Wednesday, November 23, 2016


I really did not want to winterize the Roadtrek this year until the very last minute. I don't know - maybe the chance of a late Fall trip, though we just got back from an early November trip a few weeks ago. Both of us felt this way, but we knew that we could not take a chance that the upper 30's nights might suddenly change for the worse, and we could always head out without water for a trip as we have done in the past. So we winterized.

There recently was a comment/question asked on one of our posts if winterizing is necessary if there is no water in the water system. When we ended the last trip I dumped the fresh tank and opened all of the faucets and flushed the toilet. One would think that there should be no water in the system with that, but coming to winterize just a couple of weeks later, turning on the faucet - no water pump on - water came out. Turning on the faucet with the water pump ON - a lot of water came out. And following that more water came out when the antifreeze went in pushing the rest of the water out. So yes, you still have to winterize even if you think that there is no water in the system - because there is. The antifreeze pushes remaining water out and replaces it in the pipes and valves. 

In case you think that I have all the steps right there in my head, before I do anything like winterizing on the Roadtrek that I have written about, I print out the entire article - with photos and use that to follow every step. I know that if I didn't I would miss something. While we did the winterizing this year, as every year, those instructions were with us and we read and did each one by one.

We had drained the tanks at the end of our last trip and dumped the black and grey tanks, then put some RV antifreeze down into the black tank so that it would not dry out until we did winterized. Draining the tanks can take the most time when winterizing. We had drained the hot water tank also. What we had to do when winterizing was get the antifreeze into the plumbing and the tanks. The job took about an hour. If we had to wait to drain the tanks or deal with the hot water tank, it would have taken longer. I bought four gallons of RV Antifreeze. I used two. I will keep the rest for next year.

While winterizing I realized a few things that while are not generally talked about in the winterizing process are a good thing to do and I have NOW added those to our step by step winterizing article. Here is what I have added.

When we first learned how to winterize at a paid private winterizing lesson given to the two of us by the Roadtrek dealer/service where we bought the Roadtrek, after he put the antifreeze into the pipes, he turned the hot water heater bypass valves quickly out of bypass and back again. He said that he does this and was not sure if anyone else did. My concern about following this in the past was that it would put some antifreeze into the hot water tank which I have been reluctant to do. Since over the years we have had a two hot water heater bypass valves freeze (or at least go bad) over the winter, I decided that perhaps this small step would be a good addition to the process. That step has now been added to our winterizing guide.

The other thing that I have changed and updated is the place in the process that winterizing the macerator pump comes at. Here is what happened. We followed the original steps in their order and when we went through the process of putting RV antifreeze into the macerator pump, a lot of water came out of the black tank into our "dump bucket" (also called the "doody bucket" 😉 ) before the pink antifreeze that we had put in the tank came out. I realized that we really should put some more antifreeze into the black tank. I thought - no problem - when we are done with the macerator we will just open the toilet flap and pour more antifreeze down the toilet into the black tank. Well, when I stepped on the toilet peddle the antifreeze that was in the toilet pipe and the toilet valve came out into the toilet. The water pump was off, but it still came out. What I figure is that this was in under pressure and flowed out when the valve was activated. So much for the idea of putting more antifreeze down into the black tank because I did not want to let all of the a/f in the toilet valve and pipe out - so my foot came quickly off the pedal and that was that. To replace the a/f I would have to reconnect the winterizing valve hose - which was off, cap tightened back on, etc. or get out the winterizing antifreeze hand pump again, connect it to the city water connection outside and pump a/f into the lines to the toilet. We both decided that what was in the lines now and the black tank was good enough - and stopped. BUT from now on and in our winterizing guide the winterizing valve and a/f hose will not be taken out until the macerator is done and all will be in place to put antifreeze back into the black tank and keep it in the toilet lines.

So our Roadtrek is winterized. More trips are not out of the question if we travel in no water conditions which is OK but not great. But now I look forward to the Spring. But there will still be articles until then, so come around every two weeks and we will keep you informed and entertained.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

How to Use the Furnace

There are a lot of things that those who have had an RV for awhile just do automatically, but for a first time RV owner there are many things that a good step by step understanding of will help a great deal. I have had several readers email and ask about some of these things and I will try to do some more articles on some of the basics. Since we are now in November and there may still be some who are not ready to set their RV aside for the winter quite yet, I will start with the FURNACE. (If you have a new Roadtrek and don't have a furnace for heat, this does not apply to you.)

The furnace in the Roadtrek and most RVs runs on both PROPANE AND BATTERY. The propane is the fuel used to make the heat. The battery is needed to:

-  Ignite the propane
- Run the fan to move the heat out of the furnace and into the RV

I have an article already about propane and you can go there to learn from this two part article about how to turn on your propane and also what to do when you first turn it on to make sure there is propane gas in all of the gas pipes.

So to use your furnace -

TURN YOUR PROPANE ON - Get it into all pipes (see article link above).


The furnace switch is on a control panel. Mine is located at the rear of the cabin on the passenger side on the wall above the bed. I have a mechanical switch with slide switches. The newer Roadtreks have a digital switch with a digital thermostat display. Both do the same functions.

This is what mine looks like. If you have an older Roadtrek yours should look similar.

Here is what the digital switch looks like -






SLIDE THE SWITCH (or push buttons on the digital version) TO FURNACE

What should happen now is you will hear the blower fan inside the furnace turn on. It will be blowing cold air - that is what it is supposed to do right now. After a short time you will hear a CLICK. That CLICK is the battery run ignition lighting the propane.

IF THE FURNACE KEEPS CLICKING it means that the propane did not light. IT WILL ATTEMPT TO LIGHT SEVERAL MORE TIMES. If it does not light turn off the Furnace switch on the wall and check that all setting are as described above, that there is PROPANE in the tank, and it has been run through all the lines as that link above tells you how to do. Once checked, turn on the Furnace switch again.


There will be no more clicks and in a few minutes when you put your hand in front of the furnace vent inside there will be heat coming out and not cold air.

Your furnace is now in operation!

Set your thermostat lower if it gets too warm or higher if it is not warm enough. What will happen is with the settings on AUTO the furnace will turn off when it reaches the temperature set and turn back on when the temperature gets colder again. This cycling on and off is NORMAL.




The first time that a new furnace is turned on, the furnace flame will burn off any packing oil that the furnace parts were coated with. This will result in a lot of smoke and a sharp burning smell. This IS NORMAL!  Once the smoke that this results in clears and is out the window or the fan, you can push the button to stop the smoke detector and it will not go off again. If it does, there is still more to burn off and exhaust out.


THIS WILL OFTEN ALSO HAPPEN THE FIRST TIME THE FURNACE IS TURNED ON FOR A NEW SEASON. Dust, etc. collects inside the furnace and this too burns off when the furnace is ignited and will set off the smoke detector. IF it does, just do the same as above to stop it.


You would think that this is just as simple as moving the switch to OFF - and it IS, BUT...

When you turn the furnace off the flame will go out BUT the furnace fan will run for several minutes to cool off the inside of the furnace. THIS IS NORMAL! But it is very disconcerting. It troubles me when I first use the furnace after awhile and I never have gotten used to this. You hear it keep running. It will stop. Even though, if you are like me, you don't think it will stop - it will stop.

The furnace is VENTED outside. Here is a photo of the vent usually located on a Roadtrek just past the driver's door on the side of the van:

Always keep this vent CLEAR! If you are in the RV in the winter and it has snowed. Clear this off of snow if you are going to put on the furnace. If there has been an ice storm, clear all of the openings of this vent of ice. If you do not DO NOT TURN ON THE FURNACE. There are also special screens made and sold just for this vent to keep bugs out. Bugs can build nests or webs and cause all types of problems for the furnace.

That is it! You now are an expert in using your RV furnace!