How do you winterize a truck camper?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: How do you winterize a truck camper?  We will explain the full process of winterizing a truck camper, as well as give you tips on what to do before you resume camping in spring or summer. 

How do you winterize a truck camper?

To properly winterize a truck camper you must take care of three important aspects:

  1. You want to drain all excess water from the truck camper pipes and tanks;
  2. You want to prepare your water heater for below freezing temperatures;
  3. And you must protect the whole water system with RV antifreeze. 

Below we explain in great detail how to go through each step. 

Step 1 of winterizing a truck camper

The first thing that you’re going to want to do to winterize a truck camper is locating its low point drains. With truck campers all of the low point drains are going to be located in one position. So, you’ve got your freshwater tank, your cold water line, and your hot water lines. 

What you want to do next is to turn your valves so that way you can drain any excess water out of your water lines and out of your freshwater tank. This may take a while, so you’re just going to leave them open for several hours. You can always go back and close them once everything has drained.

Step 2 of winterizing a truck camper

Step 2 of truck camper winterization takes place inside the camper. One of the first things that you’re going to do when you’re inside is to go ahead and open up all your faucets and make sure that you don’t have any water left inside your kitchen faucet or bathroom faucets. You can just open them up and let them drain down. 

Once you get those drained down you’re going to continue to leave the outside valves open from there making sure that there’s no water left in the system at all.

The next to winterize is the water heater. This is one of the crucial points that you want to do before you get ready to finish truck camper winterization. Before you go back outside, look for the valve located on the back of the camper’s water heater.  

This is the winterization valve that you must spin in order to take out of normal city water flow. This way you are bypassing the water heater so when you do inject antifreeze into the lines, you are not filling the water heater with six gallons of RV antifreeze. 

Almost all truck camper water heaters are predominantly the same. They may however, have the plug located in different areas. From the outside, you must find the plunge to drain the water heater. Since you have already bypassed it on the inside, you know there’s no water left in there with the exception of inside the tank. 

Just take the heater plug out and unspin it. Simply set it down inside the water heater so you can let it drain. Once the water heater is completely drained you can go ahead and put the plug back in there so you don’t forget next season when you get ready to fill the water heater up. Or you can simply just leave it inside the camper. Just remember to put the plug back in before you get ready to go camping!

Step 3 of winterizing a truck camper

In this final step of winterizing a truck camper you must locate the water pot on the water pump. Usually, next to it, is going to be a valve that will allow you to inject antifreeze inside the system. 

Flip the valve so that way you can connect a hose both to the camper and to an antifreeze jug. From there you can go inside and activate your water pump and be able to pull the antifreeze completely through the lines inside the camper.

Note: Before adding the antifreeze to your truck camper you want to go back over to the low point drains and turn those off.  If the low point drains are open when you turn the pump on it is going to allow the antifreeze to escape from the lines.

So, you always want to make sure to close your lines, that your water heater is bypassed, and these are all the steps you need to make  before you inject antifreeze into the system.

Other tasks to be performed to winterize a truck camper

  • Clean the fridge and freezer with vinegar to prevent mould. Leave the doors open.
  • Close the propane tanks.
  • Before removing the battery, charge it and store it in a frost-free place. A discharged battery will freeze and no longer function.
  • Place your battery on a shelf in your basement or (heated) garage, never on the floor. Plug it into a smart 2A charger that will keep it charged all winter long.
  • Cover the positive end of the trailer battery leads with electrical tape.
  • To drive away small rodents, place mothballs (mothballs) or fabric softener sheets.
  • Park your truck camper on dry ground (asphalt, concrete, paving stones, gravel). Avoid wet soil or grass.
  • Raise the front cylinder, to give it a slope backwards so that the water flows well. There is no real benefit to placing your vehicle on jack stands or lifting the wheels. 
  • The very last step – and not the least! – consists of washing the inside of the camper: cupboards, refrigerator and nooks. The idea is to leave your unit clean to avoid bad smells and unpleasant surprises when de-winterizing your truck camper in the spring.
  •  You can also wash the exterior of your truck camper to remove all traces of dirt after the camping season is over. 

The bottom line

After winter, when you want to use your truck camper again, you need to remove the antifreeze. Using a garden hose, pour water into the drinking water tank. Start the trailer’s water pump and turn on each cold water tap. Let it run until the colour and taste are back to normal.

Fill the water tank and flush the toilet repeatedly. Open the bypass of the water heater and place it in Summer mode. Fill the tank with potable water. Before screwing the water heater element back on, let several tens of litres of water flow to drain it completely.

Run water through all hot water faucets. To make sure you kill all bacteria, rinse the water tank with bleach. I use 1 teaspoon (5 ml) per 4 litres or 1 cup for a 50 gallon or 200 litre tank. I leave the bleach for 24 hours and then drain.

Please feel free to leave any comments, questions or tips on how to winterize a truck camper!

FAQ on How do you winterize a truck camper?

How do I prepare my camper for wintering?

Here are a few tips to prepare your camper for wintering:

  1. Empty the water heater. 
  2. Empty and clean the toilet tanks. 
  3. Remove the gas cylinder (s). 
  4. Put the windows in the ventilation position. 
  5. Open the bathroom door. 
  6. Do not unscrew the feet. 
  7. Do not put plastic sheeting on the caravan. 
  8. Put the clean trailer in the garage.

Should I store my camper water tanks empty or full?

You should store your camper with empty water tanks. If you leave water in the tanks for a long period, your tank is likely to fill with viruses and bacteria that can affect health. 

How to protect the RV plumbing from freezing?

There are two possible techniques for winterizing your RV plumbing: A. The method without an air compressor and B. The method with an air compressor. In my opinion, method B is the easiest but requires you to buy an air compressor, which is an additional investment of over $200.

Should you cover a camper in winter?

Yes, you should cover a camper in winter with good quality, breathable and light caravan cover. A caravan with a protective cover can be safely stored inside and outside, no matter the season, but especially in winter. 

How to protect a camper in winter?

The first solution is the most economical: the protective cover. It covers a caravan that usually sleeps outside. It is never advisable to leave a motorhome outdoors for a long period, it is damaged and degrades more quickly (bodywork, gaskets, batteries, tires, etc.)

Can truck campers be used in winter?

Yes, truck campers can be used in winter, although – you are warned – they can be quite cold!  Proper insulation is the most important factor in keeping the truck camper warm. Before lighting a heater be sure to insulate your camper’s walls, floors, and windows. The more insulation there is, the less energy you need to keep warm. Spray foam and silicone caulking are your friends.

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