Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Getting Ready - Always Another Surprise, Part I

Hello all! It has been awhile.

It finally - after what always seems like forever - became time to get the Roadtrek ready for the new season. The winter temperatures seemed to keep holding on. There were some odd days - even series of odd days where the temperatures were going up into the 70s (degrees F) and higher, but they would come and go - and nights were potentially getting cold enough to make problems if we dewinterized. It took until the end of April for the temperatures to begin to stay warm enough during the day - and infrequently cold at night to be able to remove the antifreeze from the plumbing and get the Roadtrek ready for the new RVing season.

We planned a day that would be comfortable enough outside to get wet to de-winterize. Now, just in case you think that since we have written all of those articles about de-winterizing and sanitizing the fresh water system, we just go outside and do it, well, no. Every year before dewinterizing I get the articles up on the computer, read them and print out the step by step guide to dewinterizing and sanitizing. And when we go out there - with all of the instructions in hand, I follow each one step by step because I know if I don't I am going to forget something or mess something up. And every year, I stop and read the next step before I do it. This year was no different.

Before we started we checked the date on the bleach bottle and saw that it was a year old. Meryl looked up how long bleach is good for and it is good for one year - so we went out to buy a new bottle of bleach. One way we discovered one year that we were de-winterizing was if the bleach does not overwhelming hit you with that bleach smell when you come close to the open bottle it is time to buy new bleach - and this one's odor was fading. So armed with a new bottle of bleach, I turned the outside house water on for the first time in 2017, pulled out of the things we would need for the process, and started.

The de-winterizing part is easy - it is all easy - and quick. The most time that any of this takes is filling and draining the fresh tanks the numerous times that is involved. Getting the antifreeze out is as simple as filling the fresh tank(s) with water and turning on all of the faucets, showers, and toilet and watch all of the pink antifreeze in the pipes flow out and go down the drains. But I am not going to go into the steps here - it is all linked above.  We started mid-afternoon and by the time we were ready to put the bleach into the tanks to sanitize it was getting late - late enough that if we were going to start flushing the bleach out after its sitting in the tanks and plumbing for four hours it would be dark outside. So the sanitizing step would have to wait for another day - and not the next day or the day after that because it was going to rain - a lot. So we put that off a few days.

So what surprises did we have. A few. The first surprise was opening the lid of the toilet and finding out that mold had grown on the inside of the bowl - above the level of the antifreeze that I pour into the toilet so that the toilet flap does not dry out over the winter. This is no big deal but it does have to be cleaned and that is something that I will go into later.

Another surprise took place right after we poured the bleach and water mix into the rear, internal fresh water tank through the tank fill hole in the frame behind the passenger side cargo door. The bleach and water (a gallon total) went right down. When I took the hose to fill the tank the rest of the way with fresh water, the fresh water came rushing right back out the fill hole! We have had a similar experience in the past - and always with the rear tank, but never at this stage of the process. It has happened after the bleach and water were drained out of the tank and we were refilling to rinse and flush the bleach out. It has never happened trying to follow the bleach mixture with the rest of the water! I pulled out my gizmo to fill the tank from the bottom up - which has worked in the past to get passed any gas bubble formed from the bleach sitting in the tank. I need to tell you that I have never heard from anyone else that has this problem - and we have it every year we dewinterize. A one tank system should not have this problem, but others have the two tanks - and no one has ever let me know that they too have this.

I pushed the thin tubing down into the tank fill hole down into the tank. The nozzle end was connected to the fresh water hose and I turned on the valve to let the water flow. And the water came shooting back out the fill hole! A few times in year's past with this I let the water keep coming up and out until it broke through whatever was stopping it from going down and into the tank. So much water was coming out that I stopped. So what to do? Meryl had the answer and suggested that I get into the van and roll it back and forth up and down the driveway, shaking up whatever was in the back tank.

I cleared everything out of the way and got in and started the engine. Meryl stood on the side and watched in the area of the rear tank. I pull back fast and hit the break, stopped pulled forward the same way - and then pulled back again. Meryl shouted that a huge amount of water shot out from the bottom of the van over the rear passenger side tire. She and I both knew that this is where the overflow valve of the rear tank is located. The only explanation is that the bleach and water give off enough gas in this small tank to the point that it forms a gas bubble that prevents the water from going down. Tossing the contents of the tank around like this broke that and the momentum of rushing back blew it out the only opening for it to go through - the overflow drain - which is on the top of the tank inside and piped outside. After that the tank filled easily. I realized as I started putting water down into the tank - and it was going down - that we probably blew out all of the bleach that we had put in - so we added another mixture of bleach and water - that all went down and the tank filled with fresh water. It all sat for 24 hours (only four are necessary) but again, by now it would be dark again to go out and rinse and flush the tanks. When we got back out, drained the bleach out, and refilled the rear tank to rinse and flush it, the water went right in!

Now, the mold in the toilet. The toilet in the Roadtrek is not porcelain. It is a plastic composition RV toilet used because it is very light in weight.  The company that makes this toilet, Thetford, says to never use bleach or any bleach product to clean this toilet. We have been looking for such a product that is actually going to disinfect and clean for a long time. What we have been using is dish soap, but with the mold I wanted something more that would kill the mold. We looked at various products that feature right on the label that they contain "NO BLEACH" and each one has some statement on the label about not using it on plastic.  We took the names of several and contacted Thetford which came back with their answer - NO! Do not use any of those! What should you use? "Well we make our own product - just order it." No local store sells this product. Camping World sells the product - a foaming spray cleaner - but they want over $10 plus shipping. I found another that sells the product for $7 BUT shipping is $8!  I went to a good Roadtrek owners forum on Facebook to ask what others use.

It seems the most effective disinfecting cleaner is white wine vinegar. Vinegar seems to be the universal thing to do anything and everything. Most of the things that I have tried that use vinegar have not worked at all - forget killing your weeds with vinegar, salt, and detergent. The weeds in my backyard flourished after being drowned in this mixture. On the forum group other Roadtrek owners insisted that this will work on the toilet - and it will not harm the toilet. We were suggested both using vinegar mixed with dish soap or just vinegar alone. As I write this Meryl has purchased a spray bottle and has the vinegar and is going to try it and see. I will report back when we have the results.

Then we had two more surprises which I will write about in Part II - come back in two weeks.

1 comment:

  1. Robert and Meryl you are such an incredible resource for us. The spring is starting to come here in Rochester and time to de-winterize our 2012 Roadtrek 190 V. The first thing we said was Robert and Meryl probably have an article on this. Sure enough we signed on to your site and there we have it. We cannot thank you enough for how much you help us with your articles. Roadtrek really needs to consult with you on re-doing their manual. We'll be de-winterizing it this week and will let you know how we make out. We printed out 3 of your articles including the "gizmo". Hope you are well and safe. One day we gotta meet you two.
    Tom and Audrey (