By Mike Willis
Spring has officially sprung, and it’s time to ready the RV! Dewinterizing an RV is a relatively easy process that any handy RVer can do. Rather than forking over the cash to have someone do the job for you, follow the process outlined below!
Filling the Fresh Water Tank
1) Using your water hose, fill the fresh water tank.
2) Remove the drain plug and allow all water to run out to flush the tank completely.
3) Reinstall the drain plug and refill the tank with water.
TIP* In future seasons, consider leaving the fresh water tank drain plug off after winterizing. This will allow the tank to dry in the offseason, which is very helpful in maintaining a clean fresh water system.
Check the Valves Near the Hot Water Tank
Keeping antifreeze out of your hot water tank is important. Antifreeze is very difficult to get out of the tank once it has been introduced. Despite efforts to flush the system, trace amounts of antifreeze and residue will remain for a long time.
To avoid trapping antifreeze in the hot water tank, RV manufacturers provide a series of valves to bypass the tank during winterization. This series of valves allow you to tie the hot-water line and the cold-water line together, completely circumventing the hot water tank. The valves are usually located in the access panel beneath the oven. The most common valve configuration is the one in the diagram below. Some systems will have slight variations, but the functionality of the design remains the same.
Verify that the hot water tank was bypassed and drained before antifreeze was put in the water lines. You can leave the valves diverting flow until your water lines have been purged of all antifreeze.
Purging Waterlines of Antifreeze
1) Turn on the power switch for the onboard water pump.
2) Open the cold-water valve (faucet lever/ knob) on any sink.
3) Observe the pink antifreeze running out of the faucet spout.
4) Once the antifreeze is no longer visible in the water, shut off the water valve.
5) Repeat steps 2-4 with the hot-water valve (faucet lever/ knob).
6) Repeat steps 2-5 for all sinks, indoor shower, and outdoor shower.
7) Flush toilet until all water is completely clear.
Now that you have flushed each water source individually take turns running two or three faucets at a time. This continuous flow of water will thoroughly cleanse your lines of any residual antifreeze. It is fine to run the hot and cold water simultaneously during this process. If you have too many faucets open at once, your flow will become weak. If this happens, simply reduce the number of open valves; just keep alternating faucets for 10 minutes to thoroughly cleanse the system.
Filling Your Hot Water Tank
Now that your system has been flushed of all antifreeze, it’s time to fill your hot water tank.
1) Open the other hot water tank access panel on the OUTSIDE of your RV. Verify that the drain plug is installed.
2) From the INSIDE hot water tank access panel, adjust diverting valves to allow water to flow into the tank. (SEE VALVE DIAGRAM ABOVE FOR NORMAL OPERATING MODE)
3) Opening the valves to the tank will create a drop in pressure, causing the water pump to run. At this time, your tank will begin to fill. To relieve air pressure, open the hot water valve (faucet lever/ knob) on the kitchen sink. As the tank fills with water, air will be pushed out through the sink’s faucet spout.
4) Once the hot water tank is full, water will begin to flow out of the kitchen sink’s faucet spout.
5) Once all air is out of the line and only water is coming out, close the hot water valve.
TIP* In future seasons, consider leaving the hot water tank drain plug off after winterizing. This will allow the tank to dry in the offseason, which is very helpful in maintaining a clean hot water tank.
Conduct a Thorough Function Check
Before taking off with your RV, make sure you spend plenty of time going through everything.
1) Charge batteries.
2) Top off propane tanks.
3) Operate the refrigerator in LP Gas and electric modes.
4) Operate the water heater in LP Gas and electric modes.
5) Run the heat.
6) Run the A.C.
7) Light the stove and oven.
8) Run the microwave.
9) Test all slides and awning.
10) Check all of your lights.
11) Bring the tires up to proper tire pressure. (don’t forget the spare!)
12) Inspect tires for serviceability.
Before reinstalling your access panel covers, leave them off for the first 24 hours of your system being pressurized with water. Waiting to close these access panels will allow you the opportunity to identify any leaks that may have appeared over the winter. Now that your RV is dewinterized, be sure to monitor the weather. In the event of an unseasonably cold night, turn the heat on and set your thermostat to 50 degrees until morning.