Disclaimer: When de-winterizing or doing any mechanical work on your own RV, completing the work yourself is always riskier than employing a trained professional. This post is provided for informational purposes, and you use this information at your own risk.
Taking your RV out of winter storage is one of those annual rituals that seem to officially welcome summer.
It’s almost time to hit the road, see the world, and spend some quality time with your family, but first, there’s a little bit of work to do to prep for your first summer excursion.
De-winterizing your RV is always easier and safer if it was properly winterized and stored. If you have any doubts about whether or not your vehicle was stored correctly, it’s best to take it in to be serviced by a professional.
Safety is always the top priority!
De-Winterizing Your RV
Before you start stocking up on cold beer and your favorite beef jerky, your RV needs some safety checks.
Lots of little things can happen over the course of a winter, so go through this checklist to be sure you’re road ready.
Inspect for Damage
Heavy snows can pile up on the roof and cause cracks or other damage. Check for cracks on window seals, roofs, ceilings, and anywhere else that might have strained under snow weight.
Also look for any damage caused by mice or pests. Rodents love chewing wires!
Tires that sit for long periods of time in the cold can develop cracks in the walls, so look for things like dry rot, cracks, tire pressure, and tread condition to be sure that your tires are in good shape. Even if you’ve got plenty of tread left, it’s recommended to change your tires every 5 years.
Finally, take a look at your tow equipment. You don’t want any rust or cracks, and be sure that everything is lubricated and working correctly.
Check and Install Battery
Your battery should have been removed for winter storage.
Check your battery fluid level and reinstall your battery, then charge it up as needed.
Pressurize and Flush Water System
Fill up your tanks and flush your water system.
You may also want to sanitize your water system with a little bit of bleach (just 1/4 cup of bleach for every 15 gallons of water) but if you do, be sure that you flush the system very thoroughly afterwards. You shouldn’t be able to smell bleach when you’re done.
Check pipes and appliances for leaks.
Only connect your RV to a power source with your hot water heater full – heating an empty tank can cause scorching and other dangerous problems.
Test Electric Appliances
With your water heater full and your RV plugged into shore power, make sure that your fridge is cooling correctly.
Once you’ve verified that the fridge is working correctly with electricity, turn off the power and open the fridge door to let things come back up to room temperature.
Fill Propane Tanks and Test Gas Appliances
Light your stove burners and let them run for a couple of minutes to get any air out of your gas lines.
Be sure to sniff around for a propane smell – if you smell gas, take your RV in for service. Gas leaks are a big deal, and you should never try to fix them yourself.
Test your refrigerator on gas power and be sure it cools properly again.
Check your furnace and hot water heater, and sniff around one more time for any gas leaks.
Your running and brake lights should be working properly before you get out on the road.
Check interior lights, too, as well as the condition of your fuses. It’s a good idea to purchase extra fuses in whichever sizes you might need in case anything goes wrong while you’re far from home.
Go Over Interior Details
With the big stuff taken care of, it’s time to make sure all the little things are addressed.
- Replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Check fire extinguishers.
- Wipe inside the fridge with disinfectant.
- Remove mothballs, pest traps, and poisons you left to discourage winter pests.
- Open the windows and air out your RV.
- Check compartments, cabinets, and drawers to be sure they open and latch properly.
Go Over Mechanical Details
The inside of your RV is clean, fresh, and ready to roll. Now, let’s make sure the final details are all in order.
- Consider getting service on your brakes, axles, and wheel bearings.
- Check and lubricate trailer tongue components.
- Check your generator and get it serviced as needed.
- Run your slide-outs to make sure everything works correctly.
- Run your air conditioner and be sure it’s in good working condition.
- Check your hydraulic system and fluid levels.
- Check your landing gear.
Finally, there’s only one major thing left to do.
Take your RV out on the road for a short test drive and listen for unusual noises, check your brakes, and make a note of anything that just doesn’t feel right.
As soon as you get back in your own driveway, walk around one more time to check for fluid leaks, sniff for gas leaks, and run some more water through your water systems.
If anything seems off, the safest thing to do is take your RV in for service.
Even minor problems grow into disasters quickly when you’re far from home.
Where are you rolling this summer? Tell us in the comments!