Campers, RVs, and mobile homes aren’t made to withstand a lot of punishment and have complex waterworks running through them. This combination means that winter can be harmful to many camper vehicles.
If there is water left in the pipes and tanks of your vehicle, it’ll expand when the temperature drops and can cause damage.
If the damage is severe enough, you won’t have running water in your mobile home. Water is pretty important, you need it to stay hydrated and bathe yourself, and so it’s essential for turning a vehicle into a place you can live.
Take steps to save your winter vacation now by winterizing your camper. We’ve told you how to do this below.
Why Winterize Your Camper?
Winterizing is the process of taking water out of pipes, tanks, water heaters, and other water-bearing systems inside your vehicle. If the temperature gets low or drops below freezing, then that water will turn into harmful ice pretty fast.
You don’t want to risk that kind of damage to your mobile home, especially since it’ll result in costly repairs.
You should start winterizing your camper before winter moves in, so you’re prepared for the cold weather before it arrives. You don’t want to get caught off-guard by a cold snap, after all. Fortunately, you have many weather reports and even weather tracking apps to consult, so you should know what the foreseeable future looks like.
Even if you’re storing your camper for the winter, you need to winterize the vehicle so it stays warm and undamaged. It also gives you peace of mind when your vehicle is tucked away and ready for the new year.
How To Winterize Your Camper
Now that you know how important winterizing your camper is, here’s how you do it.
What You Will Need
First, you should make sure you have everything you need before you start. When conducting maintenance on vehicles, or anything that involves mechanical parts, you should try to do it all in one session.
You should have:
- The camper’s owner’s manual.
- A screwdriver
- A flashlight.
- Two jugs of pink antifreeze made for campers/RVs.
- A set of towels.
- A bucket.
- A smaller container.
- An air compressor and a blow-out plug.
- Anode rod removal tools, if your camper has one.
Step 1: Research
You don’t want to go in blind, so first you should consult your owner’s manual. Every camper is different, as a vehicle and as a dwelling, and so your manual will explain what your camper looks like on the inside.
The manual has information that we can’t know about your vehicle, so check it out and see where the main pipes, tanks, and other water storage areas are.
Remember that campers that have extra appliances, like a washing machine, will have more water storage parts that will need to be winterized.
Step 2: Drain Water Tanks, Lines & Heater
To start the process, you need to drain as much water as possible from the camper. This means you should empty and clean all water holding tanks, including the freshwater tank, and then clean out water lines.
You do that by turning on your camper’s water pump. Run cold water until nothing is left. Make sure you cover any plugs with a small bowl or a container, so the water doesn’t cycle back into your camper’s system.
Repeat the same process by running hot water until that runs out. You should do the above for each sink and the shower.
Place your bucket beneath drain valves and open them to get water out. Then locate the pressure release valve on your water heater, removing the anode rod if necessary.
Opening faucets can help when draining your water heater. Blow out the black flush inlet (if you have one) and the city water line too.
Lastly, use the bypass valve on your water heater to drain any remaining water from it. Keep a towel nearby to mop up any water that makes its way out of the pump. At this stage, it shouldn’t be too much.
Step 3: Protect The Lines With Antifreeze
To ensure that the camper’s lines and waterways are further protected, you should run antifreeze through them. Get a water pump converter kit that includes a siphon tube and one of your pink antifreeze cans.
Your camper may already have one of these water pump converter kits pre-installed.
If you don’t have one of these kits and you need to winterize the camper fast, you should disconnect the freshwater holding tank’s inlet and connect the water pump inlet tube to the antifreeze container.
Then you need to turn on the water pump and keep an eye on the low-point drains. When you see antifreeze running through them, close them.
Open all faucets, activate the toilet valve, and turn on the shower until antifreeze is visible. Do this for both cold and hot water in the faucets.
To finish, turn off the water pump and then open the faucets to expel any pressure that has built up.
Step 4: Further Antifreeze Protection
You’re not done with antifreeze yet, now you should also put it through the city water intake, which you’ll find on the exterior of camper models.
Remove the cap and screen covering the intake’s inlet and press on the valve until you can see antifreeze. If there is pressure built up, it may spray you, so wear eye protection and/or step aside!
Go back to your siphon tube and lift it out of the liquid in the antifreeze container. Don’t lift it too high, you won’t be able to do this next part.
Turn on the water pump and suck anything in the tube into the line system. Turn off the water pump and put the tube away after cleaning it.
To finish, pour half a cup of your antifreeze into the P-traps of your plumbing appliances, mainly your sink, shower, and toilet.