Although storing your RV outside in the winter may sound intimidating, you can confirm it survives the harsh weather with the correct strategy like using a cover, cleaning the exteriors thoroughly, etc, to avoid costly damages. 

Many folks choose to move their RV to warmer climatic regions during the winter. However, keeping an RV safe throughout a cold, wet winter is possible. I will take you through the details about winterizing your RV in this article, along with helpful advice on keeping it in excellent shape until your next trip. 

We’re going to cover a few basic strategies for protecting your RV throughout the winter. We’ll also discuss winter RV storage tips that will help you check that your RV’s internal systems remain healthy and functional when temperatures begin to dip below freezing.

Winterizing Your RV For Outdoor Storage

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As an RV enthusiast, I have a lot of winter experience with my RV to know the importance of storing them properly. Freezing temperatures can pose a significant threat to your home on wheels like frozen pipes, cracked seals, or a damaged battery. So let’s begin by discussing a list of methods to protect your RV from excessive moisture or freezing in the winter. 

1. Drain Water Systems

Draining your RV’s water system is the most important step in properly preparing it for winter storage. Before you lock your RV up for the winter, you’ll want to ensure all the water is flushed out of your pipes. 

It’s crucial to empty water heaters, pipelines, and tanks to avoid freezing, which can cause serious damage.  Any remaining water in the pipes can freeze, expand, and cause your pipes to burst.

Find every drain valve and turn it open to let all of the water out. Remember to drain any leftover water from the water heater by flushing it out. This reduces the chance of freezing and possible leaks.

2. Antifreeze Application

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Protecting your RV’s plumbing systems while using antifreeze or winterization is important. To start empty the water heater, pipelines, and tanks to get rid of extra water. After the system has been emptied, as RV antifreeze, confirm it gets to all of the water lines, faucets, and drains. 

Turn on every tap until you see the antifreeze coming through. Recall external elements such as water filtration systems and showers. Any leftover water is displaced by this procedure, which stops it from freezing and causing harm. 

By using antifreeze made especially for RVs, you can effectively protect your plumbing from the icy grip of winter and maintain it in good condition from your net trip.

3. Fill Your Propane Tank

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Confirm that your RV’s propane system is in good working order before putting it away for the winter. Turn off the propane supply and put out any pilot lights first. Examine the entire system carefully for any possible leaks or problems that could jeopardize security while being stored. 

Even though you’re not going to keep the internal temperature of your RV above 60 degrees for the winter, your furnace is still going to be the main source of heat that keeps it from freezing.

So you’ll need to make sure that your propane tank is full before parking your RV for winter storage. 

Check that all the appliances, connectors, and propane lines are in excellent working order to create a safe storage environment in addition to protecting against gas leaks. Making this procedure a priority ensures that your RV will hibernate safely during the chilly weather.

4. Disconnect Batteries

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Start by disconnecting the batteries of your RV, or if you want extra security, remove them completely as you won’t have any appliances that require them. This is assuming that you’re able to connect your rig to a source of onshore power, which we highly recommend. 

Keep the battery in a cool, dry place to avoid extreme temperature swings that can negatively impact its performance. To keep your battery in good condition follow a routine of periodic charging, don’t just leave them unattended. It’s recommended to check the charge of your batteries every four to six weeks to ensure that they remain fully charged.

A battery maintainer or trickle charger can give the battery a low, steady charge that keeps it from draining completely. Allowing your batteries to discharge fully during the winter can ultimately decrease their overall lifespan. 

5. Interior Cleaning

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Check that all the surfaces are spotless to reduce the attraction of food particles and spills to bugs in the winter. It’s also critical to declutter and take out everything that might serve as a rodent nest.

Remove perishable goods from the refrigerator to avoid bad odors and the possibility of mold growth. To prevent microbiological activity, thoroughly clean all surfaces using the cleaning products.

Maintaining a clean and hygienic inside will make your RV feel new and welcoming when the time comes to travel again in the spring.

6. Choose A Covered Storage Location

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The easiest way to protect your RV from rain and snow in the winter is to store it in a covered location. While it requires a bit more of an up-front investment, building an open-air carport for your RV somewhere on your property is the best long-term solution for protecting your RV during harsh winters.

If you live in an area where rain is more common than snow during the winter, the rain itself isn’t the biggest issue, but when your RV is continuously wet and temperatures drop below freezing, it can cause significant damage to your RV’s exterior.

Snow load is also an issue when storing an RV outside in the winter. That weight of snow, combined with the moisture, has been known to cause entire RV roofs to collapse if left unattended.

7. Exterior Protection

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If you’re not able to get an RV port built by the time winter rolls around, your next best option is to find an RV cover that fits your rig. When selecting an RV cover, it can sometimes be beneficial to choose one that’s slightly larger than your rig to have full coverage instead of having it too tight and leaving certain parts exposed.

An RV cover provides a protective layer between your rig’s exterior and the weather outside.

It won’t protect your RV’s roof from the weight of snow load. You must stay diligent about clearing your roof of snow regularly if that’s common in your area. 

The RV covers can be slightly expensive however, this long-term investment will save you from even bigger losses going forward.

And one more pro tip: be very careful when operating a snowblower anywhere near an RV cover. The heat from the snowblower’s exhaust will quickly melt the material used in the construction of many cheaper RV covers.  

8. Consider An RV Skirt

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Even if you put a cover over your RV for the winter, there’s still a good reason to consider wrapping the bottom portion of your rig with an RV skirt. When the temperatures go down, most people start to spend more time outside.

The rest of the animals that live in your area are out there searching for the warmest nook and cranny to curl up for the winter. If left unprotected, the storage compartments and areas underneath your RV can easily become those warm nooks and crannies.

And while we sympathize with the plight of animals that need to hibernate for the winter, we’re guessing you’d probably prefer that they don’t live in or under your RV.  By wrapping the bottom segment of your rig in an RV skirt, you can keep animals out and also hold more heat in. These skirts can also make a big difference in keeping your RV’s pipes from freezing during the winter. 

9. Adjust The Thermostat

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Most of us probably keep our RV’s thermostat set somewhere between 65 and 70 degrees when we’re living in it. However, there’s no reason to keep it set so high when storing your rig for the winter.

Your RV furnace is going to be the primary heat source responsible for keeping critical systems from freezing during the winter. That’s why I recommend adjusting your thermostat to about 50 degrees before closing and locking up your rig for the winter.

This provides enough buffer zone to keep things from freezing without being set too high so that you burn through all of your propane in just a month. 

10. Cover The Tires

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Covering the tires is good if you’re storing your RV outside for a full winter. This is true even if you’re keeping your rig in a covered carport, placing an RV cover over it, or wrapping the bottom in an RV skirt. 

If exposed to moisture at all, the fluctuating winter temperatures can cause your tires to crack, which leaves you much more susceptible to a blowout when you de-winterize and head out for your first trip next spring. 

To prevent the damage from happening and protect your tires from winter, you must buy some best RV tire covers on the market

11. Check Up On Your RV Regularly

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While these tips and procedures will maximize your likelihood of safely storing your RV outside for the winter, unexpected circumstances can always arrive. That’s why it’s a good practice to regularly check up on your RV throughout the winter. If you’re storing your RV right on your property, this should be relatively easy. 

But if you choose to store your rig at an off-site location, we recommend making a point to check on it every two to three weeks. However, if you can’t manage check-ups that frequently, a once-a-month check-in is an absolute must!

Key Take Aways

Winterizing StrategiesUse a breathable weather-resistant cover to shield your RV from snow, ice, and UV radiation as you get it ready for outdoor winter storage.
Water System MaintenanceTo avoid freezing damage, drain your water systems. Make sure RV antifreeze reaches all water lines, faucets, and drains to safeguard plumbing.
Propane System CheckCheck the propane system by shutting off the supply, extinguishing the pilot lights, and looking for leaks. To keep the heat on and avoid freezing, confirm the gas tank is full.
Battery MaintenanceTo confirm maximum performance, disconnect or remove the battery, store it somewhere dry and cold, and change it regularly.
Interior CleaningKeep the area hygienic, remove perishables to avoid odors, and declutter and clean the inside to keep pests away.
Covered StorageTo protect your RV from rain, snow, and the possibility of a roof collapse from snow load, store it in a covered area if at all possible. Alternatively, you can purchase a high-quality RV cover.
RV Skirt ConsiderationUsing an RV skirt to cover the lower part of your vehicle will help keep critters out and prevent pipes from freezing.
Adjust ThermostatAdjust your thermostat to avoid freezing the RV without using too much gas, set the thermostat to about 50 degrees when storing it.
Tire ProtectionEven if the RV is kept in a covered area, cover the tires to avoid the cracking caused by varying winter temperatures.
Regular Check-UpsConfirm your RV is in good condition throughout the winter by giving it a routine inspection, especially if it is kept off-site. This will allow you to take care of any problems early on.