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Survival Guide on How to RV in the Winter

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There are plenty of reason to go winter RVing without traveling to warmer climates. For many, winter RV trips full of snow are the best adventures. Many motorhome owners go hunting, snowmobiling and skiing in winter. Of course below freezing temperatures are worrisome for very good reasons but as long as you take a few precautions, you should be fine. If go into your winter wonderland adventure prepared ahead of time, you will most definitely have a blast.

Travel with the RV Already Winterized

If the water in your RV watrv-antifreeze-sinker system, plumbing lines or water heater freeze you’re in for some very costly repairs. One way to prevent this from happening is to get on the road only after winterizing your RV. While some people take their RVs into the shop to have this done, you can do it by yourself. Just follow these easy steps.

You’re probably wondering if you can go to the bathroom in your RV if all the lines are pumped full of anti-freeze. The good news is that yes, you can use the toilet! Empty your black and gray water tanks before the trip and use RV antifreeze in the holding tanks (unless they are heated) to prevent freezing. Add antifreeze through the toilet and down the shower/tub drain. Also, empty holding tanks and replenish with antifreeze often to prevent freezing.

What about Water?


If you don’t have a fresh water hookup, you’ll want to take enough bottled water with you for drinking purposes and for cooking, brushing your teeth and hydrating the family pet.

If you have a fresh water hook up, buy a heated water hose, which you can set to a specific temperature. This will prevent freezing and bursting.

At camp, you can refill your fresh water tank. Afterward, simply disconnect the hose from the

hookup and, if it’s not heated, let the water fully drain before storing it, otherwise the trapped water may freeze and cause damage.

Keep your fresh-water tank close to a heated area in case it’s really cold outside and this is your only source of fresh water. Remember that an outdoor water supply can freeze. If the campground’s facilities are working, it’s not a bad idea to just keep your RV winterized and use the facilities to avoid filling your gray-water tank.


You need to be careful that the refrigerant in your propane or electric fridge doesn’t turn to gooey gel, which is what happens when temperatures fall below freezing. You can prevent this from happening by inserting round ½ inch pipe insulation in the top two vent slots on the refrigerator access cover.

If you have an ice maker, you’ll want to drain the water line or insulate it.

Turn Up the Heat

Once you’re at the campground it’s okay to use the water 416936852_1280x720system as long as you’re in a heated space, with the RV exposed to as much sun as possible throughout the day. After you’re hooked up to electricity, you’ll want to turn on the heat and keep the water heater on, especially if your water heater tank is full. The best way to heat up your vehicle is to use the RV furnace (hopefully, your LP-gas tank is full). Beware that the RV furnace can quickly drain batteries. Also, note that if your batteries are not fully charged they can freeze and become permanently damaged. Get set up with the camp’s electrical hookups so you can use the RV furnace on a low setting.

Another option for heat is to use your generator rather than depending mainly on your batteries. It may be loud, but it’ll keep you warm while using the RV furnace. Just make sure you have adequate fuel to run the generator on hand. However, it’s important to note that your exhaust system must be in good operating condition or else you run the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be lethal. For this reason, you should make sure to have a properly working carbon monoxide detector in your RV.

If you’re using propane to heat your RV and run the refrigerator, you’ll need to bring extra tanks with you unless you will be near a propane refill station.

Another option is to use an engine block heater, which must be installed. You turn on the heater a
bout 3 hours before you start your engine and it’ll do a great job of heating the entire vehicle.

Check the Exterior

You’ll want to make keeping warm a priority, so that means checking for open seams where cold weather may get in. Check window seals and caulk them if necessary. Check the weather stripping on your exterior doors (including and especially the entryway door) and access panels to make sure they are in good shape. You’ll want to replace them if they are too worn.

RV skirts help keep out the cold too, but if you’re feeling especially ambitious, you can use insulating foam boards below the RV’s entire frame. Cut with precision to create a barrier to lock out the cold air.


If you plan to make it a habit of RVing in winter, it’s not a bad idea to get insulated RV windows. There’s also the option of using insulated curtains, which will trap in warm air. There are also curtains specifically made to separate the living area from the cockpit so you have a smaller amount of space to heat.

If camping in winter is a test run for you and you don’t want to invest much on insulation, there’s also foil-backed foam insulation you can buy at any Home Depot. Just cut and attach to the window frame. You’ll also find insulating film that goes over windows, which helps cut heat-loss.

Don’t Forget the Following:

  • Tire chains
  • Emergency weather radio and/or emergency weather apps
  • Lots of blankets and warm clothing for layering
  • Gallons of emergency drinking water, stored in heated space
  • Extra food

Heading Back

Don’t forget to winterize your RV for the trip back home if you’re driving through freezing temperatures or expect to end up in the freezing cold.

Drive slowly and safely. Roads may be freezing!

The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.