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Old 09-19-2014, 06:15 PM   #1
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Winterizing your Interstate

I realized I nearly hijacked someone else's topic....so here I go with a new thread.

As stated in another thread, I am looking for a good approach to a common problem for all of us road warriors.....winterizing my Interstate while on the road.

While I have ordered Camco's hand pump kit, I would like to ask how everyone else out there handles this while on the road.

I did look at putting a "kit" on the pump suction. It is possible, with a suggestion from another user (Protagonist...thank you) to unbolt the pump and install the kit. Another, more colorful, solution suggested using cheap vodka......hmmmmm vodka on tap so to speak. ( can you say flammable?)

On my particular build, 2013-late model year, the pump is accessible. That's about it. The business end is mounted in what the engineer in me would describe as 180 degrees out of position. The business end is toward the outer wall. This makes it all but impossible to release the filter clips. It would also take an adept left-handed monkey to get to the hose clamp on the suction. It appears the only approach is to unscrew the pump from the floor, and hope I have enough room (and slack) to work with the suction line. There is no moving the pump...too much other crap in the vicinity.

The pump is really the only issue. I can take care of the pressure side (almost) with the hand pump. The tanks and discharge should be straightforward.

I am open to suggestion.......( I just put my helmet on)


As I said....how do you do your on the road winterizing.



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Old 09-19-2014, 06:44 PM   #2
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All you need is:
1) One of those blowout adaptors:

2) a small tire-fill compressor
3) A little RV antifreeze to put in the traps.

Just do a standard compressed-air blowout and you will be fine. If you have a macerator, then put a bit of antifreeze in your gray tank (after dumping) and run it into the macerator pump. if you have a water heater tank, don't forget to drain it.

No fuss, no muss. All this antifreeze in the fresh water system stuff is a waste of time. Just take your time with the blowout so that it is done properly.
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Old 09-19-2014, 06:54 PM   #3
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Ok... I do have the fitting to blowdown. Question now is: do I open all valves BEFORE applying air. Do I leave them closed and then open them sequentially.
Still have the pump to contend with, I think.....


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Old 09-19-2014, 06:56 PM   #4
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Thought I should mention I did RTFM, but as most cases, sometimes the real world differs from the manual.


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Old 09-19-2014, 07:01 PM   #5
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Start with all valves closed. Turn on the pump and let a little pressure build up (not too much). This compensates for the rather low volume rating of these little pumps. Then you go through the vehicle and open one valve at a time until it blows only air. Start with the valve closest to the pump and work your way outwards, one at a time. Let pressure build again between valves. It is best to do this whole thing twice.

As for the pump, you must determine whether the city water flows through it or not. If so, there is nothing special to do. If not, then you DO have to put a bit of antifreeze into the fresh tank (not very much) and run it into the pump. This was not necessary on my erstwhile Interstate.
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Old 09-19-2014, 07:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toskeysam View Post
Another, more colorful, solution suggested using cheap vodka......hmmmmm vodka on tap so to speak. ( can you say flammable?)
Alcoholic beverages are only flammable if they are 100 proof or higher. Your basic cheap 84-proof vodka will not burn (except on the way down your gullet).

Living in the south, last year I had to winterize my Interstate five times, because every time I winterized, I ended up going camping again. I'm not complaining; that beats winterizing once and letting it sit all winter! Anyway, I'll share my sequence:

1 - Before you open the drain plug on the bottom of the fresh tank, drain the tank by opening a faucet and running the pump until it sucks air. I did this by turning on the shower and holding the nozzle over the toilet to give my black tank a thorough rinse. Since you have to lie on your back on the ground to open the drain plug, if the tank is nearly dry to begin with, less water runs out on the ground to get you wet.
2 - Open the drain valves on the fresh tank first, then the water heater. Also open the pressure relief valve on the water heater so it drains faster.
3 - Open the low-point drains and then open the faucets (with levers midway between hot and cold. Also flush the toilet to drain the line running to the toilet.
4 - Drain the black tank and gray tank, with the discharge hose pulled completely off the reel and laid out flat. Run the macerator pump until it sucks air as well.
5 - Using a blow-out plug, blow out the black tank flush fitting. If you've used it at all, the check valve on the flush fitting retains water and will freeze otherwise.
6 - Partially fill the black tank and gray tank with RV antifreeze. Open the black tank valve and let some of the antifreeze run down to the macerator pump. Pump out just enough antifreeze to see pink stuff in the discharge hose. Close the drain valve and add more antifreeze to the black tank. Also add a little to your toilet bowl to wet the seal, and cover the toilet bowl with Saran Wrap if you intend to drive the Interstate while it's winterized, to keep pink stuff from sloshing out.
7 - Hook up your external shower hose.
8 - After washing the blow-out plug (it was just hooked up to your black tank) hook it up to your municipal water line. Close the low-point drains but leave the faucets open. Also open the water heater bypass valve.
9 - Blow out the lines, including the external shower.
10 - Remove the external shower, close the faucets and the water heater pressure relief and drain valves, done.

That's all I do. I don't fill the water pump with antifreeze because it's inside the van and has been run dry to minimize the amount of water left in it. But then again I live in the south, and even when temperatures drop below freezing they don't usually stay that way for even 24 hours in a row. You might want to disconnect your pump as a final step since you live in a colder climate. But don't winterize the pump. Since you've got it disconnected anyway, just insert a golf tee in the inlet and outlet lines to plug them, and take the pump indoors to store it until you're ready to hook it back up.

I don't think I've forgotten any steps, but if I have, I'm sure someone will chime in. Luckily an Interstate has Hevpro valves on the sink and shower drains, not P-traps, so you don't have to worry about filling P-traps with antifreeze.

On edit, since there have been other posts while I was writing this, the air pump I use to winterize produces 60 psi (regulated, from a 125-psi 1˝ gallon air tank). I have no shortage of compressed air, so I don't need the "leave the faucets closed to build up pressure" trick.
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Old 09-19-2014, 07:25 PM   #7
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Protagonist...from one engineer to another.....that's a procedure! Thank you.
I had to laugh at your suggestion for draining the FW tank.....I was really moving fast one day when I pulled the plug on a nearly-full tank. I had been sanitizing the system. Learned how to do it without laying on my back after that.


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Old 09-19-2014, 09:51 PM   #8
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Wouldn't you have to open the low-point drains at some point in the blowout process to eliminate the water in the line between them and the pump?

I use a ratchet/socket to remove the fresh water drain plug. Once it's loose, just reach under and remove by hand. No on the back or getting wet. My drain plug is very close to the outside of the body.
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Old 09-19-2014, 09:59 PM   #9
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My lesson learned in draining the FW tank WAS use a ratchet/socket. I do have to "take a knee" the get to the plug. Don't bend as well as 20 years ago.


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Old 09-19-2014, 10:02 PM   #10
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Forgot to mention the "take a knee" part. I also don't bend as well as 50 years ago.
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Old 09-20-2014, 12:00 AM   #11
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Wouldn't you have to open the low-point drains at some point in the blowout process to eliminate the water in the line between them and the pump?
Yes. I think of that as part of "draining the fresh tank", so I didn't mention it. Good catch.
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Old 09-20-2014, 04:55 PM   #12
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Most important with using compressed air is to keep the air pressure low. Maybe 15psi or less.
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Old 09-20-2014, 06:12 PM   #13
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Most important with using compressed air is to keep the air pressure low. Maybe 15psi or less.
I beg to differ. My Interstate owner's manual says, in Section G, page G-12, to use 60 psi. That's what I use, and haven't experienced any problems.
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Old 09-20-2014, 06:14 PM   #14
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I beg to differ. My Interstate owner's manual says, in Section G, page G-12, to use 60 psi. That's what I use, and haven't experienced any problems.
I agree. With modern PEX piping, it should be fine. It actually is a good stress test of the system. I would rather a fitting blow in my driveway than in the middle of the night.
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