Winter RVing Checklist

Written by Teresa Harrington on December 07, 2017

Most people go RVing during the summer and end up missing out on the fun of winter sports. This year, why not plan to go RVing during the winter months? Simply load the snowmobiles up in the toy hauler or on the trailer and head out to your favourite campground and trails. But, before you go, make sure you are ready to camp in the cold.

Get the RV Ready

Depending on the year and model of your RV, it may already be suited for winter camping. If it's not, then before you head out, you'll need to make a few changes.

  • Windows, Ceiling Vents and Doors: Make sure the seals around the windows are in good condition. If not, caulk them to prevent drafts. If the windows aren't dual pane windows, add insulating curtains. Closing the curtains at night helps to keep the heat in. Replace any worn weather stripping around doors and basement storage areas. Buy vent cushions to keep the drafts from the ceiling vents from wasting precious heat.
  • Holding Tanks: Make sure the tanks are empty and clean before you leave for the trip. Add a quart of the pink RV antifreeze to the black and gray tanks. This keeps the dump valves from freezing. The pipes that drain into the tanks may freeze, so add foam insulation to them. Electric pipe heaters also work, but you'll need a generator or a place to hook up to the electric to run them. Another option is to add a holding tank heater. These are available in electric or 12-volt DC models.
  • Sewer Hose: Let the tanks fill up and then empty them. Be sure to rinse the sewer hose immediately and then store it in a heated compartment to keep it from cracking from the cold weather. If you leave it hooked up, ice dams will build up and it will crack.
  • Fresh Water and Water Pump: Instead of staying hooked up, fill the fresh water tank. Make sure the hose is removed from the spigot. Drain the water hose well. When you get low on water, you'll be able to hook up again to refill the tanks. If you try to leave the hose hooked up, it will freeze and burst. If the water pump is in an exterior storage instead of inside the RV, keep it from freezing with a small space heater. Make sure the heater is not near anything flammable.
  • Fridge and Ice Maker: If you are running the refrigerator on gas, the solution hydrogen gas, distilled water, ammonia and sodium carbonate could turn to a gel if the temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Once this happens, the coils will be clogged permanently. Duct tape the inside of the outside refrigerator access cover's top two vent slots. Leave the third one open. You could also press pipe insulation in the top two slots on the vent. If the ice maker water line is not insulated, drain it. If you will be using the ice maker, wrap the line with heater tape or insulate it.

Check Everything

Before you leave, make sure everything is working properly, especially the heater. If you are camping where you have electric hookups or have a generator, consider getting a space heater to help the propane furnace. This also saves wear and tear on the furnace and saves propane. If you opt to just use the propane furnace, be sure you have enough propane for your trip. Propane places may not be open during the winter months if they cater to RVers only.

At the Campsite and Before You Leave for Home

Setting up for winter camping is a bit different from setting up for warm weather camping. Bring blocks to place under the stabilizing jacks. They won't freeze as easily to wood blocks as they would to concrete or gravel. Use ice melt and a hammer to get the blocks loose. If you can't loosen them when it's time to go, leave them for the next person and make some new blocks for your next trip.

If you are driving a motorized RV and camping in extreme cold, you may want to invest in an engine heater. About three hours before you are ready to leave, turn the engine heater on to warm up the RV's engine. Don't forget to remove any snow and ice from the slideout awnings before you retract the slides.

Enjoy camping in the winter and be sure to bring plenty of extra clothing and blankets in case the heater stops working. You'll also be happy for the extra layers and dry clothing after you come in damp or wet from playing in the snow all day.

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