Weatherizing your RV

The great thing about Oregon, is that RV season runs all year long. This time of year, you get to choose: Winterize or Weatherize? Heading up to Mt. Bachelor for some snowy fun this weekend? Weatherize. Taking a break and letting your RV hibernate for the rest of winter? Winterize. Whether you are taking your RV out or putting it away for winter, there are some steps you should take to prevent potential maintenance issues and get the most miles out of your RV. Before you hit the road or put your rig to bed, be sure you have everything you need and have completed the necessary tasks to prepare your RV.

Taking Your RV Out – Weatherize

Chilly temps don’t have to prevent you from having a great time in your RV. Just be sure you have everything you need before you hit icy roads including chains and an emergency roadside kit. If your RV has been sitting around for a while, you’ll want to give it a tune up, check to make sure all of your exterior lights are functioning, and give your seals some TLC. Check turn signals, [>clearance lamps”, headlights, brake lights, and other important safety features on your RV to make sure everything is functioning as it should.

Maintaining your weatherstripping, otherwise known as seals or gaskets, is one of the most important aspects of weatherizing your RV. You can find these seals all over your RV: on the doors, slideouts, roof, windows, etc. When seals wear out or become damaged due to harsh weather and other factors, your RV is susceptible to the elements. Not only does weatherstripping keep heat in and cold air out, it keeps moisture from getting in and damaging your RV.

If your slides have been closed a long time, they may begin to stick. You can easily make the seals less sticky by wiping them down with baby powder. You can take an old sock or rag, sprinkle some baby powder on, and then thoroughly coat the seals. Start with the indoor seal with the slideout in, then extend the slideout and wipe down the outside seal. It’s particularly important to treat your outside seals with baby powder or conditioner to keep them from sticking to your the paint of your slideout. Sometimes, when the seal sticks to the paint, pieces of the rubber are pulled off when the slideout is moved, compromising the integrity of your seal.

There are different types of seals for different parts of your RV, so make sure you are installing the appropriate seal if you are replacing them. For example, bulb seal and wiper seals are the most common seals used on RV slideouts. It’s also a good idea to patch your seals with RV caulk or silicone at least once a year, but preferably twice per year: once when de-winterizing (weatherizing) and once when winterizing. Be sure to apply the sealant to every seam, around windows, doors, lights, and access panels.

Putting Your RV Away – Winterize

Winterizing your RV will usually be a more complicated process than weatherizing. There are several steps you need to take to protect your RV from winter damage e.g. frozen pipes in your water system, rodent and pest infestation, water damage, etc.

The first, and most complicated, step to winterizing your RV is to prep the plumbing & water system. There are two ways to empty your system of water and protect it from the damage freezing can cause:

Compressed Air Method:
Using this method, you can empty your tanks by using an air compressor to blow the water out of your system. There are plenty of resources available online to guide you through the process, including this comprehensive video.
RV Antifreeze Method:
This method uses RV antifreeze to protect your water system from freezing temperatures, and is the most commonly used method. NOTE: DO NOT use automotive antifreeze, which is poisonous and not intended for use in potable water systems. Be sure to use antifreeze designed for RVs only. You will need 2-3 gallons of RV nontoxic antifreeze, a water heater bypass kit if one isn’t already installed, a wand to clean out the black water holding tank if there is no built-in cleaning system, a water pump converter kit, and basic hand tools. Similarly to the Compressed Air Method, instructional videos and step-by-step instructions are available online.

Next, you’ll want to make sure your RV is completely sealed in order to keep out the elements and vermin. This will include checking and repairing your seals (see above for seal repair details). Always store your RV with the slideouts closed to keep the seals from becoming weathered. Then, make sure all food, both perishable and nonperishable has been removed from the RV. Food attracts rodents and other vermin, so you will also want to give the interior a good cleaning. Be sure windows are closed and cover all vents and openings are covered with cardboard or aluminum foil. Air conditioners are an especially weak point for letting unwanted critters into your RV, but air conditioner covers are available for purchase. Finally, it’s preferable to store your RV inside rather than outside. Either way, it’s a good idea to choose an RV cover that will protect it from both the elements and pests.

Don’t have time to take care of all of this yourself? Schedule your service appointment today or contact us with any further questions.

Photo: Vicki Watkins

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