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Thursday, August 11, 2022
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De-Winterize Your Camper With This Checklist

Photo by welcomia via iStock

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a tutorial on how to sanitize your camper’s water system in preparation for summertime fun. Today’s article is a follow-up to that.

The checklist I have below hits on the other important steps to de-winterize your camper, from testing appliances to installing and charging your batteries to checking the roof for damage and leaks.

If this is your first time looking forward to camping season in your new camper, learn how to de-winterize your camper with this checklist.

Give the Exterior a Thorough Inspection

Man De-Winterize Camper by applying calk to the outside of a camper window

Photo by Onfokus via iStock

Whether you have an RV, a fifth wheel, or a bumper pull camper, you need to take the time to walk around it, get on the roof, and look underneath it to spot any damage that might have occurred over the winter.

Do a walk around and look for cracks in the fiberglass siding and the weatherstripping around windows, doors, and storage access points, as these are the most common issues that occur. Get on the roof and check for any cracks or holes in the rubber roof. If the roof material is flaking, it’s time to add a new coat. Also look around the air conditioner, bath vent fan, and other components to check that there aren’t signs of leakage.

roof of a camper with an open vent

Photo by photoschmidt via iStock

When you de-winterize your camper, have a look underneath your camper as well. Look for signs of rust and components that are beginning to wear. If your camper or RV is insulated, insure that the covering is still attached well and that it isn’t sagging.

Finally, if you have a bumper pull or fifth wheel, take a good, long look at the hitch components to see if there is any rust or damage. Of course, if you find that there is damage to to the hitch or any other part of your camper, have it fixed before it becomes a bigger issue.

Pro Tip: Inspect the tires, too. There should be good tread on them with no signs of uneven wear and no cracks on the sidewalls. If your tires are old, but in good condition, you might consider having new ones put on anyway. Once tires reach a certain age, they cannot be repaired if you get a flat. Ensure all tires are properly inflated before hitting the road as well.

De-Winterize Your Camper by Installing and Charging the Batteries

De-Winterize Your Camper by Installing and Charging the Batteries

Photo by photoschmidt via iStock

Next up, reinstall the batteries and charge them up by plugging your camper into 30 or 50-amp power. Once they’ve had time to charge, disconnect the electricity and use a voltmeter to check their charge. Bear in mind that a typical 12-volt battery that is fully charged should read about 12.7-volts.

Also bear in mind that if your batteries need water to check the water level before you charge them. If the plates are exposed, add water until the water level is correct.

Pro Tip: As always, when connecting your camper batteries, ensure all connections are correct and secure. If need be, take a photo of the correct connections in the fall, that way you remember how to connect the batteries the following spring.

Learn More:

Check the Propane Tanks

white Propane Tank

Photo by knowlesgallery via iStock

If your camper or RV has propane tanks, you need to inspect them, too.

If you took the tanks off the camper for the winter, reinstall them and connect them to the hose. To check for issues with the connections and hose, coat them with soapy water and watch for bubbles to form. If you see bubbles, there might be a gas leak.

The first course of action is to tighten the connections between the propane bottles and the hose. If you’re sure the connection is tight yet you still see bubbles, you should take your camper to a service center and have them troubleshoot the issue. Leaking gas is no joke, so having a professional check it out for you is a smart move.

If your propane tanks are good to go, they probably need to be topped off for the summer season. Remember that some states require tanks to be periodically re-certified, so add that to your list of steps to de-winterize your camper. Also remember to check all the propane-fueled appliances in your camper to ensure they work properly. If you find that something isn’t working correctly, have a professional take a look at it for you.

De-Winterize Your Camper by checking the stove top

Photo by welcomia via iStock

Pro Tip: Also check the electrical components in the camper. Plug your camper into a 30 or 50-volt outlet and test out systems like the microwave, air conditioner, and lights. Also test the refrigerator by putting it into electricity mode. If you’ve already tested the fridge for proper propane functionality, you’ll need to turn the refrigerator off and leave the door open until the inside is room temperature. Then turn on the electricity, shut the doors, and come back in a few hours to see if the fridge is cold.

De-Winterize Your Camper By Opening all the Windows

little white dog lookin out an open camper window

Photo by BrianAJackson via iStock

After sitting in storage for several months, your camper will probably smell a little gross…

As part of your de-winterizing process, open all the windows to get some fresh air inside. This is also a good idea because it allows you to test all windows for proper operation. This is especially important for the fire exit windows!

While you’re at it, turn on the hood vent above the stove and the exhaust fan in the bathroom so you know they are both working properly as well.

Pro Tip: Test the carbon monoxide detector, smoke detector, and LP detector, as well as the fire extinguisher. Replace batteries as needed and recharge the fire extinguisher as needed as well.

You’re Ready to De-Winterize Your Camper!

De-Winterized Camper parked in a camping spot in the forest

Photo by gsagi via iStock

There’s nothing quite like the excitement of a new camping season. I know when I get my camper out of storage and de-winterize it, all I can think about is getting on the road and spending weekends in the mountains enjoying nature’s beauty.

But this is a process that takes time, so don’t rush through it. The more diligent you are about de-winterizing and checking all the camper’s components and systems, the less likely you are to run into problems this summer.

Happy camping!

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