By Mike Willis
It is that time of year! Winter is right around the corner, and the RVing enthusiasts need to start getting their rigs ready. For those in the north, winterization is extremely important. Forgetting to winterize an RV can result in thousands of dollars in damage. There is really no worse way to start the camping season than to discover a preventable leak.
If you have never winterized your RV, know that it isn’t all that hard; you just have to be thorough and systematic. Below is a list of tasks to perform in the winterization process:
Drain Your Tanks
1. Shut the water pump off.
2. Remove the drain plug from your freshwater tank (leave off for winter).
3. Remove the drain plug from your hot water tank (leave off for winter).
4. Dump and flush your black and grey water tanks.
Adjust Valves to Bypass the Hot Water Tank
The diagram below outlines how to place your hot water tank valves in bypass mode. This is an important part of the process of winterizing your RV. It is very difficult to get antifreeze out of your hot water tank. Therefore, be sure not to miss this step!
1. Remove the valve access panel (likely below the oven).
2. Adjust valves to divert water flow from the cold water line directly to the hot water line.
Fill Water Lines with RV Anti-Freeze
For your winterizing project, you will need between one and two gallons of RV antifreeze. This is not an ordinary antifreeze. RV antifreeze is specifically made to be used in domestic water systems.
To fill your water lines with the antifreeze, you will need to make a hose to draw antifreeze from the jugs into your water pump. Purchase a water pump quick-connect fitting from any RV parts supply house (sizes vary). At the hardware store, purchase about three feet of polycarbonate tubing and attach it to your quick-connect fitting. You now have your adapter for the following process:
1. Remove the water pump access panel (likely next to the master bed).
2. Locate the suction side of the pump and remove the quick connect fitting/water line.
3. Install your adapter hose on the suction side of the pump.
4. Stick the open end of the hose in the bottle of antifreeze.
5. Turn on the water pump.
6. Systematically work your way through every hot and cold water valve until pure pink antifreeze runs through the spigots. A second round of purging the lines is always a good idea. Don’t forget the toilet and outdoor shower. (Tip: Catch water in a bucket to prevent it from draining into your grey water tanks.)
7. Disconnect the showerhead and allow it to drain. Any trapped water will split the showerhead when it freezes.
8. Go to the outside of the RV. Locate the city water connection (hose hook up). Remove the dust cover and little filter screen if it has one. Stick a finger or screwdriver in and push on the backflow valve stem (move your face first!). Allow the line to evacuate all water until pure pink antifreeze sprays out.
9. Shut the water pump off.
10. Remove the adapter hose and reinstall the cold water line.
11. Pour your remaining antifreeze down the toilet, and your sink drains. This will ensure that no residual water freezes in your P-Traps, or black/grey water tanks.
12. Reinstall access panels.
Now that your RV is winterized, you are ready to store it for the season. Don’t forget to remove everything from the RV that could freeze over the winter. Cans of food, mouthwash, and shampoo are just a few of the culprits that lead to messy cleanups each year. By following these steps, you will be sure to start your next RVing season off right!
Check back next week for tips on camping in a winterized RV.