How to Get Your RV Ready for Camping

We know summer is right around the corner, and when you “de-winterize” your RV, you are essentially preparing for another great camping season! We realize that the de-winterizing part of owning an RV may seem overwhelming, but that’s why we’ve created this post to help you understand the ins and outs of your recreational vehicle. The different parts of de-winterizing that we’ve listed below are essential for your best camping experiences as the summer starts off.

There are a variety of checks that can be performed in conjunction with de-winterizing your RV, like inspecting seams and sealants for leaks and cleaning the interior and exterior of the RV, but the ones we’ll be discussing are considered the most essential for your camping adventures to run smoothly.


The RV Water System

There are two main tasks for an RV water system that was winterized and stored for any period of time:

  1. Remove RV antifreeze from the plumbing system.
  2. Sanitize the RV water system so it is safe to use.


How to remove RV antifreeze from the plumbing system:

If you used non-toxic RV antifreeze to protect the water system from freezing, you need to run fresh potable water through the entire plumbing system until all traces of the RV antifreeze is removed. You also should not change the water-heater bypass until all of the antifreeze is gone from water system.

Make sure to note that if the non-toxic RV antifreeze was added directly to the fresh water holding tank when the unit was winterized, the first step is to drain any remnants of antifreeze from the tank. Next, add potable water to the fresh water holding tank, turn the water pump on and open all of the water faucets. When you see clear water running through the system, turn off the pump and close the faucets.

Make sure to run fresh water through the entire plumbing system to include the outside shower, toilet, ice maker and washing machine (if applicable). Take the water heater out of the “by-pass” mode, and that is only if applicable as well. If the water heater was not bypassed, the antifreeze needs to be drained from the water heater tank and collected in a bucket or other container. Once all traces of the RV antifreeze are removed, you can reinstall any water filter cartridges that were removed for winter storage. The antifreeze that was in the plumbing system is now in the gray and black water holding tanks and will need to be emptied when you have access to a suitable waste disposal site.

The video below will allow you to see what we mean when talking about antifreeze:

The RV Batteries

The condition of the battery depends on how well the batteries were cared for during winter storage. When batteries are in storage, they lose a percentage of current through internal leakage. A battery can discharge up to 10% a month when it is in storage. If you checked and recharged the batteries while in storage, they should be ready to go.

If you did not check and recharge during storage, the first step is to fully charge the batteries. The battery charger should remain in the off position while you connect it to the RV charger:

  1. Connect the red cable to your RV’s red indicator.
  2. Do the same with the black cable to the black indicator.
  3. Make sure your voltage is set to 12 volts.
  4. Turn your power on charge.

This step may take up to a couple of hours or even a couple of days, so give yourself plenty of time. Water should only be added to lead acid batteries after fully charging the battery unless the water level is already below the plates (the plates need to be covered at all times).

After the battery is fully charged, check and add distilled water as required. If the batteries were removed for storage, reinstall them, making absolutely sure they are connected properly.



Caution: If you are not comfortable working on or around batteries, have the maintenance done by an authorized RV repair facility.

The RV Appliances

As far as RV appliances go, start by opening the LP gas valve at the cylinders or tank and checking the operation of all LP gas fired appliances. Make sure the water heater tank is full of water before testing the water heater. If an LP gas appliance is not operating properly, have it inspected by an authorized RV service facility.

The LP gas system should have a leak test and gas operating pressure test performed annually. These tests should be performed by an authorized RV repair facility.

After the LP gas appliances are checked, plug the unit into electricity and test all 120-volt appliances and accessories for proper operation. Make sure you have an adequate electrical source (30-50 amps depending on your unit) before testing items like the microwave and roof air conditioner(s).


The RV Tires

Just like the battery loses a percentage of its charge in storage, tires lose a percentage of air pressure in storage. Your tires can lose 2-3 psi a month while sitting in storage. Check the tire pressure using a quality tire inflation gauge and adjust the inflation pressure to the manufacturer’s recommendation based on the load.

Make sure to note that tire manufacturers publish load and inflation tables for proper inflation pressure.


The Engine & Generator

If you have a motorized RV, check all vehicle fluid levels. Consult your vehicle owner’s manual for proper levels. If a fluid level is low, try to determine why and correct the problem. Start the engine and check for proper readings on all gauges.

If you have an onboard generator, check the oil level and service the generator according to specified intervals found in the owner’s manual. Inspect the generator exhaust system for any damage prior to starting. Never run a generator with a damaged exhaust system. If you didn’t use a fuel stabilizer in the fuel system and the generator won’t start, or it continues to surge after starting, have it checked out and repaired by an authorized RV service facility.


The RV Safety Items

Re-install any dry-cell batteries or fuses that were removed from safety devices for storage. If batteries were not removed from safety devices during storage, it’s a good idea to replace the batteries now. Test the operation of the carbon monoxide detector, LP gas leak detector, and smoke alarm. Make sure to inspect all fire extinguishers to ensure they are serviceable and fully charged. You definitely need to recharge or replace your fire extinguishers as required.




Get Out on the Road!

De-winterizing your RV doesn’t have to be as complicated as you think it should be. This is why we created a blog post that will help you understand not only how to do it, but how to do it the best way! We realize that summer is upon us, and with summer comes the best season of the year: camping season. We want you to have the best adventures yet, and what better way to do that than to make sure your RV is ready to go?

– – – – –

If you’ve read this post to investigate the maintenance of an RV but haven’t actually bought one yet, you’re in the right place!

BEFORE you head to a dealer to find new trailers for sale, download your FREE RV Buyers Worksheet for help keeping track of: