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Old 08-10-2012, 09:53 AM   #1
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winterizing Interstate

I'm admittedly a new 2012 interstate owner...and new to RVs too. So I apologize for the newbie question.

I've been thinking and reading about winterizing my new interstate. But most that I've read is in terms of storage...as in, you are done camping for the summer.

But I have planned to use my van all year. Traveling from Maryland to states like Florida, Texas, Missouri ...etc.

What is it that I must do to protect my plumbing...but allow it to remain usable?

The advice has been great here...so thanks in advance!
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Old 08-10-2012, 10:38 AM   #2
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Never apologize for a newbie question, unless you're an old-timer asking it.

I live along the Gulf Coast, so winterizing will seldom be an issue for me, either. However, even along the Gulf Coast, we still have occasional overnight freeze warnings. Some things to bear in mindů

1 - The most susceptible part of your system is your blue-and-white water hose. It will freeze before anything else. You have two choices: disconnect the hose before the temperature drops below freezing and bring it inside, or get a heated hose. I got the heated hose at Camping World, and it will plug into one of the 15-amp outlets alongside the 30-amp shore-power outlet on the pedestals at the State Parks I go to. Nevertheless, I'll also be prepared to remove the hose and use the fresh tank.

2 - The fresh and gray tanks are heated and will stay above 40░F if you use the heaters. However, the heaters will suck your batteries dry in no time, so only use them if you can camp with 24-hour generator use (no quiet hours), or with shore power.

3 - The black tank is above floor level, as is all of the other plumbing, so if you've got heat inside the vehicle, the black tank shouldn't freeze.

4 - Sometimes overlooked, your discharge hose is also susceptible to freezing, and it's always outside. Make sure it's empty and dry. Unroll the entire thing before discharging waste, even if your dump station or sewer hookup is less than 20 feet away, just to make sure it drains completely and doesn't have fluids left over in the coils on the reel. The empty hose shouldn't get brittle with the cold.

5 - Although you shouldn't run your macerator pump empty for any length of time, run it empty just long enough to make sure it is empty, so that water doesn't freeze in it, either.

That's what I've figured out so far. Anything else will have to come from experience, but since I plan to be camping for Christmas, New Year's and MLK Day (different trips, not one long trip, dang it!) I'm sure I'll figure out anything I've missed.
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Old 08-11-2012, 05:56 AM   #3
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Thank you so much for the great advice! These last few weeks have been a fun learning experience...honk if you see us on the road! :-)
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Old 08-11-2012, 09:31 AM   #4
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Here is a helpful document from the Airstream website: http://www.airstream.com/files/libra...2a30ebe0b4.pdf
This document gives you generic winterization steps and you will need to adjust/modify for the specifics of your Interstate which you can find in the Interstate Owners Manual; see Plumbing (Section G).

If your Interstate will be experiencing temps below freezing, you need to spend the time to get this process right! Breaks in interior water lines can be very difficult to find and repair and if a leak goes undetected the damage caused can be very costly to fix.

Good luck,
Wayne
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Old 08-11-2012, 09:47 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by wayneskid View Post
Here is a helpful document from the Airstream website: http://www.airstream.com/files/libra...2a30ebe0b4.pdf
This document gives you generic winterization steps and you will need to adjust/modify for the specifics of your Interstate which you can find in the Interstate Owners Manual; see Plumbing (Section G).
Thanks, but the whole point of the original post was how to go winter camping in the southern states, which kind of means you can't winterize. I merely provided what I felt were tips on how to do that. If I missed anything, please let me know, because like Usagi, I also plan to be camping in the mild Gulf Coast winters.

If I was parking it for the whole winter and not camping until late spring, I would follow the instructions that you cite. In fact, in between my short winter trips, I do winterize, meaning that I have to un-winterize again before I hit the road each time.
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Old 08-11-2012, 10:14 AM   #6
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You are correct and I realized my post was somewhat off the mark as soon as I clicked Submit.

Although I live in AK, my Interstate lives in Oregon and I expect that I too will be doing some road tripping during times when I might encounter freezing temps. There are just so many variables that are difficult/impossible to measure that this is a challenging problem. I know for sure that I dont' want to test to failure on this one.

I haven't read it yet but there may be some useful tips here: Cold Weather RVing Winter Camping RV Motorhome Travel

I'll be doing more research before I dive into winter camping in my Interstate.
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Old 08-11-2012, 10:44 AM   #7
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We have traveled in the beautiful southern states for four consecutive winters, now, always starting out from Illinois in a fully winterized state.

We dewinterize once we are below the freeze, like in Arkansas, and that gets us through without issue. We have encountered freezing temperatures down there every winter but this past one (!) but had no problem with anything freezing.

When it is cold enough to need heat, we are always plugged in to electricity. The warmth from inside keeps everything from freezing.

When we know the temps are going to drop, we fill the fresh water tank and disconnect everything from the fresh water hookup outside. We learned our lesson on this the first year we had the Interstate, after waking up one october morning in Paulden, AZ, to find an outside temperature of 18 degrees. The blue filter thingy had frozen and burst, water hose was frozen, etc.

If your coach is warm enough for you inside, you are probably good to go. This is what we has been told by those who know, and is our experience.

We have sat through snow and/or ice storms, and had nothing freeze inside or underneath. The important thing is to disconnrct from water and bring your hose inside.

Safe travels,


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Old 10-16-2012, 12:43 PM   #8
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I have located the water heater bypass (under the roadside twin mattress there's a small hole cut into the plywood) but it's virtually impossible to access much less twist to winterize mode. Mine is yellow and looks like the winterize mode involves a clockwise twist.
According to the manual, there are three fresh water line low point drain valves. I have located the one (hot/cold valves) under the galley (accessed by removing the drawer) and the other (hot/cold valves) under the curbside mattress (accessed through the cabinet through a cutout in the plywood). Where is the third? I have a twin model so I do not have the cup holders like the lounge model.
According to the manual, after dumping black and grey tanks, add a quart or two of non-toxic anti-freeze to one of the holding tanks and start the macerator pump. Run it until the pink stuff comes out of the end of the pump hose. Leave dump valves open. Is leaving the dump valves open necessary?
Thanks
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Old 10-16-2012, 01:15 PM   #9
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I have located the water heater bypass (under the roadside twin mattress there's a small hole cut into the plywood) but it's virtually impossible to access much less twist to winterize mode. Mine is yellow and looks like the winterize mode involves a clockwise twist.
You should be able to reach through the hole with a pair of needle-nose pliers to twist the valve handle. Like the other ball valves, handle in line with the hose is open, handle crossways to the hose is closed. Takes a quarter turn.

Quote:
According to the manual, there are three fresh water line low point drain valves. I have located the one (hot/cold valves) under the galley (accessed by removing the drawer) and the other (hot/cold valves) under the curbside mattress (accessed through the cabinet through a cutout in the plywood). Where is the third? I have a twin model so I do not have the cup holders like the lounge model.
Should be ahead of the water heater on the driver's side, about the same place as the ones on the passenger side.

Quote:
According to the manual, after dumping black and grey tanks, add a quart or two of non-toxic anti-freeze to one of the holding tanks and start the macerator pump. Run it until the pink stuff comes out of the end of the pump hose. Leave dump valves open. Is leaving the dump valves open necessary?
I'd say yes. The owner's manual isn't as informative as it could be due to omissions, but very little in the manual is actually wrong. So if the manual says leave them open, it's a good bet there's a reason for it, even if it doesn't say what the reason is.

My best guess is that both antifreeze and air expand or contract slightly with changes in temperature. Keeping the valves open allows the hoses in between the tanks and the macerator pump to be vented through the tank vents to equalize the pressure as the air temperature changes.
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Old 10-16-2012, 02:13 PM   #10
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daizey,
I have the twin model also. The manual is wrong on this; there are only two fresh water drain valves on mine and both are under the galley. One valve each in both the cold and the hot line.
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Old 10-16-2012, 02:30 PM   #11
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daizey,
I have the twin model also. The manual is wrong on this; there are only two fresh water drain valves on mine and both are under the galley. One valve each in both the cold and the hot line.
Perhaps the 2013 is different? Daizey already said she found drains under the curbside bed, so hers can't all be under the galley.

But her 2013 twin bed model might also be different from my 2012 sofa model in the location of the drains. Mine has four drains altogether, two hot, two cold. One of each next to the pump under the galley, one each under the curb-side cup holder in front of the sofa.

Since her 2013 manual says three locations, and my 2012 manual says two locations, the third set of low-point drains for 2013 models is not a hold-over from previous manual editions and is unlikely to be a typo. That third set of drains is bound to be there somewhere.
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Old 10-16-2012, 03:38 PM   #12
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Just got off the phone with Jim P. from Jackson Center. He said only two low point drains exist on the twin model. Sure glad of that cause I've been crawling around the blacktop looking underneath this thing. It's pretty cool looking under there. Jim P. said there is no easy way to getting the bypass handle to move. I'm going to try the needle nose pliers. He said it's important to blow out the lines, crud I was hoping I wouldn't have to do that. I do not own a compressor. Realizing this question has been asked five hundred times but "is it really necessary to blow them out if you drain everything and use the non-toxic anti-freeze"? Also, he mentioned that running the pink stuff through the macerator pump and leaving the dump valves open helps the air to circulate. You guys are right! Thanks.
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Old 10-16-2012, 05:32 PM   #13
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He said it's important to blow out the lines, crud I was hoping I wouldn't have to do that. I do not own a compressor.
You need a blowout plug that screws into your municipal water intake, and has a valve stem on it. You can buy them at Camping World, Route 66 RV parts stores, or even Amazon. Here's a link to Amazon's offering: Camco 36153 RV Brass Blow Out Plug : Amazon.com : Automotive

I bought a 150psi compressor at K-Mart for less than $100 that does the trick just fine. It has a regulator so that I can limit the output to 60psi for blowing out the plumbing. Got a dual (truck-style) chuck for it as well so I could use it to air up my tires, too, all seven of them. Runs on 110vAC, but that's fine. I just fire up the on-board generator, plug in the compressor to the exterior outlet behind the curb-side rear wheel, and I'm ready.
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Old 10-19-2012, 10:07 AM   #14
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Thanks for the tip on the blowout plug and compressor Protagonist. I ordered the blowout plug from Camping World and now I will visit Kmart and other stores for the compressor.
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