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WINTERIZING YOUR RV — A step-by-step time-proven system to get the job done right!
Posted By Professor95 On October 15, 2010 @ 7:24 am In Preparation & Readiness,Uncategorized | 27 Comments
It is hard for me to believe that winter’s cold winds and freezing temperatures are just around the corner for those of us that live in Central Virginia. Golly, in some of our northern states freezing temperatures have already arrived!
OK – those of you in southern Florida, the southwest and other warmer climates can laugh, but a good part of the country is going to get cold.
This, of course, means winterizing your RV. Even if it is still relatively warm where you are, you should be planning and preparing to put your camper away for the winter.
The major issue with campers and freezing temperatures is the water system. Hundreds or even thousands of dollars in damage can result if freezing water expands in water lines, the pump, potty flush valve, faucets, water heater and drains.
I have winterized all of our campers each winter over the past three decades. So, I’ve had a lot of practice in what works, and what does not.
This is my step-by-step winterization process. Hopefully it will help readers new to the process complete winterization easily and efficiently. This can also make opening the camper back up in the spring much easier and less time consuming.
There are several different methods for getting the antifreeze into your water lines. The proper thing to do is consult your RV’s manual to learn which of these methods is best for your RV. Some RV’s have a factory installed hose connected by a two-way valve going to the water pump so that you can just put the hose end into the antifreeze container and turn the valve to pump antifreeze into your water lines. Others advise to disconnect the intake hose to the water pump, attach a new temporary hose section to the pump then put the open end of the new hose into a container of antifreeze – then turn on the RV’s water pump. Lastly, antifreeze can be poured directly into the fresh water tank and then pumped through the RV water lines. This last method generally uses more antifreeze than the others. Depending on the size of your RV, you will need from 3 to 6 gallons of antifreeze. If you do not have a water heater bypass, it will take an additional 5 to 10 gallons. Thus, a water heater bypass valve system can save you a lot of money in antifreeze.
Start with all of your faucets closed, pump the pink antifreeze from a clean 3 to 5 gallon bucket or water jug into your water lines until your electric pump shuts off. Do not allow the antifreeze container to become empty during this entire process or your pump will pick up air and need to be re-primed.
Go to the faucet closest to the water pump and open the cold water side. Let it run until only pink liquid comes out. Close the cold water faucet and do the same for the hot side. Repeat this process for all of the remaining faucets, shower and the toilet until all you see is pink liquid. Do NOT forget to service an outside shower. Using an empty container, return to your outside low point drains and drain the pink liquid out of your water lines – there is no point leaving it in the lines since you have purged them of all freezable water.
Take some of the recovered antifreeze and pour it into your sink and shower drains so that the traps will not freeze if they should contain any water.
Wipe any pink antifreeze off of the shower walls, bathtub or sink bottoms as it will leave a stain.
Dump any pink liquid out of your toilet bowl; wipe the bowl dry and pour in one half of a cup of mineral or baby oil (do not use vegetable oil as it will spoil). This will keep your toilet bowl valve seal from drying out.
Lastly, remove any water line filters such as a drinking water filter in the kitchen or a whole house filter installed elsewhere. Discard these filters. Do not try to save them for next year.
The small amount of water left sitting in the bottom of your water heater tank should not cause any harm if it freezes.
Don’t forget to be sure your “white” fresh water supply hoses have been drained of all water and are stored with the ends screwed together.
OPEN your gray water holding tank dump valves and catch any water and antifreeze that comes out in a bucket for proper disposal in your home’s toilet. DO NOT open your black tank valve unless you are positive that the tank is clean and empty. If you did not clean and empty your black tank at your last camping or dump site, you have a big problem. You will need to add antifreeze to the tank via the toilet to prevent freezing and potential damage to the dump valve.
Spray the the coupler with WD-40 or marine fogging oil and cover with a plastic bag or wrap with aluminum foil.
Spray the corner jacks (scissor jacks?) with WD-40 or marine fogging oil on the screw shaft and pivot points.
If you are in doubt about any of the above or electricity will not be hooked to your camper, remove your batteries and store them in a well ventilated area that is not subjected to freezing temperatures. A semi-heated garage is the best storage environment. Use a float charger in a well ventilated area during the winter or conduct a 2 hour charge with a 2-6 amp conventional battery charger once a month. Again, be sure to do this in a well ventilated area. Check water or electrolyte level and add distilled water if needed. Of course, you cannot do this on sealed batteries.
Batteries without a full charge can freeze and be ruined in cold weather. Batteries that just sit will naturally discharge and accumulate a white crust on the plates inside of the battery that will shorten their life span. Stored batteries will need “tending” as described above.
If your roof vents are covered so that they will keep rain and snow out, it is a good idea to slightly open the vent to allow for air circulation inside the camper.
If your camper is stored on dirt it can be beneficial to use a ground cover as a vapor barrier under the camper. Again, plastic or blue tarps held in place with rocks or blocks will prevent ground moisture from causing additional frame rusting or moisture from collecting in the camper’s flooring.
This is the longest, most comprehensive blog I have written to date. I know I’ve probably forgotten something – so check back to see if there are any edits or additions. Maybe readers will add additional beneficial comments? I’ll do another blog in March on my procedures for bringing a camper out of moth balls for the summer fun!
       
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