How Cold Can It Get Before I Have To Winterize My Camper?

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It is getting to be that time of year again where the vacations and RV adventures of the summer and early fall are ending. Depending on where you are in the country, that either means that you are going to be using your RV substantially less, or that you are going to be storing your RV for the rest of the fall and the cold winter months, making sure that it is protected and safe until you bust it out for the spring and summer, next year.

One aspect of storing and winterizing your RV that varies based on region and temperature is when or what time of year you should start the winterizing process. One of the most important questions that you should be considering when you are planning the winterization process is...

“How cold can it get before I have to winterize my camper or RV?”

So that you can take the best possible care in protecting and preserving your camper over the harsh winter months, we are going to be discussing:

  • The coldest temperature it can get before you absolutely have to winterize your RV
  • The temperature range that is ideal for winterizing your RV
  • The steps that you can take to winterize your RV or camper for the upcoming winter
  • Some tips when you are getting ready to winterize your camper. 

How cold can it get before I have to winterize my camper 

How cold can it get before I have to winterize my camper

So what is the magic temperature that you need to see before you start getting ready to winterize your RV? Thankfully, there are no trick answers to this question. 

If you are facing temperatures where multiple consecutive nights in a row are going to get to below freezing, that is a sign that you need to winterize your RV. As an RV or camper owner, you should be keeping your eye on the weather daily or weekly to see what kinds of changes, swings, and lows in the temperature you are going to be hitting. 

When the temperature starts to drop and get below 32 degrees Fahrenheit at night, that’s a sign that you should start preparing your RV for the winter. 

Ideally, you don’t want to take any chances when it comes to freezing the water lines in your RV or camper. We recommend winterizing your RV at least a week before you are going to hit those kinds of temperatures this fall or winter. A little bit of work on winterizing ahead of the weather can save you a lot of time, money, and a huge headache in the future. 

Consequences of Winterizing too Late

What are the drawbacks and consequences of winterizing your RV or camper to late in the season?

What happens when it gets too cold?

Waiting to winterize your camper can come with some serious damages. When water is left in your tank or in your water lines, those can freeze easily when the temperatures get low enough. With the freezing of the lines and your tanks, this can lead to cracks, breaks, and even burst in your camper’s water system.

Instead of procrastinating the winterizing of your RV, it is better to get ahead of it by starting the winterization process early. This can save time, money, and frustration of having to fix this, while giving you peace of mind that your RV is going to be prepped and taken care of for the winter. 

Instructions & Comments 

Keep your eye on the weather

So if we had to put together a list of what to be on the lookout for as mother nature’s queue to winterize your RV, what would it be?

Here’s what we would recommend: 

1) Keep your eye on the weather

This is the most important way that you can stay ahead of winterizing your RV while avoiding any type of impending disasters or damages from frozen tanks and water lines. Check the weather daily so that you know what to expect. 

Since the weather during the fall can be volatile, this will keep you up to date with any sudden changes or cold snaps that may be coming your way. 

2) Note Dropping Temps and Temperature Ranges

Make sure that you take note of the highs and lows that you are going to be hitting during the day and evening. Especially stay on the lookout for what the low temperatures are going to be at night when the temperature is going to get down to its coldest. 

Also, take a look at what the ranges of temperatures are going to be during the day. This is another great way to spot cold fronts and colder weather ahead of time.

3) Get Started Early

If you are in doubt or not sure when you should start winterizing your camper, it’s never a bad idea to get started early. Most RV and camper owners across the country are either done camping for the season or are taking their last few trips before the colder weather settles in. If you are done using your RV for the fall and winter, what’s the harm in starting now?

It may cost you a little more if you are paying to store your RV, but in most cases, it’s better to be safe than sorry. There is no point in pushing your luck with volatile temperature changes when you could just get ahead of the winter and start the process now. 

How can you start winterizing your RV?

Winterizing Your Camper or RV

Winterizing Your Camper or RV

We have talked a lot about temperature and when you should start winterizing your RV. If this is the first time that you have winterized your camper or you have been doing this on your own for years, it’s never a bad idea to get a little refresher on how to do it. 

Here are our recommended steps for getting your camper or RV ready to park for the winter. 

1) Drain all of the water

We already discussed this at length, but it always bears repeating: one of the most important things that you can do when winterizing your camper is to make sure that all of your water is drained first. 

That means making sure that all of your water lines are flushed and cleared, and that your water tanks are totally empty. Any fluids that are left in any part of the water system of your RV can be a hazard to your RV. Don’t let something as simple as not draining and clearing your water cost you time and money later. 

How to do it

Make sure that all of the water tanks in your RV are drained and cleaned out. This includes the fresh, gray, and blackwater tanks that you have on board. Draining all of the water from your camper is the essential first step in getting your camper ready. 

Next, you want to make sure that you run antifreeze through your water system.

Isn’t antifreeze toxic? Excellent question. You can buy a non-toxic antifreeze that is completely safe to use to get your RV ready for the winter months. 

The antifreeze will help flush any water that may still be sitting in your lines after you drain them. This will also keep your lines from freezing up over the winter. If you need help with this part of the process, you can find a local RV specialist or retailer that would be happy to help you out with the process. 

2) Prep and clean the exterior

After you have made sure that all of the water is clear from your RV, you are going to want to make sure that you clean up and prepare the exterior of your RV for storage. 

The first thing that we would recommend is that your RV is totally clean. Right before your camper goes into storage during the winter months, you need to make sure that you clean your vehicle of dust and debris.

Any dust, debris, and even bug splatter or bird dung that stays on your paint over a hard winter can freeze up and cause more damage to your paint. Instead of letting this lead to hundreds or even thousands of dollars in painting and repairs, better to make sure that your RV is totally clean before you store it. 

When you are taking your camper out on some dirt and gravel roads or some hard camping trips, it isn’t uncommon or unlikely for some type of damage to be done to your RV. This could be some simple chips or scratches in the paint to more serious abrasions, dents, and body damage.

Whether you have taken on some new knicks and dings from your trips this summer or you have had previous damage done to your camper, you want to make sure that this is taken care of before you store it. Make sure that exposed parts of your RV are covered or painted over and that you have any cracks or leaks caulked as soon as you can. 

3) Storing or parking

 Storing or parking

Where are you going to be storing your RV for the winter? Some of us have spaces to park our campers near or at our home, but if you don’t you are probably going to have to pay to store it for the winter. Locate RV storage centers in your area to see where you are going to be parking it. 

4) Make sure it’s covered, if you can

If you can, make sure that you park your RV under a place that is covered. The coverage will help protect your RV from cold rain, ice, and snow during the winter, preventing damage and deterioration while keeping your RV looking newer for longer, extending the driving life of your RV. 

If you can’t find a place that is covered, you should consider getting a cover or a tarp that fits your RV. Make sure that it totally covers the body of your RV and fits snug and securely. 

5) Tire covers

There’s a good chance that your RV has a lot of nice tires on it. Leaving those tires exposed during the winter months is going to wear them out sooner and cause rust and damage to your wheels. 

Just like a cover for your RV, make sure that you find covers that fit your tires. Tires that are too small won’t fit at all and covers that are too large could easily fall off or slide off of your tires.

6) Storing your battery

This can be a common oversight when you are storing your RV for the winter. When your RV is drained, covered, clean, and almost ready for storage, you need to take out your battery. 

Leaving your battery in your RV over the winter is a great way to drain and kill your battery. Instead, remove your battery from your RV and store it in a cool (not cold) dry place for the season. 

7) Check it throughout the season

Whether your RV is parked at home or you are paying to park it elsewhere, we recommend checking on your RV throughout the season. Every month or few weeks, walk around and walk through your RV just to make sure that there isn’t anything that you missed when preparing your RV for the winter. 

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