What If I Forgot To Winterize My Camper? (What Happens)

There is always a lot of talk on the different RV discussion forums about how important it is to winterize your RV or trailer. However, some people either forget or do not have any antifreeze to use. They get worried their RV will be damaged.

Winterizing is always important but there are some situations where all you will need is a good heater to keep your pipes from freezing. These situations are for those times when the temperatures only dip below freezing for a few hours. Not much will happen to your RV’s pipes in that short time.

To learn more about this situation and what to do about it, just continue to read our article. It explores the situation to provide you with the best options to prevent any damage to your RV or trailer. Forgetting to winterize is not always a major issue. It just depends.

Do I Really Need To Winterize My RV?


You may have just spent a hundred thousand +/- dollars on your RV, it is a good idea to protect that investment. Your insurance may not cover your damage cost if they find out you were negligent in winterizing your RV.

It is not just the pipes that are included in winterizing. You need to properly store your battery to protect it from being drained of all power. Or at least put it on a trickle charger to keep it powered up.

Then, you should check all your seals around windows, doors, vents, AC, and other places you have sealant. If these are cracked or broken, those holes could let moisture in that will damage your RV’s exterior.

The next item that could be damaged if you do not winterize properly will be your tires and suspension. You will want to relieve them of the pressure of holding all that weight if you are not going to use your RV or trailer for some time.

Finally, you will want to protect your RV from rodents and other small creatures who look for shelter during the winter. Yes, winterizing your RV or trailer is very important if you do not want to spend a lot more money on repair costs.

What If I Forgot To Winterize My Camper?


This does happen even to the best of RV owners. People have lots of things on their minds and it is easy to forget to winterize your expensive RV, etc. But all is not lost if you do happen to forget. If you remember in time, you can correct the mistake before any damage sets in.

The first thing to do is to assess the situation. Since different regions of the country have different temperature levels and different wildlife, the problems may not be that bad. You have to see what has happened before you apply a solution.

The second thing to do is to assess any damage. Check your pipes, valves, and connections to see if there are any leaks. Since water expands, and you forgot to drain the water out of your RV’s plumbing, this is a possibility.

If there was damage, just repair it and then drain any water you left in your plumbing system. The low point drain needs to be opened and you need to drain all tanks and the water heater.

If there was no damage, do that step as well. Then engage the water bypass on your water heater lines so you do not use too much anti-freeze. Pour the anti-freeze as directed and leave it for the winter. Do not forget to pour some down your drains and into your RV toilet.

The third thing to do is to remove your battery and store it in a warm, dry place. Then hook it up to a trickle charger or a battery maintainer to make sure it does not lose any power over the winter months.

If you leave the battery inside your RV or trailer, you could inadvertently leave the wrong light on and drain the battery. If that happens, you would have to pay for a new battery.

Finally, seal any openings where small animals can crawl into and make a nest. If they get access to your RV’s interior you may be looking at a lot of damage to repair.

Now if it doesn’t get too cold in your region of the country, you can get away with using a good space heater to keep the pipes warm. You won’t have to pay for any antifreeze but you would still have to check the other areas we just mentioned and make sure they are ready for those cooler months.

It has been said that if it goes below freezing for a short time, it is very possible that nothing will happen to your RV, etc.

What Happens If You Don't Winterize Your Camper?


This too will depend on how cold your region of the country gets. If you are in a region that gets extremely cold, then one possibility will be broken or cracked pipes, valves, or connections.

That result can happen if your warmer region gets a cold snap so it is best to be prepared for winter. At the very least, drain your plumbing and use RV antifreeze. Or just use a space heater to keep the area you parked your RV nice and warm.

If you do not drain the water, then bacteria can grow inside your pipes making your drinking water unhealthy to drink. The low point drain on your RV, etc., will make sure all the water is drained from your plumbing.

Other things that can happen can be small rodents or other small creatures making a home somewhere in your RV. Getting rid of their mess, nest, and droppings takes time and money. Plus, it may be difficult to get rid of the odor that these creatures leave behind.

Then if you do not have all windows, doors, etc., sealed properly, the moisture can create some harsh water damage that is very expensive to repair. Just finding exactly where the problem lies and fixing it can take a very long time.

It is not enough to reseal those holes after the damage has been done. You are looking at some expensive exterior work that needs to be done. This is only if you do have a garage or barn to store your RV or trailer.

The damage that snow, rain, and cold can do when your RV is sitting outside cannot be measured. Invest in a good RV cover as well as tire covers to protect everything from the elements.

Can I Just Drain My RV For The Winter?


In a word, no. It is not enough to drain the water from your RV or trailer when you are winterizing it. This may work when you leave in California or some of the southern states but it won’t work in colder northern and the plains states.

You can get away with this for a bit but as you have read, there are other factors involved that make this effort only a partial task. The biggest concern after draining the water will be to make sure your water tanks and water heater are drained as well.

Some people do forget these parts and they are not cheap to replace. You also have to take care of your battery if you want it to survive the full 5 to 7 years of its lifetime. You can’t leave the battery hooked up as the cold or a forgotten feature left on will drain the battery and be useless by spring.

We have discussed other reasons already why draining the water only is not enough to winterize your RV, etc.

One Tip For Winterizing Your RV

One Tip For Winterizing Your RV

Some RV owners have decided to implement a very deep cleaning before they put their RV or trailer away for the winter. The cleaning includes the engine bay, storage compartments, cabinets, water tanks, and the overall interior.

Not only does this spare you from doing this when you want to use your RV again in the spring, but it also helps you find spots that need repair or sealing so animals cannot get inside.

Then this winter cleaning takes a load off your mind as you only have to do a cursory cleaning in the spring. That will save you energy in the spring and leave you more time to plan your trip.

Some Additional Words

Do not get upset or worried that you forgot to winterize your RV or trailer. Just realize your error and take the right steps to correct it. That is all you can do as the damage may have already been done and there is nothing you can do about it.

If you need to, write a note to yourself and stick it somewhere you can see it frequently. The note should remind you to winterize when it is time to put the RV away till warmer weather comes again.

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