Not all RVers go out and about during winter.

While it has been established that winterizing is a means of protecting your RV from the harsh winter, its importance lies within the fact that if you miss the critical processes, your RV is susceptible to irreversible damage.

Want to know more about why is it necessary to winterize an RV?

While some would go on trips for a few days and then store their rigs for the rest of the season, others would not use their RVs at all. 

But regardless which type of RVer you are, protecting your RV from extreme cold is a must.

In my case, I am the former. I enjoy the great outdoors all year round so I take a few days camping in the winter then store the RV until next season.

But what is winterizing and why is it important?

Most people mistake “winterizing” only as protecting the RV’s plumbing system during extreme cold weather.  However, the complete definition is preparing your house or, in this case, your RV to endure freezing temperatures.

When I was relatively new to RVing, I was among “most people.” I thought I just had to take care of the plumbing system during winter and the RV’s all set for storage throughout winter.

But more than just the RV’s plumbing system, I learned that winterizing includes the interior, exterior and even the RV’s tires and chassis components. All of these need to be protected from the potential damages winter may bring.

And if it’s not so cold where you are, then winterizing may also be defined as protecting your RV from critters who may dwell in your rig while you are storing it.

While it has been established that winterizing is a means of protecting your RV from the harsh winter, its importance lies within the fact that if you miss the critical processes, your RV is susceptible to irreversible damage.

What Happens If You Don’t Winterize Your RV?

One of the biggest mistakes an RVer can make is not winterizing their rigs.

I’ve seen some damages caused by this neglect and it’s definitely not a pretty sight.

As I’ve said, disregarding the importance of winterizing your RV can cause irreversible damage.

Here’s why:

The reason some RVers mistake winterizing as protecting only the plumbing system is because this is where the number one problem lies during freezing temperatures.

You see, while having water everywhere we go gives us a lot of convenience, it can also cause the most damage.

What’s interesting about water is that instead of contracting, it expands when it freezes. And when it expands, it can literally break pipes and tanks which is very costly.

When pipes and tanks are cracked, you can’t have them repaired; you can only have them replaced. What a costly effect of something should’ve been avoidable.

Remember that the smallest amount of water can cause this much damage, so you need to drain everything before stowing your rig away. Here’s one of our articles showing how to blow the water out of the RV lines with air compressors.

In the same way, if you don’t protect the exterior of your RV, any moisture can freeze and cause cracks in the paint.

And if it’s not freezing cold in your location but you need to store your RV until spring, you should also protect your RV from other potential damages.

Rodents and critters might make a home out of your RV and it’s not a good thing as well.

They may chew on the engine and other parts of the RV possibly leading to damage and may cause engine breakdown and accidents while you’re on the road.

To sum it all up, not winterizing your RV will give you a headache come spring and cost you thousands of dollars.

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

Advice from fellow RVers and winterizing shops is that we should winterize if temperature is 32 degrees Fahrenheit and below.

During our lazy days, we sometimes wait until tomorrow to do our winterizing but that shouldn’t be the case.

Do not ever store your RVs without winterizing, most especially the plumbing system.

I know of an instance where an RVer forgot to drain the water heater tank, shrugged it off and planned to check the next day thinking it’s not going to be that bad. He checked the following morning and saw his tank burst open.

That’s an irreparable damage right there.

So if where you’re at is going to reach at least 32 degrees Fahrenheit, winterize immediately if you haven’t already.

At What Temperature Do RV Water Lines Freeze?

We’ve always been taught that water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but it’s not always the case for RV water lines.

Indoor pipes are protected from external temperatures to some extent, which means that even if the temperature reaches 32 degrees Fahrenheit, not all water lines will reach the same temperature.

The rule of thumb, I recently learned, is that the temperature must drop at least 20 degrees or lower for pipes to freeze.

For some places that are usually below freezing point, insulation must be added to the pipelines for extra protection.

Can I Live in My RV After It’s Winterized?

The answer to this question is not a definite yes or no – there are a lot of gray areas you have to consider.

Some would say that RVing in the freezing cold is a bad idea. These are usually the people who would not like to camp where there is no water in the toilet, sink, kitchen, etc.

The issue of not having the possibility to hook up water lines is a major holdback because it would be freezing almost everywhere.

Plus, you would be running your RV all day everyday so you can make use of heaters. That’s an additional showstopper for some as well.

On the other hand, there are also others who enjoy having no hook-ups at all. They say that with proper planning, then you’ll be off to an adventure like no other.

These are for people who like skiing, snowmobiling, etc.

It’s not really impossible to live in your RV after it’s winterized, but it’s going to be a challenge you have to be ready for.

The answer now is all up to you.

Finishing Up

Winterizing is not an option, it’s a must.

Whether or not there’s snow or your location has not gone below freezing temperatures, you should never ever dismiss winterizing.

Before you store your RV for the winter, protect your rig at all times to avoid damages and costly repairs.