Thursday, September 28, 2023


I just bought a used RV. There’s no water in it, so do I need to winterize it?

Dear Dave, 
I just bought this RV and haven’t used it yet. There’s no water to the units. Do I need to add RV antifreeze since it’s still dry, so to speak? Thanks. —Michael, 2005 Kountry Star

Dear Michael,
There are two ways to winterize a rig: either run RV antifreeze (the pink stuff) through all the water system, or blow out the lines with compressed air. Both methods are designed to prevent water from freezing and bursting the water lines or water heater. Since you just bought the rig, you probably do not know how it was previously used. I would not assume it is dry, but would rather winterize it with one of the procedures just to be sure.

Compressed air

For this method you would need an air compressor that can have the pressure decreased to about 40 psi, so you don’t blow out the connections. Attach the hose to the city water fill with a blowout plug or an adapter like this available on Amazon.

Drain the water in the freshwater tank and the water heater. I believe your Kountry Star has a water heater bypass, so you can leave the drain plug out and turn the handle to bypass. If your water heater has an anode rod, inspect that, as well. This is also a good time to clean out the remaining 1-2” of water sitting in the bottom of the water heater, as not everything drains out. This can be done with this handy hose attached to a garden hose. You can get it at Amazon here.

Dial the compressor down to 40 psi and start it up. Go inside and open the farthest faucet and let it run until just air comes out. Shut the faucet and work your way back opening every faucet one at a time. Don’t forget the shower, toilet and sprayer, and outside shower. If you have an ice maker, you will need to remove the filter and turn the water off. Then run the ice maker through 2-3 cycles until there is no more water.

You will also need to run the water pump until it is completely void of water, as there is a check valve in the line so the pressurized air will not get there. I typically dump a little of the pink stuff in the drains to protect the “P” trap from freezing, as there is typically standing water there. Dump the waste tanks and add a storage solution by Thetford and some valve lube. I also put in some toilet gasket conditioner.

Floë by Lippert

Lippert has a compact compressor that permanently mounts somewhere inside the rig and is connected to the water system. It comes in either a 12-volt model 636 for boondockers, or a 120-volt model 836. Available on Amazon here.

RV antifreeze

Many RVers like to use the pink stuff for peace of mind. Keep in mind, it will still slush up and seem to be frozen but has a very low burst point. You will most likely need 4-6 gallons for your rig, not counting the water heater. Drain everything as mentioned in the air compressor method and turn the water heater valve to bypass. I also believe your rig has a winterizing tube that will allow you to draw RV antifreeze from a bottle through the water pump. Here is a picture of one in a Winnebago.

The hose going down and out of the picture is the winterizing tube with the valve at the top. Turn the valve, insert the hose in a gallon jug of RV antifreeze, and start the pump. It will draw from the jug and is much easier than dumping 6 gallons of RV antifreeze in the freshwater tank.

Start the pump and open the faucet farthest from the pump and run it until the pink stuff comes out. Do this with all the faucets, shower, toilet and sprayer, as well as the outside shower. Do not run RV antifreeze through the ice maker; rather, shut off the water line and cycle it as described above. Dump the holding tanks and add the conditioners and lubricants as described above.

 You might also enjoy this from Dave 

Can we just open RV’s drain valves to winterize?

Dear Dave,
Our RV will be stored in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for the winter. It has several low-point water drain valves that drain most of the water out. Do you think we still need to have it winterized to be on the safe side? I really enjoy your column; I read it every week. Thanks for any help. —Winfred, 2019 Jayco White Hawk 32KBS

Read Dave’s answer.

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”

Read more from Dave here


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Dave Solberg
Dave Solberg
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club. He has been in the RV Industry since 1983 and conducts over 15 seminars at RV shows throughout the country.


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Lawrence Neely
1 month ago

do not forget the black tank flush. may not be an issue but some water might be left in the back flow preventer

Mikal H
1 month ago

If you have a washing machine and/or a dishwasher, don’t forget to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for winterizing on those appliances.

Also, many Newmar, and I assume other higher end motorhomes, have a “keep full” feature for the water holding tank. The valve that is used to select using “city water” vs “manual fill” of the tank has a third selection for this feature. A solenoid that gets signals from the water tank level sensors opens and closes a valve to keep the fresh water tank full. While putting in the pink juice, be sure to put this selector switch on the “keep full” function for a while (the last step I do in the winterizing process) so the solenoid opens the valve and allows some antifreeze to flow through the valve and small loop of piping. Not doing so can ruin a very expensive valve/solenoid. Don’t ask me how I know! 🙁

1 month ago

I also open the low point drains to allow the A/F to fill the drain lines, then close the valves. Same thing when using air. Open the valves until air evacuates the drains.
Press the check valve on the city water connection while the pump is running until A/F comes out.

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