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Old 12-12-2014, 11:20 AM   #1
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Advice wanted for winterizing in the South

I live in the Southeast (Coastal Georgia) and plan on using my Airstream several times this winter. Although we get some freezing temps, overall we have mild winters and I really do not want to do a complete winterization every time I park. I do plan on draining tanks and water heater and keeping a space heater inside whenever the forecast calls for freezing temps. Would appreciate opinions and advice from others with similar circumstances. Will this plan be sufficient to prevent freeze damage? I park the trailer outside. I am new to RV'ing/Airstreaming.
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Old 12-12-2014, 11:40 AM   #2
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I live a bit north of you in the Coastal Plains of NC. At minimum I drain everything down (including the water heater), blow the water lines and add a cup or so of RV anti-freeze to each of the drain traps, making sure some makes it down to the black/gray tank drain valves and the sewer cap. I can hook up and go at a moments notice and be able to hook up when I get to a warmer place with no hassle. Lather, wash, repeat. If the camper is going to have sit all winter with no use I will usually go ahead and pull the water lines full of antifreeze.

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Old 12-23-2014, 09:44 PM   #3
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I just got my first Airstream a couple weeks ago and live in coastal SC. The dealership had to fill all the lines and test for delivery. I had them drain all the lines and blow them out but stopped short of having them antifreeze everything. I did this so that we could go on a trip if we wanted too; maybe it was just having spent all that money and then not being able to use it! At any rate, I'm sure it's going to get below freezing on a few occasions but that might be all it takes?
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Old 12-23-2014, 11:23 PM   #4
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As long as daytime temperatures are above freezing, and (at night) the length of time below 32 degrees is no longer than a couple of hours, you can probably get by without winterizing.

If the overnight lows drop a little lower into the mid-20s, and stay there most of the night, you can probably still avoid winterizing by just firing up the propane furnace and/or heat pump, as necessary. (Note: The thermostat doesn't have to be set very high; we set ours to about 50-55 degrees.)

In Phoenix, AZ, we get a few cold spells where the overnight temperatures dip to 28-32 degrees for 2-3 hours; and during the day, it warms to 35-45. And, we have never winterized our Bambi.
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Old 12-24-2014, 04:37 AM   #5
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We live in Central Florida, and get several hard freezes each winter, sometimes as cold as say 25 for the low at night. But like the poster above me, it warms up pretty good during the day. I set the furnace as low as it will go for the really cold nights and over 15 years and 4 RVs we've never had a problem with not winterizing. I guess the difference is we don't get days or weeks of at or below freezing temps.........

You need to run the furnace though, not the heat pump to heat the tanks in the enclosed underbelly of an Airstream. I do keep ours in a pole barn, and that helps by preventing frost and ice if it's wet. I've checked ours on several 30's degree mornings and it stays about 50 inside with very little furnace run time.
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Old 12-24-2014, 05:57 AM   #6
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At any rate, I'm sure it's going to get below freezing on a few occasions but that might be all it takes?
Yes, that might be all it takes. Here in the New Orleans metro area, what I do is this:

Since I park my Airstream at home and it's readily accessible in case I need to winterize, I check the Weather Channel's online 10-day forecast on a regular basis. If the temperature is expected to drop below about 28°F overnight, or to drop below 32° for 24 hours or more, I winterize at least a day in advance. But until the forecast shows a freeze, I don't bother.

I drain my tanks (and water heater) and blow out the lines with compressed air. I also turn on the water pump and let it run dry for 10 or 15 seconds to make sure it has the least possible amount of trapped water. Since my Airstream Interstate doesn't have P-traps (it has Hevpro check valves instead), I don't need to add antifreeze to them, so all I have to do is add some antifreeze to black and gray tanks to keep the dump valve seals moist, and some to the toilet to keep its drain valve moist as well. I also run my macerator pump dry for about 10 or 15 seconds, to make sure it also has the least possible amount of trapped water.

Even on the few winter days that we have snow in New Orleans, I have yet to experience any freeze damage to my Airstream from this level of winterization. The only problem I ever had was when I was winter camping. My macerator pump froze due to the small amount of trapped water, so I couldn't empty my black and gray tanks before leaving the campground. But there was no damage to the pump itself. Once it thawed the pump worked perfectly the following weekend when I went to an I-10 rest area dump station to dump the tanks.
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Old 12-24-2014, 07:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richarus View Post
I live in the Southeast (Coastal Georgia) and plan on using my Airstream several times this winter. Although we get some freezing temps, overall we have mild winters and I really do not want to do a complete winterization every time I park. I do plan on draining tanks and water heater and keeping a space heater inside whenever the forecast calls for freezing temps. Would appreciate opinions and advice from others with similar circumstances. Will this plan be sufficient to prevent freeze damage? I park the trailer outside. I am new to RV'ing/Airstreaming.
Thanks
The only time I had a pipe burst from freezing, I was parked in Brunswick GA overnight. I thought I was "to far south to freeze". I got the hard knocks kind of education!

The tanks with large volumes of water take a long time to freeze, so they are not as worrisome when it going to freeze for just a few hours. What you should be concerned about freezing overnight is the small volumes of water trapped in the plumbing system. For example that ounce or two of water in the pump head, or the few drops in the toilet flush valve, or the little bit in the pressure regulator, or the water trapped in the shower head, or the small amount in the faucet. There are several spots like these that can freeze in an hour or two.

Take the good advice you have been given. Heat the trailer or winterize! If you choose to not winterize, you probably will be ok to use electric space heaters. But the surest method is to leave the thermostat on low and let the furnace do its job.
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Old 12-24-2014, 09:11 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
I live a bit north of you in the Coastal Plains of NC. At minimum I drain everything down (including the water heater), blow the water lines and add a cup or so of RV anti-freeze to each of the drain traps, making sure some makes it down to the black/gray tank drain valves and the sewer cap. I can hook up and go at a moments notice and be able to hook up when I get to a warmer place with no hassle. Lather, wash, repeat. If the camper is going to have sit all winter with no use I will usually go ahead and pull the water lines full of antifreeze.

Aaron
I do this plus disconnect both ends of the water pump and run it for a few seconds to run the water out. I use a $45 inflator rather than an air compressor. Your empty hot water tank acts like an air tank. I run the inflator for a few minutes until I accumulate 20 pounds of pressure. I turn on each faucet multiple times until all a get is air blowing out.
All told it takes me about 45 minutes and a few minutes to add water when I want to use the trailer.
Brief overnight below freezing temps are not going to damage your trailer even if it is unheated, but sooner or later you are going to get "a norther"
when temps go well below freezing for a few days. Then you will be scrambling around in cold perhaps snowy weather to properly winterize your trailer. If you winterize, you can look at your trailer fondly out your living room window when you are sitting in front of the fire knowing it is safe.
P.S. you will use a surprising amount of electricity running your space heater 24/7, 7 days a week.
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Old 12-24-2014, 10:05 AM   #9
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While the AS manual gives you detailed steps on how to winterize without antifreeze in the lines, they also give those who live in northern climes the steps to add antifreeze.

What they don't say in the manual is Jackson Center (in Ohio) isn't apparently cold enough to warrant the additional step of adding anti freeze to the lines.

I live in SW Missouri, and the lead tech at AS asked me why I went to that additional step, so I took his advice last winter and just blew the water out of ALL of the lines, drained the water heater, and added a bit of anti freeze to the p traps, and toilet. Last winter was the coldest since I moved from Dallas in 1987. My trailer went through MO's coldest winter in years without a problem.

You're much further south than I, and I'll bet that you'll be safe enough by just blowing the water lines, turn on the water pump a bit, give the water lines a bit more air and make sure the water heater is drained.

Good luck!
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Old 12-24-2014, 10:14 PM   #10
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We live in Piedmont, NC. We empty the water heater and tanks, blow out the water lines with compressed air, put antifreeze in the drain traps, unhook the water pump discharge line and run the pump until the water is out, put antifreeze in the black tank, and remove the shower heads. We have never put antifreeze in the water lines.

So far, no issues even though we sometimes have several days in a row of below freezing temperatures. Last year, due to winter travel, we winterized three times.

When camping overnight in below freezing temperatures we run the furnace, so the pipes underneath stay warm. We also unhook the water hose, roll it up, and store it in the floor of the shower overnight. The next morning we hook the hose back up. So far we have not experienced a frozen hose, or pipe, when camping in the winter.


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Old 01-03-2015, 08:20 AM   #11
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I noticed that in the airstream manual that it said something about those in northern states needing to winterized and taking the additional step of adding anti-freeze. Since that's not me and based on the advice here it doesn't sound like I need to go any further than I've gone already. I think I will get a bottle of anti freeze though and add it to the traps. Maybe take off the showerhead as well. Thanks for the advice!
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Old 01-03-2015, 04:10 PM   #12
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I have had my AS for about 9 years. From the very beginning I did not use the toilet or shower in my unit. I felt I needed more storage area than a bathroom. We stay at state parks in our travels and the parks have good bathroom and shower facilities. I feel that having more space for storing the things I might need in my travels is more important than a bathroom or shower. Besides, who wants to go to the bathroom with someone in the unit with you about 8 ft away??? I made some shelves and storage units with PVC pipe and plastic drawers. My wife and I get along exceptionally well with this set up. Extra drawers for towels, shirts and etc... I don't know about you but this is more important. What do you think????
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