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Bummer! The RVing season is over and it's time to put your baby to bed over the long winter season. That's where that dirty word "Winterizing" comes in. It ranks right up there with "Insurance Premiums" and "Taxes". But, your RV can't just sit there over the winter without some sort of preparation or else you're going to have some unforeseen expenses when spring finally rolls around.
Engine and Chassis:
Your engine has been faithfully pumping out power throughout the last season. It's also been making combustion deposits, acids, and other "stuff" that is now laying inside the oil pan. You don't really need that laying around inside your engine over winter so that it can eat away at things do you? Rather than wait until next spring to change oil, it's best to do it now before storage. That way all the bad stuff is drained out and it will have nice clean oil in it over the winter season. Follow your engine's service recommendations and be sure to service the fuel filter, air filter, and any other items that require attention. Now's also a good time to do a grease job. Be sure to pump enough in so that you flush out any water or dirt that's in the joint and then wipe the excess off with a rag or paper towel. If you see anything else, such as park brake linkages, it would be a good idea to lubricate them so that they are better protected against seizing up over the winter.
Batteries should be checked. If they are low on water, top them off, but be sure to charge them up after you're done. If the RV will be stored with a shore power connection you'll have no problems keeping them from discharging. But, if shore power is not available you will need to disconnect the batteries when storing. Remember, a discharged battery will freeze and be damaged and there are a number of phantom loads that will gradually drain them down over time. Some RVers even prefer to remove the batteries and store them in a warm location over the winter months. Regardless of which method you choose, be sure to clean all of the battery cable connections.
Check your tire pressures. Rubber does tend to weep air over time so it's best to start out with them at their rated pressure. If possible, place the tires on sheets of plastic to protect the rubber from the elements in the ground. Ideally you would remove the weight from them, or at the very least, rotate them once a month to prevent flat spotting. If you have HWH hydraulic levelers, you can store the RV with the jacks down to remove the weight from the tires. HWH states that there is no problem with leaving the jacks extended while in storage.
If your coach is dirty, give it a bath. You don't need dirt eating away at your paint job during the off season. It'll get dirty enough just from being in storage but it doesn't need any extra help in that area. Oil or lubricate any hinges or joints at this time as well, including the steps.
Remove all of the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detector. They'll probably go dead over the winter and you should replace them next summer anyway. The LP gas leak detector generally runs on battery voltage. Leave the detectors laying on a table or counter so that you remember to put new batteries in next spring. You might want to place static sheets in the coach to ward off rodents. Also check to see that you didn't leave any food items around that could attract unwanted visitors. Make sure that the refrigerator is turned off and that the doors are either left open or cracked slightly to provide airflow so that mold doesn't build up inside that closed area.
Just like the engine, this unit should be serviced as well, and for the same reasons. Ideally the generator should be run monthly at a minimum of 1/2 load for at least one hour to burn out any condensation on both the engine and the generator windings.
Fuel doesn't last forever. Gasoline can turn bad when sitting for a while so be sure to add Stabil or another brand of fuel storage conditioner to keep the gasoline from turning into turpentine and varnishing up your fuel system. Diesel fuel keeps longer so if it's only one winter, you won't have to add fuel conditioner to it. Longer storage periods can be obtained by adding a bunker style fuel conditioner that will keep the stuff useable for very long periods of time. However, diesel fuel doesn't have the vapors that gasoline does. A tendency is for algae to grow on the surface of the fuel. The algae itself doesn't actually feed on the fuel, it feeds on the moisture in the air above the fuel and the algae just happens to live on the surface of the fuel because it's flat real estate. You won't have this in gasoline tanks because the vapors take care of that. On a diesel it's a good idea to add a biocide. This biocide will float on the surface of the fuel and kill any vapors that may exist. There are a few brands of biocide available at most marine service centers. My personal choice is Pri-Ocide. Pri-Products also makes an excellent fuel conditioner that I use. Regardless of whether you use gas or diesel you should always store your RV with a full fuel tank, or at least as close to full as possible. The more fuel you have, the less room there is for condensation to occur. Also, turn off the LP tank valve to prevent any leaks. LP itself is in a sealed vessel so you won't have to worry about contaminated fuel.
Water freezes. When it does, it cracks and breaks things. So, you need to get it out of the coach when storing it in freezing conditions. There are 3 schools of thought on this. One is to blow the water out with compressed air. The second is to pump RV antifreeze through the system, forcing the water out. The third is a combination of the two, which is my personal preference. While everyone seems to claim favorable results with either method, I have seen where blowing out a system can still allow water to build and cause damage. It's tough for air to carry all of the water out so some still hangs around. Eventually it condenses and settles out and builds up in a low point, which can then freeze. Using pink RV antifreeze forces the water out because it actually displaces the water. It can't bypass it, like air can, but instead forces it out the water lines into the drains. You need to keep some antifreeze in the traps anyway to protect them and to prevent vapors from backing up into the RV. The problem is that it's bitter tasting and can leave an aftertaste. That's why I prefer the third method, which is pumping the pink stuff through the system, then blowing out the lines with compressed air afterwards to minimize any antifreeze taste from collecting in the water lines.
Each RV is different so your method of winterizing will vary but following are a few links to some winterizing instructions done by some members:
Submitted by Mark Quasius - 3/25/06
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