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Old 11-28-2014, 02:52 PM   #1
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How I winterized the water system on my coach

I have posted this in my Projects on my 1997 American Dream and realize it is a violation of the duplicate post rule but thought that this would be a timely and useful project so have posted it here as well. Moderator, if you disagree fell free to delete, I'm just trying to be helpful and members not reading the Fleetwood owners category will not see this.


Just to recap a little, we stopped at a Camping World on the way home from Florida to have the coach winterized. Remember we were driving into the epic winter storm raging in Buffalo NY.

I watched over the shoulder of the service tech that did the job. The service tech would not have run the washer machine to get antifreeze into the pump had I not been there. Even I missed the fact that the washer was run on the cold water cycle (leaving untreated water on the hot water side).

Just an aside here. In another thread the comment was made that I thought I knew more than service techs. I am very new to RVs and encourage members to point out things I have done wrong or can do better. I do believe there is a general lack of knowledge / or desire for RV service centers to do the job with quality and correctness.

I was comfortable with the untreated water in the hot water side of the washer machine as we were running the furnaces all the way home and up to the point where I went back and rewinterized the coach water systems.

I received a suggestion from a friend (rsflight) that one way to winterize was to blow all the water out of the system, and then to run antifreeze though the system. I liked this idea so that is what I have done and what follows is how I did it.

The first caution I would have for anyone doing this is you DO NOT want to pressurize your water system with 150 PSI of air. You will ruin your water system by blowing all the fittings in the system apart.

In my case I have two 5 HP compressors each running four cylinder cast iron compressor bodies.



Also included in the air compressor system is a refrigerate air drier.
To keep from destroying the water system on the RV I built a tool to reduce the pressure to a manageable amount.

I went to Harbor Freight (I hate using them as everything comes from China, but in this case was the logical choice) and then to Home Depot and picked up an air regulator and the necessary fittings.



Important Note! There is a difference between an air pressure regulator and an air flow regulator. You want an air pressure regulator. An air flow regulator does just what it says, it regulates the flow of air, not the air pressure, if you shut the flow of air off the pressure will build to the air tank max pressure, BAD. With an air pressure regulator the pressure is stepped down to the pressure set on the regulator.

Here is the air pressure regulator I put together. There is a quick disconnect on one side to connect the air supply to and the other side is stepped up to the correct fitting for a regular water hose.



An easy way to tell if you have a air regulator or flow regulator is to block the output (I did that by putting a regular water hose nozzle on the end) and connect it to your air supply. If you have a regulator, when you turn the control knob the pressure will raise and fall on the dial accordingly. If you have a flow regulator the pressure will rise to the system pressure and you will not be able to reduce it.

I chose 30 PSI as a safe pressure level.



I would recommend you read your RV manual on how to winterize your RV. I found my to be very confusing, and was very helpful to have watch the Camping World tech winterize my coach.

My start point on this project was that antifreeze had already been run through the system. I, however, treated it as if I still have fresh water in the system.

I took pictures of how the valves were set prior to the winterization and reset the valves to the correct positions.

On the water station.



(I did this winterization prior to washing the motor home)
is a panel that needs to be removed.





To gain access to the valves, in my case there are two, but only one gets changed to winterize, the other is used to sanitize the fresh water holding tank.



This (below) is the valve to winterize.



I put the drain plug back into the water heater and reset the hot water heater back to normal use.



I also unplugged the hot water heater so that it could not be turned on by mistake.



I drained the hose I use for connecting up to "shore water"



Connected up my handy dandy home made air tool.





And then worked my way around to each water faucet and water source in the motor home from highest to lowest point opening each one up separately and allowing the air to flow until no trace of water came out. This included the drain plug on the hot water heater, and both the hot and cold water circuits in the washer/drier.

I then reset the valves to the normal settings to winterize. Removed the drain plug from the hot water tank.



Disconnected the air and connected up to the winterize port, and sucked antifreeze into the system (highest to lowest) just as I had done when I blow out the system.



I think I have a fully winterize water system on the coach, unless you have seen something I missed?


All fresh water, gray water, and black water tanks were drained.
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Old 11-28-2014, 03:45 PM   #2
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My question is if you blow out the water in the lines why do you need to add anti-freeze if there's nothing in the lines to freeze? Am I missing something? Because that's all I've ever done and have had no problems so far,or am I just lucky?
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Old 11-28-2014, 03:52 PM   #3
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Did you dump some antifreeze into the p traps in the sinks and shower ?
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Old 11-28-2014, 03:59 PM   #4
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I always add some antifreeze to the holding tanks as some moisture might puddle in the low spot right in to the valves. Not much can be worse than a cracked or leaking dump valve.
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Old 11-28-2014, 04:02 PM   #5
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For years I only blew out the lines with about 20 PSI of compressed air. It never failed me. Why do people blow out the lines then add air??? Good question and the answer is simple. There's no absolute guarantee that you won't have enough water eventually settle in a low spot, freeze and split a line or a fitting. Each coach is going to be different in it's construction and layout of the lines. My worst fear is to have a line split in a location where I'll have to rip out some paneling or take out a long length of line to reach the split section. I figured why take a chance?? It's really not worth it. Also if it does leak it's going to be when we are getting ready to leave town during the cool, cold early spring. I don't want to be out there fixing water lines when I could be packing to leave the cold.

This year I changed my ways. I used the dreadful pink stuff and filled the lines with it. I don't like it because I can always taste the stuff in my coffee. In the last several years we would always take about 6 gallons of water from home for coffee and cooking. So the bad taste problem isn't a problem anymore.

It takes about 2 gallons of AF to winterize it. I should be able to capture at least a gallon of it this weekend because we're heading out for a week of camping. So when we leave for home I'll by-pass the HW tank, pump the AF back in and drain everything else. When we get home I'll again clean the tanks and button her up until we head for FL in March.

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Old 11-28-2014, 04:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macantic View Post
My question is if you blow out the water in the lines why do you need to add anti-freeze if there's nothing in the lines to freeze? Am I missing something? Because that's all I've ever done and have had no problems so far,or am I just lucky?
It is cheap insurance to avoid a freeze up if any residue water was to gravitate to a low part of the plumbing. The antifreeze is also a lubricant for all the valves and pumps in the system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PanJH View Post
Did you dump some antifreeze into the p traps in the sinks and shower ?
Yes sir, good catch, I did not mention that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NITEHAWK View Post
I always add some antifreeze to the holding tanks as some moisture might puddle in the low spot right in to the valves. Not much can be worse than a cracked or leaking dump valve.
Even though I dumped all the tanks, I 'm sure there was some antifreeze left in the tanks after flushing and dumping them (the flush and dump was done before any of the other steps.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by TeJay View Post
For years I only blew out the lines with about 20 PSI of compressed air. It never failed me. Why do people blow out the lines then add air??? Good question and the answer is simple. There's no absolute guarantee that you won't have enough water eventually settle in a low spot, freeze and split a line or a fitting. Each coach is going to be different in it's construction and layout of the lines. My worst fear is to have a line split in a location where I'll have to rip out some paneling or take out a long length of line to reach the split section. I figured why take a chance?? It's really not worth it. Also if it does leak it's going to be when we are getting ready to leave town during the cool, cold early spring. I don't want to be out there fixing water lines when I could be packing to leave the cold.

This year I changed my ways. I used the dreadful pink stuff and filled the lines with it. I don't like it because I can always taste the stuff in my coffee. In the last several years we would always take about 6 gallons of water from home for coffee and cooking. So the bad taste problem isn't a problem anymore.

It takes about 2 gallons of AF to winterize it. I should be able to capture at least a gallon of it this weekend because we're heading out for a week of camping. So when we leave for home I'll by-pass the HW tank, pump the AF back in and drain everything else. When we get home I'll again clean the tanks and button her up until we head for FL in March.

TeJay
I never drink from the fresh water tank. I always carry a couple of gallons of bottled water for brushing my teeth, drinking water, and coffee (any water that goes into my mouth).
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Old 11-28-2014, 05:05 PM   #7
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Love the inline regulator. My air compressor is in the attic. I have to go up there to dial down the pressure. No more....
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Old 11-28-2014, 06:31 PM   #8
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Love the inline regulator. My air compressor is in the attic. I have to go up there to dial down the pressure. No more....
Do you drain your air tanks of condensed water?
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Old 11-28-2014, 06:51 PM   #9
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Do you drain your air tanks of condensed water?
Yes, but that's just one trip up there, when I want to go. Setting and resetting the regulator is two trips.

And I should plumb the drain down to the garage so even that wouldn't mean a trip upstairs.
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Old 11-28-2014, 08:28 PM   #10
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Yes, but that's just one trip up there, when I want to go. Setting and resetting the regulator is two trips.

And I should plumb the drain down to the garage so even that wouldn't mean a trip upstairs.
And checking the oil?
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Old 11-29-2014, 08:07 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macantic View Post
My question is if you blow out the water in the lines why do you need to add anti-freeze if there's nothing in the lines to freeze? Am I missing something? Because that's all I've ever done and have had no problems so far,or am I just lucky?
Back in the 70's all we did was blow the lines out until one spring we found a split pipe. It had been a long & cold winter in upstate NY. In those days the pipes were copper and of course it was in a hard to reach spot, we had to cut the wall apart to fix it. The best we could tell, a small amount of residual water settled to a low point and froze. From that time on, I have added antifreeze after blowing out the lines and not had a single problem. I'd rather install the antifreeze (even if not needed) than have a break and have to struggle and fix it. I hate spring time surprises!

Blowing the water out before adding the antifreeze is an attempt to keep the water from diluting the antifreeze. Is it required? No. It's more a matter of personal preference.

That's the story behind my recommendation for adding antifreeze after blowing the water out. The preventative cost is minimal vs the time, cost, and frustration of a repair.
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Old 11-29-2014, 10:33 AM   #12
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Back in the 70's all we did was blow the lines out until one spring we found a split pipe. It had been a long & cold winter in upstate NY. In those days the pipes were copper and of course it was in a hard to reach spot, we had to cut the wall apart to fix it. The best we could tell, a small amount of residual water settled to a low point and froze. From that time on, I have added antifreeze after blowing out the lines and not had a single problem. I'd rather install the antifreeze (even if not needed) than have a break and have to struggle and fix it. I hate spring time surprises!

Blowing the water out before adding the antifreeze is an attempt to keep the water from diluting the antifreeze. Is it required? No. It's more a matter of personal preference.

That's the story behind my recommendation for adding antifreeze after blowing the water out. The preventative cost is minimal vs the time, cost, and frustration of a repair.
X2 ^, cheap insurance, plus the antifreeze is a lubricant for all the valves and pumps.
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Old 11-29-2014, 10:48 AM   #13
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I have been blowing only, for 17 years with no prob. When we snowbird out of here in Jan. I blow the S&B and it is fine also.
Did you drain the ice maker valve? If you have a ice maker. I did break that my first winter, it doesn't blow out easily, you have to run multiple cycles. Anti-freeze in the traps and holding tanks only.
Works for me.
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Old 11-29-2014, 11:05 AM   #14
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Macantic...............What ever your doing, you must be doing right. Don't stop doing it. Me.............I sometimes don't trust myself, like the guy wearing suspenders and a belt. Using both, gives me peace of mind.
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