I have written two other articles about winterizing the Roadtrek - Winterizing the Roadtrek and Winterizing Observations. Many of our readers have used both of these articles successfully to winterize their own Roadtrek. Looking over both articles and just completing our second winterizing experience on our own, I felt that what is needed is one article that puts the entire process in one place and definitively goes through the process in simple to follow steps. The basic process applies not only to all Roadtreks similarly equipped, but also all RVs and many trailers. There is no mystery to winterizing unless you have never done it before. With this article anyone should be able to winterize their Roadtrek and in no more than two hours - most likely a lot less. Remember that this is STEP BY STEP IN THE SIMPLEST OF STEPS. Do not let the number of steps you see here overwhelm you or discourage you!
NOTE: If you have not installed a winterizing valve on your Roadtrek and/or you don't have a winterizing hand pump, Just pour the RV antifreeze into your EMPTY front (exterior) fresh tank and just use your water pump to put the RV antifreeze through the plumbing and fixtures.
IF you just have the winterizing hand pump you can use that to do the entire process. It just takes two to do this - one inside the turn on and off the water fixtures and one outside with the pump and the RV Antifreeze bottle to pump.
To start, here is a list of what you will need to follow this process and as I go through the steps I will explain alternatives for some of these items. There are some that you must have.
WHAT YOU MUST HAVE BEFORE YOU START:
- THREE (3) BOTTLES OF RV ANTIFREEZE (Pink, non-toxic and drinking water safe)
- RATCHET SOCKET WRENCH with 1 -1/16" SOCKET (For Roadtrek SUBURBAN Water Heater)
WHAT YOU SHOULD HAVE BEFORE YOU START:
- CAMCO WATER PUMP CONVERTER WINTERIZER KIT
This is permanently installed between the pipe coming from your fresh water tank and your water pump. Here it has been installed on the intake side of the water pump filter strainer (which on my Roadtrek was moved by service to make room to install the winterizing kit - the brass valve that you see here). Some older Roadtreks do not have room for this valve to be installed. It is possible to make room by adding pipe to the intake side of the water pump as was done here bringing the connection to the floor. A service center can install this for you and make it fit. If no modifications are required for space at your water pump this is an easy DIY install with full instructions included with the kit.
- PLASTIC WINTERIZING HAND PUMP KIT
- 8" ADJUSTABLE WRENCH
The wrench is to remove and replace the cap on the water pump converter valve as shown above.
Before you begin here is one preliminary step -
CLEAN THE FLOOR OF YOUR ROADTREK AROUND THE SHOWER DRAIN TO AVOID ANY DIRT GETTING WASHED INTO YOUR WASTE TANK.
NOW - You are ready to BEGIN!
1. IF YOU HAVE A 190 OR 210 (Models with two fresh water tanks) MAKE SURE YOUR TANKS ARE SET TO SUMMER MODE.
2. OPEN THE INSIDE SHOWER DRAIN BY REMOVING THE DRAIN SCREEN/PLUG. For an aisle shower remove the plate on the aisle floor and the shower drain is inside. For the permanent bathroom, remove the shower drain screen/plug from the floor.
3. OPEN ALL FAUCETS INSIDE AND OUTSIDE. FLUSH TOILET. Water pump OFF! Put your inside shower head down on the floor right at the drain to catch the water that will come out. Remove any water filters that you may have on your faucets first.
4. DUMP YOUR WASTE TANKS - BLACK AND GREY. Flush your black tank with clean water to full and dump again. For convenience this can be done at the end of your last camping trip of the season. As long as it is done before you start winterizing.
5. REMOVE THE FRESH WATER TANK FILL CAP(S) IN THE DOOR FRAME(S).
6. DRAIN YOUR FRESH WATER TANK(S). Newer Roadtreks have a cap on a drain under the chassis at the rear, lower corner of the driver's door that must be unscrewed and removed. Some older Roadtreks will have a turn valve in the same location. Other older Roadtreks have other methods to drain the fresh water tank. For 190's and 210's, the rear interior tank will drain into the front exterior tank with the outside drain if your are set to Summer Mode as per Step 1. WAIT FOR ALL OF THE WATER TO DRAIN OUT. This may take some time. It will come to a slow drip and then stop. If you want to be sure, leave the drain open for 24 hours or more to allow the inside of the tank to dry out.
7. CLOSE ALL FAUCETS INSIDE AND OUT.
8. CLOSE THE FRESH WATER TANK DRAIN.
9. KEEP THE FRESH WATER TANK CAP(S) OFF FOR A FEW DAYS TO ALLOW THE TANKS TO DRY OUT BEFORE PUTTING THEM BACK INTO THE DOOR FRAME(S) HOLE(S).
10. OPEN THE HOT WATER HEATER OUTSIDE PANEL. Turn the white plastic ring so that it matches the slit and grab the top of the panel pulling up and out.
11. OPEN THE HOT WATER PRESSURE RELEASE VALVE. This is the small handle in the middle of the photo above on the top of the compartment. Pull up gently on the metal handle. STEP BACK AND OUT OF THE WAY! Water will come rushing out with some force. Leave this open. Wait for the water to stop coming out before going to the next step.
12. OPEN THE HEX HEAD BOLT USING THE 1 1/16" SOCKET AND RATCHET WRENCH. This is seen in the exact middle of the bottom of the compartment in the photo above. This will be hard to turn at first. This hex bolt is the head of the ANODE ROD. Once completely loose pull out the Anode Rod by pulling out the head of the bolt you just turned open. ALL OF THE WATER WILL RUSH OUT OF THE HOT WATER HEATER. YOU JUST DRAINED THE HOT WATER HEATER TANK. SOME WATER WILL REMAIN IN THE BOTTOM OF THE HOT WATER TANK. Y9U CAN LEAVE THIS OR LEAVE IT OPEN FOR A FEW DAYS TO LET IT DRY OUT.
13. INSPECT THE ANODE ROD FOR CONDITION. It's purpose is to corrode. If it's diameter is less than a pencil it needs to be replaced. Replace with a new one now or make a note to replace when you de-winterize. THIS IS A GOOD TIME TO FLUSH THE HOT WATER TANK OF ALL SEDIMENT - FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE TO SEE HOW.
14. REPLACE THE ANODE ROD AND TIGHTEN IT IN WITH THE SOCKET WRENCH. Use Teflon pipe tape or pipe sealant paste on the threads of the hex bolt.
15. CLOSE THE PRESSURE RELIEF VALVE BY JUST GENTLY PUSHING IN THE HANDLE YOU PULLED OUT.
16. REPLACE THE HOT WATER HEATER PANEL. Put the bottom in first lining up the two points on the bottom frame with the two holes in the door. Push in with the plastic ring going through the slot. TURN THE PLASTIC RING TO LOCK.
GO INSIDE THE ROADTREK
17. BYPASS THE HOT WATER HEATER. Newer Roadtreks have three valves on pipes in the middle of the hot water tank inside in a cabinet. The hot water tank is covered in foam and is easy to identify. Older Roadtreks may have one valve. Roadtrek Ranger's have a very different process to drain the hot water tank and there is only one valve for the bypass.
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 (middle) pipe, and one on the bottom pipe. In this photo these valves are in NORMAL HOT WATER USE 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. When in bypass water still comes out of the hot water faucets - it will just be COLD water - and that is what is should be when the hot water heater is bypassed.
18. PLUG IN YOUR ROADTREK OR TURN ON YOUR GENERATOR IF YOUR COACH BATTERIES ARE NOT FULLY CHARGED. You will now be using your water pump and you don't want to run out of battery power. If your batteries are charged, just use your batteries. TURN ON YOUR BATTERY DISCONNECT SWITCH.
19. TURN ON YOUR WATER PUMP WITH THE SWITCH ON THE WALL.
20. OPEN AND CLOSE ALL FAUCET HANDLES INCLUDING THE SHOWER HOT AND COLD AND FLUSH THE TOILET UNTIL NO MORE WATER COMES OUT. The water pump may run on because it is now sucking air from the empty fresh water tanks.
21. TURN OFF THE WATER PUMP WITH THE SWITCH ON THE WALL.
22. OPEN THE TOILET LID AND POUR ONE HALF GALLON OR MORE OF ANTIFREEZE INTO THE TOILET AND FLUSH IT DOWN INTO THE BLACK TANK. Doing this step now prevents the loss of antifreeze that you put into the toilet lines if you do this step later. This is to keep the black tank wet all winter with antifreeze so that it does not dry out and also puts antifreeze in that you will use later to protect the macerator. Do this even if you don't have a macerator.
GO OUTSIDE THE ROADTREK
23. CONNECT THE HOSE ON THE ANTIFREEZE HAND PUMP ONTO THE CITY WATER INLET CONNECTION. Make sure that the CITY WATER VALVE IS SET TO USE WATER AND NOT TO FILL THE FRESH TANK(S).
24. SOMEONE NEEDS TO GO INSIDE THE ROADTREK TO THE SINK FAUCET, WHILE YOU STAY AT OUTSIDE WITH THE HAND PUMP. Open a door or a window or use a walkie-talkie so that the two of you can communicate.
25. PERSON INSIDE OPEN THE SINK FAUCET ALL THE WAY TO COLD.
26. PUT THE OTHER END OF THE HAND PUMP INTO AN OPEN, FULL ANTIFREEZE BOTTLE.
27. PUMP THE HAND PUMP UNTIL THE PERSON INSIDE SEES PURE PINK ANTIFREEZE COMING OUT INTO THE SINK FROM THE FAUCET. As soon as the person sees pink antifreeze and no water coming out and tells you, they should CLOSE THE FAUCET and YOU STOP PUMPING.
28. REMOVE THE HAND PUMP FROM THE CITY WATER HOSE CONNECTION. The pump is full of antifreeze and will spill so get both ends of the hose into the bottle quickly and empty the pump.
29. CAP THE CITY WATER HOSE CONNECTION IF YOU HAVE A CAP.
GO INSIDE THE ROADTREK YOU ARE FINISHED WITH THE HAND PUMP. YOU HAVE JUST PROTECTED THE CITY WATER HOSE VALVE AND THE PIPES THAT GO INSIDE THE ROADTREK.
YOU ARE NOW GOING TO USE THE WATER PUMP CONVERTER VALVE. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A WATER PUMP CONVERTER VALVE INSTALLED YOU CAN USE THE HAND PUMP BY FOLLOWING THE NEXT STEPS WITH THE HAND PUMP STILL CONNECTED AND ONE PERSON INSIDE AND ONE PERSON OUTSIDE PUMPING ANTIFREEZE INTO THE PLUMBING USING THE HAND PUMP.
30. REMOVE THE WATER PUMP CONVERTER VALVE CAP. You may need the 8" adjustable wrench to do this if the cap is on tight.
31. CONNECT THE WATER PUMP CONVERTER VALVE ANTIFREEZE HOSE TO THE VALVE BY SCREWING IT ON WHERE YOU REMOVED THE CAP.
32. OPEN THE VALVE. Turn the brass valve to point toward the antifreeze hose (across the valve).
33. PUT THE END OF THE HOSE INTO THE ANTIFREEZE IN THE BOTTLE.
34. TURN ON THE WATER PUMP.
35. TURN ON THE KITCHEN SINK FAUCET TO COLD ALL THE WAY. In a few moments the pump will pull the antifreeze from the bottle and into the water pump, through the pipe and out the kitchen sink faucet.
36. TURN OFF THE FAUCET WHEN YOU SEE PURE PINK ANTIFREEZE ONLY COMING FROM FAUCET INTO THE SINK. First there may be a burst of air, then maybe, but unlikely water, and then antifreeze with some water, and then pure pink antifreeze. Let it go down the sink drain.
37. REPEAT STEPS 35 AND 36 FOR THE
KITCHEN SINK HOT WATER
INSIDE SHOWER COLD WATER
INSIDE SHOWER HOT WATER
OUTSIDE SHOWER HOT WATER
OUTSIDE SHOWER COLD WATER
BATHROOM SINK COLD WATER
38. FLUSH THE TOILET AND HOLD THE VALVE OPEN UNTIL YOU SEE PURE PINK ANTIFREEZE COMING INTO THE TOILET.
39. ALLOW SOME ANTIFREEZE TO REMAIN IN THE TOILET COVERING THE RUBBER FLUSH FLAP/DOOR. If there is none remaining after you flushed the antifreeze, then just pour some from an antifreeze bottle into the toilet and let an inch or so sit over the flush flap.
**** UPDATE/ADD IN -
Having followed my own directions for several years now to winterize my Roadtrek, I have found one step that needs to come at THIS POINT and not later. That step is winterizing the macerator pump. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A MACERATOR SKIP NOW RIGHT TO STEP 49. IF YOU DO HAVE A MACERATOR, do these steps NOW.
40. POUR A HALF GALLON OF ANTIFREEZE INTO THE KITCHEN SINK DRAIN. This is to put some antifreeze into the Grey Tank.
41. TURN OFF THE WATER PUMP. LEAVE THE SETUP WITH THE A/F BOTTLE AND THE WINTERIZING VALVE IN PLACE.
GO OUTSIDE THE ROADTREK
41. PREPARE TO DUMP THE BLACK TANK WITH THE MACERATOR.
42. POINT THE MACERATOR HOSE INTO A BUCKET AND OPEN THE BLACK TANK VALVE. RUN THE MACERATOR UNTIL PURE PINK ANTIFREEZE COMES OUT.
43. REPEAT STEP 42, BRIEFLY OPENING THE GREY TANK VALVE.
44. STOP AND PUT AWAY THE MACERATOR HOSE.
YOU HAVE JUST PROTECTED THE MACERATOR.
GO INSIDE THE ROADTREK
45. GO TO THE TOILET AND OPEN THE TOILET FLAP. POUR AT LEAST ONE HALF GALLON OF RV ANTIFREEZE DOWN THE TOILET INTO TH BLACK TANK. When you push the flush pedal you may see pink antifreeze coming from the toilet water opening even though the water pump is OFF. This is OK. This is the antifreeze sitting in the toilet valve and pipe under pressure. We will replace that NEXT.
46. TURN ON THE WATER PUMP AND GO BACK TO THE A/F BOTTLE AND WINTERIZING VALVE. MAKE SURE THE HOSE IS IN THE BOTTLE.
47. HAVE YOUR PARTNER PUSH DOWN THE TOILET PEDAL ALL THE WAY UNTIL PINK ANTIFREEZE FLOWS STEADILY OUT OF THE TOILET WATER OPENING INTO THE BOWL AND DOWN INTO THE BLACK TANK. STOP (FOOT OFF THE PEDAL) AS SOON AS IT FLOWS.
48. POUR ANTIFREEZE FROM A BOTTLE INTO THE TOILET AND COVER THE TOILET FLAP ON THE BOTTOM OF THE BOWL TO KEEP IT FROM DRYING OUT OVER THE WINTER.
*49. TAKE THE HOSE OUT OF THE ANTIFREEZE BOTTLE.
50. TURN ON THE KITCHEN SINK AND LET ANTIFREEZE RUN OUT INTO THE SINK.
51. TURN OFF THE WATER PUMP.
52. TURN THE WATER PUMP CONVERTER VALVE HANDLE TO POINT TOWARD THE WATER PIPE (AS SHOWN IN THE PHOTO ABOVE).
53. UNSCREW THE HOSE FROM THE WATER PUMP CONVERTER VALVE.
54. PUT THE CAP BACK ON THE WATER PUMP CONVERTER VALVE. Make sure the cap is on tight. Use the wrench but don't over tighten. You want to be sure that no air can leak into your water pump plumbing from here when you go to use your Roadtrek next Spring.
55. POUR A CUP OF ANTIFREEZE SLOWLY INTO THE KITCHEN SINK DRAIN TO FILL THE TRAP.
56. POUR A CUP OF ANTIFREEZE SLOWLY INTO THE SHOWER DRAIN TO FILL THE TRAP.
57. PUT THE SHOWER DRAIN STRAINER/CAP ON BUT LEAVE IT LOOSE.
58. IF YOU DON'T HAVE A MACERATOR AND DID NOT DO THIS STEP ABOVE, POUR SOME ANTIFREEZE INTO THE TOILET TO COVER THE TOILET FLAP AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BOWL TO KEEP IT FROM DRYING OUT OVER THE WINTER.
59. TURN OFF THE BATTERY SWITCH ON THE WALL!
60. IF YOU PLUGGED IN FOR POWER UNPLUG OR TURN OFF THE GENERATOR.
61. IN A FEW DAYS, PUT THE DOOR FILL CAP(S) BACK INTO THE HOLE(S).
When you are going to winterize your Roadtrek print these step by step directions out and cross off each step as you complete it. This will be far better than trying to use a checklist with brief and confusing wording of items. Here you have it complete and simple.
If you do not wish to use the "toys" that make this job simple as shown in the photos at the beginning, you could just pour gallons and gallons of antifreeze down into the fresh water tank and let the water pump bring it out and into the pipes following the steps above. This method uses far more antifreeze than is necessary. With my directions you will not need more than three gallons of antifreeze, maybe less. I would rather not have the antifreeze in the tanks for my drinking water. Yes, it is in the pipes and is is non-toxic, but why have all of that antifreeze sitting in your fresh water tank(s) all winter.
Do not be concerned about the fresh water tank(s). If there is any water left in the bottom of the exterior tank at all it will be so little that it can cause no problems in a freeze. The problems come when water freezes in small places such as pipes and valves. The water when it freezes expands and has no room to go so the pipe or valve bursts. The large tanks have plenty of room for water expansion as long as they are as near empty as possible. In all of those small places you have replaced the water with antifreeze!
If you plan to travel with your Roadtrek winterized, NEVER TURN ON THE HOT WATER HEATER SWITCH. Doing so on an empty hot water tank will burn out your hot water heater and can be very dangerous. There is a wire cable coming out from the top of the foam tank that connects with a small circuit board plug to a socket on the wall to the front right of the hot water tank. By pulling that plug gently out you will prevent the hot water wall switch from operating. Just remember that you did this when you de-winterize.
Don't forget that you still need to go into your Roadtrek all winter. You must run the generator under load (in the winter this means connect an electric heater to put the half load needed on the system) for two hours every month to keep it running properly.Start the Roadtrek engine. Take a drive, but avoid roads with salt for ice and snow as the salt will corrode the under carriage and what is located there of your Roadtrek
An RV shop will charge you $50 or more to do what you just did for the price of three bottles antifreeze, a one time only investment in the water pump converter valve and the antifreeze hand pump, and less than two hours of time. The actual process goes quickly. It is the moving from spot to spot, getting things out and putting things away that take most of the time.