Roadtrek

Roadtrek

Friday, June 26, 2020

ALL ABOUT THE HOT WATER HEATER AND HOT WATER TANK

This is an article that is a collection of links of all of our articles to date about the hot water tank.  There are always a lot of questions about how the hot water tank works and what needs to be done involving the hot water tank during a year of using the Roadtrek. The hot water heater is a Suburban 6 gallon propane heated hot water heater and tank.  Some early Roadtreks had electric and propane heating elements. It is installed from the inside and it is accessed outside and inside the van - outside is access to the hot water heater mechanism and tank drain. Inside in a cabinet at the floor is the tank and bypass valves.  The tank is covered in foam insulation. The inside of the tank is glass lined. The battery switch must be turned on when you want hot water as the propane is self-ignited by a 12 volt igniter.




THE ROADTREK HOT WATER HEATER AND THE WATER SYSTEM - HOW IT WORKS

THE HOT WATER HEATER AND PROPANE

HOW TO PUT THE HOT WATER HEATER TANK INTO BYPASS

FLUSHING THE HOT WATER TANK

DON'T LOSE YOUR WATER HEATER DOOR

SANITIZING THE HOT WATER TANK

DRAINING THE HOT WATER TANK

THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES ARE HOT WATER HEATER/TANK RELATED:


WINTERIZING - THE DEFINITIVE STEP BY STEP GUIDE

THE DEFINITIVE STEP BY STEP DEWINTERIZING AND SANITIZING

PROPANE

 




This is all fairly complete in what you need to know about the hot water heater and tank in your Roadtrek.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

DRAINING THE HOT WATER TANK

Roadtreks have a Suburban 6 gallon hot water tank and water heater.  At one time the hot water heater that Roadtrek used propane or electricity to heat the water. The more recent Roadtreks use only propane to heat the water. There is an automatic igniter to ignite the propane to heat the water and this requires that the battery switch be turned on to provide 12 volts DC. There is a switch on the wall of the Roadtrek - usually near the monitor panel - that when turned on starts the ignition of the propane at the hot water heater and the propane flame heats the water. The hot water tank is glass lined inside for insulation and the hot water tank is covered in Styrofoam to insulate it to keep the water hot to warm inside.  With 6 gallons of water to heat, it can take a number of minutes (longer on cold day)  to heat the water in the tank from cold to hot.

An important thing to understand is that once filled, the hot water tank will remain full. The tank is filled by cold water coming from the water pump or a city water connection through a hose from the Roadtrek to an outside spigot that flows into the bottom of the hot water tank. The water then fills the tank to the top. When a not water handle is turned on at the sink or shower, cold water will go through the water pump or hose and go into the hot water tank and PUSH the hot water at the top of the tank out of the tank and into a hot water pipe that will take the hot water to the sink faucet or shower head. Water cannot come out of the hot water tank unless there is water to push it out - from a fresh tank or an outside hose connection. As water in the tank comes out, more water goes into the tank to refill it. It is NOT POSSIBLE to empty the hot water tank by running hot water through the sink or the inside or outside shower.

The hot water tank must be drained. This is done outside the Roadtrek on the driver's side toward the rear of the van.  There is a vented metal panel that must be opened and removed to drain the hot water tank.

 
 

To open this metal panel you must turn the ring catch at the top middle. The white ring you see there in this photo is on an elastic cord. To open, turn the ring so that it is straight with the up/down slot that is under it. Pull the panel from the top edge toward you and once the top is clear pull it up. There are two small "pins" at the bottom that you will lift this off panel off of - and then out. Take the panel and put it someplace safe while you drain the hot water tank.



 THE OPEN HOT WATER HEATER/TANK


You will need a few things to drain the hot water tank:

1) A RATCHET SOCKET WRENCH

2) A 1 and 1/16" SOCKET - DEEP WELL OR REGULAR WITH EXTENDER

3) PLUMBERS TEFLON THREAD TAPE

4) A SCISSOR TO CUT THE PLUMBERS TAPE

Take a look at the photo just above. This is the workings of the hot water heater. The rest is just the tank that holds the hot water and that is directly behind what you see here and inside the Roadtrek. There are two things in this photo that are of interest to you right now in draining the hot water tank.

                                                                                 
PRESSURE RELEASE VALVE


ANODE ROD/DRAIN
 The Pressure RELEASE VALVE or PRESSURE RELIEF VALVE shown in the first photo releases any pressure built up in the hot water tank. This is a safety valve that will automatically open should pressure build too high in the hot water tank. This valve can be opened MANUALLY.
The ANODE ROD/DRAIN is the head of the ANODE ROD screwed into a threaded hole into the hot water tank. This is, when removed will open a hole into the hot water heater and the water will drain out.  The valve is located in the top middle of the hot water heater as shown in photo of the open hot water heater/tank above.
 ANODE ROD
The Anode Rod is a long rod of magnesium or aluminum that is used inside the hot water heater tank to prevent the inside of the metal tank from breaking down.  This rod breaks down instead of the metal of the tank. It will become pitted and then start to disintegrate - and it will also attach to mineral deposits that form in the water. The rod over time will become whitish grey and the surface full of these mineral deposits will become sharp - sharp enough to cut yourself if you grab hold of the rod tightly. The head of the rod is a hex head that you will use to unscrew the rod. Inside the rod is a thin metal rod that the magnesium or aluminum are molded around. That inner rod will become partly visible over time. When the all of the rod or a good portion of the rod is no thicker than a pencil it is time to replace the anode rod with a new one.  How long they last can range from a year to a few years. New ones can be purchased in either magnesium or aluminum - each have advantages and disadvantages which are personal preference. You can Google the differences.  Suburban sends the hot water heater out from the factory with a magnesium rod. (For this reason I have always replaced the rod with a magnesium one.)  The anode rod is located in the bottom middle of the hot water heater as shown in the photo of the open hot water heater/tank above.

TO DRAIN THE HOT WATER TANK:
1.  FIRST TURN OFF THE PROPANE. NEVER DO THIS WITH THE PROPANE ON!
2. NEVER START THIS PROCESS WHILE THE WATER IS STILL HOT INSIDE THE HOT WATER TANK. To test the water go inside - leave the hot water switch OFF. Turn on the hot water handle on the faucet on the sink and feel the water temperature. IF IT IS HOT WAIT UNTIL IT FEELS COOL!
3. YOU ARE GOING TO MANUALLY OPEN THE PRESSURE RELEASE VALVE.  TO DO THIS GENTLY TAKE HOLD OF THE HANDLE THAT YOU SEE IN THE PHOTO THAT IS DIAGONALLY SLANTED TO THE LEFT.  PULL THAT HANDLE TOWARD YOU AND WHILE DOING THIS STAND AWAY TO THE LEFT SIDE OF THE HOT WATER HEATER.  Water will shoot out from the opening that you see to the bottom right of the pressure release valve. It is going to get very wet all over the inside of this area - that is normal and it is OK for the hot water heater. WAIT UNTIL NOTHING MORE IS COMING OUT.
4. WITH THE SOCKET ON THE SOCKET WRENCH YOU ARE NOW GOING TO REMOVE THE ANODE ROD AND OPEN THE DRAIN HOLE.  A DEEP WELL SOCKET WILL ALLOW CLEARANCE AWAY FROM THE GAS IGNITION TUBE You can see the brass ignition tube in the photos as it crosses on top of the end of the anode rod.  YOU CAN ALSO USE A REGULAR SOCKET WITH AN EXTENDER WHICH WILL ALSO BRING THE SOCKET WRENCH OUT OF THIS TIGHT AREA AND CLEAR THE IGNITION TUBE. (My preference is is the regular socket with the extender as it seats more securely on the hex head of the anode rod.)
5. AS YOU DO THIS NEVER STAND DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE ANODE ROD AND CLEAR ANYONE AWAY FROM THE FRONT OF THE PATH OF THE ANODE ROD - PLUS ANYTHING BREAKABLE. PUT THE SOCKET ON THE HEX HEAD OF THE ANODE ROD AND TURN THE WRENCH TO THE LEFT (COUNTERCLOCKWISE).  IT MAY BE TIGHT - USE LEVERAGE TO LOOSEN IT AND UNSCREW THE ANODE ROD FROM THE THREADED HOLE.  ONCE IT IS VERY LOOSE YOU CAN FINISH UNSCREWING IT BY HAND.   
********WARNING********
THE REASON WHY YOU MUST NEVER STAND OR BE IN FRONT OF THE ANODE ROD WHEN REMOVING IT IS IF BY CHANCE YOU DID NOT GET ALL OF THE PRESSURE OUT OF THE HOT WATER TANK  THE ANODE ROD ONCE RELEASED WILL SHOOT LIKE A TORPEDO WITH GREAT FORCE FROM THE HOLE STRAIGHT OUT AHEAD OF IT. THE FORCE IS ENOUGH TO DO SERIOUS INJURY IF IT HIT YOU OR SOMEONE STANDING BY. 

ALSO - IF THE WATER WAS STILL HOT, YOU WOULD BE SCALDED AS IT CAME OUT - OF BOTH THE PRESSURE RELEASE VALVE AND THE ANODE ROD OPENING. 

6. WITH THE ANODE ROD UNSCREWED PULL IT STRAIGHT OUT OF THE HOLE. THE WATER IN THE HOT WATER TANK WILL COME OUT WITH THE ROD AND KEEP COMING OUT UNTIL THE TANK IS ALMOST EMPTY. WITH THE WATER COMING OUT YOU MAY SEE MINERAL DEPOSITS ALSO COMING OUT WITH THE WATER. THESE LOOK LIKE WHITE, GREY, AND BLACK ROCKS.  YOU WILL SEE THEM COLLECT ON THE GROUND WHERE THE WATER IS POURING OUT.  SOME OF THESE CAN BE SHARP.  THESE MINERALS FORM FROM HARD WATER SITTING IN THE HOT WATER TANK. 

7. AT THIS POINT YOU MAY WANT TO FLUSH THE HOT WATER TANK TO REMOVE ANY MORE MINERALS THAT MIGHT BE SITTING AT THE BOTTOM OF THE TANK. TO DO THIS FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE ON FLUSHING THE HOT WATER TANK.


8. BECAUSE THE ANODE ROD DRAIN HOLE SITS ABOUT ONE QUARTER OF AN INCH FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE TANK, NOT ALL OF THE WATER COMES OUT WHEN THE DRAIN IS OPEN. FOR MOST PURPOSES YOU CAN LEAVE THIS LITTLE AMOUNT OF WATER STILL IN THE TANK. IN THE WINTER THIS IS NOT ENOUGH TO CAUSE ANY DAMAGE TO THE TANK IF IT FREEZES.  THERE ARE WAYS TO GET OUT THE REMAINDER OF THE WATER IF YOU WISH TO.  YOU COULD USE A HAND PUMP OR AN ELECTRIC PUMP WITH A SMALL TUBE ON THE SUCTION END THAT YOU WOULD PUT INTO THE HOLE TO THE FLOOR OF THE TANK TO SUCK OUT THE REMAINING WATER. EVEN THEN NOT ALL OF THE WATER WILL COME OUT.  LEAVING THE DRAIN HOLE IN THE HOT WATER TANK OPEN FOR A FEW DAYS WILL LET SOME OF THAT WATER EVAPORATE OUT.  WHATEVER YOU DO - DO NOT - LET ANYTHING GO INTO THE DRAIN HOLE INTO THE TANK THAT CANNOT BE REACHED TO PULL OUT! 

9. NOW EXAMINE THE ANODE ROD TO SEE IF IT NEEDS TO BE REPLACED. IF A LARGE PORTION OF THE ANODE ROD HAS CORRODED AWAY - WHICH IS WHAT IT DOES WHEN IT IS DOING ITS JOB - OR THE ROD HAS BECOME AS THIN AS A PENCIL - IT IS TIME TO REPLACE THE ANODE ROD.  IT IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA TO HAVE ONE OR MORE SPARE RODS ON HAND - AND CARRIED IN THE ROADTREK - IN THE EVENT THAT IT NEEDS TO BE REPLACED. IF YOU ARE REPLACING THE ROD, DISCARD THE OLD ROD AND FOR THE NEXT STEPS USE THE NEW ROD.

10.  LOOK AT THE THREADS THAT ARE AROUND THE HOLE OF THE DRAIN HOLE. THERE MAY BE PLUMBERS TAPE THAT WAS LEFT IN THE HOLE WHEN YOU TOOK THE ANODE ROD OUT. USING A FINGER GENTLY SCRAPE THE PLUMBERS TAPE OUT AND AWAY FROM THE HOLE. IF YOUR FINGER CAN'T GET IT ALL USE A TOOTHBRUSH TO REMOVE THE TAPE FROM THE HOLE. DO NOT LET THE TAPE FALL INTO THE HOT WATER TANK.


11. WITH THE TANK DRAINED, YOU ARE READY TO PUT THE ANODE ROD BACK IN.  IF YOU ARE PUTTING THE ROD THAT CAME OUT BACK IN, REMOVE ANY OLD  PLUMBING TAPE THAT IS AROUND THE THREADS OF THE ROD. TO MAKE THE ROD EASIER TO COME OUT THE NEXT TIME, TAKE THE ROLL OF TEFLON PLUMBING THREAD TAPE AND WRAP ENOUGH AROUND THE ALL OF THREADS ON THE SCREW SECTION OF THE TOP OF THE ROD. WRAP THE TAPE IN A CLOCKWISE DIRECTION WITH THE TOP SCREW END OF THE ROD FACING YOU.  COVER THE THREADS BUT DO NOT PUT SO MUCH ON THAT IT MAKES IT HARD TO GET THE THREADS TO FIT INTO THE DRAIN HOLE.  CUT THE TAPE FROM THE SPOOL OF TAPE WITH THE SCISSOR. 


12. INSERTING THE ROD BACK INTO THE HOLE IS TRICKY. BECAUSE THE ROD IS HEAVIEST AWAY FROM THE END YOU WILL BE SCREWING IT DIPS DOWN INSIDE THE TANK. IT WILL NOT SCREW ON PROPERLY THIS WAY.  I FIND IT EASIEST TO HOLD THE ROD WITH TWO HANDS WHEN PUTTING IT INTO THE DRAIN HOLE AND SUPPORTING IT OUTSIDE THE HOLE FOR THE ROD INSIDE THE TANK TO REMAIN LEVEL WITH THE OUTSIDE  PUSH THE ROD INTO THE THREADS OF THE HOLE AND START TURNING THE END OF THE ROD CLOCKWISE WITH YOUR HAND.  TURN IT SEVERAL TURNS - LET GO - IF IT HAS NOT GRABBED THE THREADS CAREFULLY TAKE IT OUT AND TRY IT AGAIN. IT WILL GRAB THE THREADS IF IT IS NOT TIPPING DOWN INSIDE THE TANK. HOLD IT STEADY WHILE YOU DO THIS - KEEPING ONE HAND TO KEEP THE ROD FROM DIPPING DOWN INSIDE THE TANK AND SCREW IT IN WITH THE OTHER HAND. 


13. ONCE THE ROD IS IN BY HAND GET YOUR RATCHET WRENCH AND MAKE SURE THE SWITCH ON IT IS SET TO TURN CLOCKWISE.  PUT THE SOCKET ONTO THE END OF THE ANODE ROD (THAT YOU JUST TIGHTENED BY HAND) AND START TIGHTENING THE ROD WITH THE SOCKET WRENCH.  THE ROD DOES NOT SCREW IN ALL THE WAY TO THE END. IT WILL GET VERY TIGHT ABOUT HALF WAY DOWN. ONCE IT IS GIVING A LOT OF RESISTANCE TO TURN STOP. IT IS IN AND IT WILL NOT LEAK. IF YOU FORCE IT ANY FURTHER YOU WILL HAVE A LOT OF TROUBLE TAKING IT OUT NEXT TIME. 


14. GET THE METAL DOOR PANEL YOU TOOK OFF AT THE START. PUT THE BOTTOM OF THE PANEL IN FIRST AND GET THE TWO HOLES ON THE BOTTOM OF THE DOOR TO GO INTO THE TWO SMALL METAL PINS THAT ARE STICKING UP FROM THE BOTTOM.  PUSH THE TOP OF THE DOOR INTO THE OPENING AND IT SHOULD LINE UP WITH THE SLOT OF THE PLASTIC RING LATCH.  ONCE THE RING LATCH IS THROUGH THE SLOT, TURN IT TO LOCK THE DOOR IN PLACE. 

YOU HAVE DRAINED YOUR HOT WATER TANK!

YOU CAN NOW FILL THE TANK AGAIN - OR IF IT IS THE WINTER - LEAVE IT EMPTY.  NEVER TURN ON THE HOT WATER HEATER SWITCH ON THE WALL INSIDE THE ROADTREK WITH AN EMPTY HOT WATER TANK. YOU WILL BURN OUT THE HOT WATER HEATER. 

 WHAT PROBLEMS MIGHT YOU ENCOUNTER? 

IF THE ROD WAS PUT IN TOO TIGHT AND YOUR SOCKET WRENCH WILL NOT LOOSEN IT, ONE WAY - THAT ONE MUST USE A LOT OF CAUTION WITH - IS TO USE A SOCKET BREAKER BAR. THIS IS A LONG METAL BAR WITH A SOCKET CONNECTION ON THE END. THIS LONG HANDLE WILL PROVIDE A LOT OF LEVERAGE TO MOVE THE SOCKET TO LOOSEN IT.  ONCE IT STARTS TURNING, STOP.  TAKE THE SOCKET AND PUT IT BACK ON YOUR REGULAR SOCKET WRENCH AND CONTINUE WITH THE REGULAR SOCKET WRENCH. A LARGE ENOUGH SOCKET WRENCH WITH A LONGER HANDLE IS BETTER TO USE TO START WITH THAN A SHORT OR STUBBY SOCKET WRENCH AS YOU GET BETTER LEVERAGE WITH A LONGER HANDLED WRENCH. THAT COULD AVOID THIS PROBLEM ALL TOGETHER.  i HAVE ONLY HAD THE ROD NOT LOOSEN ONCE AND I WENT OUT TO BUY THE BREAKER BAR (HARBOR FREIGHT IS THE MOST ECONOMICAL PLACE TO DO THIS). I HAVE NEVER HAD TO USE IT SINCE THEN.  I MAKE SURE THAT I DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN THE ANODE ROD.

WHAT YOU MOST NEED TO BE CAREFUL OF IS TO NOT STRIP THE THREADS ON THE DRAIN HOLE IN THE HOT WATER TANK.  YOU WILL SEE THAT THIS HOLE RUSTS - NOT BADLY BUT MORE THAN ONE MIGHT EXPECT SOMETHING THAT INVOLVES WATER. IT IS NORMAL FOR IT TO RUST. WITH THE TYPE OF HOT WATER TANK THAT THE ROADTREK USES, THERE IS NO WAY TO REPLACE THAT HOLE SECTION. IF THE THREADS STRIP OUT OR THE HOLE IS DAMAGED THE ENTIRE HOT WATER HEATER/TANK MUST BE REPLACED.  THAT IS SOMETHING YOU WANT TO AVOID!  THE ANODE ROD IS EASILY REPLACED - AND YOU WILL DO THAT MANY TIMES OVER YOUR YEARS WITH THE ROADTREK BUT THE DRAIN HOLE IS PART OF THE TANK. 

THE ONE AND ONE/SIXTEENTH SOCKET IS NOT COMMON. IT IS RARELY PART OF A SOCKET SET. IT CAN BE FOUND IN HOME DEPOT OR LOWES WHERE THE INDIVIDUAL SOCKETS ARE. I BOUGHT MINE IN LOWES - AND AT THE TIME I BOUGHT THE DEEP WELL AS THAT WAS ALL THAT THEY HAD IN THIS SIZE.  AN EXTENDER WILL ALLOW YOU TO GET A REGULAR SOCKET IN AND NOT INTERFERE WITH THE WORKINGS OF THE HOT WATER HEATER RIGHT ABOVE THE ANODE ROD. I FOUND A REGULAR SOCKET IN THIS SIZE AT A HARDWARE/TOOL VENDOR AT A FARMER'S MARKET. 

SO - the process reads long - but does not take long to do. It is important to make sure you drain the hot water tank when you are winterizing the Roadtrek and when you are de-winterizing and sanitizing the fresh water and hot water tank. You want to make sure you get your sanitizing bleach and water mixture out of the tank before you put it into use for the season. If you are not going to use the Roadtrek for a period of time you also would want to get the water out of the hot water tank. Keep in mind the a glass enclosed tank that holds hot water than becomes warm is an excellent environment to grow bacteria.










Thursday, June 11, 2020

THE DEFINITIVE DEWINTERIZING AND SANITIZING - STEP BY STEP

I have written several articles over the years about how to dewinterize your Roadtrek and sanitize its fresh water tanks, including the hot water tank.  I am writing this article to put all of it together.  I have combined all of the steps and these include changes I have made over the years. As it would be a huge article if I included some of the articles that relate, I will use links to those articles that will offer more explanation for processes that are done not just for dewinterizing and sanitizing fresh tanks.  I will also indicate where you should copy the text of this article so that you can paste it into an easy to take to your Roadtrek document to be able to have all the steps in front of you as your dewinterize and sanitize your Roadtrek.  Please note that this article has the steps in the order I am using now to dewinterize and sanitize my Roadtrek - with the most recent change in 2019.

Here is what you will need:

Fresh Water Hose
Water Pressure Regulator
Liquid Chlorine Bleach (Clorox or off brand is fine)
Funnel with hose on the end
Measuring Cup (for Bleach)
Small paper cups
Hot Water Tank FLUSH  Wand
Ratchet wrench handle
1-1/16" Socket
Plumbers silicone pipe tape to put on threads of the anode rod when putting it back in.

The process - though there are a lot of steps is easy - and can go quickly. There is a lot of waiting in the process - waiting for tanks to drain, standing and filling the tanks through the door fill holes, and waiting for the bleach to work.

Here we go!

START  COPYING HERE ON -

 
DEWINTERIZING STEP BY STEP
  1. KEEP THE HOT WATER TANK IN BYPASS WHEN STARTING.
  2.  SET TANK VALVES TO SUMMER MODE.
  3. IF YOU PUT RV ANTIFREEZE INTO YOUR FRESH TANK(S) WHENWINTRIZING DRAIN THE A/F OUT OF THE TANKS NOW USING THE LOW POINT DRAIN ON THE FRONT EXTERIOR FRESH TANK
  4. FILL THE TWO FRESH WATER TANKS.
  5. AGAIN IF YOU PUT RV ANTIFREEZE INTO YOUR FRESH TANKS - DRAIN THE WATER YOU PUT IN STEP 4 AND FILL AGAIN TO FLUSH THE A/F OUT .
  6. TURN ON THE BATTERY DISCONNECT SWITCH.
  7. TURN ON THE WATER PUMP.
  8. TURN ON COLD SIDE OF SINK – RUN UNTIL ALL PINK (RV ANTIFREEZE) COMES OUT AND CLEAR WATER RUNS. TURN ON HOT SIDE OF SINK AND DO THE SAME.
  9. OPEN SHOWER DRAIN IN FLOOR OR POINT THE SHOWER HOSE INTO THE SINK.
  10. TURN ON COLD ON SHOWER UNTIL CLEAR, REPEAT FOR HOT.
  11. FLUSH TOILET. LET WATER RUN IN TOILET UNTIL YOU DO NOT SEE PINK WATER.
  12. TURN ON COLD OUTSIDE SHOWER UNTIL CLEAR, REPEAT FOR HOT.
  13. TURN OFF WATER PUMP AND BATTERY SWITCH.
  14. OPEN HOT WATER TANK AND FLUSH WITH FLUSH STICK*.
  15. REPLACE ANODE ROD. CLOSE HOT WATER HEATER DOOR.
  16. LEAVE WATER PUMP OFF.
  17. CONNECT HOSE TO CITY WATER LINE WITH PRESSURE REGULATOR.
  18. TURN ON HOSE AND REPEAT STEPS 6 TO 10.
  19. NEXT SANITIZE ALL FRESH TANKS.
 STOP COPYING - PASTE TO A DOCUMENT AND SAVE - YOU WILL BE PASTING MORE.

* GO TO THIS ARTICLE TO FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH FLUSHING THE HOT WATER HEATER TANK USING A FLUSH WAND.


START COPYING AGAIN FROM HERE


SANITIZING THE FRESH WATER TANKS

  1. TURN HOT WATER BYPASS VALVES TO HOT WATER FLOW. 
  2. CONNECT A FRESH WATER HOSE WITH A WATER PRESSURE REGULATOR ONTO THE CITY WATER FILL CONNECTION. 
  3.  USE CITY WATER LINE TO FILL HOT WATER TANK BY RUNNING CITY WATER INTO THAT TANK. (NOT CITY WATER FILL - REGULAR USE OF CITY WATER) GO TO THE SINK, TURN ON HOT WATER AT SINK. AIR WILL COME OUT - AND THE TANK WILL FILL. WHEN IT IS FULL THE WATER WILL RUN STEADILY FROM THE FAUCET. DO NOT TURN ON HOT WATER SWITCH. THIS WILL BE COLD WATER AND THAT IS WHAT NEEDS TO BE.
  4. DISCONNECT CITY WATER CONNECT FROM HOSE.
  5. PUT ONE HALF CUP BLEACH INTO THE FRONT EXTERIOR FRESH TANK. (PRE-MIX THE BLEACH IN A GALLON JUG OF WATER BEFORE PUTTING IT INTO THE FRESH TANK - DO NOT PUT PURE BLEACH INTO THE TANK.) A FUNNEL WITH A HOSE ON THE END IS EASIEST TO GET THE BLEACH/WATER MIX INTO THE FRESH TANK THROUGH THE DOOR FILL HOLE.
  6. PUT ONE QUARTER CUP BLEACH INTO THE REAR INTERIOR FRESH TANK. (PRE-MIX THE BLEACH IN A GALLON JUG OF WATER BEFORE PUTTING IT INTO THE FRESH TANK - DO NOT PUT PURE BLEACH INTO THE TANK.) IF YOUR ROADTREK HAS ONLY ONE FRESH TANK - SKIP THIS STEP.
  7. TOP OFF WATER IN TANKS WITH HOSE.
  8. DRIVE BACK AND FORTH TO MIX THE BLEACH INTO THE WATER.
  9. TURN ON BATTERY SWITCH AND WATER PUMP.
  10. TURN ON EACH FAUCET HANDLE PLUS INSIDE AND OUTSIDE SHOWER ONE HANDLE AT A TIME SMELLING FOR BLEACH TO COME THROUGH WITH EACH. NOT THE TOILET.
  11. NOW YOU WAIT. 
  12. LET BLEACH SIT IN TANKS FOR AT LEAST FOUR HOURS. LONGER IS OK!
  13. DRAIN WATER TANKS.
  14.  NOW WE REMOVE THE BLEACH FROM THE HOT WATER TANK FIRST. 
  15.  1) The hot water tank should NOT be in bypass while sanitizing and it should remain NOT bypassed for this process. DO NOT HAVE ANY SINK FAUCET OR SHOWER FAUCET ON DURING THIS PROCESS EXCEPT WHERE AND WHEN NOTED FOR THE OUTSIDE SHOWER HOT WATER HANDLE. DO NOT TURN ON THE HOT WATER HEATER!

    2) Water pump OFF.

    3) Attach a fresh hose WITH A WATER PRESSURE REGULATOR to the city water inlet and a spigot outside. Turn on the water.

    4) Turn on the outside shower hot water handle and open fully - step back!  Only the hot water handle on the outside shower should be open. No other faucet or shower handle should be on.  As the water comes rushing out of the shower (hose optional) you should smell bleach in the water.

    5) Allow to run for at least 15 minutes. THIS WILL FILL AND  EMPTY THE TANK AT THE SAME TIME - ABOUT THREE TO FIVE TIMES.  YES THE WATER IS FLOWING DOWN THE DRIVEWAY FLUSHING THE HOT WATER TANK.

    6) After a steady flow of water for 15 minutes you should no longer smell bleach in the water coming out. (To test, take a small paper cup , slow the flow of water by turning back the handle and put the cup under the streaming water coming out. Step away from where the water has been flowing and smell the water in the paper cup. You should not smell bleach.)

    7) If you still smell bleach allow the water to continue to flow longer until there is no longer any smell of bleach in the water. (Use a new paper cup if you test again.)

    8) Shut off the hot water outside shower handle.

    9) You have now exchanged all of the water inside the 6 gallon hot water tank several times with fresh water, flushing that tank as many times.

    10) Remove the hose from the city water connection.

    11) PUT THE HOT WATER HEATER INTO BYPASS! You do not want to

    put bleach back into the hot water tank.
  16.  FILL FRESH WATER TANKS AGAIN.
  17.  GO INSIDE THE ROADTREK.
  18.  TURN ON BATTERY SWITCH AND WATER PUMP.
  19.  **TURN ON EACH FAUCET HANDLE PLUS INSIDE AND OUTSIDE SHOWER ONE HANDLE AT A TIME SMELLING FOR BLEACH TO COME THROUGH WITH EACH. NOT THE TOILET - YOU NEVER WANT ANY BLEACH TO GO INTO THE TOILET.
  20. IF YOU DO NOT SMELL BLEACH (GOOD!) SKIP TO #23
  21.  DRAIN TANKS THROUGH THE LOW POINT DRAIN.
  22.  FILL FRESH TANKS AGAIN.
  23.  IF BLEACH SMELL REPEAT FROM STEP #16 AFTER DRAINING FRESH TANKS.
  24.  DRAIN TANKS OR LEAVE FULL FOR TRIP.

  DONE


** When you smell for bleach, run the water into a paper cup and smell the water in the cup. If you run it into the sink the bleach odor will be in the sink and you will smell bleach in the water when you go on to Step 19 after flushing with fresh water. 

 STOP COPYING AND PASTE WHERE YOU LEFT OFF IN YOUR CARRY OUT DOCUMENT

IF YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO PUT YOUR HOT WATER HEATER INTO BYPASS LOOK HERE!

It seems like a lot but it is not. It is more waiting for the tanks to drain and the bleach to sit in the tanks than doing. The socket wrench and socket are needed to remove the anode rod from the hot water tank to flush it. If the anode rod looks as thin as a pencil REPLACE IT.   If you have never flushed the hot water tank before - copy out the article linked about flushing the hot water tank.  The flush wand is an important tool to have and worth the little it costs.


You can leave your grey and black tanks with the antifreeze and water that went into it in this process until you dump on your next trip.










Saturday, February 29, 2020

JUST WHEN YOU THINK EVERYTHING IS GREAT- IT'S NOT!

I have been holding off writing this article since the end of October 2019.  My last post of August 2019 - ended on a happy note. My new batteries were in, The battery separator was replaced and when driving the batteries were charging. It seemed like all was great. Well... no it was not.

Why have I waited to write this? I wanted to make sure that now things really were OK. And I just wanted to not tempt fate - once again.  At this point as you read this, hopefully, all is well, but for a long time it was not.  Now I have pages of documentation and voltage checks that I made shortly after the last article was published, but I, promise, I will not include all of that in this article. I don't even want to look at all of that again. I will give you some details to explain what took place.

The last article came out on this site on August 30, 2019. On  September 6th, I went out to check the voltage of the batteries and they read 12.56 volts. That is a lot for brand new batteries to drop. Three days later - September 9th - I went to the Roadtrek again and checked the voltage of the batteries and the battery voltage was -----   10.1 volts!   Essentially the new batteries drained to dead. This part is important to understand - there was NOTHING ON INSIDE THE ROADTREK TO DRAIN THE BATTERIES LIKE THIS. 

I downloaded the technical manual for LifeLine AGM batteries to find out what to do?  The manual is 40 pages long!  In the manual there is a section called "Deep Discharge Recovery". What I had was a "deep discharge"!  The second paragraph in this section says, "WARNING: This procedure should only be done by a trained technician." That warning was followed by another "WARNING" and also a  "CAUTION". All of which I was in no position qualified or capable of doing." What I did instead was plug the Roadtrek in for 72 hours plus to try to bring the batteries back to charge. After it charged - and the batteries did charge  - I turned off the TrippLite 750 inverter/converter/charger on the  unit slide switch on the front right of the TrippLite. To do this you slide it to the middle position DC OFF. This cuts its connection with the batteries - whether the battery switch is on or off.  In this position the TrippLite has ZERO drain on the batteries. It is the same as if you disconnected the battery cable from the TrippLite.

Hoping that all now was OK - we decided to take a trip and we drove on a one day and back trip 400 miles. - Another point of interest - when you drive the Roadtrek the batteries charge when the engine is running. The battery switch can be ON or OFF. AND MORE IMPORTANT TO KNOW - the TrippLite has NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS PROCESS OF CHARGING. It is strictly the connection between the battery separator (or in older RTs the battery isolator) and the Roadtrek batteries with the Engine battery - and the engine alternator which is doing the charging.  -  So, we drove 400 miles after charging the batteries at home plugged in using the TrippLite set to "Charge Only" and that battery voltage went to 12.8 which is very good. 12.8 v DC is a fully charged battery or battery bank.  Sounds good, right? Wishful thinking. In four days (which included two hours of exercising the generator under half load - which also charges the batteries through the TrippLite set to "Charge Only" - the batteries dropped - with the TrippLite set to "DC OFF" to 12.1 volts.  Again, I plugged in to charge.

During all of this I went out and bought a fairly good - recommended - multi-meter so that I would be sure I was getting accurate readings. I was - as I checked this to my 12 volt plug in digital meter. I stopped in at the mechanic who works on our car and the Roadtrek and asked him if he would test the Roadtrek to determine if there was any drain on the batteries. He took the RT into his shop and the results - there was ZERO drain on the batteries from the Roadtrek or the van.  Something was very wrong.

I contacted the shop in New Jersey that I bought the batteries from and that installed the new AGM batteries. What I got in response was that I could bring the RT back to them and that they would need it "for awhile" and they had to determine what was wrong with the Roadtrek before they would test the batteries and put in a claim for replacement under the batteries one year full replacement warranty. What troubled me by what they said was the "for awhile" part. They charge by the hour - a lot by the hour - and I could see this becoming even more expensive than dumping these batteries and starting all over again taking the loss of the money. They would not give me a clear answer about when and how long they would be charging for labor. I made an appointment to bring it in to them - in New Jersey and leave the Roadtrek. But in the meantime until the appointment I started doing what I should have done before I even bought the batteries from them. I looked up customer complaints and reviews about this shop. What I found was greatly disturbing. Not one but the same comments over and over - they take an RV in for service - keep it an extended period of time - little is done - nothing really is resolved - and they charge for all of that - and more. Oh boy! I try not to stress over the Roadtrek but this was really getting me down. I was not sure what to do. I did not trust this shop at all any longer.

As always, Meryl had the solution. She said - call the Roadtrek dealer/service - which I did.  I both called and emailed all of the details - all of the documentation about what was happening and all of the voltage readings - and what we knew - which basically was that zero drain was found on the batteries from the Roadtrek.  Initially they were going to take it in for one day. Even I felt that it really needed to be there for more than a day - just to monitor what was happening with the batteries and to  really go fully over the electrical system in the Roadtrek and make sure that there was nothing not functioning as it should that was causing the batteries to drop. I spoke with the customer service rep that we have been working with since we got the Roadtrek in 2011 from this dealer new - and spent a lot of time with getting things put in correct order after it came out of the factory with a lot of problems. We are on a first name basis - and have had many pleasant conversations with over the years. She told me that they thought I was in a hurry and it would be better if they kept it. We set a day to bring the Roadtrek and leave it with them. At the same time we learned that they have moved their service facility off the property where the sales room is and they were now down the road some. We got detailed directions. To bring the Roadtrek there to leave it we had to also bring our car to get home. That meant one follows the other.  The next day I cancelled the appointment at the shop we bought the batteries at.

I put together a very extensive package of materials about the batteries and my log of what was going on since we got the new batteries. At this point I was not sure if the Roadtrek shop - from which I did not buy the batteries from - would be able to get replacements under the batteries' warranty. I just wanted things fixed - and for me to tell any shop what I told the Roadtrek shop under any other circumstances would be just craze - but I wanted this fixed and done with - I said, "if the batteries are bad and you can't get them replaced under warranty I will take the loss - take them out, throw them away - and get me two good AGMs that you would use to replace the Roadtrek originals". Yep, I was pretty much at the end of my tolerance in dealing with getting working batteries in the Roadtrek. As it was the entire summer when we should have been traveling in the Roadtrek we were getting the batteries replaced -and then dealing with bad batteries. The only trip we took the entire summer in the Roadtrek was four days the week of July Fourth  - plus the one day and back the same day trip of 400 miles (which was rather pleasant).  We usually go away for a few days at the end of October and I was planning on that trip as the last trip of 2019.

The trip down to Pennsylvania to drop off the Roadtrek we set off with Meryl driving the Roadtrek and me driving our passenger van.  (Ah yes! With all the excitement going on with the Roadtrek just before this trip down, our car started making noises when shifting down. I asked our mechanic if I could drive it to PA and he said - "I wouldn't" - so I didn't. My passenger van is a 1996 and I have only driven it locally for a long number of years.  So I asked the same mechanic - who knows it well - if it would make ti to PA and back and he said sure. Just in case I took it out on a highway at night for an hour to make sure it would.  It did that fine - and that is what I was going to drive to PA - a trip this van has not taken in maybe over 10 years or longer.) SO - We have Midland Walkie Talkies with a 28 mile range (clear open field outside) and we each took one - and they kept us in contact the entire trip. The only time we lost contact was when the Roadtrek got ahead of me and went around a long curve- but as soon as we both were on straight highway again the radios connected.  Meryl rarely gets to drive the Roadtrek and had not driven it that far since she drove it home from Pennsylvania with me following. We got to the service center  in its new location. Had a nice chat with our friend - talked about Roadtrek and the new owners - and we left it in good hands. They were planning on our having it back in about 12 days. And they were not charging me for labor unless they were actually working on it. They have been very good with us since we first met this dealer in 2009 when we started looking at Roadtreks - and met them at an RV show in New York.

Getting home was a lot more exciting. We stuck around the area for a couple of hours - had lunch and stopped at a store that was not far for a couple of pies - not just any pies - and not chocolate shoofly but a cake in a pie called Funny Cake which is mostly only found in this area of Pennsylvania.  We were this close - we had to go and pick up a couple. Well. We finally almost got to the PA Turnpike - coming from a direction we have not come from before and had to head east from and we made a wrong turn that took almost a half hour to correct - and we got back to the PA Turnpike rush hour had started. Six hours later - we got home. Thank goodness we were together in the van because had this happened on the way down in two vehicles it would have been even more of a mess. We made a mental note - when coming back to pick up the Roadtrek - get there early and come straight back home!

Back home and life goes on. I was getting email updates from Roadtrek dealer/service. During this time Meryl's 90 year old mom needed some help getting to routine medical appointments and we were taking her.   We got a call from Roadtrek and they said it would be ready in two days.

Findings from Roadtrek dealer service - Roadtrek electrical systems and charging - ALL GOOD! New batteries - one bad, one good. The bad one was bringing the whole thing down. A new replacement added to the good battery would make all GOOD. AND THEY HAD A DISTRIBUTOR WHO WOULD TAKE THE BAD BATTERY AND REPLACE IT WITH THE SAME UNDER WARRANTY.

SO as far as the Roadtrek was concerned all was going to be good. The minor problem at home was we were scheduled to take Meryl's mom to the doctor when we should have gone back for the Roadtrek.  I let the shop know this and they said no problem - call us next week and we will set a day to expect you.  That would have been good if the weather had not changed - and it got suddenly very cold and a bit snowy -  not at home but in PA. Just before I was going to call the next week, I got a call that morning from the Roadtrek shop - the weather forecast is predicting well below 28 degrees in the next few nights and your Roadtrek is not winterized. May we winterize it if you can't come right now to get it?  Well, I had heard this same thing about the weather and it was there and here - and even if I could have gone right then to get it - I would have it home in the same cold. I told them absolutely yes - as I had thought to ask them to do this anyway when I called later that day. So they would winterize the Roadtrek.  Of course, those who have read my articles on winterizing the Roadtrek I have little things that I do that the shops often don't do - and I had to make sure they knew not to use compressed air in the lines - as this is a never do according to Roadtrek (at least the "old Roadtrek").  I went through my please don't and please make sure to do this and that - which I would have done if I was doing it myself.  She said, of course. And for the first time since they did the winterizing that first year we owned the Roadtrek - and took their one to one winterizing class - which is the basis for my steps on winterizing - plus my additions - I was not winterizing the Roadtrek. And like a parent with his child away for the first time when something they do together is not done - I worried if they were really going to do it all the way I do. (And they did!)

 We finally got to get to PA and pick up the Roadtrek - and as we were sure to do after our first experience getting home in rush hour PA, NJ, and NY style - we picked it up around 11 am. Stopped for twenty minutes to have lunch. Got on the southbound road to the PA Turnpike - did not make the same mistaken turn as we did the last time - now following each other - and got home in the expected three hours - and only got into traffic in New York - Walkie Talkies with voice activated transmission making sure that each was finding the correct turns.

I will not say what I was charged except that everything to do with the batteries and checking out the Roadtrek's systems to make sure they were good was reasonable.  The winterizing surprised me as to what it now costs which is a lot more than it was 8 years before - but checking around I was charged ballpark for what winterizing costs to do today. It is a good thing to do it yourself- as you save a LOT!

I learned a very important lesson in all of this. The lesson is don't try to go cheap! I got a quote from the Roadtrek dealer/service on the batteries and installation before I decided to go to the place in New Jersey to buy the batteries.  The quote was higher on the batteries but lower on the installation (and I was charged in addition by the shop in NJ for shipping the batteries from LifeLine to them - and they were supposed to be a LifeLine distributor. plus parts that were not needed.to do the install).  Had I gone to the Roadtrek dealer/service from the start the total price - as there was no shipping involved - they were going to the same distributor that did the warranty exchange a few miles away from them - and there were no added, unnecessary parts - would have been less than what it cost me in New Jersey plus they would have fully checked out the batteries at the time of install - and I would have had the Roadtrek for travel - no need to make two trips down and back with multiple vehicles which involved tolls and gas - and not had to pay for getting everything checked out. All in all - I should have listened to Meryl when she told me to go to the Roadtrek dealer/service from the start  - why? Because Meryl is always right. I don't say that mockingly. She will tell you, herself, that she is always right - and you know - honestly - she is.

We never did get to take that trip at the end of October. The weather was bad. Things were going on at home that could not be put aside. But the Roadtrek was fixed and fixed right.

Our Roadtrek dealer/service is Fretz RV in Souderton, PA. As I have said they have always been good to us! 

I have been checking voltage regularly ever since I got the Roadtrek back. It has gone on a day trip since then. The generator gets its monthly exercise. And until today - because I don't want o get into the habit of not plugging it in - even though it really does not need to be charged - I had only plugged it in once. As I write it is outside plugged in and charging. Other than when plugged in or running the generator when I put the TrippLite into Charge Only setting, I keep the TrippLite on the DC OFF setting - and there is still zero drain on the batteries.  The batteries stay at 12.9 volts - may go to 12.8X volts with x being a 100th of a volt . The lowest I have seen is 12.82 volts - all indicating that they are fully charged and holding that charge.  It has been four months now. The green light on the battery monitor inside the Roadtrek on the wall always shows C - top LED - for the momentary check of the batteries inside with the plug in 12 volt meter - and then the battery switch goes right off.

Would I still recommend LifeLine  AGM batteries to replace your Roadtrek AGMs?  I am not sure if I would. Maybe it is not unusual for one to get a bad battery. I don't know. I have never gotten a bad vehicle battery. These batteries are supposed to be hand assembled at the factory in California. They are supposed to be the best - and at a price for the best. When I read though the LifeLine technical manual they talk about all the things one is supposed to do annually to maintain these batteries. Well, the AGMs Roadtrek put in when they built my Roadtrek in 2011 lasted until - and maybe even would have lasted longer past - 2019. I decided to replace them because they were not charging when driving - and we found out after buying the new batteries that the problem with that was not the batteries at all but the battery separator going bad. So I might still have had the OEM batteries now if that had not happened.  And all I ever did to maintain those batteries was to plug in every month and charge them - once a month up to when they were four years old and then I started plugging in twice a month - to keep them charged. And with these new batteries- well that is my plan also -they will get plugged in once a month - which is also good for keeping the engine battery charged (depending on the year of your Roadtrek).  I can't be doing what they say to do and I have no idea how to do what they say to check and record, discharge, and ,,.  Well. they will get plugged in. You can download the manual on the LifeLine website and decide for yourself.

I will be writing some articles about what I have learned about the Roadtrek electrical system which goes beyond the basics I have written about in the past. There are things that work a lot differently than I had thought they did. i have mentioned some of them so far. But that is for another article.

Once again, thanks for coming along on this journey - one I rather I would have not had to take.