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Old 09-18-2013, 09:01 AM   #1
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Draining water heater?

Sometimes we have more than a month between trips. I'm concerned about water remaining in the water heater. I know that I can drain it by removing the plastic plug, but it is cumbersome. How well will the sureflo pump empty the heater if the fresh-water tank has been drained?

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Old 09-18-2013, 09:03 AM   #2
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To my knowledge, you can't completely drain the water heater tank.

I'm interested to see if I'm wrong on this, though.
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Old 09-18-2013, 09:14 AM   #3
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The trailer's water pump will never do much to empty the water heater. It's designed to pressurize the system (water heater included) not to empty it.

There's no real problem with water sitting in the water heater for a month or so as long as it's not below freezing.
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Old 09-18-2013, 09:28 AM   #4
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Thumbs up Replace the plastic plug.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Willb43 View Post
Sometimes we have more than a month between trips. I'm concerned about water remaining in the water heater. I know that I can drain it by removing the plastic plug, but it is cumbersome. How well will the sureflo pump empty the heater if the fresh-water tank has been drained?

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Can't say if it completely drains...but when it stops dripping from the P-cock, I continue with the Winterizing procedure, never had a freezing problem.

Bob
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Old 09-18-2013, 11:37 AM   #5
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You do not seem to be interested in freezing issues, just storage. I can only talk to my boat experience with similar water heaters. I only drained it once per year for freeze protection and never had any issues. Never drank the hot water so I cannot comment on taste, but I never noticed a problem with dishwashing or showers.
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Old 09-18-2013, 01:48 PM   #6
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There is no reason to drain the hot water heater between trips.

To drain for winter just removing the drain plug and isolating the heater with the heater bypass valve is enough. If you do not have a bypass valve I would strongly suggest you get one put in. If not, even if you drain the heater, you will need 6 gallons of anti freeze. With the bypass 1 gallon will do the job. In all cases blow the lines out by injecting air at the city connection. If you don't there will be water in that leg of the system and may freeze.

However if you want to go further what I do is while the heater is draining i put a 18 in. section of 1/4 in. tubing into the tank. That will flow water and become a siphon causing the water below the drain hole level to drain out. This also tends to bring out some of the calcium chunks that collect in the bottom of the heater.

To make removal of the drain plug easy get a plumbers basin wrench. That will get in behind the gas piping and make it easy.

When you first refill the heater in the spring add the water at a very slow rate till the heater is full. This is not a pressure thing but a means to not stir up the sediment on the bottom of the tank. If you don't do this you will more than likely see the screens on the fixtures clog and have to remove them for cleaning.
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Old 09-18-2013, 02:15 PM   #7
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I have very little literature for my newly purchased 1961 Bambi... can anyone tell me how to winterize my systems, including the water heater? I am in Alaska and freezing temps are coming this week. The one instruction sheet I do have is from '64 for other models, but it specifically states not to use anti-freeze in the system. Many thanks, JC
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Old 09-18-2013, 02:16 PM   #8
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To go the extra yard in the effort to try and remove unwanted sediment from the bottom of the tank is one thing and may be worth the effort. Other than that though I see no freeze danger after draining what you can from the open plug. As has already been mentioned since we don't drink from the hot water supply I agree that there is no urgency to drain between outings.
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Old 09-18-2013, 02:41 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by AKBambi View Post
I have very little literature for my newly purchased 1961 Bambi... can anyone tell me how to winterize my systems, including the water heater? I am in Alaska and freezing temps are coming this week. The one instruction sheet I do have is from '64 for other models, but it specifically states not to use anti-freeze in the system. Many thanks, JC
The admonition against antifreeze is probably referring to the automotive stuff. The RV-specific antifreeze (or a gallon of cheap rotgut vodka!) is fine.

You want to drain all the tanks including the water heater. If your trailer has low-point drains for the water lines, open all the faucets and the toilet valve and then open the low-point drains and let all the water that will drain run out of the system.

After draining the line (or instead, if you don't have low-point drains) blow out the lines with an air compressor. Be careful that you don't apply more pressure than the lines can handle, if you have a big compressor. For Alaska you may want to disconnect the lines to the pump and drain or blow out the pump itself, since a small amount of water in the pump chamber could crack it.

That's probably sufficient for the pressurized lines (it's all I ever do, but we don't see temps like Alaska!) Pour RV antifreeze (or that cheap vodka) into the drain of each sink and into the toilet, using enough so that some flows to the black tank valve to mix with any water that may remain around the valve. If a gray tank has been added to your trailer, make sure you pour enough into the sink drains so that a fair amount of antifreeze gets to the gray tank as well.

A step that many people perform (especially those who have a bypass for their water heater) is to pump some RV antifreeze into the lines after draining out all the fresh water. I think that's "belt+suspenders" stuff, but I live in a very temperate climate and have fairly freeze-tolerant PEX plumbing. If you put the antifreeze in the lines using your water pump, you'll protect it from the scenario I described above. Also, if you use antifreeze in the lines, you'll need to flush them out come springtime, though if you use vodka you may not mind.

EDIT: PS, here's a long thread of people telling how they do this task that I could've referenced instead of typing.
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Old 09-18-2013, 03:08 PM   #10
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While just blowing out the lines with air may be enough in the lower of the lower 48 I would strongly suggest you pump in RV anti freeze using the pump. Even with a great blow down there will be low spots, and the leg leading from the pump, that will have some water. The RV anti freeze will be diluted at those spots but will significantly drop the freezing point. Aslo blow the line to the pump from the fresh water tank back to the tank.

Again while it is not necessary to drain the water left below the drain hole of the hot water heater down here, because the tank has a round bottom and ice will climb the side wall, again I would go the extra mile and get as much water out of the tank as possible.

I would really tip the trailer for that last dump before winterizing and let it really drain. Those tanks have straight sides and you don't want ice on a flat bottom tank.

When you pump in the anti freeze, with a short hose attached to the input of the pump and in the anti freeze, open each faucet one at a time till antifreeze comes out, with the pump running. Start with the furtherest faucet from the pump
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Old 09-18-2013, 03:17 PM   #11
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I have a Dometic Sealand Traveler ceramic toilet in my 34'. First year I just blew out the lines with compressed air. The design of the flush valve in the Sealand toilets is such that you can't get all of the water out of them with just air. It cold that winter (WV) and it cracked my toilet valve.

I then found out that you can't get the Dometic toilet valve at every campground store like you can the Thetford's.

Anyway, I blow the lines out with air and pump the RV antifreeeze through the lines now. May be double whammy, but I've not had a freeze problem since.

Best of luck,
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Old 09-19-2013, 01:17 PM   #12
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My mind is expanding. I am unfamiliar with RV antifreeze, but will check it out. As I become more familiar with my system I will have more questions (guaranteed). Thank you all for your time and knowledge, JC
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Old 09-19-2013, 03:27 PM   #13
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not so sure

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The admonition against antifreeze is probably referring to the automotive stuff. The RV-specific antifreeze (or a gallon of cheap rotgut vodka!) is fine.
I heard that a friend of a friend tried using vodka as antifreeze and ended up with a fuzzy science project
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Old 09-19-2013, 05:19 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
That will flow water and become a siphon causing the water below the drain hole level to drain out. This also tends to bring out some of the calcium chunks that collect in the bottom of the heater.

To make removal of the drain plug easy get a plumbers basin wrench. That will get in behind the gas piping and make it easy.

When you first refill the heater in the spring add the water at a very slow rate till the heater is full. This is not a pressure thing but a means to not stir up the sediment on the bottom of the tank. If you don't do this you will more than likely see the screens on the fixtures clog and have to remove them for cleaning.
Buy one of these and you will never have deposits in your water heater tank. Each fall when winterizing I used this tool to clean the tank. It directs high pressure water though the end of the tool to clean any deposits out of the tank. I had a trailer for 14 years and never had to replace the tank because of this tool. If there are deposits in your tank, you will see them pour out as you use this. The amount of deposits you see come out of the tank are dependent upon the amount of use and water quality during the camping season. Tank failures are usually the result of calcium deposits which build up over time.

Water Heater Tank Rinser - Camco 11691 - Water Heaters - Camping World

Jack
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