Winterizing Your RV in the Deep South - Tips and Tools You Can Use

Our RV is enjoyed all year in the deep south!

We camp in our RV year-round.  Winters in our home state of Mississippi are mild, but we do have bouts of real cold.  So, how do you winterize your RV in the deep south?

Even in January, we enjoy campfires and time outdoors.

Winterizing Your RV in the Deep South - Tips and Tools You Can Use

We break all the rules and do our own thing in the deep south.  We are still loafing around in flip-flops and shorts well into fall.  True winter clothes for us are really more of a fashion statement than a necessity.  We have three seasons here:  cool, hot, and hotter.  Cool months are short and the hot months are plentiful.  

Winterizing your RV could be one of the easiest seasonal maintenance jobs that you could do at home.  While the cost to have your RV serviced at a dealership sounds inexpensive, these little costs can add up over time.  And we always choose to do things that home that are simple and would save money.  That $99 fee to winterize at a dealership could also transfer to about 3 nights of camping at a state park.  

Tools You Need 

You are going to need the following tools to get the job done.
It costs less to purchase these tools to winterize your RV than it would cost to pay a dealership to do this.  And, if you already have an air compressor, then you are halfway there.  If you need a tool for this, the Ryobi Inflator Deflator will keep your tires in tip-top shape when you travel!

RV Antifreeze is a must.  The dreaded pink drink can save you money in the long run!

How to Winterize

Before I go down this trail, please note that these directions are for people that live in warm climates with very few days of freezing temps.  If you are living in an area with legit winters, this guide is not for you.  I'm not a winter girl nor do I have the knowledge about real winters and winterizing RV for that kind of weather.  

This adapter makes winterizing at home a snap.

Begin by connecting your RV Adapter to your city water line in your RV.  It will attach just like your hose.  Next, get your inflator/deflator ready.  Attach it to your adapter.  Finally, open your water lines in your RV.  Now you are ready for the magic.

A Ryobi Inflator/Deflator works to help winterize your RV but can keep your tires in great shape too!

Turn on the air inflator/deflator and water will begin to push out of your lines and into the sinks.  This may take several minutes.  For us, it typically takes 20 to 30 minutes to flush everything out.  I'll close a sink and open the other and rotate back and forth between both sinks to allow pressure to build and release.  You are going to want to push air out of the lines until nothing is coming out but air.   Turn off your air compressor when everything is done.

Once the lines are completed bled out, you can open your tanks and let the excess drain out into your bucket.  Keep in mind, this is only going to be residual water and should not be a lot.  You can pour this into an outdoor sewer line connection or in your toilet in your home.  

Our Grand Design has directions and diagrams to help us prep to winterize our lines.

Follow the directions for your RV to close your lines.

Before you begin to pour antifreeze into your lines, you will need to close and bypass your lines for the hot water heater, etc.  Your RV should have a manual or directions for this.  Our RV has a diagram with images and instructions under our bunk beds where our hot water heater is located.  This will keep anything from getting back up into your hot water heater.  I have to crawl under our bunks and unscrew a panel that gives me access to this.  I also use this time to dust and clean under my bunks.  

RV Antifreeze will cost you about $19, and one gallon should do the job in the deep south!

Now that the lines are dry, pour approximately 2 cups of RV Antifreeze into each of the p-traps in the sinks(s) and shower.  You can pour 2 to 4 cups of antifreeze down the toilet as well.  Where we live, this is enough to keep the lines from freezing or cracking and causing damage.

When to Winterize and Alternatives

After your last camping trip of the year, if your RV is going to be sitting for a while during the winter months, I would winterize then.  I would especially do this if your RV is in storage.  We typically do this after Martin Luther King weekend.  We normally take about a 6-week break from trips then.  And, in Mississippi, this is typically when we might get the truest winter weather.

IF you want to chance it and NOT winterize, you have to consider several things.  
  1. How long would the weather be freezing for consecutive days?
  2. Could I run the furnace on a low setting to heat the underbelly of your RV until the weather warms above the freezing mark?  Heating the underbelly can protect your lines, but I don't recommend doing this for days on end.
  3. Do you want to take this chance?
We had over a week of freezing temperatures last February.  At the last minute, we had to winterize our RV before this weather came in.  We knew that we didn't want to run our furnace for whatever amount of time it would be needed to protect our RV, and we felt really uncertain about it all.

It was the right decision.  If we had run out of propane during that weather, we could not have even gotten out of our drive to go and get some.  And the weather lasted longer than we ever anticipated.  The cost of repairing damaged lines would have been much more costly than just taking care of this the right way.  

If we have trips around the corner during the winter and only a day or two of freezing weather is predicted, we will run our furnace on about 55 degrees to keep things warm enough not to freeze.  For short cold bursts, this can work if you don't want to winterize.  But, I don't recommend doing this if you have more than three consecutive days of freezing weather.  Proceed with caution here.  Weather can be unpredictable.  You can always re-winterize if you need to after a trip.  

We were nervous about doing this job at home the first time.  But, we called some good friends that walked us through it.  It was so easy that we always do it ourselves now.  We even had someone from church call us to help them last year with this job.  

If you are feeling overwhelmed with the details of owning an RV and the annual maintenance, I can assure you that this job is easy and worth the time to just do it yourself.  And in the deep south, you can do this for about 20 dollars in just annual supplies alone.  Plus, the whole job takes approximately 1 hour to complete from start to finish.  

Until next time...

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