Winterized yet?

Right after the Pyramid Rally in early November the temperatures took a dip. Nighttime lows went from chilly (thirties) to downright cold (teens). Taking a day or two to dress down the rig becomes a big risk in these conditions. Pulling the plug on the water heater and draining the system is a start but the water pump and valves are still at risk.

It is not only how cold but for how long how cold that counts towards freeze damage. Your RV is insulated and has a lot of stuff in it that holds heat. This provides some protection from cold for short periods. One way to guess how long is to average the daytime high with the nighttime low. If this stays above freezing you are probably not going to have inside the RV freezing.

Draining the lines and even blowing air through them will not remove all the water from the plumbing. Take apart the sink faucet after doing this and you’ll see! This is why running potable anti-freeze through all fixtures both hot and cold is the best protection against freezing. For this, a hot water heater bypass and a second feed to the water pump are a significant convenience.

Consider what is most expensive to repair. First is likely the hot water heater. Pulling the drain plug and letting it completely drain is what is needed for storage. Otherwise, keep the pilot lit.

Next is the water pump. You can disconnect the plumbing on both sides but then you’d need to tilt it back and forth to get the water out. Antifreeze through it is probably better.

Third in line are the valves. These are the toilet rinse, faucets and tubs. Again, getting antifreeze through them is the only sure way to protect them from freezing.

Water filters, ice makers, and other special fixtures need special attention. Antifreeze is often not good on them so draining and bypassing is necessary. This often means taking them apart to get them completely drained.

Also don’t forget the traps and the waste tanks. Running antifreeze through all the faucets will usually get enough antifreeze in the traps to protect them. If the waste and supply tanks are near empty, freezing a layer on the bottom shouldn’t cause harm.

See the article on winterizing and the photo gallery about how to find valves and what can happen if you don’t succeed in protecting your water system. And keep in mind that plumbing isn’t the only thing you need to protect from cold weather.

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