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How To RV In The Winter

How To RV In The Winter

We’ve been RV snowbirds for 8 winters in a row, mostly in the Desert Southwest. This year, for the very first time, we’ll be spending the winter in the RV in a northern location.

Granted, the Lower Mainland of British Columbia isn’t exactly Manitoba when it comes to winter, but we’re far enough up in the mountains to get some freezing temperatures and snow here.

We show you all the steps we’re taking to winter in our motorhome. We’ll demonstrate how to keep the water hose from freezing and how to keep ourselves warm too. We’ll cover water hose insulation, heat tape, the differences between all five sources of heat we have available, moisture & humidity control, and even pest control.

We’ll also be using our Extend-a-Stay (also known as a Stay-a-While or an Extend-a-Flow) to connect to a large external propane tank.

SInce this is our first time dealing with winter in the rig, we’ve done a lot of reading and learned a lot from our friends and neighbors up here in beautiful, friendly BC. The site we’re on has 30-amp electric, so we have to be particularly aware of our power usage.

Luckily, Birgit & Greg, whose site we’re using, were nice enough to let us tap into their super-size external propane tank (we’ll be paying for the propane we use, of course). So propane shouldn’t be a problem, but we’ll still want to keep our usage to a minimum, since it’s expensive, and propane use can cause excess moisture to build up in the rig.

There are lots of RVers who know way more than we do about RVing in REAL winter deep freeze conditions, but we wanted to give other cold weather newbies a feel for some of the steps we’ve taken to prepare for it. We’ve seen a lot more online about winterizing an RV for storage, and we wanted to add some information about living on board too.

NOTE: We mention using fine 0000 steel wool in this video. It is EXTREMELY FLAMMABLE, and care should be used in storing and using it. To see our video demonstrating how to start a fire using only steel wool and a 9-volt battery, click here:

Start A Fire With Steel Wool

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Rick Dowling

Monday 26th of November 2018

This is an old post so don’t know if you’ll see this. One comment, one question. I’m afraid of the fire issues with steel wool so I’m using stainless steel scrubbing pads (about the same size and malleability as steel wool, but not a fire hazard). Also, I haven’t seen you mention RV skirts. Do you just not need with your class A? Thanks!


Tuesday 27th of November 2018

Hi Rick! Good idea with the stainless steel scrubbing pads. We’ve heard other people have also used brass/bronze wool pads to do the same thing. Anything that lights aren’t on able to chew through is a good barrier to their entry. As far as the RV skirts, yes typically in class A motorhome, skirting isn’t necessary because of the basement storage underneath providing extra insulation (and we haven’t needed it because we almost always head south for the winter!). But in extreme cold, skirting is good for any RV. We have even heard of people using bales of hay (or piling up mounds of snow in an emergency) in order to provide that barrier to wind blowing under the RV and robbing them of heat.


Saturday 30th of July 2016

I notice on one of your video that the underside of your rv is free of rust. Our unit was 7 years old and we had some area's that were starting to rust (surface). We also live in Canada, so salt and sand play a big part in the corrosion process. Did you treat your rv and if so what did you use?


Saturday 30th of July 2016

Never treated it, but it's never been driven in the snow (winter snowbirds here), which has probably helped a lot.


Wednesday 18th of November 2015

Thoroughly enjoy your videos, being a rookie at travel trailer living (residence while building our new house), you folks have been a tremendous help. I have 2 questions concerning this video. First, would you think that this heat tape method would work on pex pipe. The reason I am interested using pex is because the TT will be set up on a permanent basis (after our home is constructed the TT will be used as a guest house) Second, I noticed that you leave the thermostats on the heat tape exposed. Every instructional video shows installing the heat tape with the thermostat touching the pipe or hose. Does it make a difference, exposed or wrapped? In advance thank you for your very informative videos from a very grateful rookie.


Wednesday 18th of November 2015

We wanted our heat tapes to come on and stay on whenever the temperature got near freezing, regardless of the temp inside the insulation, but putting the thermostats inside should work fine.

We'd think pex should be fine, but we don't have any firsthand experience with it to say for sure. The tapes warm up nicely, so wrapped together with the pex inside the insulation should be enough for even some pretty brutal cold.


Monday 21st of July 2014

i use your steel wool idea in my water compartment to keep rodents out and seal the black/grey hose but I added another step. I place the steel wool in a freezer bag and fold it to the correct width for my application, then I wrap it in gorilla tape,. It works great and keeps the steep wool nice and dry. If the rodents chew through the tape and plastic you will see evidence of their attempted entry.

PS great videos!!


Monday 21st of July 2014

What a brilliant idea, Ray! It's good to know if those varmints are even TRYING to get in. Thanks for sharing that one. :)

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PLEASE NOTE: We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

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