If you live in the majority of North America, you've put your Airstream away for a long winter rest—and soon you'll be thinking about waking it up again.
Hopefully you winterized your Airstream before you put it away (or had your local service center do it). If it was winterized correctly, you should be able to get your Airstream back in operational condition without any trouble.
The de-winterizing process is basically the reverse of winterizing. You'll be putting fresh water into the plumbing, inspecting, and putting your personal items back into the rig. De-winterizing is easy and actually kind of fun, because it makes you realize you’re getting ready for new adventures.
A detailed de-winterizing procedure is outlined in my book, "The (Nearly) Complete Guide to Airstream Maintenance". Here's a summarized look at the key steps:
If you disconnected or removed the batteries, put them back and switch the battery disconnect to the ON or USE position.
Check the voltage using the built-in SeeLeveL monitor. If the batteries are depleted give them some time to charge with the Airstream plugged into power. If they don’t seem to hold the correct voltage after the Airstream is unplugged, they should be checked by a service technician.
If your Airstream has the type of lead-acid batteries that have removable caps on the top, check the water level in them and add some distilled water if needed.
Sanitize the water system. We've written a guide that shows you how it's done.
De-winterizing is the perfect time to follow this procedure. Not only will you start the season with a fresh plumbing system, the sanitizing process will displace the RV Anti-freeze that was probably pumped in during the winterizing process. So you've accomplished two important tasks at once.
IMPORTANT: If you have a 2020 model year or earlier Airstream (meaning that it has a water heater with a tank), move the winterization bypass on the water heater back to the normal operating position before you sanitize.
Check the tires
Check the air pressure on all the tires (including the spare). It’s a good idea to have a portable air compressor on hand to top up the tires as needed.
Check all the tires for wear and damage at this point too. We made this video to walk you through the steps. It's also described in the “When to replace the tires” discussion of my maintenance guide.
Before you turn on any appliances, walk around the Airstream and open the exterior access hatches for the refrigerator, water heater, and furnace. Look for spider webs, wasp nests, leaves, or any other debris that might be clogging the exhaust vents or burners.
Make sure at least one propane tank has gas and that the propane tank valve is open, then check that the regulator shows green.
Now you can give all the major systems a test: furnace, refrigerator, water heater, stove, gas oven (if equipped), lights, water pump, and fans. Also check the power stabilizer or power awning if your Airstream is equipped with those items.
If you have 30-amp or 50-amp power available, test the air conditioner or heat pump as well.
On 2020 models and earlier, check the drain plug after the water heater is fully up to temperature, to ensure the plug is not leaking. A little dripping at the P/T valve is not unusual—just run the hot water for a few seconds and the drip should stop.
Leak and rodent check
Check the interior of the Airstream, including inside cabinets and closets, for signs of leaks that might have occurred over the winter.
Sniff for weird smells, and check drawers and cabinets for signs of mice. We've written a blog and provided a short video to describe this inspection.
Check that none of the windows are sticking shut. If you have a problem getting a window open because the gasket is sticky, don't force it open by the handles—it may break! Instead, loosen the gasket from the outside with a credit card, and then lubricate it as described in my maintenance guide.
Install fresh 9-volt batteries in the smoke and/or Carbon Monoxide detectors.
After you’ve replaced them, press the Test button on each unit. They should beep loudly.
If you use a water filter, replace the filter cartridge.
Hitch, 7-way plug, and brakes
Lube the hitch as recommended by the manufacturer.
Once hitched up, check all the trailer lights and check the 7-way plug for corrosion if you (or your clever tow vehicle) spot any problems. Our Maintenance Essentials Kit contains tools specifically for fixing and preventing problems with the electrical connections.
Before you take off, verify proper braking by doing a few test stops at low speed. As you go, listen for any strange noises from the hitch and trailer that might indicate a need for repair or adjustment.
That's it! Your Airstream is de-winterized and ready for another fun season of travel. Go plan a trip and hit the road! Maybe we'll see you out there.