Each year, you ought to winterize your RV – it is a necessary step if you hope to extend the lifespan of your RV, and maintain the value of your investment. Taking the time to prepare your RV for winter means that as soon as the weather improves again, your RV will be ready when you are. The following are important steps which are necessary when winterizing any RV:

  1. Emptying all water bearing systems: received wisdom teaches that the best place to start in winterizing your RV is with removing all latent water. This includes the fresh water tank, the hot water heater, and any and all plumbing lines. This process is initiated by simply locating the main valve and closing it. Then proceed by using a hose to drain the hot water heater and fresh water tank – there are many ways to manually encourage water flow and use whichever you see fit. Open all faucets, showerheads and the like so that any water which is resting in the RVs pipelines moves towards a drain port.

  2. Add antifreeze: after draining all of the RVs pipes and tanks, introduce some antifreeze into the system to prevent the pipes from suffering breaks. RV specific antifreeze can be found online and in many hardware stores, be sure to confirm any product's compatibility before using it with your RV. Instructions can be brand/style specific, so always consult user guidelines. Be sure to add antifreeze to every system where water was removed!

  3. Battery removal: we all understand how fickle and sensitive car batteries can be. To prevent any unwanted springtime surprises, it is recommended to take the battery out of your RV to prevent passive drainage and to store it some place warm. If you are leaving the RV outside, cover your RV's battery terminals in order to avoid corrosion.

  4. Remove all personal items and perishable goods: the last thing you want after stowing away your RV is to have to dig it out again because you've suddenly realized that you left something important inside. Removing perishables means you'll have no smelly surprises come springtime, and it will help to discourage wild animals from messing with your RV.

  5. Cover the RV: especially if your RV will be left out in the elements, it's a good idea to cover it with a high-quality RV cover. Given the frequent intensity of winter's storms, ensure that you have a suitably robust and well fitted RV cover – ideally one tailored to your make and model. In addition to some kind of reusable cover, it is also advisable to cover the exterior – sides, roof, etc. – with an automotive wax or sealant for an extra last-ditch layer of defense.

  6. Check the tires: if your RV is left outside on worn-out tires, the likelihood of tire failure increases. Whether this failure occurs during the winter or the next spring, damage to you and your property becomes a risk. If the tires are in poor condition, it's a good idea to replace them before storing the RV. If it is at all possible, lift your RV off of the ground by its body, relieving pressure from the tires and preventing the development of flat spots.

  7. Detach the detachable: its best to detach all removable and non-essential components from your RV, such as furniture, grills, and kitchen equipment. The principle guiding this step is the same as step four.

  8. Clean the RV: this step is hopefully self evident, and something that would be happening regularly anyway! Any mess or dirt that you expose your RV to can spawn further messes and agents that might eventually harm your vehicle. Thus you need to clean your RV inside and out, going so far as steam curtains and scrub carpets. By taking the time to clean your RV, you can help prevent damage and extend its lifespan – you will thank yourself in the spring!

  9. Check the roof: If your RV has a rubber roof – or any rubber seals that might be exposed to the elements – be sure to check them for cracks and damage. If you find problems, it is imperative to repair them before finishing up with your RV for the season. While the RV is technically out of use, these components are still actively working to protect your vehicle – they do not get any time off!

  10. Park on a level surface: while it need not be perfectly level, RVs are precisely engineered, rigid machines and thus they are meant to rest in a position where weight is evenly distributed and distributed to points where that weight is meant to be maintained. A level surface best guarantees that your vehicle's frame will not be in a state of distress or contorsion for an extended period.

  11. Implement moisture management: to try and fight the development of mold and mildew during damp and cold months, it is necessary to kit out your RVs interior with moisture stoppers / collectors. These can be the same products that are often used in basements and other humidity prone environments. Such tools provide a harmless destination for airborne moisture and will keep your RV fresh and dry.

  12. Set up rodent and pest deterrent: If you are keeping your RV somewhere vulnerable to pests (and what locale isn't), it is important to prevent infestations of insects and mice or rats. You could do this with chemical repellents, sealed covers, or plain-old traps – but a combination of solutions will always work best. Besides being gross and unsanitary, pest problems can threaten the structural integrity and electrical function of your RV, so be mindful.

  13. Check the propane system: many RVs have some kind of propane system – as propane is volatile, you want to make sure it is being stored properly and that the technology it is managed and carried by is in good repair. Therefore, before winter, be sure to check your propane lines and tanks for damage and their seals for wear. Turn off all propane related devices and if possible, remove and store propane tanks elsewhere.

After following these steps you can be far more confident that your RV will survive the winter, and that it will be more than ready – tip top condition – for another long season of pleasure on the road and in the park. Winterizing your RV does take time and effort, but as always, it is an effort that is far preferable to the possible consequences of neglect!