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How to Winterize Your Campervan [Step-by-Step Guide]

Learn how to winterize your camper for cold weather van life through our step-by-step guide: tips for maintaining water lines, batteries, antifreeze, and more.

By Kiera Cudmore

If you live in a cold weather climate like we do here in Colorado, winterizing your campervan is an essential part of van life. Unless you’re able to store your campervan in a heated garage for the winter, you’ll need to take several measures to protect its precious systems. Frigid temperatures can harm auxiliary batteries and break plumbing elements if water lines start to freeze.

The most important steps to winterizing your van include removing batteries, draining the plumbing lines and holding tanks to keep water from freezing, and running RV antifreeze through your lines. Different vans may require slightly different order of operations, but the overarching tasks are all similar.

How Do I Winterize My Van?

View of a person fixing a car

  • Step 1: Drain the Water System. In most cases, you’ll begin the winterization process by draining all the water tanks in your campervan. This includes the freshwater, gray water, and black water tank or cassette (if applicable). In our Roameo Travel Suites, the fresh water dump valve is located behind the outdoor shower fixture in the bottom of the water box, and the gray water tank valve is just below the sliding door. The blackwater is found in the toilet cassette, which should be pulled out the side of the van and emptied.
  • Step 2: Remove the Water Filters. Next, you’ll remove all water filters and reconnect the lines. In our standard vans, the water filter can be unscrewed below the sink. We also use a freshwater filter on the water fill hose so the water going into the holding tank is potable and does not leave mineral buildup in the lines over time (this one should be removed as well). All water filters must be removed from the van and stored above freezing temperatures to prevent them from breaking.
  • Step 3: Remove and Drain the Hot Water Heater Tank. If the van has a hot water heater tank, remove and drain it. Antifreeze will damage hot water heaters, so it is important to remove the heater before running the antifreeze through the water lines. In our Roameo Travel Suites, the hot water heater can be removed through the back access door, tipped upside down to drain, and then stored at room temperature. You can bypass the hot water heater using the supplied PEX tubing located in the electrical box. This will go through all plumbing components except for the fresh water tank. Be sure you do not skip this step.
  • Step 4: Turn on the Water Pump Switch. In our vans, the switch is located under the sink. Other vans may have the water pump switch on the wall, the side of a cabinet, or even inside of an upper head cabinet.
  • Step 5: Run the Water. Flush the toilet (if applicable), and turn on the sink faucets, showers, and any other water appliances until all the water is drained out of the lines.
  • Step 6: Turn Off Your Pumps. Once water stops flowing, turn off the sink, showers, and any other appliances that you just turned on.
  • Step 7: Run Antifreeze Through All Water Lines. As a reminder, only do this after the hot water heater and filters are removed. To run antifreeze through the lines, turn on the sink, showers, and toilet. Run until all colored antifreeze comes out of all these systems. Open each fixture individually in sequence. In our vans, hook up the antifreeze to the antifreeze inlet inside the water box.
  • Step 8: Leave Antifreeze in the Lines and Store for the Winter.
  • Step 9: Disconnect the Auxiliary Batteries. Remove the auxiliary batteries from the vehicle and store them somewhere they won't freeze for the winter.
  • Step 10: Check All Roof Seals. Look for signs of aging like cracking, flaking or holes. Replace the seals if needed.

How Do I De-Winterize My Van?

View of a man oiling the car engine

  • Step 1: Drain the Antifreeze. Remove antifreeze from your lines by running the sink and showers, and flushing the toilet.
  • Step 2: Fill the Fresh Water Tank. Add water to the fresh water tank and run it through all your lines one at a time by opening up the sink and showers, and flushing the toilet. Do this until no more colored antifreeze comes out.
  • Step 3: Reinstall Your Hot Water Heater. Hook it back up to the plumbing system once reinstalled.
  • Step 4: Reinstall Your Fresh Water Filter Under the Sink. Depending on how long you’ve been using your water filter, it may be time to replace it. Filters may have different requirements so read up on the one you have. Also note that if your filter froze at all before you were able to winterize your vehicle, it may be broken and need to be replaced.
  • Step 5: Reinstall Your Batteries and Connect Them.
  • Step 6: Check All Roof Seals. Once again, look for signs of aging or holes. Replace the seals if needed.

Cold temperatures can be particularly hard on campervans and RVs. Taking these precautions to winterize your vehicle can save you from expensive fixes and other headaches come spring. Have any questions or concerns regarding your particular van? Feel free to reach out to us at any time or refer to our owners manual for more information.