Winter in A RV
We started our RVing adventure in the beautiful and warm sunshine state of Florida. I don’t think I have to tell you that in the heat of south Florida we never got snow. Flash forward to today, and we are spending the winter in Colorado. Brrrrrrrrr! Not only are the three of us going to have to get used to wearing jeans, jackets and boots, but we had to prepare Miss. Reba for the winter as well. I know a lot of full-time RVers try to avoid the cold, spending time in the north during the summer, and escaping to the south in the winter. We didn’t, but lucky for you, our freezing winter has allowed us to become semi-professionals in winterizing a RV. While Greg did most, if not all, of the winterizing work, I can attest to how warm our RV stays when it is 34 degrees outside at night.
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The first thing we did was research. I googled “Winterizing a RV” and read every article I could find, and then read them to Greg. Then we asked around the RV park that we are staying at, which ended up being a huge help. Most of the people in our RV park have years of experience, and they had tons of great advice. After all the googling and talking, Greg came up with the best ideas for our RV and our budget. While some people are willing to spend a large amount of money on winterizing their RV, we decided that we would go with a more cost-efficient option for our first time around.
The first thing we wanted to do was seal up underneath the RV so that cold air drafts would not flow under the RV. There are plenty of options, but we chose to buy Styrofoam boards at a local hardware store to cut and place around the bottom of the RV. There are several people we know that invested in the made-to-fit canvas skirts, but we were not willing to spend close to a $1,000 or more on skirting. Greg purchased the Styrofoam boards, duct tape and mastic seal at a local hardware store for around $65, which fit into our budget way better than the skirting. Greg then cut the boards to fit around the whole bottom of the RV so that there was no major airflow under Miss. Reba. He then duct taped them all together and mastic sealed over the duct tape for a greater seal. Of course, he cut a small door into the board in case we need to get under the RV for anything. Enclosing the bottom of your RV also helps with making sure your tanks and pipes don't freeze.
To really insure that are tanks didn't freeze on the nights that hit below freezing, we placed two heat lamps underneath the RV, shining on the grey and black holding tanks. This will keep the water from freezing up, which is something I don't even want to imagine, and a mess I don't want to EVER have to clean-up. Make sure you check the lamps regularly to makes sure the bulbs have not gone out. We've already had to replace one of the bulbs since winter started. As for budget wise, the lamps weren't expensive, and they haven't made our electric bill go up by much.
We did invest in some wheel covers, since our RV will be sitting for the winter while we Workamp in Colorado. The cost was about $60 for four wheel covers, but this will help insure that the wheels are protected through the cold winter, and can be used for future long stays, even in the summer time. After finishing off these two tasks, Greg moved into the inside of the RV. We purchased two vent insulators for the vent in our bedroom and the one over the bunk bed where William sleeps. We decided not to do the bathroom vent, since you still need some air flow in the RV. These insulators are stuffed inside the vent to keep the cool air out. We then purchased window seal for all the windows. We purchased the Duck clear plastic that covers the windows, tapes down around the edges and then is heat sealed with a blow dryer. We did every window in the RV and we can definitely tell a difference! (Since we have had up the window plastic covering for a few weeks now, we have noticed that some of the tape comes up if you don't seal completely. So make sure your tape is properly secured and that you seal thoroughly with the blow dryer.)
One problem with the sealing all the windows is that it can cause some moisture issues. The first night we realized that moisture was building around the edges of a couple of the windows. The first thing we did was make sure the seal was complete, and then we cracked one of the front cab windows very slightly to allow a little more air flow. This seems to have solved the trick, but we will watch it over the course of the winter. The days so far, this fall and winter, have been in the 50s and 60s, but nights are down in the 20s and 30s, and what we’ve completed so far in winterizing has kept us warm.
To keep the water from freezing up in the lines, we invested in a heated water hose. It cost us a little over $100, but it is well worth it to have flowing water! Plus, a lot of RV parks will ask you to unhook your regular hose and shut off water if you don't have a heated water hose for freezing nights. The price also depends on the length of the hose, so if you need a longer hose it will cost more. Also, don’t forget to make sure you close both of your tanks so that you don’t have grey and black “water” freezing up in the sewage lines. Just empty them when the tanks are getting full.
The last thing we did was rent a 100-pound propane tank from the RV park we are staying at. We have a smaller propane tank on the RV, but noticed that with using the propane heat we are going through it a lot faster than average. And since we have already winterized, there is no moving Miss. Reba right now, so we went with a bigger, portable tank. It didn’t cost much to fill it, and Greg set it up outside the RV next to the door with the RV propane tank. He just disconnected our tank from the RV and used a new tube to connect the 100-pound tank to the RV, making sure the regulator was in the correct position. While I shouldn’t have to type this, do make sure you know what you are doing with dealing with propane. It can be very dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing, so do a little research and ask for help if you are unsure.
While we are no experts at winterizing RVs, we wanted to write this article to let other new RVers know that you can get through your first winter in a RV with a little research and help. Do your research, ask around for help, and you should stay warm for the winter. We know we are in for colder weather, so we will write a follow-up article on winterizing and winter survival once we have survived our first winter. Bundle up, drink some hot cocoa, and enjoy the snow! Or, head to Florida! Either way, don’t let anything stop you from enjoying the RV life!
Please comment below with your winterizing tips and tricks! And please share this post, like our social media pages, and always follow your dreams!
I am a mother and stepmother, fierce slayer of mental illness, writer and traveler. I love the constant change of the road, and the experiences it brings our family. We have learned so much being full-time RVers, and love the freedom this lifestyle gives us.