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Old 08-12-2020, 02:08 PM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 41
Prepping motorhome for winter storage

Hi all - We recently relocated from Florida to New England and will soon be prepping our rig (2006 Itasca Sunova 29R) for winter storage. As this will be new to us I had a few questions:

I) I need to research the winterizing procedure of the water tanks etc. but if there's any tips I should know I'm all ears!

II) I'm looking into possible covered storage or maybe even inside storage if the cost is reasonable. We may take a trip down to Florida come January so having it packed away inside a big facility may make getting it out before spring impossible according to a couple places I've contacted. If this is the case I'll stick with outside, covered or open. I don't currently have a cover for the rig but if I store it outside is it worth getting one for the winter?

III) Is it best to remove batteries and store at home?

IV) If power is available is it logical to run a small heater in the tank area to keep things from freezing up?

V) If anyone has experience or recommendations for storage facilities in the central/southern New Hampshire area please let me know.

Thanks for your help and input!
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Old 08-12-2020, 03:14 PM   #2
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The winterizing (7-7) and storage (11-8) sections in the manual is very well described. They describe what is needed for both the plumbing and the batteries, respectively. I found the manual at the Winnebago site with a quick google search - "2006 Itasca Sunova manual".

Personal preference is to use the blow out technique which can be accomplished in less than 30 minutes with practice. If wanting to use the RV in the winter, then it is just a matter of adding water and going. With anti-freeze, the pipes have to flushed with fresh water before opening the water heater. I don't know why the water heater is drained and bipassed before adding anti-freeze.

My problem with heaters is knowing if all of the pipes in the MH are being heated such as the outside shower and being confident that electricity won't go off in a particularly heavy storm or cold day/night.

Winnebago has their recommendations for the batteries which is the same as the centennial batteries in my little RV. Charge them up and they will be OK in freezing temperatures, but New Mexico doesn't get anywhere as cold as new england.

Covers are a personal preference. IMHO, with the proper maintenance to the roof and siding, a cover isn't needed for outside storage.
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Old 08-12-2020, 03:52 PM   #3
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We store our coach outside in the Wisconsin winters, where temps can be colder than -20F. Never had any cold-related problems. Our coach is always ready to go after the salt is off the roads and spring arrives.

A few thoughts (okay, maybe more than a few), in no particular order. Hope this helps you get going. Most of all, don't stress over this. It's not really that difficult, only takes a few hours, and if you find someone to help the first time is not bad to do.

If you have specific questions, please ask. This is a list that works for me - your needs may be different. Others will certainly have other methods that work for them.
  • Find someone local who has done this before to help you the first time. Makes the process easier and makes it less likely that you'll accidentally skip an important step.
  • Empty the fresh water tank as completely as you possibly can. I even drop a 1/4" weighted line in the upper vent port and use a hand pump to suck the last few drops out. Probably not necessary, but give me peace of mind.
  • Water heater needs to be thoroughly drained.
  • If your water heater has a bypass for winterization, follow the manual to set the valves.
  • Remove ANYTHING from inside the coach that may freeze. This includes spray bottles, window cleaner, bug spray, etc.
  • Remove anything that might be attractive to bugs and/or mice like spices, crumbs, etc. Also paper products which could be shredded for nesting materials.
  • Empty the bays - great time to do a little early spring cleaning.
  • Service the generator, including verifying the coolant is set for the coldest temps you might see.
  • Service the main engine, including the coolant.
  • Ensure the windshield washer fluid is the correct type for winter.
  • Fully charge all batteries, including the house batteries, the main engine start batteries, and the generator battery (if it has one).
  • Make sure all batteries are topped off with distilled water per instructions.
  • An outside cover is not necessary unless you know that your unit leaks. Otherwise, they can create warm places where mice & other critters may find comfort in the winter.
  • It's not necessary to run heat in the bays or in the coach if it's properly winterized.
  • Follow the manual for running the pink antifreeze through the plumbing system. Don't cheap out - get the stuff which costs a buck more a gallon. It gives better protection (and peace of mind) and doesn't contain alcohol which can damage rubber fittings.
  • Note that pink antifreeze will turn slushy/solid as the temps drop. It really isn't designed to prevent freezing - it's designed to prevent expansion. That's what it does so don't worry when you see it gell up.
  • Be sure that you run the antifreeze through EVERY plumbing fixture per the manual. This includes the shower head, toilet rinse hand-held, etc. My water filter has a winterizing bypass - your might too.
  • Ice machine? Dishwasher? Washing machine? Follow the manual if you have these.
  • Don't forget the outdoor shower.
  • Pour antifreeze down all the drains.
  • Empty the gray tank and black tank as well as you can. Parking on a slight hill sideways might help you get the last drop out.
  • I can't remove the last few drops from my waste tanks, so I make sure that a few gallons of antifreeze go into each one.
  • Get any repairs done before storing the coach. This makes it possible to sneak out as early as possible in the spring without having to get into the shop during the busy season.
  • Fill tires to the sidewall max cold inflation pressure. Don't forget to readjust in the spring.
  • Use interior window blinds/covers to prevent UV damage to the interior.
  • Not necessary to keep a charger plugged in all winter, but it might be a good idea to do so once a month or so. I do that on the occasional warmer winter day when I check on things to be sure nothing's gone wrong.
  • Some will suggest using compressed air to blow the water out of the lines. That works if you are sure that your low-point drains all are in a low point and that you don't have any hidden low spots due to sagging lines, etc. With temps as cold as we have, I stress much less using the pink antifreeze.
  • If you don't have inside storage, then my preference would be to store at home or near to home. This way you can check on the unit weekly and take any action that might be necessary. An example would be looking for signs of rodent activity, etc. Also much easier to check your battery voltage levels and charge as needed if the coach is convenient.
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Old 08-12-2020, 04:12 PM   #4
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you don't winterize the tanks...you empty them. if your batteries are lead acid then yes, remove them and put them on a charger for the winter. suggest you read and follow the winterizing instructions in your owner's manual.
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Old 08-13-2020, 02:52 PM   #5
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We have survived 14 winters in Wisconsin by only using compressed air to blow the lines and no pink stuff. I turn down the pressure to about 30 psi and then open each fixture separately until water stops coming out, then do them all again for good measure. Don't forget low point drains, water filter and outside shower.

Bypass water heater and remove drain plug/anode. I leave the plug out so if there's any residual water in bottom to freeze it has a way out.

Clothes washer gets special attention, start cycle with lines pressurized, then add a little pink stuff and switch to spin cycle to run pink stuff through the drain pump.

Our rig is plumbed with PEX tubing so it's a little more tolerant to freezing water in a low spot.

I only use pink stuff in drains, toilet bowl and washer because it seems to take forever to get the lines flushed in the spring.
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Old 08-13-2020, 05:19 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Martind4 View Post
We have survived 14 winters in Wisconsin by only using compressed air to blow the lines and no pink stuff. ...
Glad that this has worked for you. Either you've been extremely lucky or have a coach which was built properly without hidden low points in the plumbing system. Seeing that you have a Tiffin, I assume your coach was built properly and with things like winterizing in mind.

If you've seen the jumbled rat's nest some manufacturers call a plumbing system you'd understand why it doesn't work for everyone. I've seen some RVs at shows which had cabinets open to show the working side of things, and I couldn't believe that they were willing to let anyone see the mess of flex lines, PEX tubing, etc.

This is something that each RV owner is going to have to judge, mainly on how confident they are that they're able to get all the water out of the lines with air alone. When I tried blowing the lines for my first winterization, no matter how many times I blew the lines I still heard gurgling in them when I came back and blew them out again a little while later. To me, that gurgling meant water was still trapped in there somewhere and would eventually be a freeze risk. The pink antifreeze was the only way I was going to rest easy knowing that I'd displaced all the water.
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Old 08-14-2020, 08:39 AM   #7
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Thanks for the tips everyone, it certainly helps to hear from those with experience! Looks like I've got a bit of homework to do in the next couple months!
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Old 08-15-2020, 03:17 PM   #8
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You got a lot of help didn't read every word. If you choose to blow out lines still put pink in all drains /traps, some toward gray and black valves and toilet will keep lubed.Get the hook up with air chuck not tire valve stem.I would suggest removing faucet screens and rig/hook up shop vac to low point drain suck out lines for a good while after blowing out. The pure CFM of a good shop vac will get things pretty dry. I have tried to sweat copper pipes after blowing with air and shop vac gets them much dryer. No worries about over pressure.Dont forget outdoor shower/faucet shower hose sink/toilet wands and any filters.
Doesn't apply to you but never try blow out method on Aqua hot type system.
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Old 08-15-2020, 03:37 PM   #9
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Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Too soon to talk about (blank) storage!
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Old 08-15-2020, 04:52 PM   #10
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We have used Twin State Storage in Claremont NH to store both our former Class C and current Class A. No taking it out in the Winter, though. A typical contract runs October through early May. The facility is heated enough to stay above freezing, but I always winterize anyway. I leave the batteries in, fully-charged and then disconnected by lifting the ground lead.

Some folks have told me about another indoor storage place in Goshen, NH, although I don't have any personal experience with them.
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Old 08-15-2020, 05:42 PM   #11
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Only way to k ow for sure if only compressed air blow out is adequate on your rig is to try it... only problem is if it isn't 100% you may be doing repairs in winter before you can leave or worse you dont find the problem area until you are underway and have leaks.
I like to blow out before adding pink AF. And I have had issues w the cheap alcohol based AF ruining 2 washer inlet solenoids... I now use the propylene glycol based stuff 100%.
Many versions of what to do with battys.
I prefer to turn off all disconnects and put them on a maintainer / trickle charger and feel it's the best treatment for a batty. They will survive for several mos but there are parasitic drains.
Many will say just plug it in and run your charger. That's OK and will work 99.9% of the time... I'd rather not have a high amperage device running 24/7 for mos to only provide an amp or two maint charge... I don't think anyone has ever had a major issue w a maintainer. Fires on onboard inverter/ chargers are not unheard of... not my choice if I dont have to.
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Old 08-15-2020, 06:03 PM   #12
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I have blown out Mobile Homes, Travel Trailers and my current Motor Home. Only the Motor Home had low Point Drains. I have never had a problem doing this and I store and live in Northern Michigan and have seen -25 Below Zero some winters. You don't have to get all the water out of Polly Butaline or PEX tubing, just the majority as the tubing will expand some if there is a small pocket of water left. Copper and CPVC are another story and will not tolerate local pockets freezing. One thing to do if you blow the lines is at the last step, run your water pump to remove most of the water in it so it won't break, son winterized for me one year when I had medical issues and next spring I had to replace the switch on the pump. Water heater doesn't need to be blown dry, as long as the water level is below the drain plug it is fine, same thing for the water tank. A few cups of Anti-Freeze in the Black and Gray tanks will protect the valves unless you want to leave them open for the winter. If open, get a ventilating cap to cover the line so some critters don't try and make a home in there for the winter. If power is available, leave it plugged in with and battery disconnects turned on like you are using it. As new as your unit is, it should have a three stage charger in it and it won't hurt the batteries. I am going on 11 years on my Chassis batteries and went over 8 years on my house batteries doing this. Of course my charger will charge both batteries because I installed an B.I.R.D. for my coach. An Echo Charge or similar will do the same thing. If no power is available, then remove the negative battery Cables from both sets of batteries after verifying they are fully charged. Take pictures before removing the cables and count their number so every thing gets hooked back up in the spring. I am not afraid to use 100 plus PSI when blowing my lines as if it breaks, I want to know it happens on my schedule and I am going to find the weak points at home and not somewhere where I am at the mercy of a shop in the middle of my trip. My compressor is set at 115 PSI and I pressurize the water heater to use as a large volume of air to clear the hot water lines. Think about the pressure relief valve on the water heater, it is 150 PSI and is set to protect the heater, if the hot water lines could not handle that pressure, they would blow before the safety device and you would have hot scalding water going where it could cause injury to someone or somethings. Remember, hot plastic lines are not as strong as cold lines so 100 PSI will not hurt anything that is not damaged. Air Volume is the most important thing in clearing your lines and a $39.00 air compressor with a small tank is not going to cut it. You need a compressor with at least 12 gallons and 20 is better. Good luck and welcome to the great white north, you should love the change of seasons and won't be blessed with Lake Effect Snow like Michigan and New York is.
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Old 09-01-2020, 10:23 AM   #13
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Thanks for all the replies and great information! Now that I have internet again I can figure out how to proceed. I just returned from the White Mountains and coastal Maine, in the RV of course, so my main project for September is to find a rental house for the winter. For storage I'm hoping to find a house where I can keep the RV so I can keep a close eye on things as I believe someone may have suggested. Thanks again and happy camping!
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