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How to Prepare Your RV for Winter: Essential Tips & Insights

With the transition from summer to fall, it's time to start thinking about your RV or camper. The fall season can vary depending on where you live - it may only last a few days before the temperature drops and stays low until spring. Here in North Carolina, fall weather is unpredictable. It could be 20 degrees in the morning and reach 70 degrees by the afternoon.

Regardless of your location, whether you store your RV in the winter or live in it full time, it's important to take steps to prepare your vehicle for the cold weather. Every owner should prioritize this to ensure their RV is ready for the winter season.


RV Winterization

For those who live in their RVs full time, getting ready for winter requires careful planning to stay cozy and protect your vehicle from the harsh effects of freezing temperatures. Here are some helpful tips to help you achieve just that:

  • Prevent Frozen Lines: Whether you live in a frigid climate or a milder one, frozen lines can happen unexpectedly. Not only are frozen pipes a major inconvenience, but if they burst, it can wreak havoc on your interior and lead to costly repairs. Taking precautions like insulating your pipes either professionally or DIY style, installing a tank heating pad, and using heated or insulated hoses can significantly lower the chances of frozen lines.
  • Extra Heat Sources: Keep additional heat sources on hand, such as heated blankets or small electric heaters. Ensure these devices are designed for RV use and well-ventilated to prevent safety hazards.
  • Reduce Heat Loss: There are many areas on an RV where heat can escape, making it hard to maintain a comfortable, warm temperate. Focusing on preventing air leaks in these areas will increase heat retention substantially:
    • RV windows are one of, if not the largest, sources of heat loss during winter. While ensuring proper window weatherstripping is key (we'll dive further into that momentarily), insulating the windows with things like thermal curtains, bubble wrap, and insulated windshield covers can be very effective. A more expensive and permanent option to consider for the full time RVers is upgrading to double-pane windows.
    • Another common area of heat loss is through the floors. Skirting the base of your RV is a highly recommended method to prevent that. Skirting will also aid in preventing frozen pipes and maintaining a warmer floor and cabin temperature by insulating and trapping heat underneath the RV. 
    • As warm air rises in your RV, it can easily escape through openings like roof vents. Installing vent covers will add insulation and prevent air from escaping/entering your cabin through the vents.

Weatherstripping is critical to maintain a comfortable, warm interior temperature!

  • Sealing Efforts: Cold air isn't the only thing your weatherstripping will keep out. It prevents the intrusion of pests, dust, mold, and more. All areas of weatherstripping are important on your RV, however for winterizing, you'll want to focus on these areas:
    • Windows: The vast majority of RVs have single-pane windows, which are less efficient at maintaining temperature and noise control. On the inside, feel around the perimeter of the window for a draft. Outside, look for cracks and gapping around the corners or ends. Ensure the window edge fits snugly against the glass for a proper seal.
    • Doors: Look for any rips/tears, gaps, deterioration, or signs of wear from extended compression like flattening/loss of shape. Perform the dollar bill test around the door to check for a positive seal. Shut a dollar bill in your access or compartment door and give it a tug. If the bill holds securely, your seal is functioning. If it slides out easily, the seal will need to be replaced in order to prevent air leaks.
    • Slide Outs: Make sure the wipers are working properly while the box is extending and retracting. Wipers can get twisted, potentially damaging the wiper blade or creating gaps which leave your RV vulnerable to the elements. Inspect all areas of your slide out seals for damage like cracks, compressed bulbs, rips, or missing pieces.
  • Proper Ventilation: Adequate ventilation is essential to prevent moisture buildup inside your RV. Vent covers, as previously mentioned, can also help regulate moisture levels.

Preparing Your RV for Storage

If you plan to store your RV for the winter, it's a good idea to do a thorough check of all your weatherstripping, while also taking additional measures.

  • Winterization Checklist: To ensure your RV is properly prepared for storage during cold weather, it is crucial to follow the correct steps. Camping World put together a detailed, step-by-step blog and video guide on how to winterize your RV for storage. Check that out here:
  • Maintenance Cleaning: Deep cleaning both the interior and exterior of your RV prior to storing for long periods is always a good idea. However, if that is not an option, we recommend at least cleaning these specific areas:
    • Slide out box: This will remove any dirt, grime, or condensation that may have accumulated and prevent mold growth while the box is closed for an extended time. Also, closing the slide box with debris like sticks or leaves on top can cause a number of problems including torn or twisted wiper seals, punctured bulb seals, and scratches to the body of the RV.

Be mindful of what chemicals/cleaners you are using on your seals!

    • Exterior Weatherstripping: Cleaning your weatherstripping before storing can increase the longevity of your seals. This will allow the weatherstripping surface to be clean and clear of things like pollen, dirt, and mold during the storage period. However, be cautious about the cleaning products you use. While thermoplastic or vinyl seals can handle chemical products, 100% rubber seals, like ours, cannot. Chemicals can break down the rubber compounds over time and cause deterioration. Since rubber seals are naturally weather and UV resistant, additional products like protectants and sealants are not necessary. Soapy water is all you'll need to safely and effectively clean your rubber seals.


Now that you're well-equipped with knowledge and tips on preparing your RV for winter, you can confidently store your vehicle, or explore the beauty of winter RVing.


If you need help finding the right weatherstrip for your project, or need help installing a part, assistance is available with one of our Product Specialists over the phone (800-230-6752) and on Live Chat.

*For additional help check out our How To series on YouTube!

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