With days getting longer and temperatures warmer, it’s time to dust off your camper trailer and get it ready for the season.
But, before hitting the road, it’s essential to check for any possible issues and perform general maintenance to ensure that your camper is in proper condition.
And if you properly winterized your camper (which you did, right?), this process should be fairly easy.
In this quick guide, we will show you how to de-winterize a camper trailer step-by-step so you can start the camping season off right.
Step 1: Inspect And Clean The Exterior
The first step to de-winterizing your camper trailer is thoroughly washing it to remove any dust, debris, or gunk that it may have collected throughout winter.
Use a gentle car soap, tar, or bug remover to clean off any stuck-on bugs or asphalt and clean the trailer. If you’re noticing a build-up of oxidation on your camper, check out our guide on how to remove oxidation from an RV.
Once clean, inspect it for any visible signs of damage or repairs needed, like failed sealants, flat tires, and cracked vents.
- Inspect the exterior for any water leaks and have them fixed immediately.
- Check all the caulking for cracks or damage. Have the cracks filled to prevent further damage.
- Inspect the doors, roof vents, windows, and other seams for worn sealant. Especially around the windows, as it’s common for RV window seals to shrink. Fix and/or replace any worn sealant.
- Open and close the awning to ensure it is functioning correctly. Now is also a good time to inspect it for any mold or dust build-up that may have occurred over winter. Be sure to clean your RV awning if needed.
Note that any damage that is not repaired, like mold, wet insulation, or delaminated walls and floors, may cause more problems later.
Step 2: Check Your Tires
Having the right tires is essential for safe travel. Adequate tire pressure is crucial to maximizing handling and traction while minimizing wear and tear. It also means fewer chances of rough handling, a blowout, or rapid tread wear.
Did you know…
When in storage, your tires may lose 2-3 psi of air pressure each month. If you store your trailer outdoors or somewhere cold, your tires might even be more deflated when you bring out your camper for spring.
Before going out on the road, check the pressure using a tire inflation gauge. Inflate them to the proper specs, as outlined in the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Also, remember that trailer tires often times dry out and break before they wear out (unless you are a full-time RV’er). Inspect and check the tread of the tire for any signs of cracks or wear. Perform a visual check to ensure the sidewalls of your tires have no cracks. Check the spare tire as well to ensure it is in good working condition.
Step 3: Charge Or Replace Your Batteries
If you properly stored your RV batteries for winter, you can simply pull them out of storage and reconnect them, making sure to connect the power cable first, then the negative cable.
If you left the batteries in your camper, then we have some maintenance to do!
First, wear latex gloves and safety glasses, disconnect the shore power, turn off all truck power, and check that the cutoff is in the OFF position. After that, ensure that all battery connections are clean. If the terminals are rusty, clean them up using warm water and baking soda.
Also, check for any cracks on the batteries that may have been caused by winter freezing. If cracked, you’ll need to replace them, as broken batteries cannot be repaired. If you decide to remove the batteries, be extra careful with the wiring. Make sure the positive and negative wires are marked. If you choose to replace the batteries, change all the battery packs at the same time. Never add a new battery to an old one.
If there are no cracks, go on to check the charge of your battery. A fully charged 12-volt RV battery should read 12.7 volts. Anything less than 12 volts needs recharging immediately. Charge the batteries, check the battery fluid levels, and add distilled water where necessary.
Step 4: Flush The Water System
Don’t forget to check the water system when de-winterizing your camper trailer. You’ll need to flush out the trailer’s water system of any antifreeze you may have added for winterizing purposes. To do so:
- Close all taps and drain valves.
- Install all drain plugs, including the water heater drain plug.
- Switch the water heater to the summer position.
- Attach a garden hose from a water source to the trailer’s clean water intake, turn it on, and fill up your water tank.
- Open all the faucets and let the hose run fresh water through the system to flush out any impurities.
Let the water run for at least 10 minutes until the water runs clear.
Step 5: Sanitize The Water System
The water system in your camper trailer can be a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. To address this issue, sanitize your water system before use.
- Start by making a chlorine solution. Mix one cup of liquid household chlorine bleach for every 20 to 30 gallons of water. Chlorine is highly effective in killing mold, mildew, viruses, and bacteria.
- Flush this solution through your water system and let it sit for a couple of hours. Do not let it sit for too long, as chlorine bleach can disintegrate synthetic seals.
- Once you have waited the required amount of time, depending on your solution, the next step is to drain and flush the system. Drain out the chlorine solution and fill the tank with freshwater. Open all faucets, including the hot water faucets, and let the water run until there is no chlorine smell. This will also bleed air from the RV water lines.
Step 6: Check The Roof For Any Cracks Or Damage And Repair
A trailer’s roof is one of the most neglected parts. After sitting in an RV storage facility over the cold winter months, the roof may have developed cracks, and it is essential to have them repaired before your next trip. If you can, climb up to the ceiling and check for any cracks or damage that may need fixing.
If your roof needs to be replaced, check out our guide on how to install a rubber roof on a camper.
Step 7: Clean Your Camper’s Interior
You also want to make sure the interior of your trailer is squeaky clean. Sweep, vacuum, scrub, and mop it. Look out for signs of critters that may have made a home inside your camper. Open up the drawers and cupboards and apply the necessary steps to keep the pesky critters out.
Mold and other bacteria may have grown inside your trailer near the water system, so you should sanitize your trailer thoroughly before using it. You can use bleach for sanitizing or any other products available specifically for disinfecting a trailer.
Step 8: Check For Leaky Pipes
When preparing your trailer for the start of the season, you want to make sure there are no leaks in your plumbing system.
Turn on the electric pump and let it pressurize the fresh water as soon as it fills the tank. Once it reaches full pressure, the pump will automatically shut off. Wait and listen for several minutes to hear if the pump turns on. If it does, there is a leak somewhere in your plumbing system that needs fixing.
Locate the leak by inspecting the pipe system and looking for leaks under sinks. Check the toilet for leakage. Repair any holes you identify, or take it to a certified camper trailer repair service. Leaks in your camper should be fixed immediately, as they can cause water damage, mold, and other bacteria growth.
Step 9: Inspect The Propane System
Before testing your trailer’s propane system, switch off the tank valves and all appliances that run on LP. Do not smoke or light any flames or sparks. Inspect the entire propane system for leaks. Apply soapy water on the valve and propane regulator and observe. If the water starts spurting or bubbling, this is a sign of leaks and means that your propane system needs repairing. Also, do a visual check for cracked hoses or rodent damage. Replace any damaged hoses immediately before turning them on.
Also, test the RV propane detector to make sure it is in good working order. If you suspect a leak, turn the propane off immediately and have it checked and repaired by a certified trailer service technician. If all the gas lines are working correctly, slowly open the valves to restore gas to the propane system. Clean your LP gas appliances and then test them by lighting each machine. You may have to purge the RV propane lines of air to get your appliances started.
Other Camper Trailer Maintenance Checks
- Electric appliances – Clean all your devices and test them in electric mode. Check the outer covers of your water heater and refrigerator for debris and clean them.
- Dump hoses – The last thing you want to discover when dumping waste is a leaky dump hose. Check your sewage dump hose for any holes or leaks. Have them repaired or replaced immediately.
- Check engine – For motorized camper trailers, check the fluid levels and top up where necessary. Make sure that all engine lights and controls are operational. Fill the engine with fresh fuel and a fuel additive (optional).
- Change/Clean filters – Many RV’s have a variety of filters that need to be maintained. Now is a good time to clean your AC filters and replace your water filters, etc. If you are feeling energetic, rinse your window screens as well. These screens will act as filters throughout the summer.
- Air vents and windows – Make sure all windows and air vents are working correctly. As the weather gets warmer, these vents become even more essential to ensuring proper airflow, preventing high humidity, and keeping you cool.
- Check safety devices – Before heading out, ensure all your RV’s safety devices are working well. This includes the fire extinguisher, smoke alarm, LP detector, and carbon monoxide detector.
- Update the truck’s insurance and registration – Finally, ensure the truck’s insurance and registration are current. Store your camper trailer’s documentation in an accessible place in your truck.
RV De-Winterizing Checklist Download
We’ve taken the extensive de-winterizing steps above and put them in a handy checklist that you can print off and use as many times as you like!
The RV De-Winterizing Checklist is perfect for first-time RVers and experienced campers alike. Print as many copies as you need and ensure that your RV is ready for the road ahead!