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RV Podcast 215 Getting your RV ready for winter

| Updated Oct 24, 2018

RV Podcast 215 Is your Rv ready for winter?

It’s that time of year again. Cold weather and temperatures near freezing remind us that winter is fast approaching and those in northern climates soon need to winterize their RVs. So we tell you in this episode everything you need to do to protect your RV’s plumbing.  And Jennifer has a great tip about mouse-proofing your RV, too, to keep rodents out while it sits in storage. Plus lots of listener questions, traveling technology tips and an great off the beaten path report.

Show Notes for Episode #215 Oct. 24, 2018 of Roadtreking – The RV Podcast:


RV Podcast 215 Getting your RV ready for winter 1MIKE

Here we are just a week before Halloween and if the calendar isn’t enough of a reminder, the cool outdoor temperatures are making it obvious that change is in the air. At the dogpark with Bo every morning, we’re wearing our winter jackets, hats and even gloves. So, as we said in the intro, it’s time to winterize if our RV is exposed to the elements in cold climates. Though I must say the best winterizing tip I have heard was from a snowbird buddy from Minnesota telling me the way he winterizes is he takes his RV to Florida every year about this time and doesn’t return until April!


Speaking of snowbirds, this is the time of the first wave in the annual snowbird migration from the north to Florida and the Southwest. I’ve seen figures estimating the number of snowbird RVers as high as three million! Their migration really has two stages. The first always begins around Halloween. The second big one comes right after Christmas, because a lot of RVers like to stay home with family before heading south for warm weather.  Snowbirders leaving in the next week or so can probably avoid winterizing. Those waiting until Christmas should not leave their RVs unprotected without antifreeze until then or they risk damaging their plumbing system. That shouldn’t need to be stated but there are always some who like to take than chance.


As we said, we are a week before Halloween. And in the camping world, Halloween is a he event. Most big RV parks and even many state parks are booked solid every weekend all during October. The parks have weekend trick or treat nights and costume parades and RVers are encouraged to decorate their rigs. We always like visiting RV parks this time of the year. We will be doing so this week and we’ll share some photos of what we see this coming Sunday night on the RV Lifestyle Channel on YouTube. That will be on our Ask Us Anything live broadcast at 7PM Eastern. We do a live show every week at that time and we thought it would be fun this coming week to share our photos of what we see. And if you are out there at an RV park and have decorated for Halloween. Send us a photo and we’ll include it in our live broadcast. You can reach us at


We really enjoy doing that live show on the RV Lifestyle Channel each week. It’s the next best thing to being around a campground with good friends. I am really amazed at what an online community we have developed around those Ask Us Anything broadcasts. People can make comments and type in questions in real time and we can then display the questions on screen and answer them. It’s a highlight of our week.

This part of the program is brought to you by AllStays Pro, the best tool for RVers looking for places to camp.


Marijuana use will be permitted at campsites under Canada's new law
Canada became the second country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana use last week and according to a Parks Canada spokesperson, it is ok to use the drug at campsites. (Uruguay is the only other country where it is legal.) Marijuana will be permitted at campsites because the campsites will be considered temporary private homes. Cannabis will not be permitted in public areas, like playgrounds, washrooms, parking lots, historic sites, etc. To learn more click here or here.

Hurricane Michael destroyed Florida state parks in its path 
Hurricane Michael, the strongest storm on record to hit the Florida panhandle, devastated the state parks in the area. Sand dunes are flattened, roads have vanished, beaches moved, trails gone, and more, according to a story out last week. The result is the 14 state parks in the area will be closed for the foreseeable future. To learn more click here.

Photographer captures wedding proposal in breathtaking picture at Yosemite National Park, searches for couple
Did you hear about the breathtaking picture of a man proposing to a woman at Taft Point in Yosemite National Park? The picture was taken earlier this month, and the photographer is trying to find the couple, taking his search to Twitter. To see the picture or learn more click here.

Montana man survives grizzly bear attack with help of bear spray
A Montana man stumbled upon a mad mama grizzly bear who saw him as a threat to her cubs just outside Yellowstone National Park. He told his tale to a Montana newspaper, and it is something to read. The man was an experienced outdoorsman, and to make a long story short, the bear spray likely saved him, though in the heat of the attack, he also sprayed himself with it. We have written about bear spray before, but it is worth mentioning again. Get some if you are anywhere in bear country. Each person in your group should have some. To hear an interview we did for our podcast  with a bear spray expert, click here. To read the story, click here.

Off-road Jeep club pulls boondocking full-timer out of mud
A story out of Joshua Tree National Park last week was one of those feel-good stories I have share. A man, who is a full-timer who travels the country chasing 75-80 degree weather, was boondocking at Coyote Dry Lake Bed in Joshua Tree, when the rain started falling. According to a story out last night, the man had good weather apps and two weeks worth of food and water, yet still got caught by surprise by some heavy rain that flooded his area. But, luckily for him, an off road Jeep club found him, and when he didn't think he'd need rescue, left him their number. And, a few days later when he did need rescue, came back, hooked up several jeeps to his RV, and pulled his home and him to safety. The club refused payment, just saying pay it forward. To read the encouraging story about people helping each other and asking nothing in return, click here.


Man rescued after being trapped under RV
One last story for you Do-it-yourselvers out there. A man working on an RV’s tire Thursday jacked up the vehicle and climbed underneath to place to jack stands. The stands fell off and the RV collapsed, trapping the 32-year-old Kingsley man beneath. A person inside heard the man’s calls for help and called 911.Grand Traverse County sheriff’s Lt. Brian Giddis said deputies responded within minutes to the Smith Road location in East Bay Township, at about 10:30 a.m., and quickly dug a hole where they placed a jack to lift the RV and rescue the man.The man did not suffer any broken bones, but as you would expect there was a lot of bruising and soreness. The lesson: Be careful and if you are crawling under a jacked up vehicle, make sure someone else is right by you watching.

This part of the podcast is brought to you by,  the only place you can access a searchable database of the most complete, accurate and up-to-date listing of places where RVers are and aren't allowed to park overnight.


It’s that time of year again. Many RVers are winterizing their RVs and putting them in storage for the winter. But besides antifreeze – which we will soon be talking about in our interview segment of the podcast – one other step that is very important before placing your vehicle in storage, and that is making sure your RV is mice proof.

RV Podcast 215 Getting your RV ready for winter 2We have heard so many sad stories of mice getting into an RV and literally destroying it. Between chewing up wires, burrowing inside the walls, and leaving their waste everywhere – mice are incredibly destructive and pose not just a sanitary concern, but a safety issue.

One thing you could do is try mice repellant products. A couple years ago we met someone who told us about a product called Fresh Cab Botanical Rodent Repellant. For uninfected areas, the directions say to place one pouch for every 125 sq. feet. So two or three pouches will do it for an RV. The scent lasts 90 days so you may need to replace them come the end of February. For infected areas where mice are active, they suggest one pouch every 8 square feet and to replace the pouches every 30 days. The scent alone is the deterrent, and the product is one we have used successfully.

You can find Fresh Cab Botanical Rodent Repellant everywhere from Walmart to camping supply stories. I found it on Amazon with four packets selling for $14.99, eight for $29.88. Here’s a link – 

RV Podcast 215 Getting your RV ready for winter 3Some readers have also suggested spraying the underbelly of the RV with a product called Rodent Defense. It is a spray that goes on the engine, wiring, and anything exposed underneath your vehicle. The product is made of vinegar, water and various essential oils like peppermint and white pepper, that supposedly mice do not like. While I have not tried this, I pass this along in case it is of interest. I also this product on Amazon, selling for about $20 for 32 ounces or $37 for a gallon. Here’s the link for Rodent Defense –

Also, some of our readers have suggested putting a box of laundry dryer sheets around your RV. Rodents supposedly don’t like that smell.

And if you suspect mice are getting in, be sure to check for open spaces under the chassis. It doesn't take much space for a mouse to squeeze in and do all sorts of harm. Try and plug them up if you can.

I hope these suggestions are helpful.

And be sure to send me your tips and suggestions for the RV lifestyle. You can use the “Leave Voicemail” link at Just click it and then use the built-in microphone on your computer or mobile devise to record a message to me. You can do it over as many times as you want, until you are satisfied. And then you just click a button and it comes right to my email inbox.

I love hearing from you!

Jennifer's tip of the week is brought to you by RadPower Bikes ,an electric bike manufacturer offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping  To see our Rad Power Bikes in action, just click here. Visit WWW.RADPOWERBIKES.COM 


Here are the questions we answer this week:

  • Paul asks about the new technology system called WATT, a new fuel cell power generation system that the Erwin Hymer Group has recently introduced and promises to eventually put on its RV models.

Here’s a link to our RV Lifestyle Channel’s video on the WATT System. –

  • A listener asks us how to get insurance for his RV.

We suggest trying the same insurance company they have for their car and home. But almost all major companies offer RV policies: Geico, Progressive, State Farm. And check our AARP, Good Sam and special RV specific insurance companies like Blue Sky.  In fact, Blue Sky has a rapid quote link that we will provide in the show notes –

This link tells you what to consider in choosing RV insurance –

  • And a listener and his wife want to try RVing in Europe. They wonder whether it makes sense financially to ship their RV over to Europe or to rent one while they are there.

Here’s a link to Campskunk’s posts on the blog where he shares a lot of info on what is involved in getting his RV to Europe.     Here’s one on just the paperwork –  Here’s one on putting his RV on the boat – To read all his stories on his six month European RV trip, check out the Campskunk archives at

This part of the podcast is sponsored by Steinbring Motorcoach, Roadtrek’s newest dealer and a third generation family business in Minnesota’s beautiful Chain of Lakes region built on quality motorhomes and excellent pricing and service.


This week, we talk about winterizing:

We’re going to give you everything you need to know about this. The easy way and the hard way. We have interviews and on the RV Lifestyle Blog we will have a full transcript of the interview for you, plus links to detailed videos.


Let’s start with the interview. To explain how easy it is to do this important task, we bring on our friend from Roadtrek Motorhomes, Yan Seiner:

Here is a link to a playlist with five different videos on how to winterize –

Here is a transcript of the interview with Yan:

Mike Wendland:         Well, if you have been looking at the weather forecast lately, you know that it is getting colder. In the upper mid-west, temperatures this week expected to be in the 30's pretty much every night, and that's a trend unfortunately that will follow throughout all of the mid-­west, and throughout much of the country in the weeks ahead. And for RV'ers that means it's time to winterize, to get the water out of the plumbing system and make sure those pipes don't freeze and rupture.

To help us figure out what to do, Yan Seiner joins us. Yan is a project engineer for Road Track in Kitchener, Ontario, and he joins us from Kitchener right now. How are you doing, Yan?

Yan Seiner:                  Pretty good, Mike. The weather's actually pretty nice here.

Mike Wendland:         Yeah? Well, count your blessings. It's coming, as you know.

So, the question that we hear from a lot of RV'ers is when do I have to winterize? I mean how cold does it have to be before I have to be concerned about the pipes freezing?

Yan Seiner:                  So, this is one of those questions. It depends on not just how cold it's going to be, but how long it's going to be cold, and what you're doing with the coach. So, if you've driven it all day, and it's nice and warm, and you're going to spend the night in it, and you're going to keep the heat on. And it's going to drop to just below freezing for a couple of hours just before dawn, you're okay. If you're going to leave it parked in your driveway for a week, and you don't know how cold it's going to get, you probably need to winterize.

Mike Wendland:         Is there a magic number? I've heard 28 degrees for four hours is enough to freeze the pipes. Do we really know?

Yan Seiner:                  That's about where I start to get nervous. If it drops below freezing in my driveway to 28 for half the night, yeah, I'd probably think real hard about winterizing.

Mike Wendland:         Now, a lot of people are put off the idea of winterizing because they think it's a very complicated system. And we should by the way point out that what we're talking about here are basic guides that are intended to assist you in knowing what you need to do to winterize your RV. But it's a basic guide, and because it's a basic guide, that means it would be impossible to cover ever RV out there. We're talking primarily I think about class B road tracks, leisure travel vans, and pleasure way. Those types of vehicles, because we're talking about the small motor homes.

But it's important that if you're going to do this, you read your owners manuals for specific winterizing guidelines. So, now that we got that out of the way, where would you have a start? How much antifreeze, we have to get antifreeze, is there a certain kind we should get?

Yan Seiner:                  Yes. So, the one thing you're going to have to get is RV antifreeze. It is a food grade antifreeze, in other words it's non toxic. The antifreeze that normally goes into your car engine is very toxic, and you really don't want that anywhere near your RV water tank.

Mike Wendland:         It's also very toxic to pets too, that automobile antifreeze.

Yan Seiner:                  Yeah. It's actually a double whammy, because it's very sweet and it tastes good, but it's also very toxic. So, keep that stuff away from your pets.

Mike Wendland:         So, non-toxic RV antifreeze, and you can get that at most RV stores, and even Walmart I know sells a bunch of it.

How much do you need? How much antifreeze should folks buy?

Yan Seiner:                  Typically for class B, two to three gallons.

Mike Wendland:         Two to three gallons. And then I always pick up an extra gallon or two, because like you, we camp in the wintertime. There's no reason to stay … you just have to use the antifreeze to flush the toilet. So I always get a couple extra, but two to three to do the winterizing job. And walk us through, what are some of the things we should have on our checklist? How do we do it?

Yan Seiner:                  So, this is one of those things that I think in the mythology of RVing has become more complicated than it really is. Basically, you drain your freshwater tank, you dump your gray and black tanks. And then when everything's drained, you close the drain to your water tank, and you put in a couple of gallons of the RV antifreeze. That's the beginning.

Mike Wendland:         Now, let me stop you there. Are you talking about the freshwater tank, you put some antifreeze in there?

Yan Seiner:                  Yes.

Mike Wendland:         A lot of people say that you don't have to do that, that it's really tough in the spring when you de-winterize, to get that taste out of there. Obviously, you do that, so address that issue if you will.

Yan Seiner:                  So, the de-winterizing, yeah, the antifreeze is kind of sweet and sticky tasting. But really what I do in the winter, because I keep my RV winterized for three months, and so I figure that I really, really need to clean those tanks very well in the spring. And so by the time I'm done de-winterizing, which involves flushing the tanks two or three times, I've never had a problem with the taste.

Mike Wendland:         So basically two or three times, I've heard some people put a little vinegar in there, that helps it a little bit. So, it's good to get all of it flushed that many times anyway, because bacteria does build up, and it'll start up again even after a freeze. All right, got that taken care off.

So, how much do we put in our freshwater tanks?

Yan Seiner:                  A couple of gallons, you start off with two gallons.

Mike Wendland:         Okay. Now what do we do? We've got it in the freshwater tank, but there's a whole system underneath the vehicle.

Yan Seiner:                  Right, there's a whole system underneath the vehicle. Now, there's a thing here about if you have a hot water heater tank, and you have one of those six gallon suburban tanks, there's a winterizing procedure that you have to follow. Usually it involves a bypass of the water heater, and removing the handle. And that really you need to refer to your owner's manual.

Mike Wendland:         You may have noticed that ugly little rod that connects all the impurities, it's usually on the side of the vehicle. Correct?

Yan Seiner:                  Right, right. It's a sacrificial handle that's meant to corrode before the tank.

Mike Wendland:         And all you have to do is look at your owner manual, it will tell you how to do that, whatever vehicle you have.

Okay. And the bypassing of the water heater, that's basically just turning some knobs and some valves in a little cabinet somewhere in the vehicle, right?

Yan Seiner:                  Right. You either have two or three valves, depending on which kind of fit you have. And you just turn them to the winter position. So, once you find them, and you look at the pictures, it takes about 30 seconds to turn three valves.

Mike Wendland:         So, we've got the hot water down, we've got the freshwater cleaned. What about the water pump?

Yan Seiner:                  So, now that you've got your antifreeze in the tank, you've got your water heater bypass, now you can turn on your water pump, and start opening all your faucets one at a time. So, you open your kitchen, your galley of cold water, and you let it run until you get the pink antifreeze out of it.

You close that, you open the hot water in the galley, you run it until you get your pink antifreeze out of it. And you keep doing that with a shower, and with your toilets, and with your outside shower if you have one, or if you have a sink in the bathroom, you do that as well.

Mike Wendland:         So, run it until the pink stuff comes off, and then shut it off?

Yan Seiner:                  Right.

Mike Wendland:         And then what, are we done?

Yan Seiner:                  You're pretty much done. Now, the only thing left is if you have a macerator… oh there's also one other step, if you have a city water valve switch, that switches between city water and your tank, while the water pump is on, you want to go and turn that, and let it run for maybe 30 seconds. And that'll flush the water in that line, and replace it with antifreeze.

Mike Wendland:         And not every model's like that, some of them just draw when you open the switch. But got you, got you.

So, we're pretty much … now what about the macerator? Many of the class B's have a macerator. What do they have to do with that?

Yan Seiner:                  So, you've drained your black and gray tanks, right? So, now what you have is the tanks are empty, but you still have a little bit of water in that macerator. And if it freezes, it'll damage the macerator. So, what we need to do is we need to get enough antifreeze in one of our tanks, and one of the holding tanks, and run the macerator until we get the pink stuff out.

Mike Wendland:         There you go. And you've got pink stuff run through it all, and you're winterized. You're set to go.

And I mentioned at the very top that I do winter camping, I know you do as well. It's actually one of the best times to go, because you can usually have lots of room in the camp grounds, if you can find one open. But there's no reason not to go out in the winter too, even when it's winterized, you just use the antifreeze to flush the toilet, correct?

Yan Seiner:                  Absolutely, that's what we do. We keep a gallon of antifreeze in the toilet, and you just flush the toilet with it. We keep just one of those five gallon water blotters, and the galley sink for drinking water. And we're good to go.

Mike Wendland:         You know one thing too a lot of our RV friends from the mid-west, upper mid-west, they are [inaudible 00:09:08], they run down to Florida, they spend a lot of time in warm climates. And sometimes they come back and it's still cold. So it's very simple to re-winterize, right? You just de-winterize down in the warm weather, and then before you come up, you can pick up the antifreeze and re-winterize before you get back in the cold climate.

Yan Seiner:                  Yeah, absolutely. Once you've figured it out, it's 20 minutes and a cup of coffee and you're done.

Mike Wendland:         Well, there we go. Well Yan, thank you for that advice.

Yan Seiner:                  All right, thank you Mike.

The interview of the week is brought to you by, where every new or used Roadtrek motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country


By Andy Choi
Verizon Wireless

It’s that time again for our little ghouls and goblins to hit the neighborhood. Halloween can be all kinds of fun, from little tyke costumes, to school events and neighborhood parties. And when it comes to tech, there is no shortage of tricks and treats to make this spooky season a memorable one.

Verizon’s latest smartphones have high resolution cameras that allow you to take professional quality photos from dusk ‘til dawn. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 allows you to be a photo pro. Adjust the aperture and focus so you can create those professional style photographs. And the editing magic of the S Pen makes you the coolest ghoul on the block.

Google Clips allows you to capture family Halloween-scapes and lawn decorations while still being in the photos. Clips will automatically capture short motion photos of your family, friends and costumed pets. You can post to social, or print off the exact frame you want for later use – or to update the family photo walls.

Turn your TVs into a digital picture frame with the Google Chromecast Ultra. In addition, invite others in on the fun! Create a shared Google Photos Album and invite your friends to add their own pics for a shared album. Nice way to loop through and share great shots from your RV adventures!

So while the candy might be hit or miss, make sure those tech tricks and treats score big with your Halloween loving friends and family.

This part of the podcast is brought to you by Verizon, which operates America’s most reliable wireless network


By Tom and Patti Burkett

RV Podcast 215 Getting your RV ready for winter 4
Patti and Tom Burkett

Mangum, Oklahoma is a dusty town in the panhandle, named after a man who never visited it, and best known for making bricks.  They’re still making bricks here, in a large state-of-the-art factory about a mile from town.  We’d stopped here to see one of the oldest light bulbs in the USA.  You can hear that story in another episode.  Driving around town, we noticed a corner lot with rows of head-high pink granite monuments, guarded of by three fierce looking longhorn bulls.  How could we resist?  Parking in front of the Greer County Historical Museum, we walked among the pioneers of the county.  Each stone carried the likeness of a founding father or mother, and a paragraph describing his or her contribution to history.

RV Podcast 215 Getting your RV ready for winter 5
Mangum ok

We walked into the museum to use the bathroom, and, as so often happens, left with a story.  Virginia, who was in charge of the museum, had been born on a nearby ranch eight decades ago.  “I have eleven brothers and sisters,” she told us, “and we were all born in the same house.  Four of us were born in Texas and the rest in Oklahoma.”  Her eyes twinkled, waiting for the inevitable question.  I gave in.  ”How could that be?” I asked.

“Well, I’ll tell you,” she said with evident glee. “The Red River is the border between Texas and Oklahoma. Right here, there are two forks to the river. The northern boundary of the county is the North Fork, and the southern boundary of the county is the Prairie Dog Town Fork. When The United States agreed on a boundary with the Republic of Texas, it was the Red River.  Later on, after Texas had become a state, oil was discovered here.  There was an argument with Oklahoma over which fork was the official boundary.  When the state line was drawn, it was drawn along the North Fork.  They argued for ten years, and in 1928 the Supreme Court changed the line. Texas got a little smaller, Oklahoma got a little bigger, and the rest of my brothers and sisters were born in a different state.”

Tom looked up the story of the dispute, and found that it’s quite a bit more complicated than Virginia’s telling, but what a story!  It happens with surprising regularity. We walk through some small town door to use the bathroom, and the world looks different when we walk out. All it takes, usually, is the time to ask a question and listen to the answer. We’re Patti and Tom Burkett, and we’ll look for you out here somewhere, off the beaten path, maybe even in the mythical state of Texlahoma.

Off the Beaten Path is brought to you by Harvest Hosts, a membership site that provides truly unique overnight stops at wineries, farms and attractions.



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Mike Wendland

Published on 2018-10-24

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

One Response to “RV Podcast 215 Getting your RV ready for winter”

November 06, 2018at10:00 am, Rob Hammons said:

Hi Y’all,

Enjoy your show. However, Mangum Oklahoma isn’t in the panhandle. It is in the western part of Oklahoma close to the eastern edge of the Texas panhandle.


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