De Winterize Travel Trailer Checklist: Thaw Your RV

dewinterize your rv 1

Table of Contents

This post may contain affiliate links. Check out our disclosure for more information.

As winter fades away, it’s time to shake off the cold and get your RV ready for spring’s adventures. De-winterizing your Travel Trailer is crucial to ensure a smooth start to the camping season. Let’s dive into the process with a step-by-step checklist to ensure your RV is in top shape for the road ahead.

When Do I Dewinterize My RV?


As the temperatures rise and the threat of freezing diminishes, it’s time to consider de-winterizing your RV. Typically, this occurs in early spring, ensuring your vehicle is prepped and ready for the upcoming travel season. Keep an eye on the local weather forecast and make the move when the freezing risk is minimal. Once your RV is de-winterized, you will be ready for the first camping trip of the season.

Step-by-Step Instructions: De Winterize Your Travel Trailer

No matter how often you de winterize your travel trailer, it’s easy to forget things. A checklist and a tested process help remove errors. Using a guide will reduce the chances of realizing you failed something the hard way.

Inspect and Wash the Exterior of Your RV

dirty RV

Before hitting the road, give your RV a thorough visual once-over. Check for any signs of damage or wear on the exterior. Washing your RV is a great time to inspect your windows, doors, roof vents, and seams.

Keep an eye out for cracked caulking and any missing sealant. This inspection is the perfect time to replace any damaged and old sealant. Extend and wash the top and bottom of the awning to avoid mildew.

A good wash not only freshens up your ride but also helps identify any issues that might need attention. Dust, dirt, debris, and gunk can quickly build up during winter storage. Clean the roof and seals to get a good look at their condition.

Inspect and Test the RV Batteries

Batteries lose as much as 10% of the charge per month that they are stored, so now is an excellent time to recharge your battery. Check your RV’s battery for any signs of corrosion or damage. Wear latex gloves while inspecting the battery.

Start by disconnecting the shore power and turning off all RV and Main power. Clean up any corrosion with baking soda and warm water. If you have multiple batteries and one needs replacement, replace all of them.

Test its voltage to ensure it’s holding a charge. Once there is a full charge, check the battery fluid levels. If lead-acid batteries have a low fluid level, add distilled water to reach the desired level. Always refer to the battery manufacturer’s guidelines when servicing your battery and adding to the water levels.

Inspect and Inflate Your RV Tires

When your RV is in storage, it will lose around 3 PSI, or more, of air pressure each month. Driving your RV with underinflated tires can result in tire damage or accidents. Proper tire maintenance is crucial for safe travel.

Inspect the tires for wear and tear, and remember to check the air pressure with a tire pressure gauge. Inspect your tires for flat spots, sidewall cracks, worn-down tread, or bulging spots. If there is tire damage, replace the tire.

Inflate your tires to meet the manufacturer’s recommendation. Refer to your owner’s manual if you need clarification on the proper tire pressure.

Flush Your RV Fresh Water System

After the long winter, it’s essential to flush out any remaining non-toxic RV antifreeze from the water lines. If you added anti-freeze to the fresh water tank, the first step is to drain the tank completely. Once the tank is empty, add potable water to the tank.

If you did not put anti-freeze in the freshwater tank, you can connect the RV to the city water connection instead. Once the tank is full (or you are hooked to city water), follow these steps to flush anti-freeze from the rest of your water system:

  1. Turn on the water pump (only if using the freshwater tank).
  2. Open all hot water faucet and cold water faucet (Don’t forget outdoor sinks and outside shower. Collect this anti-freeze in a container)
  3. Run the water for several minutes.
  4. Flush the toilet a couple of times.
  5. When the water is no longer pink and no bubbles are present, close each faucet and turn off the water pump (if using).
  6. Take the water heater out of bypass mode.
  7. Replace any water filters you removed during winterization.
  8. Dump your gray and black tanks in an appropriate dump site.

Note: If you did not bypass your water heater when you winterized, you must also drain the anti-freeze from the water heater tank. Since your water heater does not drain into a tank, you must collect the anti-freeze in a container for disposal.

After you drain water heater, inspect the anode rod and replace it if necessary.

Washing machines, dishwashers, and ice makers have special dewinterizing instructions. Always refer to the owner’s manual for dewinterizing.

Sanitize Your RV’s Water System

Sanitizing your RV water system will help remove any remaining anti-freeze, bacteria, or mold that may have accumulated during storage. Follow this step-by-step guide to sanitize your RV water system:

  1. Install all drain plugs and close all drains.
  2. Measure ¼ cup of household bleach for every 15 gallons of water your freshwater tank holds.
  3. Add bleach to a gallon jug and fill the rest with water.
  4. Pour the bleach/water mixture into the freshwater tank fill.
  5. Fill the entire freshwater tank.
  6. Turn the water pump on and open all faucets.
  7. Run the water until you can smell bleach at each faucet, then shut the faucet.
  8. Let the solution sit in the tank and water lines for 3-12 hours.
  9. Drain all the water from the system.
  10. Refill the fresh water tank with potable water.
  11. Flush the system by repeating step 6.
  12. Run the water until the smell of bleach is gone.

Note: Check your water heater manual. If the manual states that you cannot sanitize the water heater, then leave the water heater drain plug out and leave the water heater bypass valves engaged.

Inspect the RV Plumbing System

While Flushing and sanitizing your RV plumbing system, it is vital to inspect the system. Pressurize the system with the water pump. Once the system has full pressure, the pump will shut off. Wait for several minutes to see if the pump turns back on. If the pump turns back on, this could indicate a leak.

Check the entire system, including the water heater, pipes, and faucets. Look under all the faucets and sinks and around the toilet as well. Look for any signs of water leaks and damage. Repair or replace any damaged components or leaks found.

Inspect the Propane System

Start inspecting your RV propane system LP tanks. Ensure that your propane tanks have not expired. Some states require periodic propane tank certification. Ensure your tank is certified. 

Inspect your RV propane system to ensure that the system is safe and operational. Start by checking the hoses and seals for any cracks or damage. If no visible damage is apparent, slowly open the propane tanks. Spray the propane pigtails and connections at the regulator with soapy water to inspect for leaks. Replace any leaking hoses, connections, or regulators.

Pay close attention to any smell of propane at the regulator or appliances. If a propane odor is present and you do not know the source of the leak, turn off the propane tanks.

If no propane leaks are present, it is vital to test your propane appliances. Clean the LP gas appliances and ensure they are free from insects or debris that may have accumulated. Turn on each appliance and ensure it lights, then allow it to run for a bit to ensure it stays lit.

If you have a propane/electric refrigerator, test the propane function of the appliance first. Then turn it off and keep the doors open. You can try it in electric mode once the refrigerator returns to room temperature. Ensure your hot water heater is full before testing it.

Inspect Exterior Access Panels and Vents for Debris

Visually inspect your RV’s exterior access panels and vents. Clear out any debris or nesting that may have accumulated during storage. Proper ventilation is essential for the optimal performance of appliances and systems within your RV.

Inspect Your RV Generator or Solar Components

If your RV has a generator or solar components, give them a once-over. Check for any visible damage or signs of wear. Make sure the generator has the appropriate oil level and fuel. Inspect the generator’s exhaust for damage and nesting materials.

 Generators can be difficult to start if they have sat unused for a while. Start the generator and let it run under a 50% load for 30 minutes.

If your RV has solar panels, inspect them for damage. Ensure the solar panels are free from damage, debris, and any insect/animal nesting materials that may have accumulated during storage. Allow the solar panels to charge, and then test your appliances.

Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance.

Test Your RV’s Electrical System

Check all electrical systems, including lights, stereos, outlets, and appliances, to ensure they are in good working order. Inspect wiring for any signs of rodent damage. Replace any burnt-out bulbs and address any electrical issues promptly.

Test any auto-leveling system or hydraulic jacks to ensure they are working correctly. Ensure your slideouts and awnings work appropriately. When extending the slideouts, check if you can see light through the slide seals. If you can, replace them. Refer to the owner’s manual for recommended slide maintenance.

Inspect Appliances

Inspect all of your appliances for signs of damage, debris, or nesting materials. Test each appliance for proper function. Replace any damaged or faulty parts.

Inspect Sewer Hoses and Waste Tank Valves

Inspect your sewer hoses for any leaking or damaged sections. Replace any damaged sections. Dump your black tank and your gray tank.

Once your holding tanks are empty, unhook the sewer hose and inspect the waste tank valve seal. Open and close your waste tank valve and visualize it opening and closing correctly. If the valve is sticking, use valve lubrication to restore function.

If the valve is damaged and not working correctly, replace the valve.

Replace RV Air Filters and Inspect Safety Equipment

Check your AC air filters, stove exhaust filters, and any air purifier filters. Clean or replace any filters to ensure that each appliance has adequate airflow to function appropriately. Inspect and clean your air conditioning coils to ensure efficient operations.

Make sure to look at the safety devices in your RV at this time to ensure everything is in working order. Inspect your Smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector. Replace the smoke detector and CO/Propane detector batteries and press the test button to ensure proper functionality. Check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher and have it replaced if needed. Take a moment to refresh your memory on operating the fire extinguisher.

Check the Engine

If your RV has an engine, it is time to check it. Fire up your RV’s engine and let it run for a while. Listen for any unusual sounds or vibrations. Check the following:

  • Oil
  • Coolant
  • Brake fluid
  • Transmission fluid
  • Power steering fluid
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF if it’s a diesel)
  • Headlights
  • Taillights
  • Hazard lights
  • Blinkers
  • Windshield wipers

If the check engine or service lights come on, get your motorhome professionally serviced.

Clean Your RV

Give the interior of your RV a thorough cleaning. Dust off surfaces, vacuum carpets, and sanitize high-touch areas. If any linens were in the RV during storage, replacing them with fresh ones is a good idea.

Look for evidence of rodents that may have nested during the storage months. Air out the RV and look for any signs of water damage. Signs of water damage may be discolored ceilings or walls, expanded wood products, or discolored access panels. Clean out all compartments, including the refrigerator and water heater compartment drawers.

Inspect your camping gear so it is in good working order for the season. Replace any broken grills, chairs, etc. A clean living space adds to the enjoyment of your travels.

Restock First Aid and Emergency Supplies

oing through your first aid and safety supplies at the start of the season is crucial. Check all medication expiration dates and restock any items that are getting low. Make a list of replacement items needed. Update medications to include any prescriptions that may have been changed or added.

Ensure any dried food is intact and not expired. Ensure that plenty of bottled water is available in case of an emergency. Also, ensure you have all the emergency RV tools you may need for repairs. These tools may include pliers, hammers, screwdrivers, batteries, lap sealant, sealant tape, etc.

Update Your RV Registration and Insurance

Ensure your RV’s paperwork is up to date. Renew your registration and verify that your insurance coverage is current. Make sure this vital information is stored somewhere that is easily accessible. This simple step provides peace of mind during your travels.

Should You Pay a Professional to Dewinterize Your RV

If the DIY approach feels overwhelming or you’re not confident in your skills, consider hiring a professional certified rv service technician inspect to de-winterize your RV. They can perform a comprehensive inspection and ensure everything is in top-notch condition.

Click here for the printable De Winterization checklist!

Be prepared before you buy and for routine check-ups: RV Inspection Checklists & RV Maintenance Checklists

Protect your RV from moisture damage and mold with an RV dehumidifier! Read my tips on how to select the best RV Dehumidifier.

This post may contain affiliate links. Check out our disclosure for more information.

Don't Miss Any Content! Sign Up Today!