Can you live in a camper in the winter? In this article, you will find our expert advice from over 30 years of enjoyment of our RV with which we have traveled and also lived in our RV long enough to handle situations that can recurrently worry us. Like the one described in this article about How to Winterize a Camper To Live In or Travel to freezing areas. In addition to many other related topics, you will find in the core of our article relevant information on How to winterize a camper to live in: humidity control, reduce heat loss, RV Skirting, and how to heat a camper without electricity.
Living in a camper in the winter can be challenging. The winter season poses some challenges that are easy to overcome with the right information.
Topics and Checklist to Cover Camper Winterization To Live In & Travel In Winter
That is why in this article I have sought to summarize but at the same time explain in detail my 30 years of experience living in an RV and how I overcame the hard battles of winter and the roads. My colleagues and our readers have provided comments to update this article, seeking to give you the best information. Below you will find sections that seek to answer the most common questions such as:
- How to winterize a camper to live in: humidity control, reduce heat loss, RV Skirting, and how to heat a camper without electricity.
- How to winterize a camper before traveling with freezing temperatures
- RV storage during winter – How to prevent molds?
- How to use the RV antifreeze, handle RV antifreeze, and is RV antifreeze toxic?
- How to prevent burst pipes in the RV
- How to keep mice out of the RV when living in
- How to winterize a motorhome for winter living
- How to winterize a travel trailer for living in
- Finally, we will review how to de-winterize a camper
Can You Live in a Camper in the Winter?
Can You Live in a Camper in the Winter? The key points to understand in the challenge of winterizing a camper for living in or traveling in freezing temperatures are to avoid freezing of all water systems (potable and non-potable) and consequently breakage of pipes due to freezing. Not to lose the functionality of any system that would cause a decrease in comfort or quality of life inside the camper, trailer, or RV in general, such as water system for dishwashing, water system in the toilet, wastewater drainage, etc. Keep the camper warm without carbon monoxide poisoning or excess humidity. Maintain a comfortable temperature inside the camper, with the least possible loss of heat, or in other words, using energy as efficiently as possible. How to use non-toxic RV antifreeze economically (but non-toxic), efficiently, and without incurring intoxication can also be a big challenge, especially for those looking to live in the camper.
Throughout our lives, I have lived and seen with my wife countless situations in which our colleagues in RVs (even ourselves when we were young and inexperienced), are not prepared for changing weather conditions. Think of it this simply, every time you are on the road, your camper, your trailer, your RV is your home when you are on the road, it protects you and you protect it, that relationship, that love affair, will never change. However, the weather can be the enemy of that relationship, nothing changes like the weather. So if you are heading into cold temperatures, don’t prepare for the normal cold, don’t prepare to drive in only 1 inch of snow. Go prepared for war, to battle that inclement weather. In the following paragraphs, we will review together tips on how to winterize a camper for different cold conditions, including extreme cold conditions.
How To Winterize A Camper in Winter
In this article, we discuss the challenge of winterizing your camper, its pros, and cons. Here is your complete guide on how to winterize a camper to live in or for traveling to areas with freezing temperatures.
RV Storage During Winter
Even if this article is to give information about How to Winterize a Camper To Live In, you will find great tips to set your RV in the same location (even if it is not stored) during wintertime. I encourage you to read this section.
RV Storage During Winter. If the camper is going to be in storage do not even think that the legs of the camper support all the weight, it would be a very bad decision. With the legs raised, the weight of the camper will not be on the wheels, so the weight will be distributed.
RV Storage During Winter. If possible, it is best to lift the wheels with hydraulic jacks until the wheels are in the air, so they do not support long the same pressure at the same point. It is not necessary to remove the wheels but it is advisable to lift the legs enough so that they are supported but do not support too much pressure.
The tires of the RV will suffer when being 4-5 months without moving. It is not advisable to have the tires in the same position, without movement, and support all the weight for a long time. Also, the legs of the RV support the weight, it is not recommendable to avoid deterioration.
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RV Storage During Winter. As for the tires, if it is not possible to raise them from the ground, a good option is to cover the tires with some covers to avoid direct sunlight and to prevent the rubber from cracking. If the camper is stored under the roof it is not necessary to cover the tires.
RV Storage During Winter. If the camper will be located outdoors, cover the wheels and the camper drawbar to protect it from inclement weather.
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When storing the RV, remember to remove the handbrake so that it does not seize.
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How to Prevent Mold in RV During Storage
When you are living in the camper one of the challenges is to control the humidity and prevent molds, even if your camper is not in storage. Here are a few tips useful when you are trying to Winterize a Camper To Live In but also when you are storing your camper during winter.
How to Prevent Mold in RV During Storage. We have noticed that many websites recommend placing a container of water inside the camper to prevent the “enclosed” smell and also so that the furniture does not dry out so much. However, this is not adequate advice and is not based on any scientific truth. On the contrary, leaving the bucket of water evaporates when the temperature rises but does not collect the humidity when it falls, condensing the furniture, ruining the wood, fabrics, camper decorations, and rusting everything. The disadvantage is that it does not produce a controlled humidity condition and can facilitate fungal growth.
How to Prevent Mold in RV During Storage. During RV storage, especially when RVs are stored outdoors, the most recommended option is to make a minimal investment and opt for devices that help control humidity. These inexpensive and very effective devices are based on chemicals such as silica, carbonates, and charcoal, mixed in the right proportions to be non-toxic, control humidity and also prevent the development of fungi, viruses, and bacteria that generate bad odors in the campers in storage. Keep in mind that every so often it wears out and you should put a new one or place numerous anti-humidity devices according to the dimensions of the environment, cabinets, closets, etc., following the manufacturer’s recommendations.
How To Winterize a Camper To Live In
How to Winterize a Camper To Live In. If you are going to travel in your RV where freezing temperatures are likely to occur, this article is for you. If your RV is in an area with freezing temperatures, and you want to preserve it and avoid any damage, then this article is for you as well. If you are looking for how to winterize a camper to live in, please continue reading this article.
How To Winterize a Camper for Travel or To Live In: Precautions to Avoid Freezing and Damages
How To Winterize a Camper for Travel or To Live In: Precautions to Avoid Freezing and Damages. Please note that if you are traveling to an area where there is a possibility of freezing temperatures, your camper must be winterized. This is because most campers, trailers, and RVs, in general, are not designed to be used in below-freezing conditions.
We STRONGLY recommend that the unit be kept winterized until warmer weather is reached. Failure to follow these recommendations may result in damage charges.
How To Winterize a Camper Before Traveling with Freezing Temperatures
The following steps MUST be followed before traveling to areas with freezing temperatures:
- All water must be drained from tanks and clean water, greywater, and black water piping.
- The water heater drain plug must be removed. The water heater valves must be placed in bypass mode.
- You must use a non-toxic antifreeze specially designed for wintering RVs and boats. Do not use ordinary car antifreeze! Add antifreeze to the empty clean water tank and turn on the water pump. Let the antifreeze replace any remaining water in the system by opening every valve through which water normally flows (for example sink, toilet, shower, etc.). In a few paragraphs, we will talk especially about how to choose and use non-toxic RV antifreeze and how much antifreeze is needed for an RV.
- When in frozen areas, never let tanks fill more than half full.
In freezing areas, do not let the water tank be more than half full. For your safety: Do not modify or heat your vehicle improperly to avoid any danger.
Using ventless heaters is not suitable for maintaining room temperatures, such as space heaters or gas stoves/oven ventless heaters generate carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that can be fatal, and also produce approximately ½ gallon of water for every gallon of fuel.
Any type of heater that burns fuel inside the room must be properly vented to remove the presence of toxic fumes. Be sure to have a fire extinguisher and carbon monoxide detectors on hand.
How To Winterize a Camper: Humidity Control
Let’s review How to Control Humidity when Winterizing a Travel Trailer to live in.
How To Winterize a Camper: Humidity Control. The camper being warm without carbon monoxide poisoning or excessive humidity could be a challenge. In the following paragraphs let’s discuss how to winterize a camper, maintain a comfortable temperature in the camper, minimize heat loss, or in other words, use the energy as efficiently as possible.
Unlike ventless heaters that burn fuel such as propane gas, electric resistance, and vented combustion heaters do not create humidity problems.
People and animals living inside the vehicle will produce enough moisture and condensation will form on surfaces where the air is saturated. Health problems can arise when humidity levels are high due to mold growth.
Be sure to periodically provide some form of ventilation to avoid the presence of unhealthy conditions and to prevent damage to your camper parts. Monitor humidity levels and keep them below or between 30 and 40 %, depending on the amount of condensation that forms. You can find humidity monitors in most hardware stores. Where to focus your insulation and sealing efforts:
How To Winterize a Camper to Live In: What to Do with the RV Windows and Doors to Reduce Heat Loss
Winterize a Travel Trailer For Living In
How To Winterize A Travel Trailer For Living In. When winterizing a camper is important to understand what to do with the RV windows to reduce heat loss.
To reduce heat loss in your vehicle and improve your comfort by sealing air leaks through the use of thermal insulation.
Double and triple-glazed windows reduce heat transfer and reduce condensation problems, but are not present. You can create the same effect by installing Lexan or thick plastic sheeting on the outside of windows, and adding heat-shrink plastic sheeting on the inside, thus reducing heat loss and cold air infiltration.
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It is recommended to carry external thermal insulators for the windows, mainly for the front ones, to avoid freezing of the glass, not only on the outside but also on the inside (Order it here).
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Install curtains that provide insulation and at the same time are decorative. Quilted wool or fleece fabrics work well and can be purchased at factory outlets or chain shops. Use Velcro or other fasteners to hold the curtain against the wall, keeping them sealing and reducing wind gusts.
Cover windows whose primary use is not lighting, especially those facing the north side of the camper. Use foam insulation to reduce heat loss.
Tape-insulating rubber adhesive tape around the door frame.
Because doors may be poorly insulated, weatherstripping and padded fabric curtains covering the entire door are recommended, as well as for windows.
Winterize a Camper: Roof Vents
Let’s see how to winterize the RV Roof Vents
You will require ventilation to replace moist indoor air with dry outdoor air. Tape and insulate vents with some type of sealing material, but it should be easily removed.
To seal vents, purchase industrially manufactured plugs or rigid insulation; cut the material to the same size as the opening and wrap it with masking tape to strengthen it.
Electrical Openings and Pipes
Let’s see how to winterize the Electrical Openings and Pipes of a camper. Seal areas around electrical openings and pipes that have external outlets. If possible, caulk small holes and use expanding foam insulation to seal large areas. Be cautious with the use of foams as they can expand and damage certain areas.
Low-expansion foams have traditionally been used to seal doors and windows, and are readily available. Remember that glass fiber insulation does not obstruct air movement, so plugging openings with glass fiber will only be effective if they have been previously sealed.
How To Heat A Camper Without Electricity
At this point, we must consider a recurring situation in our RV life. We are not always hooked up. Sometimes, do not have the power for everything we would like, or we want to save energy.
Even many times we are boondocking and we do not have the conditions to use a high energy consumption or we are looking to save energy. After all, we are looking at all the options that will make it easier to live in the camper during the winter. So I think it’s important to summarize some tips and ideas about How To Heat A Camper Without Electricity.
RV Skirting for Camper Live In
How To Winterize A Travel Trailer For Living In
RV Skirting for Camper Live In. The RV skirt is just the material placed around the bottom of the camper. The main reason for RV Skirting and placing is to protect the landing gear from cold temperatures.
This is a great way to keep warm in winter, but many people are starting to buy them to keep cool in summer. A skirt for your RV (RV Skirting) can provide a barrier against the cold and wind. When your propane cost is lower and you don’t have to pay for a damaged water pipe, a small investment in the skirt will bring a huge return.
The addition of RV skirting to the motorhome, camper, or trailer is essential to reduce heat loss. You can buy commercially manufactured skirting boards or make them out of different materials, such as plywood or rigid insulation.
The use of rigid insulation helps to maintain the temperature of the underside of the camper, thus keeping the floor warm and the area under the vehicle free from freezing. If the ground has not yet frozen and the area allows it, bury the skirting a few inches, which will provide stability and reduce airflow. You can see some examples of how other people have built skirting for their campers.
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How to keep mice out of the RV when living. Do not use a straw for RV skirting because they attract rodents, retain moisture, and is a fire hazard.
Skirting boards create a dark, warm environment that attracts rodents, so you should take precautions to control rodents. The best option is to seal any holes larger than ¼ inch. Seal the holes with expanding foam, then cut a thin piece of aluminum foil from a soda can and place it over the hole. Place traps and poison baits in the slots where the seal has left gaps.
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If you want a high-quality RV skirt without a custom style price tag, the EZ Snap RV skirt is a good choice. The EZ Snap skirt comes in a kit, you can measure and install it yourself. The kit comes in various sizes. You choose the one recommended for your rig, and then you are responsible for installing the fasteners, cutting the material according to your measurements, and hanging the skirt.
EZ Snap provides many tutorial videos to simplify the process. The EZ Snap RV skirt is made of Diamond Weave™ premium skirt vinyl. Diamond Weave™ is a very sturdy and durable vinyl material, and its storage volume is half that of conventional RV skirting. It is said that they can be used in harsh winter conditions for 6-8 years. The price of this solution will vary depending on the size of the kit you need, but the most common kit (80 feet) costs $814.
Slightly different from the traditional vinyl or fabric RV skirts you might think of is AirSkirts as an option for RV Skirting. The solution is reliable and innovative. The “skirt” is made of an inflated cylinder tube. The skirt kit has a variety of sizes and can be used with various sizes of drilling rigs. The kit comes with a tube, electric air pump, storage bag, and patch kit. Pricing starts at US$1,299. AirSkirts provides a five-year warranty. This may be the best choice in the market.
Remove snow that accumulates on top of collapsible compartments to reduce water damage. When snow accumulates on the top of the collapsible compartment, the heating inside the camper can melt the bottom layer of snow, creating an ice dam. You can use rigid insulation to seal the body of the camper. However, any insulation you put over the top of the compartments should contain a slope, thus allowing water to drain out of the camper.
Winterizing RV Water Tanks in the Winter
How to Winterize a Camper – Water Tanks. Check that tanks and pipes are insulated and that heating circulates them. If possible, you could leave cabinet doors open or use small electric heaters.
Pipes that are not insulated and are not at warm temperatures, such as showerheads or outside taps, should be drained to avoid damage from freezing water.
A special anti-freeze fluid can be substituted for water to prevent water systems from freezing. Customers should plan to use bottled water.
Maintaining open freshwater intakes is very difficult during the winter. One option is to wrap the hose with heat tape and use pipe insulation, but this could create a fire hazard. To make it easier to use the camper’s freshwater tank, the tank should be thermally insulated, rather than exposed to freezing.
It is also recommended that you fill the tank periodically and thermally insulate it from the outside.
Wastewater And Sewage Systems
Wastewater And Sewage Systems During Winter. Verify that tanks are thermally insulated.
To reduce the possibility of tanks freezing, use electric heaters with restraints and periodically empty tanks rather than letting them drain continuously. Preventing the freezing of external drainage pipes will be a very difficult task.
Do not stick to the use of flexible drainage hoses that can easily become brittle in extreme cold; instead, install PVC pipe in the drains.
Whether you call it to engine coolant or antifreeze, the fluid in the radiator serves several functions as it circulates through the engine block and keeps the mechanisms in perfect working order.
How Much RV Antifreeze to Put on Holding Tanks
Let’s review How Much RV Antifreeze to Put on Holding Tanks.
For those who may not know what is a Holding Tank, there are other names such as the Black Water Tank or the Sewage Tank. Although you need to make sure that this piece comes to mind, you want a solid and reliable tank that can be placed in a category out of sight. The RecPro system is one of the good options in the market that provides a complete set of water tanks to meet all your black water needs. The high quality and durability come from the construction and engineering of these tanks.
Holding tanks are the proper way to transport waste from your RV. Portable waste haulers allow you to transport waste from your RV or trailer to a disposal station. Using portable waste haulers is ideal for when you’re parked too far away for an RV sewer hose.
A rugged holding tank is needed, with non-flat wheels with bearings that make transporting smooth and effortless. Easy to transport the tank like a suitcase when using a removable steel trailer adapter. Get it to tow it slowly behind a truck or golf cart. Some portable waste haulers include an integrated ladder that allows you to securely attach it to the RV or camper ladder when not in use and hold it securely in place.
Holding tanks allow for effortless emptying. A smooth interior allows for easy cleaning. They are constructed of extremely durable, blow-molded, stabilized high-density polyethylene that will not leak or deteriorate in the sun.
- Not for Sale or Shipping to California.
- ODOR FREE: absolutely no sewer smell
- EFFECTIVE: in extreme hot and cold temperatures (over 100° F)
Many people ask How Much RV Antifreeze to Put on Holding Tanks depending on the type of antifreeze used. Some antifreeze could be diluted. Other types of antifreeze need to be used ready-to-use, not diluted to prevent burst pipes and freeze conditions on the RV holding tanks.
For example when using Star Brite antifreeze -100°F, DO NOT DILUTE for use on holding tanks. If you are looking to winterize your camper to live in, is very import understand how to properly use the RV antifreeze on your water system, sewage tanks, and drinkable water systems and tanks.
- Star brite Wintersafe -100°F (-73°C) Non-Toxic Antifreeze provides excellent cold weather and corrosion protection for drinking water systems and all engines
- Its premium additive package prevents corrosion of aluminum, copper, brass and solder, but will not harm rubber, seals or hose materials.
- The 3X-died blue color provides excellent blow-through visibility.
How to Use the RV Antifreeze on the Holding Tanks
In the following paragraphs, we are going to review How to Use the RV Antifreeze on the Holding Tanks.
Firstly, drain the entire water system as much as possible. Turn on the hot and cold water taps and all other outlets. If possible, blow out as much water as possible with compressed air. Continue draining the hot water tank and leaving the drain cock open after emptying. Then, disconnect the water inlet and outlet lines and connect them with fittings or hoses and hose clamps to transfer the hot water tank.
Secondly, add non-toxic antifreeze to the drinking water system. If using an RV Antifreeze with indications such as “Do not Dilute”, do not dilute. Believe me, if the vendor is saying “do not dilute”, follow that recommendation. Pressurize the system or turn on the demand pump. Then, starting from the furthest faucet, turn on each faucet and let the antifreeze flow out until colored liquid appears, then turn off the faucet. The antifreeze on the market has strong colors (blue, pink, etc.) to ensure this step is correct.
Repeat this step for each freshwater outlet and flush the toilet several times to ensure complete drainage. Make sure that the water storage tanks or holding tanks are completely empty. Activate the pump valve several times to ensure that there is enough antifreeze to protect the system from debris.
What Is Antifreeze?
In the following paragraphs, we are going to review: What Is Antifreeze? Is RV Antifreeze Toxic? Is RV Antifreeze Toxic to Animals? How to Use RV Antifreeze?
In general, antifreeze or coolant is a mixture of a form of glycol and water in equal parts. Glycol is the antifreeze compound in the mixture, which ensures that the fluid does not solidify in harsh winter conditions. On the other hand, glycol also prevents the coolant from reaching a boiling point in extremely hot conditions. It helps keep the engine temperature stable in all weather extremes and under all driving conditions by transferring heat from the engine to the radiator.
Interestingly, water in its pure state is a better conductor of heat than coolant (which is why water is simply used in the radiators of certain types of race cars). However, the coolant/antifreeze has other additives that prevent internal rust and corrosion of the radiator, engine, and air conditioning system of the vehicle.
Is RV Antifreeze Toxic?
Is RV Antifreeze Toxic to Animals?
Is RV Antifreeze Toxic to Animals? RV Antifreeze based on ethylene glycol is toxic for humans if ingested and is toxic to the environment. The glycol most frequently used as antifreeze is ethylene glycol, a toxic substance that is lethal if ingested and requires very specific handling.
What is RV Antifreeze?
It is a common question asking about What is RV Antifreeze. Another base used for antifreeze is propylene glycol. Propylene glycol-based antifreeze provides a very safe level of toxicity compared to ethylene glycol-based antifreeze. Non-toxic, propylene glycol-based antifreeze is more expensive and does not provide as much freeze protection or heat transfer capability as ethylene glycol. The difference in corrosion inhibitor additive performance of the two substances is not significant. Propylene glycol has slower biodegradation compared to ethylene glycol and is more flammable. Always use extreme care when handling coolants and dispose of them properly.
Any antifreeze, whether ethylene glycol or propylene glycol-based, can cause heavy metal contamination during use. Particularly for RVs and boats, where the non-toxic coolant used is added in the winter to all water systems that may come in contact with humans, propylene glycol-based, USP-grade antifreeze is used to ensure that it is also safe for human consumption, free of heavy metals.
In RV drinking water systems, ideally, a non-toxic, USP-grade antifreeze should be used to provide excellent cold weather and corrosion protection for drinking water systems and their pumping systems. It is essential to avoid corrosion of aluminum, copper, brass, and solder, not to damage PVC, rubber, seals, or hose materials. It should also be considered to protect water systems and motors from freezing during storage.
Antifreeze fluids are used in boats, motor homes, vacation homes, and swimming pools. Depending on the concentration of the product and low temperatures, these products can be used in concentrated or diluted form. The cost of the product can be misleading, and the directions for use should be carefully observed. The high risk when using antifreeze liquid in drinking water systems is to choose an inexpensive but toxic liquid or to dilute it incorrectly, without preventing freezing.
The RV antifreeze formulation for drinkable water is non-toxic and biodegradable and is dyed in a bright, easy-to-recognize color for easy visibility through blow-through. The non-alcoholic -50ºF, -100ºF, and -200ºF formulations provide excellent copper and PVC burst protection and corrosion inhibitors.
Star brite® -200°F (-129°C) non-toxic antifreeze provides extreme cold weather and corrosion protection for drinking water systems and all engines. An antifreeze formulation prevents corrosion of aluminum, copper, brass, and solder, and, at the same time, it does not damage rubber, seals, or hose materials. The 3X dyed blue color provides excellent penetration visibility. It is formulated with original non-toxic USP-grade ingredients. It does not contain alcohol. The product is ready-to-use or can only be diluted according to the following dilution ratio.
One of the best antifreeze for RVs non-toxic in the market is the commercial brand Star brite®. With different presentations and concentrations, this antifreeze version “-200°F (-129°C)” provides -200°F (-129°C) for burst protection. While the version “-50°F (-46°C)” provides excellent cold weather and corrosion protection for drinking water systems, as well as for all engines, at an attractive price. Particularly, Star brite® is formulated with original non-toxic USP grade ingredients, not containing alcohol. It is strongly suggested to follow vendor recommendations, as some antifreeze presentations require to be used ready-to-use and not diluted it minimizing any risk of burst protection.
The correct use of antifreeze liquid non-toxic is the most effective way to winterize a camper preventing burst pipes and freezing on drinkable water systems.
Fuel Additives For RV During Winter
Fuel Additives For RV During Winter. Fuel additives are chemical substances that when in contact with gasoline improve their properties. Gasoline additives can improve performance or clean the car’s injection system, but we don’t always know what their function really is.
According to the experts, these are some of the benefits of using fuel additives when refueling:
RV Fuel Stabilizer for Winter: Improves Engine Power
RV Fuel Stabilizer for Winter: Improves Engine Power. One of the main benefits of the additive is to help improve engine performance. When we add a gasoline additive, the improved combustion will increase the power of the engine by a percentage.
The additive increases the octane level we get from the fuel, giving more power to the engine, using the same fuel. Getting more power from the engine puts less demand on the engine and this helps you get better fuel economy.
RV Winter: Better Engine Maintenance
RV Winter: Better Engine Maintenance. Another important benefit of using additives is that the wear of the combustion chamber wears much less compared to not using an additive.
The function of gasoline additives is to prevent this deterioration since they protect the engine and its parts: cylinders, rings, pistons, liners, and even valves.
This protection provided by additives to engine parts helps them last longer and avoids excessive maintenance costs.
RV Winter: Prevents Sludge Build-Up
RV Winter: Prevents Sludge Build-Up. The additive lubricates the internal parts of the engine combustion chamber, facilitating a freer and frictionless operation. All this helps to prevent the accumulation of sludge and dirt inside the chamber, which also allows the free movement of all parts.
The use of gasoline additives helps a lot in the operation and protects the engine parts, these are a great support for the engine.
Checklist to Winterize a Camper Before Travel In Winter
How to Winterize a Camper Before Travel – Checklist. In our lifetime, my wife and I have lived together and have seen countless situations in which our colleagues in the RV were not prepared for the changing weather conditions. Simply think about it, every time you are on the road, your camper, your trailer, or your RV is your home on the road, it protects you and you must protect it, that kind of love never changes.
However, the weather can be the enemy of this relationship, and nothing can change more than the weather. Therefore, if you are going into cold temperatures, do not prepare for the normal cold, and do not prepare to drive in only 1 inch of snow. Prepare for war and fight against bad weather.
In the following paragraphs, we will review together tips on how to winterize a camper, even a pop-up camper, and how to winterize a camper to live in, during different cold conditions, including extreme cold conditions.
1 – Never Go Skiing Or Snowboarding Without RV Snow Chains Or Winter Contact Tires
- In mountain areas, even if it looks like a nice day, the weather can change in a second and start snowing. Moreover, if it is cold, no one can assure you that you won’t find a patch of ice or snow on the road. Therefore, never forget to carry chains, and if possible 4, one for each wheel. Large motorhomes need 4 rather than 2 for proper traction. There are chains of many types, some easier than others to put on and of different formats: fabric, iron, etc…
- Now, if you are going to go up to the snow every weekend to ski, snowshoe, or do any other activity, we recommend you put winter contact wheels on your motorhome. You will have total peace of mind. For absolute safety, put two more chains in the luggage under extreme conditions.
2- Never Turn Off The Heating
- Do not turn off the heating. When you leave the RV on a ski slope or in a cold place with snow, do not turn off the heater of the RV. Therefore, if you are considering buying a motorhome for skiing, please consider which fuel you prefer to use for heating (diesel or gasoline). Remember, propane gas is always at a lower temperature than butane gas. You can set the temperature very low, but never completely stop it.
- Otherwise what you may find when you arrive at the motorhome is that your water pipes or chemical toilet freeze.
- On the other hand, from time to time, it is good to turn on the boiler, and the water heater, to have hot water and to be able to wash or wash the dishes with hot water, at the same time that we heat the pipes. There are in some motor homes and campers that the heating and the boiler go together, in that case, you will do it all in one.
3 – How Not To Let The Gray Water Freeze
- Never let your grey water tank freeze if it is more than 3/4 full. In that case, you could cause the tank and pipes of the motorhome to burst. A big disappointment for enjoying a snowy day in a motorhome.
- To avoid this, there are several options.
- If you are only going to go to the snow in a motorhome, camper, or any RV in general, for a weekend, always go up with an empty tank and be careful not to fill the tank of the grey ones to more than 3/4. On the way home, they will thaw on the way down and you will be able to empty them without any problem. You may have to stop showering a bit for this option, but with the cold, no one will know about it, don’t worry.
- When you go skiing or snowboarding for more than 3 or 4 days, you will have to apply other techniques. Here the best technique is to always let the gray tank drip. –If there is water circulation, it will not freeze. What should I do? Place a camping tank or bucket under the gray water pipe and open it slightly. This will prevent the greywater from freezing and you will be able to empty it. Another option, not at all ecological and that we do not recommend, is to pour car antifreeze liquid through the pipes. Or the most pro option, but that we consider that it is not essential either, for not being 100% reliable, but the extra of the tank heater of the gray ones.
4 – Never Let Your Batteries Run Out And Watch Out That With The Cold They Discharge Before
- Keep a close eye on your battery levels. Batteries, solar panels, a cold, and little sun, are a fun combination.
- Even if you have a solar panel, you can have problems. In winter, with bad weather and little sun, they will not be charged as much as they will be discharged by the cold. In these cases watch out, start the engine, go on a route or go to a campsite and plug into an electrical outlet if you are going to be stopped for many days.
- Be foresighted and leave home with the batteries of your caravan well filled.
- Be sure to choose a battery suitable for cold weather Best Deep Cycle RV Battery for Cold Weather (LiFePO4 vs. AGM)
5 – Never Leave Home Without A Full Tank Of Clean Water If You Are Going To Go To The Snow In A Camper, Vehicle, RV In General
- In cold and snowy areas, all outdoor water sources and outlets are usually cut off, so finding water will be difficult, neither in the motorhome areas nor in public places. Even in the mountain campgrounds themselves, it is often more difficult than usual.
- You will be able to get water in the campgrounds or a public restroom, but we recommend that you take a long hose with you. This is because the winter water supply is usually located inside the bathrooms.
- The clean water tank is usually inside the motorhome. Therefore, if you always have the heating on at a good temperature you will not have to worry about it freezing, and you can take it fully without any problem.
Checklist To Winterize a Camper to Live In
How To Winterize A Camper To Live In. As we have been discussing in this article, the challenge of wintering campers living or traveling in cold temperatures is to avoid freezing all water systems (drinking and non-drinking water), to avoid rupture of pipes due to icing. It will not lose any system functions that will reduce the comfort or quality of life in campers, trailers, and RVs, such as dishwashing water systems, toilet water systems, wastewater drainage systems, etc.
How To Winterize A Camper To Live In. Keep the camper warm without carbon monoxide poisoning or excessive humidity. Maintain a comfortable temperature in the camper, minimize heat loss, or in other words, use energy as efficiently as possible. How to use non-toxic RV antifreeze economically (but non-toxic) and effectively without causing poisoning is also a big challenge, especially for those who wish to live in a campervan.
Going on a trip or route with the caravan in winter is a very nice and fun experience. The landscapes are snowy, the fog over the mountains… Nowadays the vehicles are well adapted to withstand low temperatures and protect them from the cold. Even so, it is advisable to dedicate time to the preparation and planning of this.
Checklist To Winterize a Camper to Live in
Let’s review our checklist summarizing How To Winterize A Camper To Live In – How To Winterize A Travel Trailer For Living In – How to Winterize a Motorhome for Winter Living – Checklist.
Even if the outside temperature is below 0ºC, it is difficult for our water system to freeze. Even so, it is advisable that when we have the vehicle parked we empty the installation with the faucet and the water in the tank and toilet. In this way, we will avoid that it freezes and breaks produced.
Always use propane gas, since the butane with low temperatures can gasify. Take a spare bottle with you or make sure that the campsite where you are going to stay has it.
Before turning on the heating, make sure that the chimney or the smoke outlet is not blocked by snowfall. When you turn it on, turn it to the minimum for a while to avoid air clogging.
Make sure that the exterior connections are not wet or clogged by snow. Generally, if your electrical installation is 220V it does not need more. If the battery is less, always keep it charged as the cold and humidity make it discharge faster.
If you use a specific advance for snow you do not have to do anything. It is prepared to withstand snowfall. If, on the other hand, the advance is normal, it is advisable to use tubes, legs, and reinforcement beams to increase resistance.
If a large amount of snow has fallen on the roof, it is advisable to remove it to avoid an overload when it freezes. Also, protect the seals from the logical humidity of the caravan. Do not forget to take chains with you, they are mandatory. Another option, as campers do, is to change your tires to special winter tires.
Always wear good hiking boots and thermal and warm clothing. Be prepared for rain and snow. To sleep, take warm blankets. Once you have prepared everything down to the accessories, you just have to get going. Drive with caution.
How to De-Winterize a Camper – What to Do After the Trip: Checklist
In the following paragraphs, there is a checklist summarizing How to De-Winterize a Camper – What to Do After the Trip: Checklist.
De-Winterize: Removing Antifreeze
After the trip or when seasons change the process of de-winterize a camper starts. Let’s review the steps to de-winterize a camper.
Firstly, if the temperature is warm, drain the antifreeze and clean all the pipes and tanks.
In the following paragraphs, we are going to review How to De-Winterize a Camper – Removing Antifreeze.
When the temperature is changing and spring is starting, it is the right time to de-winterize a camper. All the drinkable water system is full of antifreeze.
To de-winterize a camper the first step is to remove the RV antifreeze on the system. First, flush the entire system thoroughly with fresh water for 15 to 20 minutes, until all the colored antifreeze has been removed from the system and is no longer visible. To keep the freshwater system clean and free of scale and sediment, some additives for cleaning are strongly recommended as the Star Brite Aqua Clean.
RV Engine Winter
- Perform all necessary maintenance on the cooling system before handling.
- Drain the coolant by the engine manufacturer’s procedures.
- Fill the engine cooling system with antifreeze to -100°F-do not dilute.
- When the engine returns to use, drain the antifreeze and replace it with the oil recommended by the manufacturer. Correctly dispose of used antifreeze according to government regulations.
Wash fully your vehicle. Do not wait until the winter ends. During winter roads have tons of salt to try to prevent the formation of ice and snow. A safety measure that, once the bad weather has passed, can cause considerable damage to our vehicles. The reason? The salt accumulates in the underbody, and since it has strong corrosive power, if it is not quickly removed it can damage both the sheet metal and the mechanical parts of the vehicle, camper, trailer motorhome, and any RVs that are in contact with it (suspension, brakes, exhaust…).
There are several ways to remove it, which are described below:
- Use a pressure gun from gas stations to forcefully clean the underbody. In this way, the salt, which may have become encrusted, is broken down and removed from the vehicle.
- It is necessary to pay special attention to the interior of the wheel arches, the tires, and, in general, the pieces that are left to sight under the car.
- If salt remains on the underbody after pressure washing, the affected elements must be cleaned by hand, with warm water, soap, and a scouring pad that does not scratch the metal. For it will be necessary to get under the car, or if there is not enough space, with a hydraulic jack to place it on all by using metallic supports to leave the vehicle lifted.
- If the salt produces stains on the bodywork, it is not necessary to rub it with force to remove it, it could scratch the painting. It is necessary to use soft chamois, water, and soap. If they do not go away, it is necessary to apply a solvent for bodywork. If despite all this it does not go away, it will be necessary to apply in that zone a little abrasive polish. It will not be for lack of alternatives…
We try to avoid the effects of salt in the car. They are not infallible, but it is better to minimize the damage produced by an element, a priori, so “innocent” as it could seem the salt. Nothing could be further from the truth, it is a great danger for the car.
Regardless of the temperature or weather, I will strongly suggest washing the vehicle externally, very deep clean, to prevent corrosion with the salt used on the roads. Do not wait.
Finally, you will have to take into account the maintenance of the caravan until the next adventure.
We hope you enjoyed and found our tips on how to winterize a camper useful, whether for traveling during freezing temperatures or winterizing a camper to live in.
Remember that if you are prepared for extreme weather, you will always be in good condition for any weather challenge, and to continue to enjoy the comfort of your camper.