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Old 02-24-2013, 11:35 AM   #1
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Noob with a New Trailer - some questions

Hi,

We just bought our first Trailer to start camping with the family.

I had a walkthrough done, but it wasn't overly comprehensive, however I didn't realize that at the time until I got home and started thumbing through the owners manual.

I've assembled some questions that I'd be appreciative if anyone could answer any or all of them.

1. The trailer is not connected to shore power in my driveway, and I am using a 12V marine deep cycle battery. The battery level dropped from 12V to 10V in 2 days, with nothing used except inside lights for a few 10 min tours to fam/friends. I figured something must have been pulling current, and did a sweep to find the RV dealer left the fridge and DVD/CD player on. Would this cause that much charge loss on the battery in 2 days? Anything else I should check for? Water heater, furnace & all lights were off.

2. Question 1 leads me into question 2. What should be powered off on the main circuit breaker as it sits in my driveway for the remainder of the winter? I have the main switch on, with only the converter flipped on as I recharge my battery.

3. Should I keep it plugged into 20A home service, or just charge it, disconnect it and monitor battery level from time to time? I would prefer not having the power cord sticking out of the RV as I feel it may get bumped as it's a high traffic walkway path.

4. I drained a bunch of water that the dealer filled it with for their testing and our walkthrough. I opened the low point drains to find red antifreeze start pouring out of both drains. I'm assuming it's collected in the low points only, which is why the taps are all running clear. I wasn't sure how much would drain out to my driveway, so I recapped it, but I'm not sure how to deal with it now. Any advice for me on this?

5. It's been recommended that I place a small heater in it during the winter and keep it connected to shore power to run it. Is this required or overkill?
Our winter is almost over and if it freezes again, we won't see much below -3 to -5C.

6. We'll be doing a lot of dry camping, and we don't have a blackwater flush option on the blackwater tank. I'm trying to wrap my head around the draining process. I'm planning on filling the grey tank prior to leaving the site and dumping in ice cubes into the blackwater tank via the toilet to do some scrubbing on the drive home. When I arrive at the sani-station, I'll hook up and drain my blackwater and follow it by the grey water flush. As much as I think the ice will "scrub" the solids from the walls, the tank will still be left dirty. Is it normal routine at the sanistations to refill the blackwater tank via wand or elbow attachment and flush it again? Is this overkill or recommended?

I apologize for being so longwinded, but this has been weighing heavy on my mind.

A HUGE pre-thank you to anyone for reading this and answering!!

Cheers,
Ryan
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Old 02-24-2013, 12:29 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryguy76 View Post
Hi,

We just bought our first Trailer to start camping with the family.

I had a walkthrough done, but it wasn't overly comprehensive, however I didn't realize that at the time until I got home and started thumbing through the owners manual.

I've assembled some questions that I'd be appreciative if anyone could answer any or all of them.

1. The trailer is not connected to shore power in my driveway, and I am using a 12V marine deep cycle battery. The battery level dropped from 12V to 10V in 2 days, with nothing used except inside lights for a few 10 min tours to fam/friends. I figured something must have been pulling current, and did a sweep to find the RV dealer left the fridge and DVD/CD player on. Would this cause that much charge loss on the battery in 2 days? Anything else I should check for? Water heater, furnace & all lights were off.

2. Question 1 leads me into question 2. What should be powered off on the main circuit breaker as it sits in my driveway for the remainder of the winter? I have the main switch on, with only the converter flipped on as I recharge my battery.

3. Should I keep it plugged into 20A home service, or just charge it, disconnect it and monitor battery level from time to time? I would prefer not having the power cord sticking out of the RV as I feel it may get bumped as it's a high traffic walkway path.

4. I drained a bunch of water that the dealer filled it with for their testing and our walkthrough. I opened the low point drains to find red antifreeze start pouring out of both drains. I'm assuming it's collected in the low points only, which is why the taps are all running clear. I wasn't sure how much would drain out to my driveway, so I recapped it, but I'm not sure how to deal with it now. Any advice for me on this?

5. It's been recommended that I place a small heater in it during the winter and keep it connected to shore power to run it. Is this required or overkill?
Our winter is almost over and if it freezes again, we won't see much below -3 to -5C.

6. We'll be doing a lot of dry camping, and we don't have a blackwater flush option on the blackwater tank. I'm trying to wrap my head around the draining process. I'm planning on filling the grey tank prior to leaving the site and dumping in ice cubes into the blackwater tank via the toilet to do some scrubbing on the drive home. When I arrive at the sani-station, I'll hook up and drain my blackwater and follow it by the grey water flush. As much as I think the ice will "scrub" the solids from the walls, the tank will still be left dirty. Is it normal routine at the sanistations to refill the blackwater tank via wand or elbow attachment and flush it again? Is this overkill or recommended?

I apologize for being so longwinded, but this has been weighing heavy on my mind.

A HUGE pre-thank you to anyone for reading this and answering!!

Cheers,
Ryan
Welcome! You're going to get lots of good advice and different opinions here! You're sure to find the information you need for your particular situation. I'll tell you what we do and why. Maybe you can get some ideas from it.

First, we live in SE Virginia so our winters don't get anywhere near as cold as yours. But, we still winterize. Better safe than sorry. Our dealer told us if we weren't going to use our trailer for a long period of time, it was best to disconnect the battery all together. Then, plug it back in and charge it as part of the preparation for a trip. We decided to run power to it all the time. Since it sits in our driveway, we are always finding things to do in it. Most people do little (or big) projects in their rigs during the winter time so they can enjoy them during camping season. It's nice to have the power plugs available and a little heat so you don't freeze. We keep an electric heater in ours so we aren't running off of propane all the time. It also gives us a little extra assurance that the pipes won't freeze since we keep the cabinet doors open. Oh yea...if you're not going to connect to shore power, you might want to check your antenna boost button (if you have one) and make sure it's off.

Your owners manual is the best place to get advice on your particular water system. We haven't had any bad experience with smells from our hot water heater. It sounds like your dealer had the unit winterized but still added water to show you that the sinks, etc, all worked. In your area, I don't know why they didn't re-winterize it for you. Anyway, it will be easy to run a flush of the whole system when you hook up water the first time. Just fill up your fresh water tank and use the pump as you go to each faucet, shower and toilet making sure everything runs clear. There is a ton of advice in this forum on keeping your pipes clean. Do a search and you'll see what I mean. Lots of different opinions based on different peoples uses of their rigs. We average about 1 camping trip a month from March through October. Mostly, long weekends with a couple of week long trips. We like to use our fresh water tank and water pump every other trip until the tank is empty. In between, we use the recommended amount of bleach in the tank while it sits in the driveway. The only time we use bleach to clean the whole system is before the first trip in the spring.

Sounds like you have a pretty good plan with the black water tank already. A second flush is always a good idea in my opinion. You want that tank as clean as you can get it! Don't worry about other people who may be in line behind you at the dump stations. They're all there to do the same thing and may even come talk to you and offer their advice while they're waiting. We use the wand in our tank and we keep a "written procedure" to make sure we don't forget anything. One thing I highly recommend is using the "facilities" like normal on your first trip out. Pay close attention to how long it takes for your tanks to start showing "Full". Most of the tank level indicators start malfunctioning pretty quickly. You need an idea of how long you can go before you need to dump.

Again, these are just things that we do. You'll quickly find what works for you. You'll be surprised how fast you learn. (Do a search on tank dumping and you'll find some hilarious stories from people new and old who have had some interesting oopsies. Us included!)

Happy Camping! Be sure to post some pictures of your travels. WE LOVE PICTURES!
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Old 02-25-2013, 08:16 AM   #3
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I would charge the batteries and unhook/ shut off and monitor them until you need them. I say shut off because some newer TT have a main switch that you can shut off. This is simpler then unhooking the batteries.

Ask the dealer if you need to re-winterize the TT. If you do take it back to them and watch them do it so that you will know how to do it next winter. It also helps to video tape all the procedures so that you will be able to re-watch the video next winter. Your dealer really should have done this for you anyway. If you haggle they might do it for free.

Don't get to carried away about flushing your black tank. Some people are very obsessive about it but, all you really have to do; as long as you have enough water in it; in my opinion is drain it and forget it. There are different schools of thought on this I know.
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Old 02-25-2013, 07:22 PM   #4
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We experienced a sewer problem in our sticks and bricks home, and found out that with a little more digging, an additional pipe could be placed up to the point where our trailer is parked. Now if the dump sites are crowded, I can take all of the time I need to flush and clean the tanks as I see fit. The ice thing works well and using the dawn with fabric softener also will swish away the debris clinging to the sides of your tank. Just an aside thought, y'all think that is where they got the term clingon for the star wars movie? Y'all be safe and happy camping.
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Old 02-25-2013, 07:27 PM   #5
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The ice scrub is pretty much a waste of time. You add a couple of bags of ice to 1/2 tank of water and it will probably melt before you can do any traveling. Look at a pan of tap water with a few ice cubes added, umless you start out with ice water.

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Old 02-26-2013, 09:50 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryguy76 View Post
1. The trailer is not connected to shore power in my driveway, and I am using a 12V marine deep cycle battery. The battery level dropped from 12V to 10V in 2 days, with nothing used except inside lights for a few 10 min tours to fam/friends. I figured something must have been pulling current, and did a sweep to find the RV dealer left the fridge and DVD/CD player on. Would this cause that much charge loss on the battery in 2 days? Anything else I should check for? Water heater, furnace & all lights were off.
Modern TTs have several sensors that are always on. Propane gas sensor, carbon monoxide gas sensor, etc. Those will slowly drain your battery even if everything else is turned off.

We park our TT (as well as our previous 5er) in the barn and plug it in to a 15-amp ordinary outlet, using a 30-amp to 15-amp adaptor. That's enough juice to maintain the battery full. On the 2012 TT, the black box power supply will not allow the battery to overcharge. But on our 2001 5er, the power supply wasn't good enough, and would overcharge and ruin the batterry is a month or so. So on the 5er we disconnected the battery cables at the battery, and used a Battery Tender to maintain the battery.
Battery Tender® Junior 12V @ 0.75A - Automotive - Products - Batterytender.com

Similar situation, L'il Bro left his new Mustang Mach 1 and his '65 Mustang in our barn 9 months of the year while he was teaching school in the Azores. For those cars, we used a Battery Tender. Worked great. But we had 15-amp electricity available with an extension cord.

Quote:
2. Question 1 leads me into question 2. What should be powered off on the main circuit breaker as it sits in my driveway for the remainder of the winter? I have the main switch on, with only the converter flipped on as I recharge my battery.
I would disconnect at least the negative terminal on the battery. Maybe install a battery disconnect switch gizmo if you don't like using a wrench to disconnect the battery cable. Here's a good cheap one:
Heavy Duty Battery Cutoff Switch

Quote:
3. Should I keep it plugged into 20A home service, or just charge it, disconnect it and monitor battery level from time to time? I would prefer not having the power cord sticking out of the RV as I feel it may get bumped as it's a high traffic walkway path.
Depends on the ability of your power supply to maintain the battery charge without overcharging the battery. Some can, come cannot. Second choice would be a Battery Tender noted above. Or if you don't want an electrical extension cord going to the RV, then disconnect the negative battery cable, then charge the battery before you use the RV.

Consider making a wood protector for the extension cord. Something like a 2x4 and use a router to cut a groove into it that would cover the cord while the wood lays flat on the ground. If you don't want people stumbling over that 2x4, then maybe shape it by using a table saw to cut 45° angle off the two upper edges. Variation might be to use two 2x2s with the cord between them and held together with sheet metal straps.

Another option would be to run the extension cord up high. Go up the outside wall of the house to around 12', then go over to the top of the RV and tie it to a ladder or roof rack or something, then down the side of the trailer to the 30' amp cord. The 30-amp RV cord need not stick out of the RV except an inch or so to plug it into the 30-amp to 15-amp adaptor.
15 Amp Male to 30 Amp Female Adapter - Intersource Enterprises D11-158 - Electrical Adapters - Camping World

Quote:
4. I drained a bunch of water that the dealer filled it with for their testing and our walkthrough. I opened the low point drains to find red antifreeze start pouring out of both drains. I'm assuming it's collected in the low points only, which is why the taps are all running clear. I wasn't sure how much would drain out to my driveway, so I recapped it, but I'm not sure how to deal with it now. Any advice for me on this?
You apparently ran water through some of the pipes, but not all of them. If all of the fixtures that have water running to them were running, you should have antifreeze/water coming out until all the antifreeze is out of the system. There should not be any antifreeze left anywhere, even in the lower traps of the plumbing system.

Quote:
5. It's been recommended that I place a small heater in it during the winter and keep it connected to shore power to run it. Is this required or overkill?
Overkill. If you do a good job of draining the system, there won't be enough water left in it to freeze. Or if you do a good job of winterizing the plumbing system, it shouldn't freeze. A good job of winterizing involves:

1] Drain all the water drains under the trailer, including the fresh water tank and the water heater. Open all faucets and flush the potty so any water in the lines will drain. Then drain the grey and black water tanks. Last step of draining is to close all the drain valves.

2] Stop water from flowing through the water heater. There should be a bypass valve near the water heater to do this.

3. Pour fresh RV antifreeze into the fresh water tank. Mine requires at least two gallons to have enough to do the next step without pumping air.

4. Close all the faucets. Turn on the water pump. Run each faucet (both hot and cold valves) until you see the pink antifreeze come out. Include the bathtub/shower valves. Flush the pottie until you see the pink antifreeze come out into the comode.

De-winterizing includes draining and flushing the fresh water tank and filling it with fresh water. Run all the faucets and pottie until the water runs clear. The last step is to change the bypass valve near the water heater so fresh water will flow through the water heater.

Quote:
6. We'll be doing a lot of dry camping, and we don't have a blackwater flush option on the blackwater tank. I'm trying to wrap my head around the draining process. I'm planning on filling the grey tank prior to leaving the site and dumping in ice cubes into the blackwater tank via the toilet to do some scrubbing on the drive home. When I arrive at the sani-station, I'll hook up and drain my blackwater and follow it by the grey water flush. As much as I think the ice will "scrub" the solids from the walls, the tank will still be left dirty. Is it normal routine at the sanistations to refill the blackwater tank via wand or elbow attachment and flush it again? Is this overkill or recommended?
Overkill. We used our 5er several weeks every year for over 10 years, and the only thing we did was flush the black water tank after every trip using an RV flush wand. Disconnect from water and turn off the water pump before you begin.
Flexible Tank Wand - Valterra A01-0187VP - Sewer Flushing - Camping World

The flush wand works easier if you also use a Johnny Chock flush assistant that holds open the pottie flush valve while you use the wand:
JOHNNY CHOCK TANK FLUSH ASSIST
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Old 02-26-2013, 10:25 PM   #7
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Thanks again to all contributors. Has given me lots to think about and confirmed exactly what I should be doing.
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