Will you need to prepare your RV for winter living this year?
Living in an RV is quite easy once you get the hang of it. You learn how to deal with the black and gray tanks. They become quite easy to maintain. You learn how to do your checks for leaks and moisture. You also learn to maintain your slide-outs and a number of other tasks that need to be completed on a consistent basis.
One thing that needs to be considered beforehand is winterizing. Many people may choose to go south for the winter. These people forego a lot of the issues that arise in the colder north. However, if you are planning to RV through the winter months in colder climates you will need to prepare your RV for winter living.
There are a number of important things that should be planned for when you prepare your RV for winter living.
The most important are:
- Controlling Moisture
- Retaining as much of your heat as possible.
Keeping moisture to a minimum will help you feel warmer and protect your RV. It is one of the first things to consider when you prepare your RV for winter living.
Moisture is one of the major destroyers of RVs. Will you need a dehumidifier? My short answer: Yes!
We use a 25-litre (50 pints) dehumidifier. We got our dehumidifier second hand and at a great price. If we were to buy new we would probably go for a slightly smaller one such as this one here on Amazon. Optimal humidity in the trailer is around 35 to 45 percent so we try to keep it in that range. We also have small dehumidifiers. The small dehumidifiers are best in small spaces such as closets and pantry.
We use an air dryer in the bathroom. It works great to keep the space bit warmer and dry the air out. We tend to keep the bathroom door closed so the air dryer and small dehumidifier does well in the small space without having to keep the door open all the time. Investing in tools to reduce humidity and keep your rig dry will pay off for you in spades.
One of the biggest things you can do prepare your RV for winter living is to install skirting. Skirting will help to reduce heat loss.
You can do the skirting yourself, you can have skirting made specifically for your rig or you can even purchase pre-made panels to skirt your entire RV.
Skirting does the double duty of helping you keep heat in and wind/cold out. Skirting will keep your rig floors warmer and help you save money on heating costs.
DIY skirting is usually done with plywood, styrofoam or vapour barrier plastic. Styrofoam and plastic are usually easier to work with and may be less expensive than plywood. If you plan on moving and need to keep redoing your skirting through the winter then it plywood may be the better, more durable choice over plastic or styrofoam. One thing to note: never use hay bales. The bales become a haven for pests such as insects and rats. They could completely infest and destroy your rig. Hay could also become a fire hazard.
If you prefer, you can also have skirting custom made to fit your rig from insulating materials. The benefit of this is that you get a durable and storable alternative that is not rigid like plywood or styrofoam. If you travel a lot in colder climates and need to continually attach and detach your skirting then this is probably the best alternative as well. There is a larger upfront cost, of course, to this but you will be able to use it year after year.
Part of your plan to prepare your RV for winter living should be how to keep your holding tanks from freezing.
You may need to get some holding tank heaters if you are spending time parked or driving through freezing temperatures. If your holding tanks freeze up they could rupture so make sure that you take precautions. Tank heaters usually come on 4 season rigs. If you don’t have any on yours and you will be in below freezing temperatures you will need heaters to stop the contents of your holding tanks from freezing up.
If you are only going to be spending a short amount of time in freezing temperatures and don’t want to spend the money on holding tank heaters you can also use non-toxic RV Antifreeze in your holding Tanks. Using the Antifreeze is a good short-term solution. Tank heaters are your best long-term solution.
You will have a lot of heat loss through windows and vents so you will need to prepare them for RV winter living as well.
There are a number of strategies that you can use to insulate your windows and vents. The first thing to do is to check for leaks. Small cracks in your seals around windows and vents can let water in. Once water gets in and freezes and then thaws it can really start causing some damage. Check often and reseal as needed.
There are a number of different materials you can use to insulate your windows. You can use clear or opaque materials such as bubble wrap or window plastic. These will offer some insulation but still let light in. If you are in extremely cold temperatures or don’t care if you let light in then you can go for a higher level of insulation with Reflectix or styrofoam insulation. These can be attached with double-sided tape or a similar adhesive. You can also custom make window covers from insulating materials that match your RV decor if you sew (or have them made for you if you don’t).
To insulate vents you can use an insulating vent cushion. They are very reasonably priced and available at most hardware or department stores that have an RV section. You can also order them from Amazon.
If you want to be hooked up to water while you are stationary and the temperatures dip below freezing then you will need to keep your water hose from freezing.
This can be accomplished by heat tape. The tape plugs in. When the temperature goes below the preset limit the heat tape turns on. Then warms your hose. This will keep your outside water hose from freezing up like ours did last winter! (Read about that here)
Find out where your water pump is and make sure that it is insulated from the cold. Our water pump is located in our front pass through and it doesn’t have much protection from the cold. When it goes below freezing we put an air dryer in the passthrough that keeps our pump running when we need it.
Consider an alternative heat source when you prepare your RV for winter living. You will probably find that having a good space heater will make your RV much more comfortable.
We found that our electric space heater did a great job of keeping everything nice and toasty. It ended up costing us less in electricity than heating with just propane. If you are going to purchase one look for one that will use the least amount of energy but still give out good heat.
Invest in a large propane tank if you are going to be stationary in the winter.
We purchased a 100 lb propane tank. If you are going to be stationary for the winter in cold weather then you are probably going to have to fill up your small tanks quite often. We find our 100lb tank saves us the constant worry that we are going to run out in the middle of the night. It also saves the frequent runs to refuel. You can keep smaller propane tanks for back up.
I hope these tips will help you have a cozy winter in your RV no matter how cold it is outside.
Have you ever spent a winter in your RV? What was your experience? We would love to hear your thoughts on RV winter living. If you have any tips or tricks that we haven’t mentioned let us know!
Haven’t subscribed to the newsletter yet? If not, you can do that here.
- Prepare Your RV for Winter Living
- Are you Prepared For Emergencies When RVing?
- RV Repairs Needed Already? WTH?
- Choosing the Perfect RV for Full-Time RV Living
- Review of Living Forest Campground