First - THIS IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR WINTER-LONG WINTERIZING. Emergency winterizing is when you find out the weather is going to change dramatically and get cold to the point of freezing that night or the next day and you do not have time to completely winterize before the temperatures drop! If you have time to winterize properly then follow the directions in our article: "Winterizing: The Definitive Step by Step Guide."
Something that is important to understand is the weather has changed considerably in the past five or more years. Areas that never got cold or saw snow or ice or had severe storms that bring tornadoes to areas that never had any of this in the past - has been experiencing it all in recent years - and especially in this past year. Thinking that you have never had to winterize before so why start now - well there is good reason to start now. And those who think - it can't happen to me or here - you are betting on the cost of repairs of your Roadtrek if you take a chance.
Winterizing is necessary when the temperatures will go to 28 degrees or colder for two nights in a row with the days NOT going up to at least 40 degrees or higher. This came to us from a Roadtrek trained RV service technician. It is a good guideline to remember and be prepared to deal with - especially when you find this out when there is little time to winterize fully. IF THE TEMPERATURES DO THIS FOR MORE THAN TWO DAYS IN A ROW OR THE TEMPERATURES DROP EVEN LOWER - AND YOU KNOW IT IS COMING - WINTERIZE FULLY!
1) WATER PUMP OFF - Inside open the sink - hot and cold and let it drain out. Open the shower hot and cold side and with the shower nozzle in the sink, let the shower hose drain out into the sink. Flush the toilet. Go outside and open the hot and cold side of the outside shower - let that pour to the ground.
2) Empty your exterior fresh tank. (It is a good idea to also empty your interior fresh tank, if you have a two fresh tank system (190, 210). The reason for this is you do not want any water inside as you will not be able to use the water anyway as it must NOT go down any drain including the toilet. You could leave the interior tank full if you want.) If you leave water in the interior fresh tank (two fresh tank system) PUT THE SUMMER MODE/WINTER MODE VALVES IN WINTER MODE! OTHER WISE KEEP THEM IN SUMMER MODE or the inside tank will not drain!!!
3) Dump your black tank and your grey tank. When done, lift the macerator hose - or the gravity dump hose up off the ground and let any water remaining in the hose to drain out.
3) Remove the anode rod from your hot water heater tank and empty the water out of the hot water heater tank. (Inside the tank is insulated in foam, but outside behind the hot water tank vent the tank is exposed to the cold so it is best to dump this tank to prevent it from freezing.)
4) Go inside the Roadtrek. Open EVERY inside cabinet door where there is anything related to water inside - pipes, toilet, hot water tank, water pump, under the sink, and especially the interior water tank IF you have one.
5) Turn on the propane for your Roadtrek. If it was not on before follow this article if you do not know how.
6) Turn on the furnace. This is how to turn on the furnace if you do not know how. Put the furnace on HI and AUTO on the thermostat - turn the heat up to a little more than you would find comfortable. If you are not going to be inside the Roadtrek then put the thermostat up to 85. This is going to be the source of heat from keeping the inside of your Roadtrek's pipes from freezing.
7) Do not open any windows or and only open the van doors briefly if you must. The heat MUST stay inside.
BE AWARE that this will marginally protect the water pipes and the macerator outside under the van. Emptying the tanks will allow enough room inside the tanks that any little amount of water that remains in the tanks will have room to expand if that water freezes. What is in the pipes should have flowed out in the process - but there are no guarantees and Meryl and Me cannot be responsible for any damage that occurs.
NOW WHAT? We are in our Roadtrek with no water or toilet - what are we supposed to do? This involves some prior preparation with a few things that you will need to have with you.
FIRST - TOILET - Putting RV antifreeze to flush the toilet is not a solution as some believe. We did some experimental research to see what happens when water (even urine) and RV antifreeze mix. The result is frozen solid RV antifreeze that expands just like water. So what to do. This is something that is great thing to keep in every Roadtrek, especially those that have a macerator. They are called by RVer's "wag bags". They are available to buy under various brand names on line or at stores that sell camping supplies - Rei, Cabella's, Bass Pro Shops, Camping World, Dick's Sporting Goods, (at one time Walmart but I have not seen them there in several years) - and Amazon. Get these before you need them because when you need them, without one of these stores nearby, you will not find them. This is the one we have bought and there are always two boxes in our Roadtrek - Reliance Double Doodie Toilet Waste Bags. These are made for camping toilets that basically are just a bucket with a seat. They fit perfectly into the open toilet bowl in a Roadtrek Open the bag, put it in the empty toilet bowl, put the excess on top over the edge of the bowl and close the seat down on top. The bag stays in place. Do whatever you have to do into the bag. The bag is two layers of Mylar each with a zip closure. Inside the bag there is a chemical that turns liquid into gel and a deodorizer. When done close the toilet lid - for liquids there is no odor and one bag can be used several times - it will get you through the night. . For the other you may want to put in a new bag. All you do it take the open end of the bag - close the inner bag and then close the outer bag sealing it tight with the zip lock closures. These bags are legal to dispose of in any garbage container. Throw away the old bag and put a new bag into the toilet. With those with macerators - if your macerator breaks - this is going to make your life easier in your Roadtrek until you can get it fixed. On the last day of a trip on your way home and you dumped your tanks before you started home - these come in really handy when you need to go and don't want to have to dump your tank again when you get home!
That takes care of the toilet. Now you need water. A gallon of bottle water in Walmart store is one dollar US. Buy a few bottles before you leave on a trip when it can possibly get cold - and if you don't there is a Walmart a few miles from just about anywhere. BUT the water cannot go down ANY DRAIN! So what you also want to get is a small sink basin - a few dollars also in Walmart. PUT THE BASIN IN THE SINK! There are usually two size basins - get the smaller one. We found a Sterilite box with a handled lid that fit perfectly in the sink - move the faucet out of the way and it goes right in. This makes it even easier to empty as I cut a hole at one corner of the lid, take it out with the handle and the latches closing the lid on the box and carry it out of the Roadtrek and where you have to take it to empty it - a restroom sink or on the ground outside. All water is poured over the basin or the box and never into the sink to the drain. Wash in the basin or over the box. For thousands of years before inside running water, this was what people did! 😉
That is it! Not a big deal if you are prepared! WHEN YOU GET HOME OR AS SOON AS YOU CAN WINTERIZE FULLY.
If you have a question - email with the link in the right column.