As a proud RV owner, you know that it’s essential to winterize your camper before the cold weather sets in. But as the winter ends, it’s time to dewinterize your RV and prepare it for the summer. This saves time and money on repairs and maintenance.
To dewinterize your RV, you’ll undo the winterizing from the autumn. This includes flushing and sanitizing the water system, inspecting tires, batteries, propane, electrical, plumbing, exterior surfaces, generator, permits, and the engine.
Once all systems are functioning correctly, it’s time to hit the open road.
Table of Contents
How to Dewinterize Your RV: 17 Steps
Here are the 17 essential steps on how to dewinterize your RV.
1. Check the Exterior
You should do a quick visual check for visible damage or cracks. It’s a good idea to check the exterior before going into more extensive maintenance processes.
Over the winter, the cold could have caused paint or caulk to peel or lift. Restore any exterior siding that is damaged, especially around windows and doors.
You’ll want to ensure that all seams on the roof, body, and slides are correctly sealed. If you keep your recreational vehicle outside over the winter, look for any water damage signs on the roof. Excess snow weight can stress the van’s structure, cracking seams.
While working inside, keep an eye open for mouse damage. Here’s how to keep mice out of your RV.
2. Flush Your Water System
Flushing the water system ensures that your RV’s water supply is safe to drink and use for showering and washing dishes.
As part of your fall RV maintenance, you probably put some non-toxic antifreeze into the water system to prevent damage from frozen water. Now you’ll remove the antifreeze from the plumbing system to make it drinkable.
If you put the antifreeze into the freshwater storage tank directly, you’ll need to empty it. You may use a garden hose or city water connection rather than the in-built water pump to flush your van’s water system. That will provide a stronger stream of water that can help flush out debris or buildup from the lines.
Here are the 8 steps to flushing antifreeze from your camper.
Step-by-Step Guide to Dewinterizing your Camper
3. Sanitize Your Water System
One of the most critical steps to take when de-winterizing your RV is to sanitize the water system. You shouldn’t overlook this step, as it eliminates bacteria or contaminants that may have built up over the winter months.
Giving the bleach ample time to rest to eradicate all hazardous bacteria is essential.
Leaving the bleach in your water lines for longer may hasten the breakdown of synthetic seals. Typically, a bleach solution needs at least 12 hours to thoroughly clean your water system without causing any damage to the piping structures.
4. Inspect the Tires
Maintaining the proper tire pressure is crucial to everyone’s safety. You don’t want your treads to wear out faster than usual, handle unevenly, or blow out. Tires will typically lose between 2 and 3 pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure every month your RV is in storage.
The tires should have the recommended pressure stated in the owner’s manual. It’s a good idea to fill them up with an air compressor before moving your rig.
When evaluating your camper’s tires, look for indications of degradation, like cracks in the sidewalls and faded treads. Replacement tires are a good investment at the beginning of the season, particularly if you plan to undertake lengthy excursions.
5. Check the Batteries
Similar to tires, batteries are affected by long, cold winters. Your travel trailer’s batteries will lose a percentage of their charge for all the months you’ve been storing them.
Having your camper’s batteries charged while stored is the best way to ensure they last until the next camping season. You’ll want to ensure that the battery is still in good condition and has enough power to start the engine before your first trip.
How you store your batteries throughout the winter will determine what you’ll have to do to make them ready. Some RV owners disconnect the battery in the fall, helping it weather the cold better.
6. Check Propane Tanks
If your recreational vehicle runs on propane, you’ll want to fasten the tanks securely to their brackets and attach them to the hose. When inspecting your tanks, check the expiration date first. Propane tanks are subject to periodic recertification in most jurisdictions.
Verify your tank’s legitimacy and determine when you’ll need a license renewal. Take them to a propane station for refilling.
More reading: Can propane freeze?
7. Test Propane Appliances
After reinstalling your propane tanks, open the gas line to every appliance and verify they’re running properly on LP gas.
Before you begin testing the water heater, make sure you turn the water back on.
Common causes of propane appliances not working include the value being turned off, the excess flow valve is engaged, and your pressure regulator needing replacing. Here’s a great article about troubleshooting propane problems.
Get in touch with a professional RV service if your gas-powered appliance malfunctions. Repairing a propane leak usually requires expert servicing.
8. Check 120-Volt Equipment
If your propane appliances are working fine, plug in your unit and check the 120-volt equipment. Test all your appliances and fixtures, like air conditioners and stoves.
If your fridge is already running on propane, it would be best to open your fridge’s doors and let it fall back to room temperature before turning it around for testing in electric mode. In addition, don’t forget to check if the main outlet is working correctly.
9. Inspect for Leakages in Pipes
Inspecting for piping leaks should be part of your pre-season RV maintenance. Locating leakage sources is as simple as assessing the plumbing integrity and searching for seepage behind sinks. Make sure there is no leaking around the toilet’s rim.
Water damage may result if you don’t fix the leakages within your RV promptly. When you find a leak in your camper, fix it or take it to an RV repair shop if you don’t feel confident doing it yourself.
10. Restock Your First-Aid Kit
Having a complete first-aid kit in your RV while on the road is essential because accidents or medical emergencies can happen anytime.
Check creams and supplies for expiration dates and signs of damage.
Your first-aid kit should include basic items such as adhesive bandages, sterile gauze pads, antiseptic wipes, adhesive tape, and cold compresses. You should also have tweezers, scissors, and a thermometer.
In addition, keep an adequate supply of pain relief medications, antihistamines for allergies, and creams for insect bites and skin irritations. Having a first-aid manual ensures you can quickly reference how to handle common injuries.
11. Inspect the Engine
Inspecting your recreational vehicle’s engine involves double-checking fluid levels, the light’s working conditions, and control functionality.
Ensure the transmission, brake fluid, engine coolant, and windshield washer fluid are at their correct levels. If there are any below the level, make the necessary adjustments before heading out on your first camping trip.
Take your RV to a professional if you suspect a leak in any engine component.
12. Change Filters
It’s essential to change your RV filters during your spring dewinterization.
You’ll want to check air and water filters.
- Clean air filters mean less strain on your RV’s air conditioner. And you’ll have cleaner air.
- Fresh water filters are also a good idea. At the least, remove and inspect them. Make sure they are working correctly before heading out on your first adventure of the season.
13. Open and Inspect Windows and Air Vents
As you complete these steps, pop open your windows and vents. Get some fresh air in your fresh-out-of-storage RV.
As you open them, watch for functioning latches, water damage, and smooth hinges. Lubricate and clean as needed.
Air ventilation guarantees adequate airflow throughout your camper, preventing excessive humidity and keeping you cool during the summer.
Efficiently operating air ventilations are especially important since they prevent hazardous gas buildup within the RV – especially if running heating devices.
Take a couple of minutes to wash your windows (both sides).
14. Ensure Your Permits and Coverage Are Up to Date
Likely you’ll have to register your RV every one to two years. Check your registration sticker and ensure that you’re good for the season.
Many states and provinces require that your RV be registered and insured to operate legally on public roads. Updating your registration during winterization will make sure that it doesn’t get forgotten.
Don’t forget to check your insurance coverage, printing the required paperwork. If you have a trailer, consider adding optional insurance to protect against theft, vandalism, or collision.
15. Check and Run the Generator
The specific settings and details for running your generator will be found in your user manual. Here are a few details to consider.
- Service your generator if the oil level is low or due for a change. Verify the oil level if you own an RV with an onboard generator.
- Inspect the generator’s exhaust system and air filter before starting it up. Remove any leaves or debris from the housing.
- The generator should fire up without trouble. This is especially true if you ran it while it was stored. If you didn’t use the generator during storage, you should run it at a reduced load for several hours.
Consult the user manual to find out the maximum recommended loads. The generator may require expert servicing if it surges or doesn’t start.
16. Inspect Safety Devices
An incident-free RV camping season is possible with some planning.
During your camper dewinterization, take a couple of minutes to check and test all safety devices.
- Check all safety equipment. This includes smoke alarms, extinguishers, propane and CO detectors.
- Vacuum and dust surfaces. Ensure that there is airflow to all detectors and alarms. Looks for signs of corrosion and other damage.
- Battery-operated safety gadgets should get fresh batteries. Learn the warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning and how to spot and fix a leak in your camper’s carbon monoxide detector.
- Familiarize yourself with the RV’s fire extinguisher and all safety alarm sounds.
17. Lubricate All Moving Parts
Another critical step in dewinterization is lubricating all moving parts on your RV.
That includes the following parts:
- Wheel bearings
- Slide out
- Lubrication helps prevent friction and wear on the moving parts, extending their lifespan and improving their performance.
- Lubrication can help prevent rust and corrosion on the moving parts, which causes them to get stuck or fail together. Regular lubrication makes your RV run more smoothly and quietly.
Check your owner’s manual to see any specific lubrication instructions, as some RV manufacturers may have their recommendations.
Other Dewinterization Considerations
Other steps to consider when preparing for your first trip of the season.
- Wash all linens, restock with pillows and blankets
- Check cleaning supplies
- Bring out phone and camera chargers
- Restock kitchen pantry items
- Restock pet supplies (blankets, leashes, litter, as needed)
Did I miss a step? Please share it in the comments below.
Keep reading: Guides for RV Living
Dewinterizing your camper is crucial to preparing for the upcoming camping season. To dewinterize your RV, you’re essentially undoing all of the steps that you did to winterize it in the first place.
I would love to hear what else is part of your spring routine.
- About the Author
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Bryan Haines is a co-founder and blogger on GudGear – and is working to make it the best resource for outdoor gear and guides.
He loves the outdoors and has hiked the Andes, kayaked the Galapagos, and biked and camped around Nova Scotia, Canada.
He is a travel blogger at Storyteller Travel and blogs about photography at Storyteller Tech. He is also co-founder of Storyteller Media, a company he started with his wife, Dena.