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Old 10-30-2012, 11:24 AM   #1
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Winterizing in Central TX --- Newbie question

Fall has arrived in Central TX (Austin).
We purchased our '95 AS Sovereign 3 weeks ago and have taken it camping in the first 2 weekends. We want to take it camping as much as possible during the relatively mild winter here.

However, we do experience an occasional (rare) overnight freeze here.
Since we want to take it camping every weekend if possible; and boondocking is a possibility; we are hesitant to poor antifreeze in our water holding tank, since we'll be using that water.

Do you have any tips on how our AS can make it through the winter?
Thanks!
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Old 10-30-2012, 11:35 AM   #2
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Welcome to the Airstream family. Glad to have you with us.

Off hand, I would not add anti freeze or drain any lines. I would probably turn the water heater on and maybe just run the furnace on a real low setting. It may also be adequate to just have the pilot lights on, but your appliances may be all spark ignition.

I would recommend waiting for some of your fellow Texans to chime in.

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Old 10-30-2012, 11:42 AM   #3
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You may want to check out the Wurstfest rally in your Texas neighborhood this weekend.

Dan
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Old 10-30-2012, 11:55 AM   #4
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I'm in a similar situation, living in New Orleans at Latitude 30N.

My Interstate has tank heaters, but they suck lots of electicity. Since I have no place to plug in where I store my rig, I can't rely on the tank heaters for overnight freezes.

My plan is, drain the freshwater system and blow out the lines for storage. Drain the graywater and blackwater tanks, and add antifreeze to them, because you can never get the holding tanks completely dry.

If I'm going someplace that has water hookups, I will use a hose for the city connection, and not even fill the fresh tank. Then, before I head home, I'll drain the water heater and blow out the lines. I'll add antifreeze to the gray and black tanks when I get home.

If I go someplace that doesn't have city water, then I'll fill the fresh tank just before I hit the road. Then before I head home, I'll drain any unused water from the fresh tank and water heater, and blow out the lines. When I get home I'll add antifreeze to the gray and black tanks.

In all cases, no antifreeze in the freshwater system, only in the wastewater system.
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Old 10-30-2012, 12:18 PM   #5
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Blowing the lines with compressed air is always a good thing and will do the job to prevent freezing. I think it's not needed to put antifreeze into the gray / black tanks unless it's for the purpose of lubricating the discharge valve seals. Draining the tanks is adequate. The little amount of water that will remain will do no harm even if it freezes. Same for the fresh water tank. Drain it and leave it. Same for hot water tank pull the plug or open the valve if you have one. Any remaining water will not do any damage if it freezes. It's the water lines through the unit and faucets, toilets, pump and hoses that need the protection therefore the blowing with air. Don't forget to put the antifreeze into all the traps and toilet bowl though.

You're in a much milder climate than we are so little chance of a hard freeze.
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Old 10-30-2012, 12:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TouringDan
You may want to check out the Wurstfest rally in your Texas neighborhood this weekend.

Dan
I would 2nd Dan's suggestion. Not only will you have a chance to pick up some good suggestions from fellow Airstreamers in your area, you might just have a really good time and meet some great folks.
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Old 10-30-2012, 01:16 PM   #7
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What you can do for low temperatures depends on where/how you store your trailer. My storage facility has power, but the circuits are apparently WAY over-subscribed in terms of outlets per breaker (from my experience last winter) and it seems like other people were running electric heaters, so if I hadn't gone to check my furnace would eventually have sucked the battery dry and left the trailer unprotected. I have pex plumbing so I just drained everything and didn't have any problems.

If you're storing it at your house and you have reliable power, an electric space heater on a low setting should be enough for temperatures we're likely to experience in Texas. Draining the water system and blowing out the lines is the next level of protection, and it's easy to do once you've found the low-point drains and have a setup to blow the lines. I think anything beyond that is overkill for central Texas, "winter" being our best camping season, after all!
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Old 10-30-2012, 01:59 PM   #8
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I think the key to your question is where you store your AS. I live in Houston and have never winterized my AS, but it is stored in an unheated enclosed RV storage unit. If a hard freeze over a couple of days was the forecast, I would set the heater at a low temperature and leave it.

If camping in the winter and a freeze is forecast then I disconnect and drain the water hose and wrap the water bib in paper or something to protect it from freezing. Winter nights in the Hill Country can produce an overnight low in the mid-high 20s, but the days can be beautiful.
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Old 10-30-2012, 02:01 PM   #9
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I store my trailer at home (Texas Hill Country), and have a 30 amp outlet for it's use. This gives me the advantage of being able to keep it plugged in, and being where I can take needed steps quickly.

That said, when extreem freezing weather is anticipated, I drain all tanks, drain the water system while running the pump to clear it of water, and then drain the water heater. Then I use air to blow all of the lines clear of water. Last, I pour RV antifreeze down all drains to protect the "P" traps. Also, I leave a small electric heater running on it's lowest thermostat setting. This protected the trailer a couple of years ago when we had sustained temperatures in the teens here.

By not using antifreeze in the fresh water system, I can be ready to go camping by just filling the water tank.
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Old 11-05-2012, 11:21 AM   #10
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Can we use any kind of antifreeze or is special RV antifreeze needed?
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Old 11-05-2012, 11:35 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jornvango View Post
Can we use any kind of antifreeze or is special RV antifreeze needed?
There is a lively discussion on that very topic going on right now on another thread.

Use only non-toxic propylene glycol, also called "pink stuff". Do not use automotive antifreeze, which is ethylene glycol (AKA "green stuff") and is toxic enough to hurt you badly.

Even though pink stuff is non-toxic, wear rubber gloves while handling it; it will irritate any skin rashes you might have, and for some people with sensitive skin, it will cause rashes.

Do not add pink stuff to your freshwater tank. It may not be toxic, but it feels slimy if it gets in your bathwater, smells if you heat it in your water heater, and makes the water taste funny if you drink any, even diluted heavily with water.

Add it to the P-traps in your sinks, leave a puddle of it in your toilet bowl to keep the seals from drying out. Add some to your black and gray tanks to keep the seals on your dump valves from drying out, too. Consult your owner's manual to determine how much to use, and the exact procedures.

For your freshwater system, just drain all the water, blow it out with compressed air (45 psi for older units, 60 psi for newer ones). That should do it, without adding antifreeze. Again, check your owner's manual for drain locations and procedures.

Except, if you plan to move your Airstream while it's winterized, you may want to put the freshwater tank drain plug back in after you've winterized, to keep road grit and other dirt out of your fresh tank.
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Old 11-05-2012, 11:35 AM   #12
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You must use RV antifreeze because it is not poisonous like automotive antifreeze.
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Old 11-05-2012, 12:35 PM   #13
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It is good to think about this before that every-third-year blue norther that is nastier than most. Was it winter of '10 that there were many panicked posts from Gulf Coast states asking about quick winterizing? You can see temps in the mid teens. I've got deep roots in Bexar County but seem to have married into Minnesota. Still...

SteveH has posted a good summary of what you could do. There any number of 'blow it out' threads in the Winterizing subforum. I do post against this technique for people where winters are harder; eg, interior of the nation and including, in my experience, areas from cold, cold Dallas and northward. Opinions, opinions. That's what these are. So make your best call and enjoy Airstreaming!
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Old 11-05-2012, 12:51 PM   #14
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Drain the HW heater as has been said, but then set the valves to close off and isolate the HW heater from the rest of the plumbing. You won't be able to pressurize and blow out the plumbing without doing that. Don't know about a '95 but many three-valve HWH bypasses have these valves:

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google: rv blowout plug

You'll need one of those to connect a compressor at home. Set the pressure from your air compressor to no more than 40 pounds.

Jack Canavera recently posted something interesting about cheap RV antifreezes causing seal problems. My black tank valve seal just started leaking this summer (yecchh). Will have to consider this after I replace it.
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