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De-winterizing your RV

1) Exterior

Give your RV a thorough washing to remove dust, debris, and other gunk that collected during winter storage. You should use a gentle car soap to clean the vehicle (we recommend a good RV Wash & Wax), but you might need a bug and tar remover to get rid of stuck-on bugs and tar from last season. Be sure to clean your awning and remove any mildew and stains that may have developed we have several products in stock.

Inspect the RV’s exterior. The biggest problem to check for is water leaks. Check all the caulking closely for any cracks or damage. Inspect windows, doors, roof vents and any other seams. If you find any cracks in the caulking or missing sealant, remove the old sealant and replace it Ranch RV offers this service.

Also check for any other damage on your RV. Make sure the awning is intact and operating properly, and check your lights and signals.

2) Batteries

RV batteries will discharge by as much as 10% per month in storage, so you’ll need to get them ready for use. Before you check your batteries:

Always wear safety glasses and latex gloves disconnect shore power. Turn off all RV power and make sure the battery disconnect is in the OFF position

Make sure all battery connections are clean. If the terminals are corroded, you can use hot water and baking soda to clean them up. Check for any cracks in the batteries that may have developed from winter freezing. Replace cracked batteries.

Charge the batteries, then check the battery fluid levels and add distilled water as needed. Water should only be added to lead-acid batteries after they are fully charged.

If you remove the batteries, be very careful with wiring. Make sure the positive and negative wires are clearly marked.

If you decide to replace the batteries, always replace multiple battery packs together. Never add a new battery to an old one.

3) Tires

Your RV’s tires have lost 2-3 psi per month while in storage. Check each tire on your RV—including the spare—for cracks along the side wall and treads. Inflate to the proper tire pressure, according to the tire manufacturer’s weight chart.

This is one of the most important steps in de-winterizing your RV. Failing to check your tires could result in faster tread wear, uneven handling, or a blowout on the road.

4) Interior

Give the interior a thorough cleaning. While de-winterizing your RV, you’ll probably find spider webs, dust, and other debris. Look for evidence of rodents. Air out the RV and look closely for signs of damage, including discolored paneling or ceilings (signs of water leaks). Clean out every corner, including your water heater and refrigerator compartment drawers.

5) RV Fresh Water System

Check your RV's fresh water system for leaks. Move the water heater’s bypass valve into the Normal position, then turn on the hot and cold water and check all faucets and pipes for leaks.

If you used non-toxic RV antifreeze to winterize your fresh water system, you’ll need to drain and flush it from the system. To clean out the system:

For every 15 gallons of tank capacity, add 1/4 cup of liquid household bleach to one gallon of water. Add the bleach water to the fresh water tank. Pump the water through all the water lines and fixtures, and let it sit for 4 hours. Drain the system and flush it out until the water tastes and smells bleach-free.

Run the water pump allowing it to build pressure ensuring the pump turns off and does not cycle (start and run in short cycles) if the water pump is cycling it can be a leak or damaged water pump.

6) Propane System

Check your propane system to be sure seals and hoses haven’t dried out and cracked. When you test your RV’s propane system:

Turn off all LP items before you begin Don’t smoke! No flames or sparks Turn on the leak detector inside your RV.

Open the valve on the tank all the way. Smell for leaks. Apply a soapy water solution on the valve and regulator and watch closely for bubbling or spurting. Check for evidence of rodent damage on wires and hoses.

Clean your LP gas appliances, then test them by lighting them and letting them run for a while.

If you suspect a leak, turn off the propane immediately and have a certified RV service technician inspect and repair the leak.

If all the LP gas appliances work properly, make sure the RV’s appliances and accessories operate properly in the LP gas mode. After checking the refrigerator, turn it off and keep the doors open so it can return to room temperature before testing it in electric mode.

7) Appliances

Test all your appliances in electric mode. Check the outside access covers for your water heater and refrigerator and be sure they’re clean and free of debris. Now test the appliances in LP mode.

8) Dump Hoses

Check your sewage dump hose for holes and leaks. There’s nothing worse than discovering a leak when you’re dumping waste!

9) Waste Tank Valves

Finally, check the seals on your waste tank valves. Before you do this, make sure the waste tank is empty. You might want to perform this check while connected to a dump station.

Check the valve seal by carefully moving the handle in small increments to make sure it’s working correctly. If it’s sticking, you can add some valve lubrication to the tanks to restore the condition of the seal.

Follow this checklist to de-winterize your RV and you’ll avoid all kinds of unwelcome surprises on your camping adventures. Spending the time to prepare your RV for the spring lets you fully enjoy your first trip of the season,

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