- Mon, Oct 1, 2007
Fall Greetings from Beautiful North Central Indiana!
Fall… truly my favorite season! I love the cool, crisp mornings, a country side bursting with color, and a cup of hot chocolate in the stands at the local football game. They are simple pleasures, but pleasures none-the-less.
Congratulations if fall isn't the end of your camping season. Part of the joys of owning an RV is finding fun ways to use it year round. If the winter months force you to put the RV in storage, it is once again that time of year to discuss the process known as "winterization."
Every October we review the procedure for winterizing your unit because it is critical. Remember our old saying that "water is the RV's worst enemy" because of the damage it can do if left unchecked? Frozen water is no exception… in fact; it can do as much or more damage as seeping water, but in different ways. Because of that, it is critical to make sure all the water in your plumbing is removed or neutralized before the temperature dips below freezing.
Winterization is a relatively simple concept; we want to get rid of the water any water in your plumbing. Draining the fresh water tank, holding tanks, and the plumbing "low point" drains removes the majority of residual water from the tanks and lines. Pulling the drain plug out of the water heater drains all but a very small amount at the very bottom water out of the tank (not enough to cause any damage). Once you have drained as much water from the unit as possible, it is time to eradicate what little water is left.
There are two options for doing that; first is to use compressed air to pressurize the fresh water system (40 - 50 psi or less!), then opening faucets throughout the unit to allow the air to blow any residual moisture out. Allow each water source to blow until no moisture comes out at all. This method of purging the system is very effective if performed carefully and thoroughly, after which it becomes a simple matter of adding RV antifreeze to the P-traps.
The other option is to displace any water left in the system after draining with RV antifreeze. When using RV antifreeze it is important that it only go to the places you want it, and that it NOT go where you don't want it. You will want to avoid getting RV antifreeze in the water heater tank, and to a degree in the fresh water tank. Both tanks are very difficult to flush out, and RV antifreeze in them tends to foam when you de-winterize and add water in the spring. If you can avoid getting RV antifreeze in them, it is best, but if not, just remember to be thorough about getting the REV antifreeze out come spring. Make sure the fill valve is closed for the fresh water tank, and the water heater is bypassed before proceeding to the next step.
Locate the "winterization" valve and clear plastic tube, and drop the clear tube into a container of RV antifreeze. Open the winterization valve. Turn the water pump on to draw the RV antifreeze up into the system. Go inside your RV, and starting with the sink farthest from the water compartment, turn the faucet on and allow it to run until only RV antifreeze flows. Be sure you do this for both the hot and cold sides to be sure all the lines are protected. Once that faucet has been winterized, move to the next one. Do this until all of the faucets have been winterized… don't forget the shower, toilet, and exterior shower (if so equipped). Also, be certain to add a cup of RV antifreeze to each P-trap. Although running RV antifreeze through the faucets will add it to the P-traps, it is important to make sure that all the water in there has been eradicated or neutralized.
It is also critical to make sure you winterize any other "plumbed" accessories or appliances that may have water in them. An ice maker, a clothes washer, or any other accessory that use water must also be winterized to prevent damage from freezing. For ice makers, you will find a supply line valve on the water line feeding it (usually located in the exterior refer service panel). Remove the line that runs from the valve to the ice maker and drain any water that is in it. Be prepared to catch approximately 1 - 2 cups of water when you remove the line. Once it has drained completely, reattach the line and close the valve.
RV antifreeze will not harm a clothes washer, so simply starting a wash cycle, making sure the hot and cold lines are both used, will winterize the appliance. It is a good idea to run sufficient RV antifreeze into the appliance to allow you to pump some out on a drain cycle. This will protect the pump and associated plumbing, as well as neutralize any residual water left in the tub. The same is true if your unit is equipped with a dishwasher.
As always, it is important to point out that ONLY POTABLE RV ANTIFREEZE should be used in the plumbing of your RV. NEVER use regular automotive antifreeze, which contains Ethyl Glycol, and various other components that can be fatal if ingested.
Depending on your climate, removal and storage of your batteries may be a part of winterization for you. Place them in a cool, dry location (preferably off the floor) until you are ready to use them next year.
If you are in doubt, take your RV to your dealer for winterization. Most of them are running specials on winterization this time of year, and you can spend your winter resting peacefully, knowing your coach was properly prepared for the cold, and will be right and ready when Spring rolls around.
That's about it for now. If you can travel to warm climates for the winter, it's time to pack up and head out. If you are like me and can't, get your unit put away and warm up the hot chocolate. Of course, there are some very hearty souls who brave the cold in the comforts of their RV, snowmobiling, hunting, and taking in the winter splendor of this great land. If that's you, more power to you! Keep the furnace running and add supplemental heat to the sensitive areas (small ceramic space heater in the plumbing compartment for example), and keep on camping!
See you next month!