DIY: De-winterize your Tow-able RV or Travel Trailer

13 Apr

Trailer SignIt’s exciting when this time of year rolls around again. The snow has melted (if you get snow), the birds are chirping, the air is warming, and your thoughts turn to sitting around a campfire with loved ones.  What could be better?

This step by step guide will help you get your RV ready for the camping season.

The process of de-winterizing your RV isn’t a complicated one, but it does take a bit of time.


  1. Remove any covers that were put on for storage.  This includes vent covers for refrigerators and furnaces.
  2. Re-install any batteries that were removed.
  3. Top off the water in your batteries and give them a good charge.
  4. Check the air pressure in the tires.  Don’t forget the spare!
  5. Pull out any steps and give them a shot of oil.
  6. Open up some vents and let some fresh air in.
  7. Inspect the external fridge and water heater compartments for critters and cobwebs, removing anything you discover.
  8. Check your propane hoses and fittings for any leaks. (Do this carefully, with the flame off.)
  9. Complete a visual inspection of the outside of your RV from top to bottom.
  10. If you have a pop-up or hybrid, check the canvas or nylon tenting for tears, mold, or damage.
  11. Visually inspect the RV tires and brakes for damage or wear.  If you don’t know what you are looking for, have a qualified technician inspect them for you.


  1. Inspect all cupboards and storage area for insects and critters that may have gotten in over the winter. (Mice, spiders, etc.)
  2. Look for any signs of water leakage or damage inside your RV.


  1. Examine your hitch components for rust or damage.  Replace any questionable components.
  2. Clean off old lubricants and re-lube your hitch components.
  3. After hooking up to your tow vehicle, connect the wiring harness, and test all of your lights. (Brakes, turn signals, etc.)
  4. Test any manual or electronic brakes your trailer and tow vehicle may have.


Note:  If you don’t have a fresh water hookup and sewer at your location, tow your vehicle to a local RV park and use their facilities.

  1. Hook up your water hose and fill your fresh water tank.
  2. Run your water pump and open each faucet slowly, and one at a time.  Your fixtures may sputter as air is removed from the lines.
  3. If you used anti-freeze, let your taps, toilet, and shower run until the water is clear.
  4. Open your grey water drain valve and drain the grey water tank.
  5. Turn off the pump and connect the water hose to the city water hookup.
  6. Run some more water through the system to ensure that all anti-freeze is out.
  7. If your water heater has a bypass, adjust the valves to bring your water heater back into the system.
  8. Allow your water heater to fill, then turn it on and wait a while for it to heat up.
  9. Test the hot water in each of your faucets.
  10. Sterilize your fresh water system.
  11. Remove the city water hose and drain your grey water tank.  Then close the drain valve.


  1. Unplug the wiring harness from your RV and connect your RV to your electricity service.

Last but not least, give your RV a bath.  Wash the windows, outside walls, inside walls, and floor.  If possible, consult your owners manual for any specific instructions relating to your particular RV.


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Leave a Reply


  1. Graham Paul

    July 28, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Ah, spring. My favorite time of year to get out on the road.

    I think if you are finding signs of a water leak you may have overlooked checking the seals around the vents, etc, on the roof. I was told to check them every year. And since we didn’t we had a water leak. I scraped all the old putty seal stuff off and replaced it with Eternabond tape. Seems to be good stuff. Lots of good reviews online and guaranteed for 15 years. We’ll see! I think the annually inspection is still a good idea. We were lucky this time. All the water stains cleaned up nicely.

    Happy RVing.

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  3. Jimmy

    October 2, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    Nice article. Thanks for the tips. It’s important to have a checklist so nothing it missed. Preparation is maintenance in advance. Keep it up.

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    Thanks a bunch for the heads-up! I’m a 50+ single northern gal who lives and camps with just her trusty Beagle-Bailey. I’m learning as I go, and don’t need to be caught in the bush with a problem that could’ve been avoided before leaving home. I printed off your DIY Hints, slid the page into a plastic covering, and will add it to the Zip-loc baggie of manuals I carry with me all the time. I’m not too proud to admit that I need a little help every now and then. Maybe by following your DIY Hints now, it will save me from an avoidable disaster once I’m away from home. Fingers crossed…here we go…!


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