Believe it or not, winter is coming to an end, which means that it’s time to take your RV out of hibernation and dewinterize it in anticipation of your spring and summer travels. Dewinterizing your RV isn’t as easy as taking it out of storage. You should still inspect your RV for any damage that might have occurred before or during storage. Dewinterizing your RV can be a long and tedious process, but is important to keeping you and your family and friends safe when you hit the road. While you can employ a licensed mechanic to perform the dewinterizing process, doing it yourself can be easy, allows you to familiarize yourself with your RV further, and saves you a lot of money in the process.
Check Tires and Tire Pressure
You’ll need: tire pressure gauge
For every month your RV is in storage, your tires can lose up to three psi of air pressure. This can vary depending on whether your RV was stored somewhere cold or warm. Underinflated tires can be a serious problem for RVs as they can lead to uneven wear and tear, poor handling, a blowout, or even an accident.
Using a tire pressure gauge, check the psi of all of your tires, including the spare, and inflate your tires to the manufacturer’s specified psi located in your RV manual. You’ll also want to check for signs of wear and cracks in the sidewalls and worn-down threads.
Charge and Reinstall Battery
You’ll need: voltmeter, battery charger, distilled water (optional)
When batteries are in storage, they tend to lose a percentage of their charge through internal leakage. You can extend the life of your battery by continuing to charge it while it’s in storage. Use a voltmeter to check the charge on your battery, making sure it’s not connected to external electricity or you’ll get a false reading. A fully charged 12 volt battery should read about 12.7 volts. If the reading is at 12 volts or below, it will need to be charged.
To charge the battery, attach the battery charger to the RV charger while the battery charger is off. Next, turn the battery charger on and allow the battery to charge. This can take anywhere between a few hours to a few days. Once you’ve charged the battery, check your battery’s water level and add distilled water to ensure the plates are covered. Reinstall your battery, checking to make sure it’s installed securely.
Flush and Sanitize Water System
When you winterized your RV, you likely added a non-toxic antifreeze to your water system. Now that you are bringing your RV out of hibernation, it’s time to flush out and sanitize your water system.
- Attach your garden hose to the water hookup of your RV.
- Open all the faucets.
- Turn on the hose and set your timer for at least 10 minutes. You’ll want to watch for the water to become clear.
- While you’re flushing the water system, make sure to flush the toilet several times, as well.
Sanitize the Water System
Whether you used non-toxic antifreeze to winterize your plumbing system or not, it’s still important to sanitize your water system and remove any bacteria or mold that might have grown while your RV was in storage. Follow these simple steps to sanitize your water system properly:
- Mix one-quarter cup of household bleach for every 15 gallons of water your tank holds.
- Mix bleach with water in a one-gallon container.
- Pour the mixture into the freshwater holding tank
- Fill the tank with potable water.
- Turn on the water pumps and run all faucets until you smell bleach. Close faucets and let water sit in the water lines for at least 12 hours.
- Drain the water and refill the tank with potable water.
- Open all faucets and run the water until you no longer smell bleach.
- Repeat the rinsing process as needed to get rid of all traces of bleach.
Check for Leaky Pipes
Part of repairing your water system is checking the plumbing for leaks. Before checking your plumbing system, make sure your freshwater tank is full. Turn on the electric pump and allow it to pressurize the water system. The pump should shut off once it reaches full pressure. If not, you have a leak in your plumbing. To locate the leak, check the pipe systems under sinks and check the edge of the toilet for leaks and repair them.
Replace Propane Tanks and Check Appliances
You’ll need: propane tanks, soapy water in a spray bottle
If your RV uses propane, take your tanks out of storage and reinstall them on their mounts and securely connect the hose. Once the hose is connected, open the gas line. Using a spray bottle filled with soapy water, spray the hose and see if bubbles form. If so, it might mean there is a leak in the hose. Double check that the hose connection is secure and test the hose again. If the water mixture bubbles up again, have your propane hose checked by a certified RV mechanic.
If your RV has refillable tanks, you’ll have to refill them at a propane station. Depending on your state, you might have to recertify your tank. Most tanks need to be recertified every five, seven, or 12 years depending on the type of inspection your tank has received.
Check Propane Appliances
With your propane tanks successfully reinstalled, it’s time to check that all your LP gas-fired appliances are working. Open the gas line to check each appliance. When testing the hot water heater, make sure it’s filled with water first.
If you come across an appliance that isn’t working, refer to a certified RV maintenance technician, as propane leaks or ignition issues can be very dangerous. If it’s been a year since your LP gas system had a drop pressure and operating pressure test, it might be a good idea to take your RV in to a certified mechanic anyway.
Check RV Appliances
Next, it’s time to check your 120-volt appliances. Plug your RV power cord into an electricity source that is at least 30-50 amps. Once you have power, check to make sure your microwave and air conditioner work. You can also test your refrigerator in electric mode. Start by turning it off and opening the doors, allowing it to return to room temperature. Plug it in once the RV is connected to an electrical hookup.
Check the Engine
Begin your engine inspection by checking the fluid levels of the power steering, transmission, engine oil, brake fluid, engine coolant, and windshield washer fluid, and top them off as needed. Then, make sure all lights and controls are operational. Once the initial inspection is done, start the engine. Check all the gauge readings and confirm that all dash lights, headlights, taillights and windshield wipers are working. If any service lights come on or you aren’t comfortable completing this step yourself, have your RV serviced by a certified RV mechanic.
Check the Generator
Before performing this check, you’ll have to look at the oil levels in your generator. If they are low, you’ll have to have it serviced by a professional. If your RV has an onboard generator, check the oil level. If your generator’s oil levels are low, have it serviced by a professional. You’re almost ready to test the generator, but you’ll need to check the exhaust system for damage as it can harm the generator if any damage is overlooked. Now, test your generator. If you periodically ran your RV while it was in storage, the generator should come on easily, otherwise you’ll need to run it for a few hours with a half-load rating.
You’ll need: filters
You’ll always want to change your air and water filters at the start of the season. Both filters have collected a lot of dirt and debris throughout the last few road trips and will need to be replaced to filter bacteria and maintain energy efficiency. Just make sure you are purchasing the correct filter size and it will fit snugly in your air conditioner and water filtration systems.
Check Windows and Air Vents
Once you’ve replaced your filters, it’s also a good idea to open your windows and air vents as well. Your air vents provide vital air flow to keep you cool during the warmer months and can protect you from toxic gas build-up inside your RV when you turn your heat on in the fall. Opening your windows will refresh your RV cabin with clean air. If you’re feeling ambitious, make sure to rinse your window screens to make sure they are bug-free. A clean window screen can also act as a filter to keep you cool.
Check safety devices and restock emergency supplies
You don’t go without a first-aid kit in your home, so why would you go without a first-aid kit in your home away from home? You’ve dewinterized your RV, in part, in the name of safety, but you still need to stock your cabin in case of an accident or emergency. Check all dates on medications and throw out any that are expired. Then create a list of medications and first-aid items that need to be restocked. This is also a good time to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and change the batteries if needed. You’ll also want to make sure you have an RV emergency kit on hand. Your kit should include tools and supplies such as pliers, a hammer, screwdrivers, extra oil and coolant, hoses, batteries, and leveling blocks.
Update Registration and Insurance
This might be the easiest task in your dewinterizing routine, and it’s also the most important. You’ve got your RV ready to hit the road, but you’ll also need to make sure your RV registration, RV insurance, and emissions sticker are up to date. If you have a towable RV, you may not be required to insure it, but it might be better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
Now that your paperwork is updated, make sure to put your registration and insurance in an accessible spot should you need it during an emergency on the open road.
Store your RV with Premium Spaces
If you’re ready to store your RV inside for the winter, look no further than Premium Spaces. We offer affordable storage options to help make dewinterizing your RV a little bit easier. Find a self storage facility near you to get started today, or if you are looking for your next spring destination, check out our RV resorts!