When should I winterize/de-winterize my RV?
People often call us to ask when they should winterize and/or de-winterize their RV.
The simple answer is before the weather turns and temperatures sustain a value below 0 degrees Celsius for more than 24 hours. Once water freezes it will expand and if it is in your pipes, water tank or hot water heater that could be trouble. In the fall when you have decided you made your last trip in your unit it’s not a bad idea to winterize right away. Things are always easier and more pleasant to do when it's warm outside. At the very minimum you should use your pump to get the water out of your water lines, drain the water from your freshwater holding tank, open your low point drains and take the plug or Anode out of your hot water tank and bypass it so the antifreeze will not go into the tank. Along with these systems being drained make sure you have already flushed and cleaned your grey and black holding tanks as well. You do not want to put antifreeze in your fresh water or hot water tanks as it may be difficult or almost impossible to get the taste out, even with many flushings later.
Some RV’s now have washer and dryer systems and some fridges have ice makers. Some water systems have filters in line that will need to be removed before antifreeze is added to the system. So, it may not be a simple task to winterize your unit yourself.
What kind of Antifreeze should I use in my RV? Should I put antifreeze in my freshwater tank? Should I put antifreeze in my RV hot water tank?
The antifreeze used in your RV is not the same as the antifreeze in your vehicle. The pink antifreeze for a RV is usually labeled as plumbing antifreeze. The difference is that it is a lot less toxic than the standard automotive antifreeze and it is safe to put in the water lines. It is designed for RV or cottage applications and will not be harmful if you flush it properly in the spring. The green automotive antifreeze should never be used in your RV.
When it comes to winterizing, a lot of people use an air compressor and an adapter that attaches to your water line to blow the lines out. This will work but it may not completely eliminate water in your system. It is not very expensive to winterize your RV when you factor in the cost of repairs if you don’t do it OR if you don’t do it properly. If you burst a line, crack a tank or split your hot water heater it can be very costly to repair.
This can be done as soon as the outside temperatures stay reasonably above the freezing point. In the end, it’s an RV owner’s own call to decide when to do this. De-Winterizing is a lot faster and easier than Winterizing, however there are a few important things that need to be done properly.
First of all: check your RV tires. If your RV has been in storage for the winter, the tires may have deflated somewhat. Road safety is the most important thing to bear in mind before driving out. Second is checking the entire exterior of your RV for sealant cracks or peelings on the RV body, roof and slide-outs.
Next will be re-installing and recharging your batteries using a voltmeter.
Now comes the big flushing of your RV water system. This can be done either with your pump, or a water hose hookup to city water. Make sure to open up all the faucets everywhere, including kitchen, bathroom(s), indoor/outdoor showers etc. and flush all the antifreeze from the system. After finishing flushing the antifreeze out of the system, you’ll have to open the by-pass valve to the water heater, put the plug, or the anode in and fill the hot water tank. Always check for leaky pipes while you’re doing this. Flush the toilet several times until all antifreeze has drained into the grey/black tanks. Once these tanks are full, they need to be drained at a dump station.
It is recommended to sanitize the water system afterwards. This can be done by adding some bleach, or better yet baking soda to the water. Always rinse long enough to completely get rid of the taste in the water.
At Swift RV Repairs our licensed/certified and experienced RV technicians can do this all very quickly and conveniently for you. Give us a call and make an appointment: 403-919-4911