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How to Winterize Your RV to Prevent Rot, Rodents, and Rust

Posted by Pekin Insurance on Oct 05, 2016

Knowing how to winterize your RV is an essential part of ownership. Minimize the depreciation on your investment by following this simple guide.

That familiar chill is already in the air, and soon it'll be time to say goodbye to this year's camping season and hello to winter. With cold weather just around the corner, it's time to prepare your RV for the cold weather months. But do you know how to winterize your RV? Is it even necessary? What benefits come from winterization?

Why winterize?

Just as you'll want to winterize your home, you'll want to do the same for your RV. RVs aren't known for maintaining their value. Just driving an RV off the lot causes depreciation, sometimes as much as forty percent. Within just a few years, an RV in good condition may still only be worth half of its original value.

That—besides the fact that it's a good idea to take care of any investment—is why you'll want to take care of your RV year-round and especially during the dormant winter months.

If you fail to winterize your RV, you could end up with burst pipes, rodent nests, rot and rust on the exterior (which can lead to problems with the interior), and other mechanical failures. Taking a few simple steps now will save you time, money, and headaches down the line. Here's a brief overview of what to consider for the winter.

How to winterize your RV: When to do it

When you winterize your RV has a lot to do with where you live. In the colder parts of the Midwest, you'll want to winterize in October or maybe even September, depending on the temperature outside. In warmer climates, you might be able to get away with winterizing in November or early December. A good rule of thumb is that when the lows drop to the 30s, it's probably time for that RV to go into hibernation for the winter.

How to winterize your RV: Winterizing the water system

The water system is one of the most critical components to winterize. That's because if you don't drain the system and protect it against freezing, the remaining liquid will freeze inside the pipes. When that liquid expands as the weather gets warmer, those pipes are likely to burst—an expensive problem to handle.

Before winter, drain your RV's water system of all liquid, pushing any residual water out with compressed air. Then pump RV antifreeze through the system to help prevent it from freezing. There are lots of specifics you can find online about how to do this thoroughly, or you can take it to most RV maintenance shops and they'll do it for you (usually for a hefty price).

If you have a generator in your RV, you'll also want to drain that of fuel before the first freeze.

How to winterize your RV: Remove all food items

Because you live in your RV for periods of time, it's easy to neglect the food items you store inside. It's especially crucial during the winter months for you to remove all food (even canned goods) from the pantry or other storage places in your RV. This helps prevent mice and other rodents from inviting themselves into your RV for a midwinter feast.

Speaking of rodents, set some rodent traps in case any decide to let themselves in. Rodents will make nests and chew through wires and other things, which can result in costly repairs.

How to winterize your RV: Wash, wax, store

You mostly likely wouldn't climb into bed dirty. Your RV also wants to be clean before bedtime. Thoroughly wash and wax your RV before storage to help protect the outside from rot and rust that can result from dirt, mold, and condensation that build up during the camping season.

Once your RV is clean, you'll need to store it somewhere. The best option is a heated garage for RVs, but that can be costly. If an indoor storage location isn't available, the best places to store an RV are on pavement or gravel driveways with as little dust as possible. Parking an RV on the lawn for the winter can be detrimental to its underside as condensation from the grass will get trapped underneath and can lead to rot, rust, and mold.

If you do have to store your RV outside, make sure to pull down the shades or better yet, get a cover to keep the sunlight out. Sunlight can damage the interior of your RV if exposed to it for too long.

Whether or not you fully winterize your RV, you'll want to make sure you've protected your investment as best as you can. Contact us today to learn more about RV insurance options that can help you save money in the long run.

What steps do you take to winterize your RV? We'd love to read your answers in the comments below.

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