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Old 09-13-2015, 09:50 AM   #1
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Winter is coming...

Since I am still in my 1st year of ownership, I don't have experience prepping for winter... This morning I have been reading up on what to do for winter storage of an RV. This article seems pretty helpful but are there any Interstate-specific things that should be done when storing at an outdoor storage facility? I live in an area that can get a lot of snow, hail, ice, wind etc....

Winter storage tips:
RV101ģ RV Winter Storage Tips | RVTrader.com
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Old 09-13-2015, 11:02 AM   #2
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First of all, remember that your Interstate isn't just an RV, it's also a van. You can use it year-round even if you don't use it for camping year-round. If road conditions are safe enough to drive, they're safe enough to drive an Interstate.

As for winterizing, the main Interstate-specific thing is the macerator pump and discharge hose.

When you empty the holding tanks for the last time before winterizing, flush the black tank until the only thing that comes out is clear water. Do the same with the gray tank because soap residue doesn't mix well with antifreeze either.

Make sure you unreel the entire discharge hose to dump, even if the dump station is only two or three feet away. You want to make sure that no water is trapped in the hose.

Add RV antifreeze to the black tank, and pump it through the macerator pump until RV antifreeze comes out the end of the hose, but don't pump it all out; you want some antifreeze to be in the big hose between the black tank and the macerator pump, and some in the pump, and some in the discharge hose.

Everything else about winterizing an Interstate will be about the same as for any other RV.
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Old 09-13-2015, 04:14 PM   #3
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Should I get tire covers?
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Old 09-13-2015, 06:12 PM   #4
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Just in case you didn't know, you can also have it winterized by an RV professional that you trust They can walk you through it with them as they do it.
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Old 09-13-2015, 07:52 PM   #5
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We have never done tire covers, with the Interstate sitting in one place a couple of months, then taken south.

Our tires have done well, no problems. On the third set, I believe, at 167,000+ miles

If you are going to be stored in hot sun, sitting in the same place for a long period of time.....I would say yes.

Wouldn't hurt, at any rate.


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Old 09-13-2015, 09:38 PM   #6
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Should I get tire covers?
They are an inexpensive way to prevent UV damage to your tires.
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Old 09-21-2015, 11:10 AM   #7
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Question, I want to take a trip up North (New Jersey/ New York in January. I don't plan on living in the unit. At all times the unit either will be running, plugged in, or on genny. I know the tanks are heated but what about the macerator pump. Can I still use the water and bathroom. What needs to be either winterized or disconnected? thanks
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Old 09-21-2015, 11:35 AM   #8
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I know the tanks are heated but what about the macerator pump. Can I still use the water and bathroom. What needs to be either winterized or disconnected? thanks
Macerator pump is not heated, and WILL freeze because it retains water even if you pump the tanks dry unless you winterize by pumping RV antifreeze through it. If you know that you'll need the pump in sub-freezing temperatures, my best recommendation is to wrap the macerator pump with some heat tape made for use on pipes, and turn on the heat tape whenever you turn on the tank heaters.
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Old 09-21-2015, 01:08 PM   #9
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Thanks or advice. Question: Heat tape uses A/C and must be plugged in. When I am on the move do I need to run the generator to keep the heat tape on? Also, if so, where would you plug heat tape receptacle into. Thanks again
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Old 09-21-2015, 01:55 PM   #10
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Thanks or advice. Question: Heat tape uses A/C and must be plugged in. When I am on the move do I need to run the generator to keep the heat tape on? Also, if so, where would you plug heat tape receptacle into. Thanks again
There is also such a thing as 12v heat tape, and you can tie it into the house 12v system easily enough.
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Old 09-21-2015, 05:31 PM   #11
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You would also need to worry about the hose on the output side of the macerator pump. If you pump some RV antifreeze thru it, you'll be OK 'til it's time to pump out. Then just do it all over again. Seems a lot easier than heat tape of either voltage.
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Old 10-21-2015, 10:43 PM   #12
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I had my spaceship winterized last week and they discovered a leak near the macerator... They told me I don't need to worry about it until spring but I'm glad I had a pro do it because I had no idea it was leaking. I'm glad it will be fixed under warranty.
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Old 10-22-2015, 08:30 AM   #13
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You would also need to worry about the hose on the output side of the macerator pump. If you pump some RV antifreeze thru it, you'll be OK 'til it's time to pump out. Then just do it all over again. Seems a lot easier than heat tape of either voltage.
One thing that helps with the discharge hose is to always reel out the entire 20 feet of hose every time you dump the tanks, even if the sewer hookup or dump station is only 3 feet away. That way, liquid doesn't get trapped in the loops of hose on the reel. The only place liquid can be trapped on the outlet side is in between the pump and the reel.
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Old 10-22-2015, 10:26 AM   #14
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While the advice to run antifreeze through the macerator is a good one if the winter temperatures are fairly mild, it may give one a false sense of securtiy and not be necessarily good enough if winter temperatures get very cold (as in around zero F). This is because Airstream's very poor placement of the pump causes the pump to stop pumping when the PVC pipe is less than full of liquid. It can't pump an air/liquid mix effectively. It just mostly stirs it up and spits out frothy pink/white stuff. When the tank is emptied, there is about two or three gallons of water or more that never empties that is left in the 3" pvc pipe from the tanks to the macerator. At that point the liquid drains below the top of the pipe, and the macerator's rubber flapper starts to pump air/liquid mix. This is what happens when you dump the tank at the end, and why it seems it never completely empties and surges. The pump simply mixes the antifreeze with the water, reducing it's protection. If you run it long enough, I suppose in theory, eventually it would get a higher concentration of antifreeze, but the problem with that is that it will take a LOT of antifreeze and a very long pump time-long enough to possibly damage the impeller since the impeller is partially exposed without any liquid, which is required to cool it.

How do I know? Because it happened to me and I had to replace the pump. I did everything you recommend and still the pump froze and was damaged after a very cold winter.

The only sure way to protect the macerator is empty it of liquid, by removing the 3" rubber connection and letting the water drain out if you live in a harsh environment and more northern states.

Another issue: NEVER turn the pump on without verifying the valve on the hose end is open, or you could damage the pump!

I am now on my third macerator. On my last trip out, it started leaking after my second use. When I removed and inspected it later, I found that one of the three brass-covered bolts holding it together had sheared off. Talking with tech support, they said that can happen if there is a clog on the outlet side. I remembered I started the pump and forgot to open the valve on the hose end for a few seconds. Apparently, that was enough to blow the bolt. So, a warning, ALWAYS be sure the valve is open first turning on the pump.

These pumps are not that easy to repair, and even worse, the costs of the parts are ridiculous. A .05 cent bolt and nut cost me $23 and took three weeks to get, and after I opened it up I discovered it still was not enough to fix it. I also would have needed additional parts that would have cost over $80 to make it like new-if it worked at all.

I figured with that much of an investment, I may as well just start over and keep the old one for parts.

Heat tape could protect the pump if left on 24/7. But it won't protect anything downstream, or even possibly in the 3" pipe or valves because of the dilution of the antifreeze at those locations. Again, the only sure way is to empty it of liquid in the more extreme colder environments.


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Macerator pump is not heated, and WILL freeze because it retains water even if you pump the tanks dry unless you winterize by pumping RV antifreeze through it. If you know that you'll need the pump in sub-freezing temperatures, my best recommendation is to wrap the macerator pump with some heat tape made for use on pipes, and turn on the heat tape whenever you turn on the tank heaters.
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