Spring is here, which means it’s time to start camping again! Spring and early summer months are the best time to hit the road and visit your favorite RV parks and enjoy quality time with your family or friends.
However, de-winterizing your RV can be extremely challenging, especially if you are doing it for the first time. Thankfully, this step-by-step guide will make the de-winterizing process a breeze.
1. Perform a Basic Inspection
The first step you must take before de-winterizing your RV is to perform a basic inspection to find any problems with some of its internal or external components.
During this step, you must test the different components of your RV and find if any of them have become damaged over time or have already expired and need to be replaced immediately. Then, you must fix or exchange any faulty components within your RV so it doesn’t break down on the road.
Go Over the Exterior
The inspection process starts by checking the exterior of your RV and looking for any abnormalities or weak spots like bumps and cracks that could have cropped up during the cold winter months.
As temperatures change, materials expand and contract, which can damage various parts of your RV. You also need to look out for areas that are affected by oxide since these areas can create holes in the surface of your RV and allow moisture to gather inside.
As you go over the exterior of your RV, look carefully for signs of splitting, cracking, or holes. If you find anything, patch all the cracks or replace all the areas where the oxide has corroded until everything is in perfect condition.
Inspect the Tires
After taking care of the exterior of your RV, you need to inspect the tires and see if there are any problems with the air pressure. You just need a tire gauge so you can measure the PSI and an air compressor to add air as needed. Do this with all tires, including any spares you have. Also, measure the tire tread to determine if your tires have what is needed to survive the open road all camping season.
Remember that if you decide to skip this part of the inspection, the tires of your RV could wear out faster or even blow out entirely when you are driving on the road, which may cause a major accident. If you don’t have adequate equipment to inspect your tires at home, you can always visit a service station and ask them to complete a check on your tires.
Check the Battery
Another part of this inspection is checking on the state of the RV battery and making sure it isn’t wholly discharged or has any other problems that could leave you stuck in the middle of the road.
To do this, you need to check the monitor in your RV dashboard when you are not plugged into an outlet to get an accurate reading of the amount of power your battery has left. You could also perform a simple voltage test connecting the battery to a multimeter and adjusting the settings depending on the voltage by default, whether it has 12 or 6 volts.
If your RV battery is already drained, you must recharge it until it goes back to full power using a battery charger. You can also use an inverter, a generator, or even a solar panel if you have one available. A 12-volt battery will display a 12.73 V when it is fully charged, and a 6-volt battery will show 6.37 V when it is fully charged. Keep this in mind when you are checking the battery of your RV.
If you are using lead-acid batteries, you may need to equalize them after a long period since they tend to drain faster after the acid starts corroding the battery plates.
If you don’t do this, your RV will eventually go out of power and stop working at any moment, creating a bigger problem than a discharged battery during your trip.
Inspect the Propane System
During this inspection, one of the most important things to do is to check the propane system in your RV and look for any leaks or any problems that could prevent it from working like usual. This inspection is extremely important since any leaks could cause a fire inside your RV and potentially explode your propane gas tank in the worst-case scenario, putting your safety and others at risk.
If you suspect there is a small leak in your propane system, you must immediately turn off the primary valve, move away any sources of heat from that place and take your RV to the nearest repair shop to check for any leaks.
Other reasons your propane system could stop working include problems with your regulator, which needs to be reset or replaced,d and having a faulty propane detector with broken wires. These problems include having low propane levels in the RV, forgetting to open the valve before using the RV, and having the excess flow valve turn on by accident.
Test Electrical System
You must also test the electrical system inside your RV to ensure that everything is working properly and that no issues could negatively affect your trip.
To do this, you have to check the circuit breakers and see if they have blown a fuse or kept tripping for no reason while using the RV. You also need to test the converters and inverters of your RV to see if they can supply electrical current with no problems, as well as the electrical outlets by plugging in electrical appliances and see if they work.
However, you should keep in mind that handling any serious problem in the electrical system of your RV can be dangerous if you have little or no experience. That’s why it’s recommended to visit a service station to check the electrical system of your RV and let a certified professional fix any problems that may be present at that moment.
Check the Engine (if applicable)
Checking the Engine of your RV can also be necessary if you haven’t driven it for a long time or done any proper maintenance on the engine for many months.
You can start by confirming the quality and the amount of oil left in the engine and seeing if it is necessary to make a quick change before going on a trip. This will help you avoid engine damage over time. If your RV has a diesel engine, manufacturers recommend changing the oil every 20,000 miles on average, and if it has a gas engine, you should change the oil after driving more than 4,000 miles.
During the engine check, you also need to inspect the spark plugs of your RV, inspect the transmission fluid, test the performance of the engine belts, and make the necessary adjustments if any of these are starting to show signs of failure.
As a general rule, you should check the engine of your RV and do proper maintenance at least once a year to avoid permanent damage to the Engine.
2. Flush and Sanitize the Water System
Once you finish doing the basic inspection on your RV, you need to flush and sanitize the water system to remove anything that may have entered the system during the winter months. You must also check for leaks in the water system before flushing and sanitizing your RV since this could mess up everything and make you repeat this process several times.
During the flushing process, you must remove all the anti-freezing solution left inside your RV’s water system by letting fresh water run through the pipes and faucets until nothing is left.
Before you start, find a safe place to dispose of the anti-freezing solution since you can’t dump it on the ground as it could pose a risk to the local wildlife. The anti-freezing is flammable, can cause a wildfire, and can contaminate water sources on the ground, making it unsafe for the environment.
Once you have a safe place established, connect your RV to a city water inlet or use a water pump in a holding tank to siphon the anti-freezing out of the water system in your RV. All of the flushed-out anti-freezing solutions will go with the water in the space you determined so you can safely dispose of it. Once everything is flushed out, you can sanitize your water system.
You must sanitize the water system of the RV and make it safe for everyone to use. You must have a measuring cup, water bucket, hose, RV tank sanitizer, or unscented bleach to do this.
After you have everything in place:
- Turn off the water pump and the water heater in your RV.
- Drain the water from the tank.
- Calculate how much bleach you need to sanitize the water.
To sanitize your RV water system, you need to use a measuring cup of around 1/4 cup of bleach for every 15 or 16 gallons of water.
Once you have calculated how much bleach you need and have drained the water from the tank, you must dilute it in a gallon of water and use a funnel to pour it slowly into your RV.
After pouring the bleach, you must fill up the water tank of your RV with clean water using a hose to pump it for a maximum of 24 hours until it is complete.
Finally, you must open all the faucets in your RV and let the water run out until you can no longer smell the bleach. However, you may need to repeat this process several times until you only have clean water with no smell.
3. Change Filters & Safety Devices
The next step on the list is to verify if you need to change your RV’s filters and safety devices and ensure you don’t have any issues before, during, or after the trip. Both can help you maintain a good quality of life inside your RV and protect you from potential risks or accidents that may happen after traveling for several weeks.
Filters in Your RV
The filters inside your RV prevent any dirt or bacteria from accumulating inside and create a toxic environment that could become a safety hazard for everyone on board.
You need to check three different types of filters in your RV, including water and air filters.
Water filters are one of the most important since they can help you remove the sediment and other bacteria that could be present in the potable water you drink every day. In the case of canister water filters, you must replace them after four months of use, and in the case of hose filters, you should replace them after one month of use.
You also need to check the air filter of your RV by turning off the air conditioner and seeing if there is dust inside the air vent. Then you must vacuum everything and see whether you need to replace it.
Safety Devices to Check or Replace
You also have to check or replace the safety devices inside your RV that are not working correctly or have already been used by you to avoid any accidents on the road.
The most important safety device you need to check first is the smoke detector since it can identify when a fire is occurring inside your RV before they have the chance to spread.
You’ll need to check if the fire extinguisher of your RV has been used before to refill it and have it ready in case there is a dangerous situation where you have to put out a fire.
Among other safety devices, you need to check or replace inside your RV, we have the carbon monoxide detector, which helps identify gas leaks from the propane tank, and the gas stop valve, which automatically stops these same gas leaks.
4. Clean Interior and Exterior
Cleaning the interior and exterior of your RV is another part of the de-winterization process, which is relatively easy and only takes a couple of hours.
You can start by opening the windows of your RV to let the stale air out and vacuum the interior until there is no dust inside. This includes doors, vents, appliances, and anything else you have around. Then, you can move on to washing and waxing the exterior of your RV until it is completely clean and scrubbing the floor to remove all the dirt left.
After that, you can clean each of the windows from the inside out and wash the awning since it tends to become moldy and crusty after storing it for a long time in the RV.
However, If you only have a little time available because of your work or anything else, you can take your RV to a car wash since it could help you save a lot of time and get similar results.
5. Restock Emergency Supplies
You also need to restock your RV on emergency supplies, especially if you are thinking of camping in places where you don’t have direct access to stores or service stations nearby.
Start by creating a list with essential supplies like non-perishable food, including canned food, instant soup bowls, protein bars, bread, dry rations, and water.
You can then add a first aid kit to treat small wounds and other tools to help you solve problems at your camping site. You could also bring tools that can help you do regular maintenance and fix small problems with your RV if it has an accident on the road or if some parts fail for no apparent reason.
6. Update Your Insurance and Registration
The final step you need to take is to update your RV’s insurance and registration before camping at your favorite location. You can do this by looking at the insurance requirements provided by the state you want to visit and registering your VIN or Vehicle Identification Number assigned to your RV.
You must also provide other basic information about your RV during registration, including proof of insurance and driver’s license.
However, If you decide to travel without updated insurance or registration, you risk being pulled over by the local authorities, getting fined thousands of dollars, or even having your RV taken from you because of this mistake.
Without insurance, you also run the risk of having an accident with your RV and suffering huge financial losses during your trip. That’s why you must have your insurance and registration up to date.
It’s Time to Take Your RV on the Road
De-winterizing your RV is lengthy, but the reward of camping at the end is the best part. When you’re ready to take your RV out on the road, don’t forget to book a reservation at Magnolia Fields RV Resort. Located less than an hour from Houston, Magnolia Fields provides the perfect campsite for your RV so you can enjoy the sights and sounds of Texas any time of year.
Whether you’re swinging through town on your way to other destinations or spending quality time in Magnolia, come visit us—we’d love to have you!