Wednesday, May 2, 2012


When you are sure the cold weather has past and there will be no more freezing nights (or days), it is time to de-winterize your Roadtrek. We waited until the third week in April. Despite the warm days in the beginning of April - some way beyond normal, there were a few near freezing cold nights mixed in. We we had no reason not to wait, so we waited just to be sure.

The process of de-winterizing the Roadtrek is easy. You are just removing the anti-freeze that you put into the water lines and plumbing when you winterized as the cold weather is setting in. The special RV anti-freeze that you use to winterize is non-toxic, but that does not mean that you want to drink it. You want to remove every bit of that pink stuff from your plumbing.

We were given instructions about what to do from the gentleman at dealer service who taught us how to winterize the Roadtrek. I went online and looked at several videos and read several sets of instructions to see how these compared and they were similar. What we decided to do was combine some of the better sounding ideas into our process. The following is what we did.


1. Keep the Hot Water Tank BYPASS in BYPASS MODE to start.

2. Turn the Interior water tank valve to SUMMER MODE. This is a red handle valve located in the lower cabinet (under the front of the bed area) where the hot water heater and water pump are located. The handle should be parallel with the pipe that it is on when in SUMMER MODE. This allows water to flow from the rear interior tank into the front exterior tank. (THIS IS FOR ROADTREK 190s ONLY). Also turn the small black valve to the left of red handle so that it is in line with the pipe. This is the interior tank transfer valve. See the two valves below:

3. Fill the fresh water tanks with fresh potable (drinking) water using your drinking water hose(s) connected to your house outside hose spigot. If you have a Roadtrek 190, as we do, you have TWO fresh water tanks. One in the front and one in the back. One called the exterior tank (front). The other called the interior tank (rear).

4. With fresh water in the tanks, and still leaving the HOT WATER BYPASS IN BYPASS POSITION, turn on your Battery Disconnect Switch and your Water Pump Switch. (If your batteries are low, connect your Roadtrek to shore power using an exterior outlet at your house or turn on the generator. If you need to connect to 11o volt outside power, make this connection before you start doing anything with water.)

5. Turn on the cold water side of the sink. The water pump will rumble a bit, air will shoot out the faucet, and then water will flow. Pink water will be coming out. Allow this to run until the water is clear. Next turn the sink faucet handle to hot and allow the hot side (which will be cold) to flow with water. Again this will be pink. Allow this to run until you do not see pink and the water is clear. Shut off the sink.

6. Repeat Step Five with the shower. Open the drain plate in the floor, make sure the shower stopper is open and point the shower into the floor drain. Have a partner turn on the cold water handle of the shower. Again, pink will flow until clear water comes out. Do the same with the hot water handle. Shut off.

7. Flush the toilet. Pink will swirl around the bowl and clear water will start to flow.

8. If your Roadtrek is a model with a bathroom sink, repeat Step Five with the bathroom sink.

9. Repeat Step Five with the outside shower.

10. NOW - Turn your HOT WATER BYPASS VALVES so that they all are pointing toward the aisle. There are three valves. As you can just about see in this photo there is one at the top, one in the middle and one at the bottom. Yes the one in the middle is in a different position than the other two (the one on the pipe that goes up and down). It also needs to point to the aisle.

Now some are going to question why we waited until this step to set the hot water heater back into the system from bypass and the reason is this. The hot water heater tank fills with six gallons of water and at the start of this process there is antifreeze in the water pump and the lines leading around and into the hot water heater (if it is not in bypass). Why put that antifreeze into the hot water tank when you need to get it out. So, by leaving the hot water heater in bypass until NOW, you have cleared the antifreeze from those lines before the hot water heater. My next step may surprise some as well.

11. Turn off the WATER PUMP.

12. Take you fresh water hose and connect it to the Roadtrek City Water Intake connection on the outside of the Roadtrek in the rear side compartment. MAKE SURE YOU ATTACH A WATER PRESSURE REGULATOR TO THE HOSE BEFORE ATTACHING IT TO THE ROADTREK.

13. Turn on the water at your house outside faucet and send water through the hose and into the Roadtrek.

14. Go inside the Roadtrek and turn on the cold water faucet in the sink. Water will now flow from the city water line and not through the shut off water pump and will flow through our sink faucet into your sink. This is just to see that the water is connected outside correctly and water is flowing as it should be.

15. Move the sink handle to HOT. DO NOT TURN ON THE HOT WATER HEATER SWITCH THERE IS NO NEED. (We don't want hot water, we just want water flowing through the hot water tank now and into your faucets.) There will be a great burst of air that will come from the faucet. It will take a little while for the six gallon hot water tank to fill and water to start coming out with any force from the sink faucet with the handle on HOT. Be patient. It will come. And remember it will be cold water. Check to see if the water is pink. It may be. There may have been some antifreeze in the bypass pipes. It should very quickly run clear.

16. With the water still running through the city water connection - connected to your house - repeat Step Five above with the toilet, the inside shower, and the outside shower.

17. Shut off the water from your house and disconnect the hose from the city water line. You have finished de-winterizing the Roadtrek. Shut off your battery disconnect switch.

Yes, this is all there is to de-winterizing. BUT your fresh water tanks have been sitting for several months without water in them and mold and bacteria can form in the tanks during this time. What you need to do now is SANITIZE the fresh water tanks. And the procedure for this follows.


What you will need:

- Chlorine Bleach (Clorox or any equivalent)
- A Funnel (we made one up using a kitchen funnel and attached a piece of vinyl tube to the end that will easily get into the door fills for the fresh water tanks.
- A Measuring Cup

1. Open the driver's door water intake hole and place the end of the funnel into the hole.

2. Measure ONE HALF CUP of Bleach into the cup.

3. Pour the bleach into a gallon bottle and top off with water. Pour the water/bleach slowly into the funnel and down the hole. Do not let this splash on you or allow the end of the funnel to come out of the intake hole in the door. (This is why we made up the funnel with the tube. And because we are both relatively short, I stood on a step stool to make sure I was well above the opening to get the bleach in and straight down.

4. If you have a Roadtrek 190, as we have, repeat STEPS ONE, TWO, AND THREE at the back cargo door water intake. You have now added one half cup of bleach each to each of the two fresh water tanks.

5. Connect your fresh water hose to your house and top off (fill to the top) the two water tanks.

6. Just for a little mixing, I drove the Roadtrek down the driveway stopping quickly every few feet to shake up the water in the tanks and did the same driving back up the driveway. The Roadtrek bounced on its springs a few times and the water mixed in the tanks.

7. Turn on the water pump. Open each facet - sink - hot on, off then cold, inside shower - hot on, off then cold, flush the toilet, outside shower - hot on, off then cold. Allow all but the toilet to run until you smell bleach in the water coming out. It should be a very noticeable odor in the water. NO NEED TO TURN YOUR HOT WATER HEATER ON - WATER FLOWS INTO AND OUT OF THAT TANK ANYWAY. THE HOT WATER WILL JUST BE COLD.


9. After four hours, drain your fresh water tank(s). To do this in my Roadtrek 190 P, we opened the low point drain valve on the front fresh water tank that is located right under the rear corner of the driver's door under the chassis. On our Roadtrek there is a little black cap that is unscrewed off. It looks like the cap to a shampoo bottle. Water will start running out as soon as you loosen the cap. I understand that on some older Roadtreks there is no cap but there is an actual valve to turn. We do one more thing to drain the tanks as the low point drain is slow. We turn on the battery disconnect switch, turn on the water pump, and turn on the outside shower. This will run water with force down onto the ground and empty the tanks. (With the outdoor shower and the tank drain open it took about 15 to 20 minutes to empty the tanks.) IF you decide to use the outside shower, as the water starts to slow down, go inside immediately and TURN OFF THE WATER PUMP. You do not want the water pump to ever run dry. Water will continue to flow out of the low point tank drain and a little will still flow out of the pipes through the outside shower. The water at the tank drain will come down to a drip and then stop. REPLACE THE DRAIN CAP. (You will get wet during Step 9! Also be aware this is water with bleach coming out - if it gets on your clothing it can take the color out so be prepared - and don't get splashed in the eyes!)

Note - with your Roadtrek water tanks set to SUMMER MODE (see above De-Winterizing #2 with photo), the rear fresh water tank flows into the front fresh water tank. You are emptying both tanks at the same time with this Step 9.

10. Check your monitor panel inside (Battery Disconnect ON). Press the TEST button and you should see Fresh 1 and Fresh 2 at the bottom EMPTY LED. (If you have only one tank as some Roadtreks do then you will see Fresh 1 empty.)

11. Fill your tank(s) with clean, drinking water again.

We had a problem at this point. The tanks and pipes were filled with air. We filled the front tank first and when we went to fill the rear tank, we could not get water to go in without immediately rushing back out at us. We tried several things and eventually got the water in the tank - what we tried - partially drained the front tank - opened the faucets to allow air out - moved the Summer Mode handle to Winter mode to isolate the rear tank - poured water in with a funnel. I cannot say what finally got what had to be a huge air bubble to clear, but the tank started filling with the hose in the opening and we got it filled.

11. You are going to repeat Step 7 again, but this time you are smelling for no bleach smell. Let the clean water flow for several minutes at each faucet - hot and cold separately - until you smell NO bleach. If you continue to smell bleach you are going to need to repeat Steps 10 and 11 again. We found the bleach smell to be hardly noticeable after several minutes and then not really noticeable at all. The hot side tended to continue to have the bleach smell longer.

13. Drain the tanks again repeating STEP 9.

14. At this point you are done. We decided to fill the fresh water tanks again in preparation for a trip that we were taking a week later.


Notice that nowhere did I talk about emptying the grey or black waste tanks. There is antifreeze and water in them. This can be dumped the first time you dump or you might dump them now. If you do dump your waste tanks, pour a gallon of water down the toilet so that the black tank does not sit dry. As we wanted to start out our next trip with empty tanks, we did dump the grey and the black waste tanks using the built in macerator. A great deal of pink came out with the water. This was the antifreeze that we had put into the waste tanks to protect them when we winterized.

How long did this all take - de-winterizing and sanitizing? It took us the better part of three full afternoons. One reason is that this was our first time doing this. Another reason is that there are steps that require waiting. We wanted to start the sanitizing so that we could drain the tanks right at the four hours. (You probably could leave this overnight.) So we did the de-winterizing on day 1, the bleach went into the tanks and those tanks were drained and refilled with fresh water on day 2, and we did Step 10 above and onward on day 3. This will all go much quicker next year. For one thing we have all the steps down (right here). The other thing we encountered is that we are dealing with 60 plus year old outdoor plumbing connections at my house that leak. We spent some time during all this reducing the leaking to a minimum. We also spent time connecting enough white drinking water safe hoses together to reach the 85 feet to our Roadtrek on the driveway from the back of our house where the leaky water spigot is. Of course, each day we stopped those got disconnected, rolled up and put away. The bubble in the rear fresh water tank also took some time to do battle with. Hopefully, that was a one time thing - as it has never happened to us before (though we have never had the Roadtrek completely empty of fresh water before and needed to refill it right then). I do have some ideas about making the filling process of the fresh water tanks easier. I will be working on that and share with you all what I come up with.


  1. This procedure works if you have a winterize kit / by-pass kit installed and didn't put antifreeze directly into your fresh water tanks. If you put anitfreeze into the fresh water tank, you need to drain that first before you fill the system to start flushing.

    1. Yes, absolutely correct. The article is a follow up to our winterizing article that appeared in November 2011 in which the anti-freeze was placed into the water lines by-passing the fresh water tanks. It is best not to put antifreeze into your fresh water tanks as you will use an excessive amount of anti-freeze. If there is anti-freeze in your fresh water tanks you will want to flush those tanks out first several times to start. The Roadtrek has a hot water tank by-pass as standard equipment and my winterizing article talks about installing a winterizing kit between your tanks and the water pump.

  2. Just the act of filling the fresh water tanks with water should have mixed the bleach pretty well. Like when you add an additive to gasoline-you put the additive in first then mix it by topping the tank off with gasoline. No need drive all over town.

    1. A little agitation never hurts and all I did was drive up and down the driveway - all of 20 feet - a couple of times.

  3. Used tanks must also be sterilized at least one a year, so that bacteria won’t contaminate the water. But you must calculate the measurement of the bleach based on the size of the water tank. For new water tanks, you can use 1 cup of bleach for every 4 gallons of water. But if you sterilize your tank on a regular basis, you can use 1 cup of bleach for every 10 gallons of water.

  4. The water pump can be run dry, if it's a ShurFlo. In fact, most RV water pumps are what they call "self-priming" water pumps, which means they will fill with water all by themselves, by drawing first air (the growling noise when you switch them on) and then liquid from the source, without the user having to get water into them manually somehow. There should be no damage done by doing this, and there's a small plastic mesh filter in them, that needs to be checked for calcium/lime/gunk deposits once in a while, too.
    They work better with a clear filter.
    Since you've got dual fresh tanks, you can fill the entire fresh water system from the rear door fill by making sure the valves are in summer mode first. To get some bleach into the fresh tanks, you can also skip the funnel if you want, and just hold your empty garden hose upright a few feet off the ground, and pour the bleach directly (carefully) into the hose, then plug it into the rear door frame and turn on the water (slowly) to fill the whole fresh system, using gravity, as the inside tank will fill first and then overflow into the outside tank.
    The rest of your process works.

    1. Yes, the Shurflo water pump can be run dry without damage. (This is not true of the macerator.)

      I have another article that talks about how to open and clean the water filter which is located just before the pump intake.

      It is easier to fill each tank separately and know for sure that the bleach has found its way through the whole system. There is an update to this article -

    2. I should have qualified my bleach and tank fill procedure by adding that I don't drink or shower with the water from the fresh water tank. It's main purpose for me is toilet flushing, and any other process that requires chlorinated tap water, like using the galley sink to wash hands or wash/rinse things, or dumping the black tank and rinsing the dump hose(s) with the gray tank.
      I also only have a single (rear) door frame fresh water fill access (older model Roadtrek 190P) so I don't have the option of filling inside/outside tanks from 2 different door frame locations. I can connect a garden hose to the shore water hookup, and flip the red valve to the "fill the main tank" position, from the "pressurize the on board water system" position and fill my tanks that way, as another filling option.
      Your 190P is about a decade newer than mine. Your caveat "Please Take Note" in the margin at the top of the page is very good advice, as the designs, features, and functions of the Roadtrek are different on the various chassis makes and models over the years.
      I hope your blog and "how to" stuff helps folks who are new to the "sport" of RVing and specifically the systems and equipment on the Roadtrek class B van. It sometimes seems overwhelming, but most people figure it all out eventually. It's a continuing project, for sure.

  5. I have a 2005 Road trek popular 210, chevy express 3500. Will this work, because you said this is for the 190 P only?
    I successfully winterized the road trek, by following the instructional video that road trip provides on YouTube. I use that video in combination with the instructions in my road trip manual from 2005. I found it very confusing in the instructions in the manual which says reverse the process. I have yet to dewinterize and think this is very well written. I have never owned the road trek prior to last October, I have only put 1000 miles on it by taking a couple of day trips and have never used the freshwater. We have used one packet of toilet sanitizer, and will discontinue using them and buy the liquid because we do have a macerator. Thank you for the tip. Thank you for this complete and detailed instructional article. The detailed step-by-step is what a novice like myself needs. I was dreading this process. With your instructions I think it should be easier, though not necessarily going to make me any less dreadful because of the amount of work and time it will take. I believe somewhere I read, perhaps in the instructions in my manual that you could or should ride around for several hundred miles going up-and-down making a left and right turns and then let it sit for a day or two with the bleach in it. Thank you very much.. I do have a Roadtrek with the macerator, and find it very difficult to pull in and out. Is there a way of lubricating, perhaps some grease or three in one oil? . Does anyone know how to calculate the electrical needs for an individual needing oxygen, 24 seven?

    1. Most of what I write for the 190 works the same for the 210 - some things may be in different locations but the process is the same. I have never looked at the Roadtrek video on winterizing but I suspect that they have you put antifreeze in the fresh tanks and pump that through the system. I don't do that and my article on winterizing has a much easier way that keeps antifreeze out of the fresh tanks. My process for de-winterizing will work fine for you but if you put antifreeze in the fresh water tanks then flush them out two or three times - adding that to the process - and then sanitize the fresh tanks as I describe. You just want to get the taste of the RV antifreeze out of the fresh tanks. The macerator hose used on the 2005 is likely not the same as the one that Roadtrek put on my 2011. In between those years they found a better hose - though just as stiff - but one more durable. If you have a white or white and blue hose you have the older hose. If you have a green hose you have the newer hose. There is a hose that many replace their Roadtrek hose with that is much more flexible and fits. It is the Thetford Sanicon hose. This needs to be installed by an RV service tech as it must be connected under the van at the macerator and run through the same path that the original hose travels to get to the storage compartment and then out. Some have sprayed the original hose with dry silicone lube on the outside of the hose to make it more flexible. I have never tried this. ALSO - when putting the hose away and taking it out, keep the turn valve on the macerator hose OPEN. Make sure the hose is empty before pulling it back in so that waste does not spill out. With that turn valve closed you are trying to fold back a hose that is full of air - closed inside the hose by closing the valve. It is like trying to squeeze a blown up balloon into a small space. Try that first - and you will find it a lot easier to get the hose back in. If you want to turn the valve closed once it is inside and in place that is fine, but open it before taking the hose out to make that easier too. On batteries you have X number of amp hours. How many depends on the specific batteries you have. You may be able to look up the batteries that are in your van for amp hours. The amp hours will tell you how many hours of battery you have available to you - per the amps you are using., To make this more complicated, the deep cell batteries in an RV should never go down below half - which is about 11.8 - 11.9 volts (on the LED meter in the Roadtrek that is as soon as the third LED up "G" goes off" and you are left with the two red LEDs lit at the bottom. At that point you must recharge the batteries by plugging in or running the generator or driving. The problem is the batteries are used below half charge is that they will take twice as long to recharge and also this will decrease the number of charge recycles the batteries have shortening their life. With something as vital as oxygen use, I will not even attempt at a guess - and it really does depend on the amp draw of the electrics in the oxygen system.  I am not good enough in electrical calculations to even attempt this and there are a lot of variables involved. The safest thing you can do is stay in campgrounds and plug in so you have unlimited power in the Roadtrek's 30 amp electrical system. You might talk with the company that makes the oxygen system - but they are going to need the amp hours of your batteries to figure it out. As to the bleach - follow what this article says.

  6. Another very clear and helpful instructional. Thanks for this! My approach is to read up and check some instructionals and then just get to it even if there are differences in the setup (with whatever the project might be, from RV projects to household electrical repairs) as the principle is what counts. Hands on is always best. Cheers!

  7. From 1st "Reply" above:
    " the inside tank will fill first and then overflow into the outside tank..."
    I belive the water connection from the inside tank has to allow all water from that tank to flow to the external (front) tank.
    Therefore, it would not be filling first and overflowing into front tank. It would be flowing forward from the outset. Otherwise "Summer mode" wouldn't work.
    Connection from rear tank to front would be plumbed in to the bottom-ish of the tank; not as an overflow (at top-ish)

    1. Not really sure where your quote is coming from - but when filling the fresh tanks through the city water valve, the water goes to the internal rear tank first and then - as long as the summer/winter mode valves are set to summer mode the water begins to flow from the back thank into the front tank. There is an overflow valve at the top of the rear internal tank which when reached pushes water out of the rear tank into the overflow valve and out a pipe/tube to the ground behind the rear passenger tire. City water fills the rear tank quickly - much faster then the water can leave the tank though the pex pipe to travel to the front fresh tank - and that tank will overflow and start to pour water onto the ground. We experienced this our very first day in the Roadtrek when we were trying each of the fresh fill options. This also makes using the city water fill to fill both tanks much slower than just using the door frame fill holes to fill each tank independent of the other. We have also had this happen on other occasions using the city water fill to fill both tanks. The hose has to be set to a very slow rate of flow to fill both tanks without water backing up into the interior tank overflow valve and it still will tend to back up.

  8. I am trying to dewinterize the 02C190P that I just purchased. The hot water bypass system does not have a valve on the tube connecting the hot and the cold. It does have valves on the hot and cold lines as they enter the hot water tank but those seem to be frozen perpendicular to the lines entering the heater itself. Do you think the intake water is shut off from the hot water chamber so that I can go head and dewinterize the water system? How can I open those two stuck valves after I have replaced the annode and cleaned the hot water chamber? Or do I need an RV repairman for that?

    1. Older Roadtreks had a different hot water bypass arrangement - and some older Roadtreks did not have ANY hot water bypass (which is a problem when winterizing). If the valve on the top into the hot water tank and the valve on the bottom into the hot water tank are pointing at the tank - this means that the valves are open. This means RV antifreeze will go into the hot water tank- which will fill to 6 gallons before any RV antifreeze will go into the hot water lines. If they are completely frozen - try spraying where the valve handle meets the bottom of the valve with some WD-40. Do this on each of those two valves. Let it sit awhile and then try to turn them. If this does not let the valve turn then you are going to need an RV service tech. You do not want to chance breaking the valves - which would mean needing to replace the valves - as long as the tank does not break with them. An RV shop may decide that the valves should just be replaced. What you need to do is have those valves closed. The valve is closed when it crosses the pipe. If you email us using the email link in the right column we can talk about this easier - and perhaps show me a photo of what is there in your email. The way the hot water heater works is cold water goes into the bottom of the tank - through the bottom valve - and hot water comes out of the tank through the top valve into the hot water side of the sink and showers.