How To Winterize A Popup Camper

This one's for all you popup camper owners. Now that fall weather has finally arrived in most parts of the country, it's time to start thinking about winterizing your popup camper. This "how to" guide will cover what you need to know about getting your camper ready for storage over the winter.

Your pop-up camper is an investment you have made in the long term comfort and camping fun for your family. A Pop-Up is a nice compromise between the discomfort and bother of tent camping while retaining the feel of “roughing it”. It is also a nice compromise in a more comfortable camping experience while avoiding the large costs of buying and maintaining a full sized camper.

But like any other type of camping equipment, you must think about maintenance to your pop-up each year so it will store safely during the down months when you will not be camping. Many ask, “When is the best time to winterize my pop-up?” The obvious answer is, “before winter”. The primary goal of winterizing your pop-up is to prepare it to survive the cold winter months without damage. But this annual ritual is also necessary to perform routine maintenance and to be sure that when you open that pop-up for your first camp out of the spring, it is ready to go.

The “when” question is more pertinent to your camping plans than to the weather. When you have completed your last camp out of the fall and are ready to store the pop-up, that would be the ideal time to winterize your unit. If you wait until the first freeze, procrastination or distractions may prevent you from getting the job done in time and if you miss it, you could see damage to your pop-up and the costly repairs that would come with that damage.

So, as a rule, plan your annual maintenance right after your last camp out of the year. You have the fun of that camp out to use as incentive to be sure the pop-up is ready to store. Now, where the pop-up will pass the winter might influence your decisions as you step through your winterizing check list. But even if the pop-up is going to pass the winter in a garage, its best to perform a full winterizing ritual so you have peace of mind that you have been a good pop-up owner.

Your winterizing schedule includes performing needed water removal and replacement to the interior water systems as well as necessary annual maintenance to the pop-up in general. You will no doubt customize this list to your particular pop-up but here is a good starter list.

• Perform a thorough exterior cleaning washing down the unit and inspecting for rust or other damage from the year of camping. • Perform exterior repairs as needed. • Perform a thorough interior cleaning making sure you get all food residue up from the floors and beds to keep rodents out and so you don’t open the pop-up next spring to the smell of aging food crumbs. • Perform interior repairs as needed. • Remove all nonpermanent items including fishing gear, children’s toys, coffee mugs, pillows or sleeping gear to be cleaned and stored indoors until next year. • Remove all appliances including left over electronic devices the kids might have forgotten. • Remove all coolers and food either left out or in storage and discard. • Remove all garbage and litter. • Remove any aerosol cans that could rust or rupture due to changing temperatures. • Lubricate all motorized moving parts. • Inspect and maintenance wheels, breaks and electrical connections. • Inspect the underside of the pop-up and repair any holes or other damage from travel. • Remove and store the battery. Keep the battery charged all winter so it is ready to go when camping begins in the spring. • Cover any vents with plastic wrap to keep the pop-up airtight and keep insects or other visitors out. • Inspect the anode rod and replace as necessary. • Drain all water retention systems including the fresh water tank, the water heater, holding tanks and toilets. • Drain all pipes by opening the faucets and letting as much water out as possible. Some people will go so far as to blow out the pipes to clean the moisture out as thoroughly as possible. A small amount of water retention is ok but you don’t want the water pipes and tanks full as they could freeze and cause damage to connections. • Implement hot water heater bypass systems as instructed in your owner’s manual. • Put nontoxic RV antifreeze into all water lines that you just drained. Be sure you purchase nontoxic antifreeze that you can buy at any camping or RV retail outlet. Do NOT use automobile antifreeze as it is highly toxic and will contaminate your water lines and create a risk to your family the next time you use the unit.

A thorough maintenance and winterizing session will take some time to complete so set aside a Saturday to do a good job performing proper care for your pop-up. Another good reason to perform this maintenance early in the fall, as soon as you are done camping is it gives you time to get any repairs done before the cold weather comes and you can do this work out doors while the temperatures are more tolerable.

You will thank yourself for doing a good job going through your pop-up maintenance and winterizing check list when you open the unit next spring to prepare it for the first camp out of the new year. Your careful attention to he care and storage of your pop-up will assure that it will continue to be a fun and valuable resource for your family’s camping needs for many years to come.