How to Prepare Your Travel Trailer for Spring: A Complete Guide

Winter is finally over, and it’s time to get your travel trailer ready for the upcoming travel season. If you followed the proper winterizing procedures, preparing your vehicle for spring will involve a reversal of those steps. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the essential tasks, such as removing antifreeze and sanitizing your water system.

When is the Best Time to Dewinterize your Travel Trailer?

Deciding when to dewinterize your travel trailer is up to you, but ensure that the temperatures remain consistently above freezing. If an unexpected cold snap occurs after you’ve already dewinterized, simply keep the RV interior warm and ensure that all holding tanks are empty. Additionally, give yourself enough time to charge your batteries and inspect your tires before hitting the road.

RV in background of meadow during springtime

Dewinterizing Your Travel Trailer Exterior

Begin by giving your RV’s exterior a thorough cleaning:

  • Wash and wax the exterior of your rig.
  • Check the roof for cracks, cuts, or holes, and seal them with the recommended sealant once the vehicle is dry. Consider getting your roof inspected by a qualified repair center if it appears to be aging.
  • Inspect vent caps, stink pipe vent covers, and air conditioner shrouds for damage or any nests made by birds or wasps.
  • Clean your solar panels for optimal performance.
  • Examine the body seams, door seals, and window seals for any damage. Ensure that all doors and windows are in working condition.
  • Clean the gaskets with soap and water to remove dirt and resin, and then apply a UV protectant.
  • If you have an awning, clean it and ensure that it is functioning properly. Lubricate any moving parts as recommended.
  • Inspect the undercarriage of your RV for spider webs or animal nests.
  • Check for any damage to plumbing, wiring, or gas lines.

If any of the above items appear to be in need of repair, it’s advisable to contact an RV service center.

Woman on top of RV cleaning roof

Getting Your Travel Trailer Battery Road Ready

Preparing your battery depends on how you maintained it during the winter:

  • Inspect the battery and clean any corrosion around the terminals using hot water and baking soda.
  • Check for cracks and replace any cracked batteries.
  • Keep in mind that a battery can lose around 10 percent of its charge per month in storage. It may take several hours or longer to fully recharge the battery, depending on its size and how it was winterized.

How to Reinstall Your Battery

If you stored the batteries away during the winter, follow these steps to reinstall them:

  • Spray both terminals’ ends with a solution of hot water and baking soda or a commercial battery contact cleaning product to prevent corrosion.
  • Attach and tighten the red (positive) battery cable, followed by the black (negative) battery cable.
  • Double-check that all cable connections are securely tightened.

Man checking battery in RV trailer

How to Charge Your RV Battery

For motorized RVs with batteries for both the chassis and house portion:

  • Make sure you connect the batteries correctly. If you are uncomfortable doing this, seek assistance from an approved RV repair facility.
  • Before charging, check the fluid levels in the batteries. If the water level is below the plates, top it off before charging.

Caution: Be cautious while charging the battery, as off-gassing can lead to an explosion. Keep flames and sparks away from the battery at all times.

To charge the chassis battery:

  • Keep the battery charger in the “off” position while connecting it to the RV charger.
  • Connect the red cable to the red indicator on your RV and the black cable to the black indicator.
  • Set the voltage to 12 volts and turn on the power to “charge.”

The house batteries will start charging as soon as you plug the RV into a 110V receptacle. Leave the RV plugged in overnight to ensure a full charge for all your 12V devices, such as jacks, slide-outs, and lights.

Top Off Your Battery Water Levels

Maintaining proper water levels in your battery is essential:

  • Check the water level and add distilled water if necessary to ensure the plates are just covered. Never use water with minerals, including tap water, as it can damage the battery. The plates should always remain covered.

Checking Your Travel Trailer Tires

Properly inflating your tires is crucial for a safe journey:

  • Inspect each tire, including the spare, for cracks along the treads and sidewalls.
  • When the tires are cold, use an air inflation gauge to check the pressure of each tire. Inflate them to the correct pressure as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Ensure that the lug nuts are tightened to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Dewinterizing Your Travel Trailer Interior

Now it’s time to focus on the interior of your travel trailer:

  • Search for any signs of unwanted guests like mice, squirrels, or spiders. Begin by checking any mouse traps you may have left behind.
  • Vacuum the carpets, wipe down surfaces and cabinets, and replace towels and linens.
  • Air out your vehicle by opening all doors and windows. Inspect them closely for any damage.
  • Look for discoloration on the ceiling, as it may indicate a water leak that needs attention.
  • Open your refrigerator and cabinet doors. If you detect any unpleasant odors, it could be a sign of mold.
  • Replace air and water filters.
  • Rinse or vacuum your window screens.

Replacing air filter in an RV

Check your owner’s manual for any additional steps specific to your model. In case of lingering odors, consider using a small dehumidifier during the next offseason.

Dewinterizing Your Travel Trailer Plumbing

Restoring your water system involves three main tasks:

  1. Removing RV Antifreeze: If you used compressed air to force water out of the system during winterization, you can skip this step. Otherwise, follow these instructions:

    • Close all faucets.
    • Reconnect any water lines that were disconnected, ensuring that the water heater is not in “bypass” mode.
    • Connect a water hose to the city water inlet of your RV and turn on the water supply. Check for any leaks.
    • Beginning with the faucet farthest from the water source, turn on both the cold and hot water until it runs clear. Repeat this process at every faucet, shower, toilet, outside shower, and low point drain. The pink color of the water is normal, as it indicates the presence of antifreeze.
    • After a few minutes, the water should run clear from every faucet. Turn off the water supply and disconnect the hose from the city inlet.
    • Fill your fresh water tank with enough water to flush each faucet again. Turn on the water pump and repeat the flushing process at each faucet as before.
  2. Sanitizing Your Fresh Water System: Properly sanitizing your water system is crucial to ensure your safety. Follow these steps:

    • Close the drains and install drain plugs.
    • Mix a quarter-cup of household bleach per 15 gallons of fresh water in a one-gallon container. Pour the mixture into your fresh water holding tank.
    • Run water at each faucet until you smell the bleach mixture, then close the faucet and let the mixture sit.
    • After 8 to 12 hours, drain the fresh water tank and refill it with fresh water.
    • Run each faucet until you no longer smell any bleach.
    • Drain any remaining water from the tank. If you still detect the smell of bleach, refill the tank and repeat the process until it dissipates.

Panel for checking water system in an RV

  1. Refilling Your Water Heater: Perform the following steps:
    • Reinstall any water filters that may have been removed and disable the water heater bypass.
    • Install the drain plug or anode rod in the water heater drain, if necessary.
    • With the pump running, allow the water heater to fill with water. Open the “hot” tap on a faucet to allow air to escape while filling. Note: Never turn on the water heater without water.
    • If you did not empty your black and gray water tanks during winterization, do it now.
    • Clean your black water tank using the built-in flushing system. Alternatively, use a flushing wand or product if your RV does not have built-in flushing capabilities.

Checking for Leaks

Before you embark on your trip, it’s essential to identify any water leaks in your plumbing system:

  • Crawl under the sinks with a flashlight and check for cracks in the drain traps. Turn on the water and inspect for leaks.
  • Shine your flashlight around areas where water might leak, such as around the toilet base and behind waterlines.
  • While checking for leaks, also inspect your water pump. Perform the following steps:
    • Turn off the outside water supply and use only your RV’s water tank.
    • Turn on the system and ensure that all faucets are closed. After a few minutes, the pump should reach full pressure and stop running.
    • Listen for any unusual sounds or signs of continuous running, which may indicate a leak in the line or within the pump. If you suspect a leak, listen for a few minutes before confirming and arranging for necessary repairs.
  • Additionally, check if anything is leaking past your dump valves:
    • With water in the tanks and dump valves closed, remove the dump valve cap. No water should escape.
    • Reinstall the dump valve cap and open one of the dump valves. There should be no water dripping from the cap.
    • Add treatment chemicals and a small amount of water to the black tanks.
    • Inspect your sewer hose to ensure it is not damaged.

Checking Your Travel Trailer Propane Tanks

Ensure your propane system is in good working order by performing the following tests:

  • Before beginning, turn off all LP items.
  • Verify that the LP leak detector inside your RV is on. Most detectors are hard-wired to a 12-volt system.
  • Slowly open the valve on your propane tank all the way and check for any leaks.
  • Apply a soapy water solution or a leak detector to the valve and regulator, and watch closely for any bubbling or spurting.
  • Check that mice have not caused damage to wires and hoses.

Togo Tip: Your LP gas system should undergo a gas pressure operating test and a leak test once a year. Visit an authorized RV repair facility to have your LP tanks, hoses, and pressure inspected.

Man checking propane tanks outside a travel trailer

Testing Your RV Appliances

Ensure your RV appliances are in proper working order by conducting the following checks:

  • Inspect the outside access covers of your water heater and fridge to ensure they are clean and free of debris.
  • Test all propane gas appliances by lighting and running them for a while. If you suspect a leak, turn off the propane and seek assistance from an RV service professional.
  • Check the functionality of your rig’s appliances in LP gas mode. Test your fridge, then turn it off and let it return to room temperature before testing it in electric mode.
  • Test all other appliances while connected to an electric power source.

RV stove

Additionally, check the GFI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacles for proper operation. These receptacles are typically found in the bathroom or kitchen area near water sources. They trip and cut off power if any change in electricity flow occurs, such as a short caused by water. Perform the following checks:

  • Push the reset button on the GFI receptacles. If it clicks and remains in place, they are functioning correctly. If the reset button keeps popping out, contact a professional.
  • While checking the receptacles, use a polarity tester to ensure that all outlets are properly grounded.

How to Check Your Generator

Before hitting the road, ensure that your RV generator is in good condition:

  • Check the oil level and service it as necessary, following the guidelines in your owner’s manual.
  • Inspect the exhaust system for any damage. Never operate a generator with a damaged exhaust system.
  • With the generator running, turn on the air conditioning to ensure it is supplying power to the RV.
  • If you did not use a fuel stabilizer during winterization and the generator fails to start or continues to surge after starting, visit a service facility.

Safety Systems

Finally, conduct a safety check on your RV systems:

  • Replace the batteries in your safety devices, including the carbon monoxide detector, smoke alarm, and LP gas leak detector. Reinstall any batteries or fuses that were removed.
  • Test these devices to ensure they are functioning correctly.
  • Inspect your fire extinguishers to ensure they are ready for emergencies. Replace or recharge them as necessary.

Carbon monoxide detector in an RV

Check the expiration or manufacture dates of all the items mentioned above and replace them if they are outdated. Additionally, ensure that your license plate is current and obtain any necessary passes for state or national parks.

Dewinterizing Your Motorized RV

If you own a motorized RV, follow the steps mentioned above to check your batteries, tires, interior and exterior, and restore and sanitize your water system. Additionally, perform the following steps:

  • Open the hood and look for any bird nests, cobwebs, or critters.
  • Check the engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and windshield fluid levels. Top them off as needed.
  • Turn on the engine and test the headlights, brake lights, running lights, and emergency lights.
  • Take a short drive to test the turn signals, steering, and brakes. Listen carefully for any unusual noises that may require a trip to a certified RV service center.

Dewinterizing Your Towable RV

For towable RVs, follow the same steps mentioned above to check your battery, tires, interior and exterior, and restore and sanitize your water system. Additionally, perform the following steps:

  • Hitch your trailer and double-check that your linchpin is securely in place. Refer to your owner’s manual for any model-specific considerations.
  • Take your tow vehicle for a short drive with the trailer hitched.
  • Check your brakes and turn signals.
  • Listen for any unusual noises that may indicate a need for further inspection.

What You Need to Dewinterize Your RV

To properly dewinterize your motorhome, travel trailer, pop-up camper, or fifth wheel, you will need the following items and supplies, which can be found at most RV parts stores, hardware stores, or online retailers:


  • Air compressor
  • Air filters
  • Battery charger
  • Damp sponge
  • Flashlight
  • Garden hose
  • Household bleach
  • Latex gloves
  • Potable water
  • Propane tanks
  • Rag
  • Safety glasses
  • Timer
  • Tire pressure gauge


  • Wash and wax cleaner
  • Waterproof sealant/caulking
  • UV protectant
  • Silicone spray or lubricant
  • Spare fuses and light bulbs
  • Toilet chemicals

Filling up water tanks in an RV

You have now thoroughly inspected your RV from top to bottom, sealed any leaks, charged your battery, inflated your tires, refreshed your water system, and filled up your propane tanks. You are now fully prepared to embark on your travel adventures for the season.

Remember to properly winterize your vehicle once the weather begins to cool down. When that time comes, be sure to check out our guide on How to Winterize Your RV.

DHPL Travels

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