1825 Tucker Industrial Road
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Peco Campers Service
Water Heater Anode Rods
RV Antifreeze 101
Winterizing your Trailer
De-winterizing your Trailer
RV Air Conditioner Problems and Solutions
Draining and Flushing Black and Gray Waste Tanks
Rods are removable using a 1-1/16" socket
of the anode rod is recommended when consumption or weight loss is greater than
75%. The sacrificial anode equalizes aggressive water action providing cathodic
protection for the water tank. The anode is a very important factor in tank life
and should only be removed for inspection or draining.
It will take a hard freeze to pose a danger to your trailer water lines but late fall is the time to prepare in Georgia. If you're going to continue to camp a while longer, on really cold nights, you can simply use your furnace or put an electric heater in your camper and open all of the lower cabinet doors to protect your interior plumbing. You can also avoid the thought of winterizing your RV by heading off to Key West for the winter but not all of us can work that out.
Every year when we are selling replacement plumbing parts, there are two issues that are often brought up. 1. The first issue is the belief that blowing out the water lines with an air compressor will protect your camper. You may have done this for years and never had any trouble but it is not foolproof. When air is blown through the lines, it only clears a passage for the air to travel through and when the air flow stops, the water settles back into the low spots. The air flow misses the water pump entirely and water above the toilet flush valve drops back onto the top of the valve. 2. The second issue is hoping that cracked water fittings, pumps, water heaters, toilet valves, and fixtures will be covered by warranty if they freeze. They are not covered by the manufacturer against freezing.
When you purchase antifreeze, make sure it is listed as non-toxic. RV antifreeze comes in two main types. Both types are listed to the same burst point and both are listed as non-toxic. The first is the cheapest and is most often what is sold at discount stores. It is ethanol or alcohol-based which has an advantage in that it will evaporate quicker and it is cheaper to produce. The negatives are that it leaves a much worse smell and taste in your water system. The alcohol also tends to dry out any rubber seals which can damage toilet valves, faucets, and dump valves. The most common alcohol or ethanol-based brand is Camco Freeze Ban -50.
The second type is propylene glycol-based. This is a sugar base with lubricating qualities that safely lubricates rubber seals and has less odor or bad taste. The negative is that it costs more to produce, so usually you will pay one to two dollars more per gallon. We sell only the propylene glycol-based Camco Winter Ban -50 for $4.95 per gallon
No water should be added to your RV antifreeze even though there will be some minor mixing with whatever does not get blown out with the air pressure and gravity draining. A little known fact is that antifreeze can freeze. The temperature that is listed on the bottle is the burst point for the antifreeze. Ice crystals can begin to form at temperatures of +10 degrees and appear to be solid ice at around -10 degrees. However, it will not expand and do damage until -50 degrees at full undiluted strength.
When you are preparing your trailer, don't forget about any stored liquids that can freeze and split their containers. When the frozen liquids thaw, they will spill all over your storage areas. Tent camper owners need to be sure to check their built-in or portable toilets.
Check your camper owner's manual for specific instructions on winterizing your camper. For a good generic article on the actual winterizing procedure, see "Winterizing Your Trailer" on the Service Guide page of our Peco website. Our service technicians do offer winterization service. However, since each camper is different, they will need to ask you a few questions before a price can be quoted over the phone. You can call the Peco service department at 404-377-8000 or 800-969-4080.
Please note that the following is a basic guide. It will be helpful to first read our RV Antifreeze 101 article above. There are too many variations of water systems to effectively cover all possibilities. If your camper has an ice maker or washer, you will need to protect them as well. Please check your owner’s manual for more specific instructions.
Step 1. Drain gray and black tanks. If your gray and black water tanks are not already empty, you will need to go to a dump station and empty them before you start the winterization process.
Step 2. Drain your fresh water system using
gravity and the camper 12 volt pump. The fresh water tank may have a
valve attached to it or it may have a hose with either a valve or a nut.
Open the drain valve or remove the nut from the drain line. Before you
take the next steps, be sure that your system is not pressurized by
turning off your 12 volt water pump and opening all of the cold and hot
water faucets until no water flows out. Leave the faucets open to
facilitate the next steps. Remove any in-line filters from their cartridge
or, preferably, remove the filter cartridge and connect the lines with an
easy-to-make short by-pass hose with ½” (most cases) male pipe threads on
either end (see photo 1 below). Look under the camper for 2 to 4 low
point drains (See photos 2a and 2b below) hanging below the camper. Open
the valves or remove the nuts and allow all of the water to drain. This
should drain your water heater as well but, to drain the water heater most
effectively, remove the drain plug. The drain plug is located inside the
exterior water heater access cover. The plug will most likely be a ¾”
plastic nut or a 1 1/16” anode rod. If it is an anode rod, this will be a
good time to inspect it. (See our article above on when to replace the
anode rod.) Removing the water heater drain will allow for better
drainage of any sediment in the water heater.
Step 3. Use a blow out plug (see photo 3
below) This step is optional but, to get more water out of the lines,
close all of the faucets except one hot and one cold and insert a blowout
plug into the outside city water inlet (where you normally screw on the
water hose) and use an air compressor to blow out the lines. Do not
let the air compressor pressure exceed 45 lbs. Do this for each
faucet including the outside shower and also be sure to open the flush
valve on the toilet until no water is being forced out of the fixtures.
Step 4. Adding antifreeze to the water system. This step is complicated by the variety (or lack of) by-pass kits and systems for getting the antifreeze into your water lines. These instructions will be most complete for campers that have an additional water pump winterizing kit (see diagram 4 below) that includes a suction hose attached to the inlet side of the pump and a water heater by-pass kit installed. If you do not have a suction kit, you can pour 4 gallons into your water tank and then follow the steps. Close any faucets, tank drains, or low point drains that were opened in Step 1.
If your water heater has a by-pass kit, close the lower and upper (if there is an upper one) valves that are open (in line with water pipe). If you have a third valve in the middle of the by-pass hose, open the single valve that was closed (right angle to the water pipe) by turning it to be in line with the hose. See below photos 5 (single valve by-pass), 6 and 7 (by-pass with 2 valves) and 8a and 8b (by-pass with 3 valves).
If your camper does not
have a water heater by-pass, it will take at least 6 additional gallons of
antifreeze to fill the water heater to get the antifreeze to the lines on
the hot side of your water heater. You can also make or purchase a short
by-pass hose (see photo 9 below) to connect the inlet and the outlet
hoses. If your camper has a pump winterizing kit attached to the water
pump, place the hose in a gallon of propylene glycol non-toxic antifreeze,
close the valve from the water tank to the pump which also will open the
suction hose line to the pump. Make sure the 12 volt pump is on and open
one faucet knob/handle at a time until pink comes out of the faucet.
Start with the closest to farthest from the pump. Do this for every
faucet and both the indoor and outdoor shower (if you have one) and be
sure to flush the toilet until pink comes out. When you have done all of
the possible water outlets, pour some into each sink or shower trap to
make sure they are protected. Pour some left over antifreeze into your
toilet and flush it. Also pour some into the fresh water tank if it did
not totally drain.
Step 5. Check for other liquids. Remove any stored liquids from your camper that might freeze and split their container ruining the camper interior
Step 6. Restore the water system. At this point, we recommend putting the water heater by-pass valves back to their original positions. With the water pump suction hose in a gallon of non-toxic antifreeze, open one hot water tap and turn on the pump. Count slowly to 10 and then turn off the pump. This process puts a little antifreeze in your water heater to protect it from freezing as well as reducing corrosion. Finally, remove the suction hose from the antifreeze and reverse the suction hose valves. Now you will be ready to just attach a garden hose next spring and flush the system until no pink comes out. Using the propylene glycol non-toxic antifreeze will not only help to protect your rubber seals, but it also has less after taste than the cheaper alcohol/ethanol non-toxic antifreeze.. After the system has been flushed, remove the water filter jumper hose you installed and reinstall the water filter. The water system is set to go.
Peco Campers Service Guides are for the sole use of our customers and are not to be copied or used in any other website.