Pacific Northwest Winterizing - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-29-2009, 05:03 PM   #1
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End of November is when we start to think of winter here on the Olympic Peninsula, got the studded tires on, now working on the trailer.

The trailer, drained since our last trip in October, is stored under a carport, protected but exposed to cold. When we had our little 'old Burro with only one faucet, draining was all that was necessary - in 12 years, no problems. The Escape has more piping due to the shower, but we do not have long extended periods of sub-zero temps. We have several times during the winter when it will go into the 20s and stay for a few days, maybe a week.

Penney's question:
Would keeping the tailer heated during these times be adequate? Doors, hatches, everything open for exposure to pump and pipes.

Mike's question:
In lieu of the RV anti-freeze, if we blow out the system with a compressor (mentioned in Mike Sander's Winterizing tutorial) how much pressure and how do you keep from blowing out the pump? How does the air get past the pump?

There have been discussions on the forum about using alcohol in lieu of anti-freeze, mostly tongue in cheek but also some serious. Has anyone actually used, for example, 80 proof vodka in their system? Just curious. Not crazy about using the anti-freeze for our short cold spells.

Thanks for any and all replies.
Penney & Mike
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Old 11-29-2009, 05:40 PM   #2
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Mike & Penny

We are not far from you. Our weather may be a little more temperate because of the Olympics but we still do prepare. I have fixed a lot of plumbing on previous RVs because I did not prepare early enough or at all. With the Casita, I am trying to take the best care possible.

Last winter I emptied the hot water tank, then blew out the lines. I did not turn the hot water tank bypass last year but ai did this year. I only put antifreeze in the p-traps and in the toilet bowl. I have a small compressor that I set to about 30psi (I saw a note on another tread that recommended max 40). I handle the compressor while my wife takes turns on each facet. It took a little while because the compressor is so small we had to wait 4-5 times for re-pressure.

I think the small effort of clearing the lines is a small price to pay compared to the cost of keeping the rig heated and the risk that you might lose you heat and have plumbing problems.
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Old 11-29-2009, 06:21 PM   #3
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A number of boat techs in areas with semi-mild winters use vodka to winterize potable water systems. I'm talking about the Chesapeake area where it can get into the teens, and often goes into the 20s overnight.

"The pink stuff" tends to foam and to leave an aftertaste, is why the vodka can be a preferred route.

On the other hand, when I lived in Minnesota, it was a combination of blowing out lines and -100 antifreeze :brrrrrrrrr Vodka probably would have frozen like a rock.

Raya
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Old 11-29-2009, 07:27 PM   #4
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I just noticed that the brands of pink stuff anti-freeze I bought aren't supposed to be 'cut' with water. So I needed 2 gallons.

AFA the Pac NW weather, the winter of '78 it got down to 5 F here at the house, (Kent East Hill). That's the problem with the PNW, one never knows. I guess you could buy a couple gallons of PS and hold it in case of one of those real cold times.

One could always buy and install one of these:

http://www.freezealert.com/
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Old 11-29-2009, 07:30 PM   #5
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The "pink stuff" I've used has all come in gallon jugs and already been at its -50 concentration. I guess I never thought to dilute it (I think they mean for you to use it as-is).

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Old 11-29-2009, 07:37 PM   #6
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Quote:
The "pink stuff" I've used has all come in gallon jugs and already been at its -50 concentration. I guess I never thought to dilute it (I think they mean for you to use it as-is).

Raya

I think so. But I think you could cut it 50/50 in the PNW. I noticed when I put mine in, it was sort of thick like Jello. Any guarantee would probably only be for the price of the product, I don't think they would stand still for damages, especially it you cut it.

You could test it. Place some at the concentration you want and place it in your home freezer. If it doesn't freeze, it would be good for that temp anyway.

HINT:

How to get it into your tank: Take a 12-20 oz plastic drink bottle, cut a hole in the side, stick the neck of the bottle in your tank fill opening and pour the AF into the hole you cut in the side. Sort of a sideways funnel.
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Old 11-29-2009, 07:45 PM   #7
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Last winter we had several weeks of cold weather and snow that started in just before Christmas, which is unusual for Vancouver, Washington. To prepare my trailer I emptied the hot water heater and fresh water tanks, ran the pump dry, capped the water heater and blew the lines free with compressed air, drained the gray and black tanks and put anti-freeze in the sink and shower pan. I did not put antifreeze in the fresh water tank, but I did put a small "dehumidifier" heater in the trailer to prevent condensation and mold from forming. Getting it back into camping shape was really just a matter of adding water when spring time came.
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Old 11-29-2009, 09:22 PM   #8
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Thanks to you all for responding. Blowing out the water system sounds like a plan, I have a compressor so can do that, and will put a bit of anti-freeze in the drain system.

Peter did you also set your compressor at 30 psi as Dave did? Also, I have concerns about damaging the pump if it is allowed to run dry as you suggested. Any thoughts on that? We have a SHURflo pump.

I might 'flush' the water system with some alcohol, pour it in, blow it out, so if there are any little pools where liquid doesn't blow out it won't freeze.


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Old 11-29-2009, 09:27 PM   #9
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Roger your funnel idea is how we get water into our trailer! I 'invented' a T funnel on a trip where we had to pour water in - and it worked so well we have used it many times. I acutally took a second bottle and inserted it into the hole cut in the side of the first so there is a nice tall pour spout to pour into - the "T" funnel! Mike says I should 'patent' it!

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Old 11-29-2009, 11:48 PM   #10
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Penny, I used an air-carry tank, opened the valves for my hot water lines, slowly open the valve on the carry tank slowly and blew them out with one tank of air, closed the hot water valves, refilled the air carry tank, opened the cold water valves, and blew them out the same way. When all is said and done I leave all the valves wide open.

Water pumps all have to be able to run dry now and then, so running yours dry for a minute or so will not likely damage it. The main thing for me is to get as much water out of them as possible, because freezing water will damage the pump when it expands cracking the pump casing. So I drain the fresh tank, run the pump dry for half a minute, blow the lines out, run the pump for another half minute. The wee bit of water left in the pump and lines after I'm done has not proven to be a problem for me.
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Old 12-17-2009, 10:46 PM   #11
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We hope to go south this winter after the holidays and consequently left Homelet next to the garage.

We discovered that we have a leak. The floor gets wet right by the door. We removed the carpet and after every rain sponge up the standing water. Never much just enough to be annoying. We even get water on the bench next to the door. I filled the joint in the door seal, which for some unfathomable reason is behind the upper door hinge, with matching black silicon sealer. I know silicon is a no no on fiberglass but this is the rubber seal. That seemed to help somewhat.

Now I thought I should inspect the rear under the mattress to see if there is any standing water, and I found black mildew/mold stains on the underside of the mattress cover where it touchs the fiberglass. Probably from condensation. The cover is in the washer now, with vinegar because the bleach/detergent didn't remove it.

I do run the heater when I charge the battery once a month, but apparently because of the leak is not enough to remove enough moisture.

Update:
I have used an old toothbrush and applied straight bleach to the mildow/mold spots. It took a few minutes, but the bleach finally removed the spots as well as whitening the fabric which is sort of a canvas. The cover is now sitting in the washer with a cup of bleach along with enough water to submerge it. After about 15 minutes we will finish the wash cycle to remove the bleach. Hopefully this will solve the problem. I guess I will have to wipe down the places it touched in Homelet to kill mold there. Probably should run our dehumidifier in Homelet every couple of days.
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:22 PM   #12
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Good News! I fixed the leak. I placed a couple of feet of plastic wrap over the shield above the door and that seems to have effectively stopped the leak.

The shield is held on with pop rivets. I recall that someone else on this blog had a leak through pop rivets.

So now when the weather warms up enough, I just plug the holes in the rivets and that should be it. Unless it is coming around the rivets and not through them. Time will tell.
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:37 AM   #13
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Roger, when the trailer is in storage mode, something you may want to consider is standing the cushions on end. I do this when I get back from a camping trip to make certain all moisture is removed from the foam. I also use Dri-Z-Air cannister/crystals in a container in the sink. Mold and moisture is the scurge of these trailers!
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Old 10-22-2010, 07:41 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Penney H. & Mike E. View Post
Roger your funnel idea is how we get water into our trailer! I 'invented' a T funnel on a trip where we had to pour water in - and it worked so well we have used it many times. I acutally took a second bottle and inserted it into the hole cut in the side of the first so there is a nice tall pour spout to pour into - the "T" funnel! Mike says I should 'patent' it!

Penney
Do you have a picture of this T funnel?
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