare as outlined in the Chassis Owner’s Manual.

 

DASH AIR CONDITIONER

Run for a short period of time to assure the compressor seal is lubricated.

 

TIRES

Cover to protect the tires against sunlight with burlap, plywood or specially designed tire covers which are available at RV dealerships.

 

GENERATOR

Prepare as outlined in the Generator Owner’s Manual.

 

BODY

Clean and wax. Oil locks and hinges. Seal roof trim as needed.

 

HOLDING TANKS

Drain and rinse. Close valves. Add a small amount of RV antifreeze to keep valves and gaskets lubricated.

 

ROOF

Must be kept clear of significant snow accumulation or damage may occur. Inspect and reseal if necessary.

 

VENTS

Check all furnace, refrigerator, range hood, A/C, etc. vents and close securely. Cover or tape up to prevent mice or insects from building nests that can disturb the air flow and keep the appliances from functioning properly.

 

INTERIOR

Check the interior of the motorhome monthly while in storage to make sure leaks have not developed, or condensation has not formed that can cause damage to interior components. Condensation can most readily be observed as moisture accumulation on windows and mirrors. To reduce condensation,

make sure to air out the motorhome occasionally during storage.

 

WINDOWS & Doors

Close and lock. Inspect and reseal if necessary.

 

SINKS & SHOWERS

Clean and then pour one cup of nontoxic RV antifreeze into the drains to prevent freezing. Wipe all fixtures clean.

 

COUNTERTOPS & CABINETS

Wash with mild soap and water.

 

CURTAINS, SHADES & BLINDS

Close all curtains, shades and blinds. If the coach is stored in an outside location, placing foil or paper between the windows and curtains, shades or blinds to protect from sun fading.

 

REFRIGERATOR

Clean. Leave both doors propped open. Cover exterior panels and roof vents. Leave an opened box of baking soda inside the refrigerator to prevent any musty odors from accumulating.

 

AIR CONDITIONER

Remove air filters and clean or replace. Cover shroud.