Summer is already drawing to a close and it’s time to prepare your trailer and fifth wheel caravan for winter. Here are our tips for the winterization of your trailer to protect it from the elements.
Empty tanks and water heater
The most important thing is to remove water from all ducts and tanks in your trailer to avoid getting cracked pipes when spring comes. So you have to empty the water heater and tanks of your RV: the fresh water, gray water and black water tanks. Rinse the black water tank thoroughly to ensure there is no waste in the tanks.
Draining the water heater is done by unscrewing the plus located outside in the panel of the water heater. The cap requires a box 15/16″ for the Atwood brand (plastic cap) and a box 1″ 1/16 for the Suburban brand.
You’ll notice that the cap of a Suburban brand tank is made of metal because it has an anode. This type of tank requires an anode to absorb rust and to minimize deterioration inside the tank. An anode with holes from either side is still good, it’s just doing its job. However, an anode with only a thin central rod of a few milimeters is to be replaced.
If you have any doubts, bring your anode in store and we can tell you if the deterioation is minimal or if it’s to be replaced. To make it easier for you to drain water from your trailer’s water heater, open the safety valve at the top of the tank. It’s important to remove any limescale deposits and rinse thoroughly.
It’s also strongly recommended to empty the water lines before winterizing your trailer. Under your RV, you’ll find two ends of pipe protruding with a cap or valve at the end. In most cases, there is a blue pipe for cold water and a red pipe for hot water. Don’t forget to replace the caps or turn off the valves before running the antifreeze.
We also recommend that you remove the pressure in the city water inlet of your trailer (main outdoor water connection). Thus, the water trapped in the non-return valve will come out. To do so, you need to remove the filter from the water inlet, if any, and then gently push on the tip of the non-return valve.
Close the water inlet
It’s important to close the cold water inlet of the hot water tank and open the bypass. This will allow the antifreeze to flow directly into the hot water system without entering the water heater, which could damage it. It’s actually the only use of the bypass of the trailer. It must be in the “open” position for the winterization of your trailer and in the “closed” position during summer so that water flows normally through the water heater.
There are various bypass modles; single, double or triple valves:
- The single valve bypass model has a “T” valve at the intersection of cold water and bypass, a well as a non-return valve for hot water.
- The two-valve bypass model contains a non-return valve at the outlet of the water heater. Therefore, there is only one valve fo the water to enter the water heater and for the bypass.
- The three-valve bypass model included a water inlet valve to the water heater (cold), one at the outlet of the water heater (top, hot water), and one in between. The one in between is the bypass.
Pump antifreeze with water pump
If you don’t already know where it is, you need to locate the water pump in your RV. Just operate it and listen to the sound that will lead you to the water pump. It can be inside a cabinet, under a bench, behind a screwed panel or outside your trailer in a trunk.
You’ll then disconnect the water inlet hose to the pump and connect an auxiliary hose to pump antifreeze directly from the antifreeze gallon. You can find this hose and antifreeze at the Roulottes Chaudière store to winterize all the ducts and valves of your trailer.
It’s recommended to use non-toxic antifreeze specifically designed for RV. You’ll also find them in store at Roulottes Chaudière.
When the bypass is open and the water pump is connected to the antifreeze gallon, you need to activate the pump and open a tap to create a pressure. Go one tap at a time (hot, then cold water) starting with the furthest from the pump. Wait for the antifreeze to flow through the faucet before closing it and switching to the next faucet. Don’t forget the toilet bowl, shower head, outdoor shower or any other faucet, if applicable.
Once your trailer’s ducts are winterized, stop the pump and open a tap to remove the pressure inside the piping. You can then empty the remaining antifreeze into the sinks and bath ducts (the “S”) to remove the remaining water. To avoid any stains that may be caused by this product, it’s advised to wipe off the antifreeze that has drained.
It’s now time to caulk the outside access of the refrigerator, the vent on the roof, the furnace chimney and any other access that can let snow in during winter. Caulking your trailer is simply done by gluing a polythene or plastic bag in these places to protect them from snow and ice. When the good weather returns, the accumulated snow and ice will melt and water may seep inside, hence the importance of properly caulking your RV during winterization.
Remove batteries and shut down propane gas
We suggest removing all batteries (marine and alkaline) in order to store them in a temperate place. During winter, it can be best to charge (2 amps/hour) and let discharge your marine battery a few times. And don’t forget to close your unit’s propane gas tanks, if you haven’t already!
Cleaning the trailer
The very last step and not the least is to wash the interior of the trailer: cainets, refrigerator, any nooks and cranny. The idea is to leave your unit clean to avoid bad smells and unpleasant surprises during the dewinterization of your trailer in spring. You can also wash the outside of the RV to remove any dirst after the camping season is over.
To this end, choose specialized RV care products from brands known for their softness and high efficiency such as Magic-Boss RV, Mirage 2000 and CNET.
We hope that these tips helped you to winterize your trailer or fifth wheel caravan. Don’t hesitate to come and see us in store to ask your questions to our experts and find the parts for the winterization of your trailer. We also offer winterization and trailer storage during winter to keep your RV in a safe place. A wonderful way to achieve peace of mind and start dreaming about your next camping season!