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Winterizing without RV Antifreeze


jd1923

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That's one way to say it. Another way is to say, "to winterize, expel all water from the plumbing system using compressed air."

I do understand OTT does not advise this procedure, I've heard and read this several times, but I've never been very good at reading directions or listening to advice (some say an attribute of the good engineer). I have used this method for years in other RVs and just worked this yesterday on our Oliver. 

This is more complex in the little Oliver than say on our past Bigfoot Class-C RV, because of having four (4) hose water inlets. Please allow me to list my procedure and please comment if you believe I missed something, where there may still be some water in the system. I learned this from a Bigfoot owner, on the BOCI forum, who lives in Calgary BC Canada. He uses no antifreeze where of course lows are sub-zero for several months of winter.

1) Park your OTT nose uphill and start draining the Fresh Water tank.
2) Drain Hot Water Heater (HWH) and set HWH bypass valve
3) Reduce air compressor pressure to 50 PSI and use an air to hose fitting (see pic of one I built with spare parts). The fitting must be connect to the hose first, unless yours has a shut-off valve.
4) Turn your water system draw valve to the Winterize/Sanitize position.
5) Open the kitchen faucet both hot and cold sides
6) Connect the compressor airline to the rear Sanitation inlet (a few seconds is all required).
7) Change water valve back to Normal Camping Position.
8) Connect the compressor airline to the City Water inlet (a few seconds is all required).
9) Connect the compressor airline to the Fresh Water inlet (leave it connected).
10) Go inside and close the kitchen faucet. Then open each faucet separately. The toilet, then hot and cold, one at a time, for the bathroom sink, and kitchen again. Run the water pump at some point to expel internal water. Go outside and do the same for the outside shower. Go back inside and check each faucet again. They should all blow water mist when the lines are mostly empty (empty enough).
11) Close Fresh Tank drain when empty. Finish up with the HWH and reset the bypass valve. Get everything back to Normal Camping Position.
12) Empty Black and Gray tanks. Connect airline to Black Tank rinse, or at least remove cap to release water in this line.
13) Add 3-4 OZ of RV antifreeze to each drain (bath, shower, kitchen) and in the toilet bowl (with water).

RV Water Tools.jpg

Edited by jd1923
Step #13 added from feedback
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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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On 12/23/2023 at 4:07 PM, jd1923 said:

I do understand OTT does not advise this procedure, I've heard and read this several times, but I've never been very good at reading directions or listening to advice

Not advice 😄 I just never use compressed air.


When we recently winterized, it took my wife and I maybe 20 minutes really taking our time. I think Oliver puts their winterization instructions in place to ensure that it’s easier for folks who might not own an air compressor and may not clearly understand that ALL water must be removed from the system lines or diluted with antifreeze. Side note: Tightening the white compression fittings is a regular inspection point for me. If one of those compression fittings is slightly loose, compressed air likely won’t get the rest of the plumbing clear of water. 

We don’t get long deep freezes here in Western NC, the land of long summers and short winters and I still use AF.
All this said, I would never know that I have cleared every bit of water from my lines, so being risk adverse, I choose to use RV safe antifreeze and sleep really well.
Surely others will chime in, and if compressed air works, I say go for it!


Patriot🇺🇸

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16 minutes ago, Patriot said:

When we recently winterized, it took my wife and I maybe 20 minutes really taking our time...
We don’t get long deep freezes here in Western NC, the land of long summers and short winters and I still use the AF....

Because we live in the SW, we do more camping over the winter months, spring and fall of course, and none during summer (think Snowbirds RVing in Quartzite AZ). So, we don't truly "winterize" but live at 5400 FT elevation and it can get COLD overnight. Whenever the weather report forecasts several consecutive nights low 20s or in the teens, I'll blow out the water, but we could be heading out next week! This occurs often, 2-3 times a winter. I could not see adding antifreeze and flushing it clean on this basis.

If winterizing the Oliver with antifreeze takes you 20 minutes, then using air should take 10-15 minutes. Yep, you need an air compressor. Mine has a 100' hose so I can fill RV tires all the way out on our road. Good time to check tire pressure and overfill your tires 10% for winter parking. This way when you are ready to leave again all you have to do is check pressure, let a little air out.

The real difference is when we are ready to head out, everything is done and ready. No flushing antifreeze, just fill the freshwater tanks at home or at the campsite depending.

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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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1 hour ago, Wandering Sagebrush said:

When using compressed air, and have done that many times on other campers/trailers, I always worried about water left in the pump...

Just run the pump while working the procedure. Only if a pump freezes filled 100% with water can it be damaged from the expansion of freezing water. BTW, when y'all get around to up grading your pump, most high-end pumps today can run dry for hours without issue.

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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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22 minutes ago, GeoffChapman said:

Does this clear the P-traps in the kitchen sink, bathroom sink and shower drains?

Thanks Geoff! I was asking for holes in my procedure, and you found one.

IMHO, I feel expansion in a P-trap goes 99% upwards, like an ice cube tray, and has not concerned me. We can add a step 13 to the procedure:

13) Add 3-4 OZ of RV antifreeze to each drain (bath, shower, kitchen) and in the toilet bowl (with water).

There is no additional maintenance in this step, as p-traps do not need to be flushed and cleaned later like the freshwater plumbing system. You can drive on and use them as-is. Great addition!

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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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On 12/23/2023 at 5:06 PM, Wandering Sagebrush said:

When using compressed air and have done that many times on other campers/trailers, I always worried about water left in the pump.  With the Oliver, it’s just so easy to use the pink stuff.

When water freezes, it just needs a little room for expansion, a little and not a whole lot. Think if your freshwater tank was half full and it gets well below freezing. It would just expand upwards, say another 10%, a slight bulging upwards. Nothing bad will happen, the plumbing will exist as-is. Since there is nothing but air above, with an overflow tube to boot, nothing happens but water freezing to ice. If the tank was 100% full, then tank would fail.

When small diameter pipes freeze, they freeze at the ends first. Once the ends have frozen, and the lengths of the plumbing freezes, there is nowhere for the expansion to move and hence the plumbing will crack.

If your water pump is half full it can freeze without issue, even at 80-90% full! And btw, when you blow out the lines, running the water pump at least once, it is most likely empty or very close.

Fear shall succumb to knowledge. Remember, my friend living in Calgary has worked this procedure annually for more than a decade, where their daytime winter highs are lower than our nighttime lows. Thanks ☺️ 

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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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  • 4 weeks later...

This is what I was planning to do with our new Ollie, same procedure I used with our Escape and Casita. Live in the South Texas, so we do get an occasional below freeze temp.

1. Drain all tanks (black, gray, fresh).
2. Turn the HW heater values to bypass,
3. Drain the HW heater.
4. Blow compressed air (40psi) through the lines to eliminate any water (taps, toilet, outside shower).
5. Run water pump for a few seconds to remove any water.
6. Pour small amount of anti-freeze in traps, including toilet (seal).

Our Ollie will have compost toilet and Truma HW, so the process will change a bit.
Still learning how to maintain lithium batt in cold temp.

 

thanks

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Way back in the day, in our family's less complicated trailers and motorhome, winterizing in Minnesota was blowing out the lines. 

Thanks for the memories. 

 

 

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

Florida and Western North Carolina, or wherever the truck goes....

400 watts solar. DC compressor fridge. No inverter. 2 x 105 ah agm batteries .  Life is good.


        
 

 

 

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13 hours ago, SAR said:

Blow compressed air (40psi) through the lines to eliminate any water (taps, toilet, outside shower).

Be sure to pay "special attention" to those exterior ports when blowing out the lines.  These have back flow prevention valves in them and it doesn't take much frozen water to destroy them.

Bill

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2023 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing, Max Payload, 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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