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Byerly RV University Presents: Winterizing

 

After a great year of camping, we find ourselves closing nearer and nearer to winter, and with winter comes the need to winterize. The following guide will take you step by step through the entire winterization process.

Useful Information

When liquid water is cooled, it contracts like one would expect until a temperature of approximately 4 degrees Celsius (39.2 F) is reached. After that, it expands slightly until it reaches the freezing point, and then when it freezes it expands by approximately 9%.

Propylene glycol antifreezes are designed to provide burst protection to temperatures of -50˚F or below. Ice crystals will start to form in -50 RV Antifreeze at temperatures around +10˚F and will appear to be solid ice at around -10˚F to -15˚F. Propylene glycol based antifreezes continue to contract and will not expand until temperatures of -50˚F are reached, thus providing burst protection for pipes.

Most automotive antifreezes are made from ethylene glycol, which is highly toxic. RV antifreezes are made from propylene glycol which is considered GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) by the U.S. Government. Propylene glycol is used in many consumable products such as ice cream, candy and even cosmetics. Therefore, it is the product to use when winterizing potable water systems.

The freeze point is the temperature of the solution at which ice crystals will start to form in the solution and it will have difficulty flowing. This temperature is around +10˚F with -50 RV Antifreeze. This temperature is not indicative of the winterizing protection. The burst point is the temperature where the solution will begin to expand and cause the pipes to burst. A unit winterized properly with -50 RV Antifreeze should show a freeze point of around +10˚F which indicates a burst protection of -50˚F.

 

Before you start, you’ll want to make sure you have all the supplies needed for the job.

  • 3-4 gallons of RV Antifreeze
  • Water heater by-pass kit (If needed)
  • Tools:
    • o   #2 square head bit
    • o   #2 Philips head bit
    • o   6” channel lock plier
    • o   winterizing hose
    • o   7/8”, 15/16” or 1 1/16” socket and ratchet (for water heater plug)
    • Towels or paper towels
    • Trash can

 

Using RV Antifreeze – The Byerly Preferred Method

  1. Dump and flush both black and gray water holding tanks.
  2. Drain the fresh water tank.
  3. By-pass the water heater.
  4. Drain the hot water tank.
  5. Remove the water line that runs between the fresh water pump and the fresh water tank at the pump, install winterizing hose. Or install a PUMP CONVERTER KIT, which allows you to draw straight from your jug of RV antifreeze with the flip of a valve.
  6. Insert the end of the winterizing hose into a gallon jug of RV antifreeze. Use only RV Non-Toxic antifreeze, safe for fresh water systems. Never use automotive antifreeze!
  7. Start the fresh water pump. It will run for a few moments, sucking antifreeze from the jug. It will stop as pressure in the system builds up.
  8. Open each valve of each faucet, one at a time, when the antifreeze appears, turn off the faucet. Don’t forget the shower and toilet.
  9. Remove the line from the jug of antifreeze and reattach it to the pump.
  10. Pour a few cups of antifreeze down each drain and the toilet.
  11. Winterization complete.

 

Using Compressed Air

  1. Dump and flush both black and gray water holding tanks.
  2. Drain the fresh water tank.
  3. By-pass the water heater.
  4. Drain the hot water tank.
  5. Screw compressed air adaptor (a blowout plug) into the fresh water inlet.
  6. Apply compressed air, keeping the pressure less than 20 lbs. /sq. in.
  7. Open each faucet, one valve at a time, allowing the compressed air to force the water out of the line. Don’t forget the shower and toilet.
  8. Remove the drain plug from the hot water tank and allow the compressed air to blow out the remaining water. Reinstall drain plug.
  9. Remove the compressed air source and adapter


 

 

How RV Water Systems Work

Your RV’s water system is set up to flow water either from your fresh water tank or from the city water hookup. From the fresh water tank a water pump is used to push water through the RV. The water either from the water tank or from the city water hookup is always cold water. To get hot water the water flows from your water pump into your water heater. This water is then heated and flows to your hot water fixtures such as your sink and shower. Remember when winterizing your RV, you will need a by-pass kit.

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How to By-Pass Your Water Heater

By-passing the water heater can save you money by not having to fill the water heater with antifreeze. Some RVs come with a by-pass system preinstalled, but many do not.

Before you start, make sure to turn off all power to water heater (the water heater usually has it’s own power on-off switch), disconnect water supply and make sure the water heater gas pilot is not lit. Make sure your water remains full of water.

  1. A. If you have a by-pass system in place- Go to step 3.
    B. If you need to install a by-pass system – Disconnect both the hot and cold
    lines going into and out of the water heater.
  2. Connect by-pass as shown. Be sure to use 3 to 5 turns of Teflon tape when attaching each connection.
  3. Close off the cold and hot lines going into and out of the water heater and open the by-pass.

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