Learn an easy rv winterizing technique by blowing air through the water lines, leaving your drinking water pipes free of rv antifreeze! Simple, easy and safe!
We were backing out of the driveway, taking off into town yesterday when my son piped up, “Mom, it’s 1 degree out! It’s nearly ready to snow, right?!”
Yes son, it’s nearly ready to snow. And good golly, I could have burst my travel trailer plumbing system due to freezing! I had forgotten to drain the the water lines and no one needs pipes to freeze and burst.
The typical way to winterize a travel trailer is to pour rv antifreeze down all the lines. However once spring arrives, the drinking water pipes require thorough rinsing before you can drink from the rv again. I’ve never loved this thought.
So I have a special way for rv winterizing for those in freezing climates like mine, that leaves your entire water system drinking lines totally chemical-free!
Here is how to winterize a travel trailer by blowing out the lines with compressed air, alleviating the need for gallons of antifreeze through your drinking lines!
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RV winterizing travel trailer by blowing air through the water lines
Rv wintering supplies:
Air compressor with a tire pump tip
A jug of antifreeze – non-toxic
Insulated rubber boots (you’ll thank me later)
Tools to remove RV caps where needed.
Do you need to winterize a travel trailer?
Every winter before it freezes for those in freezing climates, it’s important to winterize any trailer that has running water capabilities.
Winterizing a travel trailer basically means removing all standing water inside any interior water pipes.
For if you don’t, the pipes or the hot water tank could expand and burst or crack from the ice.
Also be sure to inspect all the lines to ensure rodents or mice haven’t created any issues.
What happens when you don’t winterize a travel trailer?
The problem is ice.
If there is any standing water in the rv pipes, water turning into ice expands, which can create cracks and bursts in your pipes. This causes endless water leaks the next time you use it, and can lead to very expensive repairs.
All water must be drained from the lines before it freezes.
How hard is it to winterize a travel trailer?
No, it is not hard to winterize an rv. But it is easier with two people if you use my method of blowing out the lines with compressed air.
At what temperature should I winterize my travel trailer?
The best time to winterize an rv is right after the last time you use your trailer for the year BEFORE the temperatures freeze.
If you use your trailer while it sits at home year around or during the winter months, just remember to insulate all the pipes so they don’t freeze. However I would personally suggest to still drain the lines to risk the pipes bursting.
Will RV pipes freeze in one night?
They can! As soon as water freezes outdoors, your RV pipes are at risk of freezing too.
How often do you need to winterize your travel trailer?
The key is to keep water out of the lines during freezing temperatures. So if you continue to use the trailer during the winter months, you’ll need to drain the lines each and every time you use them.
2 winterizing methods
There are two main ways to remove the water from the lines. Either way works however they both require different steps.
Be sure to refer to your owners manual to locate where all your rv pipes are located to ensure you understand how they all connect.
1. With RV antifreeze
1. One way is via a small pump that pushes RV non-toxic antifreeze through everything. This includes the drinking water lines.
The con with that is you have to flush out your system really well come spring so you don’t end up ingesting antifreeze remnants from your drinking water.
If you use this method, use only non-toxic rv antifreeze and be sure to use a water heater bypass kit as well as closing off your fresh water tank storage. You will also require a pump.
Please learn how to use this method from knowledgeable sources so it’s done safely.
2. Blowing out the water lines with air
2. My preferred way to winterize a travel trailer is by blowing out the lines with compressed air.
An air compressor has the ability to push every drop of water out of the pipes, leaving them perfectly dry and clean before they have a chance to freeze.
This method is clean, quick, and of course a great way to bypass using rv antifreeze in your fresh water drinking lines!
I learned how to do this by another camper at a campsite. By helping him do his, I learned how so I could do mine once I returned home.
So this is how he taught me to this rv winterizing method of blowing out the water lines with air, and I’ve been doing it like this ever since.
Empty RV tanks before starting
Just be sure to take your rv to a dump station to empty out any black and grey tank standing water. All tanks should be completely empty during the freezing winter months if you are not using your rv.
Tip: I ensure my septic and white water tank is empty by using this clear attachment shown in THIS RV TIPS POST. It’s a life saver!
How to drain the hot water heater tank
1. Drain the hot water tank first.
- Ensure water tank is cool.
- Unscrew the water tank cap and allow to drain.
- Do the same to any other water holding tanks you may have as well.
- Important: be sure to close them all up again before using air
Just be sure to stand back or you’ll get a few showers… ask me how I know.
How to blow out the water lines with air
A blow-out plug is a simple adaptor that screws onto your outdoor water intake valve. It is teamed up with an air compressor to push water out of any rv lines. RV blow-out plugs are easily found at any standard rv dealer locations.
Here’s how to use it.
How to use an rv blow-out plug
2. Turn down the air compressor to a pressure between to 30-40 psi.
3. Attach a blow out plug to your water intake valve located at the rv’s exterior.
4. Standing by the blow-out plug outdoors, have someone go inside the trailer and turn off every tap faucet. Then go to the closest faucet to the outdoor plug. This will likely be the kitchen sink.
Have them turn on just the hot OR cold tap (not both) and to yell and let you know when the water has stopped running once you start blowing air through the lines.
5. Using the air compressor, blow air through the blow out valve with a tire pump tip attached to the hose, until you hear their ok.
6. Once dry, have them turn off the one tap, then turn on the other.
7. Once all the water has stopped running through the taps inside, turn off the taps to that sink completely, then move to the next closest set of taps and repeat.
Do this with every tap, including the toilet lever until you complete the entire rv’s plumbing system. Don’t forget to include outside showers.
- Take some breaks rather than push the air through all at once. It’s easier on the lines. And your freezing hands…
- Leave your socket where the hot water tank drain resides.
Just leave it there. Year around. It sure beats tripping over crap in your garage, and going through 5082 tool sockets trying to find one that fits!
8. Pour some rv antifreeze down each drain, then cover with drain plugs.
9. Also pour a cupful of antifreeze into the toilet bowl, then flush, and top up a little more inside the bowl to protect the valve inside.
This helps keep the grey and black water tanks, p traps and lines from freezing in case there’s still some water present.
Just be sure to drain a complete RV water system including black and grey tanks completely before winter sets in.
You are done! And are free to change your wet shoes and head into town.
And here’s why it was a VERY good idea to delay our trip to town. An icicle transpired the very next AM!
Why I don’t do this when it’s warm and lovely out in September, I’ll never know.
But I do suggest rv winterizing your our travel trailer pipes for storage before it gets cold if you have the chance.
Other helpful travel trailer winterizing tips:
- Turn off the fridge and leave the main and freezer / ice maker doors wide open to allow them to air out.
- Remove bedding to avoid it becoming damp unless you heat the interior.
- Store boxed or bagged food products that need to stay dry in your house.
- Place moisture eliminating products inside the rv and closets. This reduces the build-up of mildew and condensation.
- Consider running a small, safe rv heater on a timer on low to keep the air from freezing, to reduce the chance of mold and mildew growing. A heater that stops when it falls is safest.
- Store extra non-toxic rv antifreeze in case you wish to top up the drains and toilet over winter.
- Keep rv batteries protected and topped up with water or bring them indoors.
- Ensure propane tanks are turned off and well protected.
- Check all rubber moldings and caulk where needed to avoid water leaks.
- Clean cupboards and hiding places to keep free of pests.
- Clean the awning, then collapse for storage.
- Ensure wheel chocks are in place, and cover wheels.
- Inspect RV interior and remove any perishable food.
- Check for critters throughout the winter.
- Stock some fuel stabilizer in case some of your gas gets water in it.
- Go over the manufacturer’s instructions to see if you’ve missed anything that needs winterizing.
Aren’t you looking forward to fresh clean drinking water you won’t need to filter next spring?!
I really hope these rv winterizing tips on how to winterize a travel trailer by blowing out the lines with compressed air have been helpful!
Think you’ll give this method a go this season?
RV winterizing by blowing air through water lines. Easy and safe!
- Drain the hot water tank and grey/black tanks.
- Attach the RV blow-out plug to your outdoor water intake valve.
- Turn off every faucet inside the trailer.
- Have someone go into the kitchen, and turn on the hot OR cold tap. Not both.
- Blow air through the blow-out value with a tire pump tip (no more than 30-40 psi) attached to the compressor hose. Have person inside call out when all the water has stopped dripping.
- Finish the kitchen sink, then turn off the tap completely.
- Do this same procedure to each and every tap, including the toilet lever.
- Top up each drain with a little RV antifreeze, including inside the toilet tank and bowl.
Check out all my Amazon store favs in one spot!
Winterizing accessories for your RV
Other helpful RV tips you may enjoy:
Learn how to back up an RV perfectly… each and every time!
Best Camping Tips with a trailer! Includes:
- special water hookups that help
- see-through must-get sewer adapters
- how to easily jack the trailer up
- outdoor campsite setups
- the easiest way to backup a trailer perfectly each time!
and much more!
How to fix a travel trailer door for $1.67
I kid you not. And here I nearly got a new door!
All trailer tips can be found HERE.
39 thoughts on “RV winterizing by blowing air through water lines. Easy and safe!”
I am going to pin this because when I get that darling little travel trailer I have been dreaming about for YEARS I will know exactly how to winterize it. Thanks for the post that even I can understand!!
well, for heaven’s sake! THAT’s how you back up a trailer without it going every which-way!!!! I have a little box trailer that I use behind my garden tractor and have always had a dickens of a time trying to get it to back up in the direction I intended. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I loved it. But, I thought it was suppose to freeze at 32 degrees. Thanks for the lession. Funny thing, I like having things straight as well. Numbers are my thing too. Seems I’m always counting things. When I backed up the horsetrailer I would watch the trailer wheel thru the side mirror and that way I knew which way the trailer was going. I never could backup by using the mirror inside. When backing my car up in the garage, I pick a spot on the wall & line it up. I usually get it straight. Have a great weekend. Stay warm.
She lives in Canada. 0 is freezing for her and is equivalent to 32 in the States.
This trailer backing up business is confusing, isn’t it!?!
Oops, my olden ways are showing. Fahrenheit is in my truck so that’s why I made the 0 reference. 32 celsius is freezing here too. 🙂
Your posts are not only informative but entertaining! Bless you Donna 🙂
I seriously read every word of this. I can’t wait to get a little trailer so I soak up everything in the meantime. Sisters on the fly, anyone?
Definately Sisters on the Fly for me! I joined this year, it was a life changing, best thing I’ve ever done for me decision. Didn’t own a trailer at first and you don’t have to to join in on all the sister fun. Did end up getting one and love all the trailer info on your blog Donna. We had a drop in temps here in Calif and had to race out to Walmart to get rv anti freeze STAT!
We do the same to our camper, but never drink or cook with the camper water, too many bad things in the holding tank. We also take a small amount of bleach in the spring and run it through with water before filling it for a trip, only using the camper water for washing dishes and showering. We take xtra water in jugs, and bottled water to drink.
Just BRILLIANT… and easy to understand. Thanks
While I don’t have an RV, I found the backing up tip very useful. Thanks, Donna!
How did you make or where did you find the blow out plug???? I just bought a used camper trailer I poured the antifreeze in the toilet and down the sink drains.. but not the clean water lines. I just found your site through Shanty Chic’s blog. I love what I have seen so far!!!
Thanks in advance!!
Hey Marianne! Welcome! 🙂 If you go to any RV type of store, they ought to carry it.
Thank you!!! Don’t have one close but will ask a friend to pick one up for me. Or will search online!! YAY!!
Thank you. I am in Colorado and just wanted a simple way to blow out my RV and you provided. Can’t beat that.
Hey George! Awesome! This really works.
I didn’t even have to do mine this year because I didn’t use the trailer this summer. (oops!) But I’ll still be pouring a little anti freeze in the drains and toilet to be on the safe side.
Do you know of anyone who can come to my cottage and close down my trailer for the winter?
Hi Michelle, I’d suggest to try doing a Google search for your given area. Or perhaps visit an RV supply place near you and ask? I hope you find someone!
You’re a funny guy. No, really, I mean it! 🙂 And thanks for the info.
I mean “gal.” Oops- 🙂
I always blow the lines out as well, but also add rv antifreeze too, I had my hot water tank drained so I could remove it, and found it still had some water in it even with the bottom tap removed, and my motor home has all copper lines which I really don’t feel like replacing or fixing leaks in
Good call Albert! After blowing out the lines, I pour a little antifreeze in the toilet and sink drains in case anything is left behind too.
Very helpful, thanks
My pleasure James, I did this technique for many years and it was always a big win!
Thank you — just what I needed. I’ve been blowing out my lines for a couple years now, but I’ve always worried about what PSI I should be using. Your recommendation of 30-40 was very helpful. I think I’ve been doing higher than that, but I haven’t had a tight seal either so I’ve gotten away with it.
Rather than using that little attachment on my city water connection, I’ve been putting the air hose nozzle into the tank through the other opening and blocking the open area around the hose with a rag. Then I’ve been giving the lines short bursts of air at a higher pressure. I’m going to get me one of these nozzles and go with 30lbs or so of sustained pressure.
Glad the info helped Glen! I did this for a number of years with absolutely no issues. All the best!
Great post! Love these little tips
Thank you so much.. great, simple, easy to follow directions, felt more down to earth not coming from someone who has a big$$$$RV, but from a fellow rv’er with a perfectly good camper…just not big and new. Ours is a 2003, newest we’ve ever owned. Happy camping to you & family from Ohio
Awesome! Glad the tips helped Shirley! It works so well and gives me great peace of mind knowing I’m not drinking the stuff!
We just happened to have the RV in the shop last year when it was time to winterize and now there are no appointments. This is seriously the easiest, clearest breakdown. Thank you!
I will mention that I used a tiny electric air pump, like for bike tires, and it only got to between 10 and 15 PSI, but it cleared everything out.
That’s amazing Corey! So glad it worked for you! I would have never thought a bike pump could do it! Thrilled to hear this!
Hi, thank you for the tips much appeciated. I’m building my own travel trailer and learning as I go. Anything helps! 🙂
Thank you, from the east coast of Canada!
Awesome Stephane! This is a great post! I also have a really popular other one that shares loads of tips when camping with a travel trailer. Lots of my fav gear and a special tip on how to back up flawlessly with a trailer in tow!
You can check it out here if you wish at: https://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/2013/07/tips-for-camping-in-a-travel-trailer.html
Hi, thanks for the links, I will check them out! Subscribed to your facebook I have. Interesting stuff you’ve got.
If you want to keep winterize RV without antifreeze, you need: drain the water, drain the black and gray holding tanks onto a designated local dump station, repeatedly flush the toilet and open all faucets until water is all drained, makes use of a blowout plug to let compressed air pass through all the water lines for a thorough drain. It’s recommended that you line heat-generating insulation tape on hoses, valves, and water lines – as these are most vulnerable. Your RV needs a little bit of ventilation, vent covers allow your RV to control the air coming in – making sure there’s free airflow. Finally, Upgrade or install insulation will do wonders to keep your RV warm.
Thank you for your information about RV maintenance. I only have one suggestion …. Instead of yelling back and forth while working with a second party (one inside the RV and one outside the rv)’ use your cell phones instead??. It is quieter and your vocal cords like it too.
I usually winterize my RV with antifreeze. The method you share is very helpful. Thank you for sharing them.
Awesome Michael! Once you’re set up it’s very easy!