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Old 11-26-2016, 10:48 AM   #1
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First time owner may have to winterize while on the road seeks advice

My husband and I are very excited about picking up our "new" 5.0 trailer in Texas in December. Afterwards, we plan to camp on our way home, which may be problematic, since we live west of Cleveland, Ohio (near Lake Erie). While in warmer states, we should be fine, however, as we get closer to home, the weather will get colder. The camper is five years old and does have spray foam insulation on the underbelly, but not sure that insulates everything we need to worry about.

After reading many posts here on winterizing, I am getting concerned that we may have to do this on the road while liquids are still able to drain (especially the toilet). Other problem: we are first time owners of a camper and are totally clueless about the process for the Escape fifth wheel. Can this process be done while traveling? We appreciate any advice or suggestions.

Tentative route home, attempting to avoid mountains in case of a December snow storm: Galveston, TX - Mississippi - Alabama - Tennessee - Kentucky - Ohio
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Old 11-26-2016, 11:01 AM   #2
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I personally adhere to the practice of blowing the water from the water lines with compressed air, dumping the fresh, grey, and black tanks, and pouring a small volume of rv antifreeze into each of the sink/toilet/shower drains. Takes about 15min to winterize and zero time to dewinterize again in the spring.
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Old 11-26-2016, 11:11 AM   #3
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I personally adhere to the practice of blowing the water from the water lines with compressed air, dumping the fresh, grey, and black tanks, and pouring a small volume of rv antifreeze into each of the sink/toilet/shower drains. Takes about 15min to winterize and zero time to dewinterize again in the spring.
Maybe a dumb question, but where do you hook your compressor up to. I assume you can buy some sort of adapter for the compressor?

Thanks.
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Old 11-26-2016, 11:12 AM   #4
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...
I am getting concerned that we may have to do this on the road while liquids are still able to drain (especially the toilet).
...
Draining the tanks may be - (depending on how cold) - your biggest problem since the outlet is outside the insulation.

My solution is to carry a couple of gallons of RV antifreeze ("the pink stuff") as we call it. When the grey and black tanks are empty I add a gallon of antifreeze to each before using any water. That way the antifreeze runs into the outlet pipes first and may be protected against dilution. And after a few days of camping add another gallon just in case. In the worst case the contents may be slushy but should defrost quickly when the weather warms to above freezing.

If the weather is going to be seriously below freezing both day and night for multiple days then more drastic action may be called for. The best solution is to drain the freshwater tank, the pipes, pump, water heater tank, etc, before the cold hits. Camp with a couple of 5 gallon containers that you can use for basic water needs. It becomes complicated but the less water you use inside the trailer, the less chance of freeze damage.

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Old 11-26-2016, 11:18 AM   #5
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Instructions are here:

Winterizing Your Trailer
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Old 11-26-2016, 11:19 AM   #6
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I assume you can buy some sort of adapter for the compressor?

One solution from Home Depot...

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Old 11-26-2016, 01:02 PM   #7
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Hi Folks
What I did last February coming back from FL was to watch the weather for freezing temps, I'll do the same this coming March. Got lucky and we made it to the Shenandoah Valley for our last night with temps right at freezing. I had looked for a full service campground (KOA) so I could dump and rinse the tanks right at the campsite. Pretty much all KOA's are year round so they are a good thing to plan on before you head home.

You have a few options for winterizing depending on what you have available. If you have a compressor and an adapter as shown above, you can blow it out and pour some antifreeze in the traps as mentioned. If the trailer has a winterizing kit on it you can use the trailers water pump and a gallon of antifreeze. The last route is with a hand pump like Gbaglo uses.

You'll need to pick up a gallon or 2 of rv antifreeze somewhere before you head home. You can also use the antifreeze to manually flush the toilet in case of emergency on the way home after you've winterized.
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Old 11-26-2016, 01:55 PM   #8
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Here's the hand pump. Available at many RV stores.
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Old 11-27-2016, 07:48 AM   #9
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Thanks everyone for your responses. It gives us a better idea of what we have to do.

We have a deluxe Flagstaff 625 pop up tent camper that my husband has winterized in our backyard for the past five years, after learning how to do it from the dealer. This is a little more overwhelming as we are buying it second hand so we won't get the "walk through" from the dealer, the owners have never had to winterize it before, and we may have to do it on the road for the first time. We are so afraid of doing it wrong, I may look for an RV dealership in Tennessee or Kentucky who would be willing to let us watch them winterize it for us. Don't know if that is possible, but I am willing to search.
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Old 11-27-2016, 11:07 AM   #10
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What's the difference between having the ETI installed winterizing T-valve and using the above mentioned blow out plug? Other than $30.00?
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Old 11-27-2016, 03:29 PM   #11
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What's the difference between having the ETI installed winterizing T-valve and using the above mentioned blow out plug? Other than $30.00?
They're different hardware to do different things, for different purposes.
  1. The T-valve gives you a way to put antifreeze into the plumbing, through the pump; the antifreeze replaces and mixes with water in the system so the water doesn't freeze.
  2. The blow-out plug gives you a way to put air into the plumbing, bypassing the pump; the air pushes the water out so it isn't in there to freeze.
You choose your winterizing method, then you know which device you need (if any).
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Old 11-27-2016, 06:19 PM   #12
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Thanks for the explanation, Brian. I lean towards using the air method. I will have a small air compressor with me to keep tires inflated. I assume I could use that while on the road to blow out water lines if I find myself in below freezing conditions for any length of time. As long as the compressor output can be adjusted to 30 psi. Correct?
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Old 11-27-2016, 06:23 PM   #13
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doesn't all the water drain out of the trailer to the low point drain? Last winter that's all we did and had no problems. We just opened the water tank drain, drained the hot water tank, opened all spigots, ran the pump 30 sec. and put a touch of non-rv anti-freeze in the drains.

we did forget to open the outside shower valves and did have an issue. still have to fix it. small leak when it's on.

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Old 11-27-2016, 06:40 PM   #14
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Do you have a low-point drain? ETI stopped installing them after Thetford changed a toilet valve. I have one on my 2008. It's the vertical pipe at the far left of the picture. The tap just drains the fresh water tank.
As for a tire compressor, I'm not sure that it has the capacity to blow out the lines. I used a 6-gallon compressor, but wouldn't want to drag that with me. In fact, I retired it and just use RV anti-freeze. When I see pink coming out of the taps, I know I've done the job.
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Old 11-27-2016, 07:18 PM   #15
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I had the same challenge with a 12volt (slime brand) air compressor. It took two people, one inside the trailer and one out. You had to let the pressure build up, then open a valve. You did this over and over, but were never 100% sure that the lines were completely empty of water. (the person outside was watching the air pressure of the pump) I have since put in the 3 way valve and just pump the pink stuff til I see it coming out. East to do by myself and very confident that the lines won't freeze.
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Old 11-27-2016, 07:25 PM   #16
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I have since put in the 3 way valve and just pump the pink stuff til I see it coming out. East to do by myself and very confident that the lines won't freeze.
ooooooh a DIY, do you have pictures?
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Old 11-27-2016, 07:25 PM   #17
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Thanks for the explanation, Brian. I lean towards using the air method. I will have a small air compressor with me to keep tires inflated. I assume I could use that while on the road to blow out water lines if I find myself in below freezing conditions for any length of time. As long as the compressor output can be adjusted to 30 psi. Correct?
Somewhere around 30 psi, try not to go over 50. IF you can't adjust it, like my little one can't, just make sure you always have one faucet open whenever the compressor is connected so it doesn't build up pressure. Keep in mind the compressor has to have enough volume, a small tire compressor may well not have enough.
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Old 11-27-2016, 07:30 PM   #18
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I can see the pink stuff. I can't see air. You might see drops of water spitting out, but when that stops, are you convinced the lines are empty?
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Old 11-27-2016, 07:47 PM   #19
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ooooooh a DIY, do you have pictures?
All that is needed is to cut the vinyl hose before the water pump and install one of these 3 way valves. They are compression nuts and very easy to install. Add a piece of 1/2" vinyl hose to the branch side of the valve long enough to reach a gallon jug of antifreeze. Total job is about 10 minutes.

The one in the picture has a cap on the branch and that's where you add the hose that goes to the antifreeze jug.

Flair-It RV Water Line 3 Way Valve, All are 1/2" pex. | eBay
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Old 11-27-2016, 07:58 PM   #20
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You might see drops of water spitting out, but when that stops, are you convinced the lines are empty?
Yup, empty enough

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Somewhere around 30 psi, try not to go over 50. IF you can't adjust it, like my little one can't, just make sure you always have one faucet open whenever the compressor is connected so it doesn't build up pressure.
I use my shop compressor at line pressure which is usually about 90 psi. Pex is rated for well over 100 psi at higher than normal temperatures. With a valve open the pex can't even be pressurized nearly that much. With lots of air flow I'm always pretty confident that there isn't much water left in the lines.

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