Winterizing is a topic Airstream owners love to hate.
Autumn is the time of year that online forums and social sites fill up with questions about how to do it, what to avoid, and how to make sure things don't go wrong.
But in my experience, most people overthink the process and make it unnecessarily complicated.
So this year, we decided to create The Simple Guide to Winterizing an Airstream, which explains 11 practical steps to getting the process done.
What "winterizing" means
If you're new to Airstreaming, “winterizing” is an annual procedure that’s necessary for Airstreamers who live in cold-weather climates. Mostly, it ensures that the plumbing system does not freeze over, but there are other steps to take as well.
Here's an overview of what's included in the process:
- Drain all water from the freshwater tank and plumbing lines, and replace it with RV antifreeze to protect the plumbing system from freezing.
- Disconnect the negative battery cable or remove the batteries.
- Remove all food, liquids, and trash from the Airstream.
- Put a bit of protectant on the 7-way plug end and top off the air in the tires. (Optional but recommended.)
If you live in a climate where the Airstream won’t endure sub-freezing temperatures for the winter months, you don’t need to winterize the plumbing but you should consider the other steps during periods of long storage.
Our recommended method
There are two common winterizing methods. Our guide recommends and explains the RV antifreeze method.
We also make the assumption that your Airstream came with a winterization kit, which Airstream has been including on all units in recent years. Alternatively, you will need to purchase and install a winterization kit yourself, which is easy and inexpensive.
The 11 simple steps
Below are the steps explained in The Simple Guide to Winterizing an Airstream. We include a list of tools and products you need to complete the job, and you'll need to have your Owner's Manual available.
Step 1. Dump the gray and black tanks using your normal procedure
Step 2. Level the trailer
Step 3. Drain all the water from the fresh water tank
Step 4. Open (turn on) all the faucets and showers and let all the water in the plumbing lines drain out of the low-point drains
Step 5. Drain the water heater – the procedure varies depending on whether your water heater has a tank, or is tankless.
Step 6. When water stops draining (which might take a long time!), close everything that you opened
Step 7. Engage the winterization kit and prepare to put the RV antifreeze through the system
Step 8. Turn on the water pump and let the antifreeze flow through the system
Step 9. Remove all food, liquids, and things that could be damaged by freezing
Step 10. Disconnect the negative battery cable–it’s not enough to flip the Battery Disconnect switch. This blog explains why.
Step 11. Perform final maintenance tasks