Emergency Winterization

December 28, 20144

If you find yourself on the road or in the campground when the temperature suddenly drops below freezing, this post describes a few things you can quickly do to minimize any potential damage.

Water Filter

Even if you don’t use a water filter in your popup camper, there is still possibly a canister that could be full of water (see top image above). Remove it, dump out the water, and re-insert.

Gravity Drain

Some popup campers have T-handle valves strategically located at the lowest point of the water lines. Turn off your water pump, open these and turn on the faucet to let most water (and pressure) drain out of the lines.

Low spots in the water lines may still hold water, but you’re at least limiting the damage that could occur.

Hot Water Heater

hotwater heater from inside popup camper

If your popup has a hot water heater, you should first shut the valves running to and from the unit from the inside of the camper. The picture above shows this configuration, with the bypass pipe then opened.

hot water heater anode removal for winterization

Next, open the access panel on the outside of the camper and remove the anode to drain the water from this reservoir. It’s a good idea to carry a socket and wrench along with your camper, as this anode can not be removed by hand. Actually, you’ll need quite a long wrench and preferably one with a torque adjustment on it to avoid over-tightening when re-installing.


Pipes freezing are less of an issue when you’re inside your popup camper with the heater on. But trailering in below freezing temperatures can be an issue. If you expect to drive the camper through these conditions, you might consider applying the emergency procedures above before getting on the road.


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I've been camping regularly since I was a kid, from quick Cub/Boy Scout trips to week-long backpacking trips and everything else in-between. We got a popup camper when our kids were 1 and 3 years old to enjoy more time outdoors together alongside a few conveniences like heat and running water. Since then, we've spent over 75 nights together as a family in our popup camper. I've learned a lot about the intricacies of a popup tent camper during this time and love to share those lessons here for the benefit of others.