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Old 11-08-2012, 09:55 AM   #15
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Why does it matter if the holding tanks freeze in the winter if they are not full? They should be empty or close to, in which case it won't matter if they freeze.

Perry
Potential damage to the valve, maybe?
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Old 11-08-2012, 09:59 AM   #16
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Why does it matter if the holding tanks freeze in the winter if they are not full? They should be empty or close to, in which case it won't matter if they freeze.

Perry
The plain and simple fact is, if the tanks are empty, or close to it, it doesn't matter.

Who here has had to replace any tank that was empty because of freeze damage? I know I have never replaced one in fourty years of RVing.

Valves? Yes, but everyone knows valves just go bad over time.

And before everyone in Canada starts screaming foul, remember the OP is close to Austin, TX.
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Old 11-08-2012, 10:01 AM   #17
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I could see problems if the tank is full enough so the valve blade is covered.

Perry
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Old 11-08-2012, 10:23 AM   #18
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I put winter time windshield washer fluid in the holding tanks. After they are empty of course. A gallon in each tank. It keeps the seals wet and doesn't freeze. It is cheap.
I use the pink stuff in everything else.
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Old 11-08-2012, 10:25 AM   #19
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I put winter time windshield washer fluid in the holding tanks. After they are empty of course. A gallon in each tank. It keeps the seals wet and doesn't freeze. It is cheap.
I've used that stuff in my windshield washers when I had to go up North in the winter...good stuff. The problem is, it isn't even sold down here.
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Old 11-08-2012, 11:08 AM   #20
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Yeah they stopped putting Methanol in the washer fluid in the summer which means you are just putting colored water on your windshield in the summer. It is a ripoff. Make sure you get the winter formula with Methanol in it.. Just don't drink the stuff or it will make you blind. I am not sure how Methano is going to effect your seals.

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Old 11-08-2012, 11:21 AM   #21
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Yeah they stopped putting Methanol in the washer fluid in the summer which means you are just putting colored water on your windshield in the summer. It is a ripoff. Make sure you get the winter formula with Methanol in it.. Just don't drink the stuff or it will make you blind. I am not sure how Methano is going to effect your seals.
Some rubber compounds have good resistance to alcohol. Others do not. Natural rubber does not have good resistance to alcohol. Butyl rubber is a little better than natural rubber, but still not ideal.

Nitrile rubber, AKA Buna-N (the kind used in many surgical gloves) has good resistance to alcohol, which makes sense when you consider how much alcohol is used as a disinfectant.

I'm not sure what type of rubber is used in the tank seals, but I'd guess it's butyl rubber because it has good resistance to the chlorine used for sanitizing RV water systems.

If the rubber does not have good alcohol reistance, the alcohol will dry out the seals, just as badly as if you used nothing at all.
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Old 11-08-2012, 11:46 AM   #22
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I wonder how glycerin would do? It should help lube the seals and is water soluble.

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Old 11-08-2012, 11:54 AM   #23
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I wonder how glycerin would do? It should help lube the seals and is water soluble.
Long as it's not nitroglycerin!

Putting "pink stuff" antifreeze in the black and gray tanks works as well as anything to keep the seals lubricated. Although it often contains alcohol, the glycol makes up for it.
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Old 11-08-2012, 07:50 PM   #24
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Why does it matter if the holding tanks freeze in the winter if they are not full? They should be empty or close to, in which case it won't matter if they freeze.

Perry
Well, I wouldn't fill the tanks with anti-freeze. But the freeze damage I've seen extending to the tanks is when temp cycles make the initial plumbing break worse. The water re-freezes having soaked the plywood floor -- flooded trailer -- which then (surmising) torques the connector between drains and tanks. Cracking.

Some folks with old trailers might only look in on them a few times per year. And forgot to turn off the water supply last summer (as a start).
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Old 11-08-2012, 07:59 PM   #25
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Back to the original question: I did this for a couple weeks last winter (we were camping over Christmas, then going to Florida, so I didn't re-winterize after Christmas). I set the thermostat to 50 degrees, closed the bedroom door (no pipes back there), and opened the doors under the kitchen sink (furnace and water lines near there), under the bathroom sink (back of the water heater), and I removed everything from our closet and used a bungee cord to keep the access panel to the pipes down below open. I also installed the skylight covers to help keep the heat in.

Our temperatures hovered just below freezing most nights, but we did have a cold snap into the teens for one or two nights during that time.

It worked perfectly, with just one flaw: I used two 30lb tanks of propane to do it. You might consider getting a larger tank delivered. We are doing something similar this year, and I haven't yet decided how I want to handle it.

Someone else suggested just running the water heater, too - I didn't, but it's an option. It would help keep the pipes in that vicinity warm.
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Old 11-08-2012, 09:44 PM   #26
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We live in North TX. The trailer is going into it's 5th winter season. I have yet to winterize it. I want to be ready to go at a moments notice for a quick weekend getaway.

I turn off the pump. Open all the water taps (sinks / shower / outside shower) then set the furnace to 40 which is the lowest setting on my unit. I double check the propane supply and make sure it is plugged in to 15A power.

I have yet to have a problem. Temps have been in the teens a number of times and single digits more than once.

I typically use 2 full bottles of propane over the winter for this purpose which is a fair price to me in exchange for being able to camp year round without worrying about the extra 30 minutes or more to winterize / de-winterize on each end of the trip.

It works for me. YMMV.
I completely agree. I might even just run an electric heater and the water heater using propane. The fact that it does not get real cold in Texas, coupled with the mass of all the stuff in the airstream and that it will warm up during the day means that you just don't need a lot of heat to keep stuff from freezing.

Protagonist- I see no need to open a window while the furnace is operating. We don't do this when we are camping in it, so I certainly would not do it with it vacant.

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