Roadtrek

Roadtrek

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Winterizing the Roadtrek

If you live in an area where the temperatures drop below freezing in the late Fall or Winter, you are going to need to winterize your Roadtrek. Essentially, this is removing all of the water from your Roadtrek's plumbing and keeping it from freezing. Most RVs have to have this done. Some of the large RVs have heating elements that will keep the plumbing warm in the coldest temperatures, but Roadtreks, for the most part are too small to install the equipment required to do this.

As the temperatures started to drop on us, here in the Northeast, in October we started to become concerned about when to do this - we had a few more trips before we planned to put the Roadtrek on the driveway for the winter. During our trip in late October we almost regretted not doing the winterizing by then as we had a few cold nights with the temps coming down near and at freezing. When we consulted the dealership and a few other RVers we were told that the temperatures would really have to be below 28 degrees F for three days and nights in a row before really needing to be concerned and as long as the days were coming back to well above freezing - in the mid to upper 40's - we should be fine. Just in case, I put a some antifreeze into our waste tanks and with our 190 Popular we have the option to shut off one of the two water tanks - the exterior water tank and we drained that, and turned the system over to just use the interior water tank - which Roadtrek claims can be used up to 14 degrees F outside. It is all a bit like shooting crap. Maybe the water in the pipes will freeze under these conditions and maybe they will not. If they freeze and the water inside of them expands and puts pressure on the interior of the pipe, the pipe bursts and then you have a very expensive repair that is not covered under warranty. We made it through that trip just fine - except for that freak snow storm that I wrote about - but made sure that we had an appointment with dealer service shortly after to winterize the Roadtrek.

Many winterize their RVs themselves, and we intend to do that in the future, but our dealer offers a "demo" winterizing during which the owners watch while the service tech winterizes the RV and you then are taught how to do it all yourself in the future. This cost just slightly more than the regular winterizing at this dealer service center, and it seemed to us to be well worth it to see it all and be taught by an "expert".

The day of the winterizing, we were having some other work done - and while we were waiting for that to be finished we walked around the dealer's RV parts and supplies store, and saw something called a Water Pump Bypass Kit. This kit is installed on the water pump and allows RV antifreeze to be pumped directly into the pipes from the bottle connected into the water lines using the RVs water pump. I had no idea if the Roadtrek had such a thing already built in so we passed it by. Later, we learned that the RT does not have such a bypass (though it does have a built in bypass for the hot water heater), and during the winterizing, we stopped and purchased this and the service tech doing the winterizing installed it for us. I will go into more detail about this as I describe the process of winterizing the Roadtrek.

The following is what we were taught. Please note that this service tech used a combination of accepted methods. He used both compressed air to clear the lines of all water and he put RV anti-freeze into the lines. Some do one or the other. Some do both. For the little additional time that it takes to do both, it is well worth the added protection. With both the whole process was less than an hour.

So - to winterize the Roadtrek - any Roadtrek - here is how it is done...

I take no responsibility if you follow these steps and have problems or cause damage. This is how it was done and how we will do it - but be advised, take a class for yourself! This process is offered for illustrative purposes ONLY!

TO BEGIN YOU WILL NEED -

2-3 bottle of RV antifreeze - this is the PINK antifreeze specifically made for RVs and nothing other than that should be used. Never use engine anti-freeze! It is poison and you are putting this into your drinking water system.

Ratchet Socket Wrench with 1 -1/16" socket (For Roadtrek Water Heater)

Air Compressor

Fitting for Air Compressor to Connect to City Water Inlet (standard garden hose faucet)

FOR FIRST TIME YOU MAY WISH TO INSTALL THE CAMCO PUMP CONVERTER WINTERIZING KIT

1 - Open all spigots & outdoor drain & drain fresh water tanks - let air out of faucets – hot and cold, shut spigots off. Make sure, if you have a 190, that the water system is set to "summer" mode and not with the exterior tank shut off in "winter" mode.

2 – Drain (dump) waste tanks (Flush Grey & Black Tanks- clean black tank with wand and dump again)

3 - Open hot water heater outside panel. First release pressure by pressing the pressure overflow release valve - STAND OUT OF THE WAY. Then using the 1-1/16" socket remove the anode tube (big nut) slowly, allow pressure to release before removing all the way - water will come out with force if there is any pressure remaining in the tank. Remove the anode bolt completely & allow water to pour out. Leave out. (Allow hot water tank to cool before draining.)


4 – Place the inside shower head on floor drain. Open all faucets, hot and cold, including sink/ toilet/shower/outside shower. Drain inside shower into floor drain. Recap all drains and close faucets.

5 - Bypass the water heater - 3 valves (in front of it) when pointing at the aisle they are open and this is “normal operation” position. Turn each of these three valves to winterize/bypass position. (After winter put back in position.) Never turn valve top left back behind big red valve. Never touch outside shower valves in cabinet.



You see above the three valves that you need to turn to bypass the water heater. The foam box behind the pipes is the hot water tank. There is a valve on the top pipe, one on the down pipe, and one on the bottom pipe. In this photo these valves are turned in the NORMAL operating position. TURN THEM in their OTHER DIRECTION and you have BYPASSED the hot water heater!

What you are doing is closing the valves on the top and bottom pipes and OPENING the valve on the down pipe. This is a bit confusing, but if you think about what you are trying to accomplish - cutting off water from the hot water tank and sending water around it, it starts to make sense as that down pipe once opened will send water around the closed connections.

6 - Replace anode tube(outside of water heater) get it started straight & carefully tighten by hand, once hand tight then use wrench. Close the pressure release valve. Replace hot water heater cover outside. (There is some disagreement between myself and Meryl as to if this was done before or after the next step. Some I have consulted with since, recommend doing this now.)

 NOTE: I HAVE BEEN ADVISED BY ROADTREK THAT USING COMPRESSED AIR TO WINTERIZE THE WATER SYSTEM IN A ROADTREK CAN CAUSE DAMAGE IN MULTIPLE WAYS AND IT SHOULD NOT BE DONE. I AM TAKING THAT ADVICE AND I RECOMMEND THAT YOU SKIP THE COMPRESSED AIR SECTION THAT FOLLOWS AND INSTEAD RUN THE LINES DRY WITH THE WATER PUMP - IN OTHER WORDS RUN THE WATER PUMP AND OPEN AND CLOSE EACH FAUCET AND FLUSH THE TOILET UNTIL NO WATER COMES OUT AND THEN PROCEED WITH PUTTING IN THE ANTI-FREEZE.

SKIP - 7 - Set an air compressor to 25 to 40 psi (this tech used 40 psi - many use 25 psi or 30 psi at the most - NEVER GO BEYOND 40 PSI), attach compressor hose to city water intake valve using a nipple or device sold for this purpose at RV supply stores. Turn on compressor. (Faucets closed). With the air running open ALL hot & cold water faucets - ONE AT A TIME (including outside shower, inside shower, sink, and toilet flush) and let all remaining water out until only air comes out. Close each after a few seconds of just air. Let shower head drain into floor drain. SHUT OFF COMPRESSOR, REMOVE FROM ROADTREK BY DISCONNECTING FROM CITY WATER INTAKE. You are finished with the compressor.

NEW 7 -  Turn on your water pump and open ALL hot and cold water faucets one at a time 
(including outside shower, inside shower, sink, and toilet flush) and let all remaining water out until only the water stops.  Let shower head drain into floor drain. You may find that water does not come out of all of the faucets as you have already emptied the line.

THIS IS THE POINT THAT THE WATERLINE BYPASS KIT WAS INSTALLED. YOU ONLY INSTALL THIS THE FIRST TIME AND LEAVE IT IN PLACE PERMANENTLY. WHEN THE TECH LOOKED AT THE PROXIMITY OF THE WATER LINE TO THE WATER PUMP IN THE ROADTREK HE DECIDED TO ADD A SMALL PVC ELBOW JOINT INTO THE LINE TO MOVE THE VALVE THAT HE WAS INSTALLING AWAY FROM THE PUMP TO ALLOW MORE ROOM TO USE IT. THIS IS A SMALL PIECE OF PIPE AVAILABLE AT ANY PLUMBING RETAILER.


It is a very close space and difficult to photograph. Follow the directions that come with the kit. That little pink cap on the left (?) hides one side of the connection. The other side is shown. The valve is the brass piece in the upper middle with the hose coming from the right. That hose was previously attached to the water pump output on the left.

8 - Inside - Use waterline bypass kit now to left side of opening under seat at water pump (remove the brass cap on the new brass valve just installed & screw hose in place where that cap set & turn valve). Valve pointing to pump is normal operating position. Point to intake hose to pump antifreeze. System is pressurized so open & close sink faucets to relieve pressure. Place the tank bypass kit hose into an open bottle of antifreeze as deep as it will go. Turn on water pump. Open sink faucet and when you the hear pump, shut off sink faucet. Pump stops - if doesn’t stop something is open. Turn cold sink valve on until pink antifreeze comes out of the sink faucet, shut off. Repeat with hot sink position, and shower hot & cold (into floor drain), outside shower hot & cold, and toilet flush. Watch for the pink antifreeze to come out of each. Make sure the anti-freeze is the same color of pink as in the bottle. If it is lighter there may be water mixed in at first, so just let more antifreeze flow through each faucet and the toilet until you see pure antifreeze coming through.

9 - Pull hose out of bottle. Run sink faucet into sink. Shut off pump. Turn water line bypass kit valve off. Remove hose, replace brass cap.

10- Pour antifreeze into sink drain and floor drain to fill both traps, & then some into toilet drain for macerator. Dump tank(s) until pink comes out of the macerator hose nozzle. (In this way you are protecting the macerator by getting antifreeze into it also. If you have no macerator then you don't need to dump antifreeze out of your waste tanks, but do be sure to have at least a half gallon of antifreeze in the black tank so that the tank does not dry out!

11 - Leave caps off clean ("fresh") water tanks for a couple of days to air dry them out.

12 - Pour ½ gallon antifreeze into black tank through the toilet and ½ gallon antifreeze into gray tank down the sink drain. Pour some antifreeze into the sink drain again into the trap just to be sure the antifreeze put in at Step 10 does not get pushed out when you put in the half gallon for the gray tank. 

13- UPDATE - Pour some antifreeze into the toilet just enough to cover the flap, and leave it there on top of the flush flap. This will keep it moist all winter  (as it would be with water on the flap when in summer use). The "cocolube" formerly recommended gets thick and pasty in the cold and is a mess. The antifreeze will keep the flap moist.

14- Leave shower drain loose.

THAT CONCLUDES THE WINTERIZING PROCESS.

What you have done is replace all of the water in the pipes and lines, first with air to dry them out and then with anti-freeze. Many have their own ways to do this process.This is how we were shown. I know that those who have done this will say, but we do it this way. That is fine. I will stick with what I was shown by a Roadtrek service technician.

Now, to start up in the Spring- (and I will get into this in more detail this coming Spring when we actually do this)

1 - Pressure in line - put hot water bypass valves to normal (open).

2 – Fill both fresh water tanks.

3 - Turn winter/summer valves to normal.

4 - Send water through system using the water pump including the hot water heater. Open each faucet and allow cleaning water to run through each – hot and cold positions. Do this twice.

5 - ½ cup Clorox in fresh water tank - fill & send through system using the water pump including the hot water heater. Open each faucet and allow cleaning water to run through each – hot and cold positions.

6 - Fill tanks and do #4 again. Make sure there is no pink in the water. If there is a chlorine taste to the water, do it again.

Again, I tell you all this to illustrate how it is done - not to recommend or instruct you to do any of this in this way - I take no responsibility if you do it and there is any problem or damage what so ever...

1 comment:

  1. Not everyone uses compressed air first. If you do use it, MAKE SURE that your compressor is set no higher than 40 PSI. NOW - if you do not have an air compressor just skip STEP 7 above and move from step 6 to STEP 8. Using compressed air is just another precautionary step, but many are fine with just using the antifreeze which will displace the water in the lines if you let it run a little longer from the faucets and toilet and see pure pink antifreeze coming out.

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