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Old 11-02-2003, 12:43 PM   #1
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winterizing question

Ok, I know winterizing has been done to death, but I'm hoping to get some advice from folks like me in a milder part of the country. We don't have those MI winters, here we rarely get snow (and when we do it is usually gone the next day), and it seldom gets below freezing for more than a few days. Today it's snowing, and this is the first time we've had snow this early in the year since 1911 - I hope that's not a sign of a rough winter coming!

Anyway, I've already emptied the tanks and done the tilting the trailer back and forth thing to try and get all the water out, and right now the heater is on out there to keep it warmed up inside. But I don't want to be running antifreeze into the tanks and lines because we're going to use it again in a couple weeks. In fact we have several winter trips planned to the beach and some state parks (which are blissfully empty of tourists this time of year).

So any suggestions on what to do to prepare for winter, but still leave it usable? I am going to go get a fitting for the compressor to try and blow out any remaining water. Should I put some antifreeze in the black tank? Antifreeze in the traps? Should I just go out and fire up the heater when it looks like it's going to be a cold one?
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Old 11-02-2003, 01:00 PM   #2
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At Home Depot or Lowes you should be able to find an outlet adapter (looks just like one of those 1 to 3 outlet adapters) that has a thermostat built in. It is designed for freeze protection uses. Get one or two of those and one or two radiant electric heaters (preferably the kind without a fan as fans fail too often - use an external fan to help blow the heat around the pipes if needed) and use these to protect your rig from mild freezes.

Install one in the bathroom and another for the kitchen plumbing.

Also make sure to dump all tanks, open all valves, and drain the system as much as possible (even remove the plug on the water heater). Adapt your water pump so the input and output lines are those plastic sink hookup lines at Tru Value (or equiv) so you can easily disconnect the fittings (they use gaskets and only need to be hand tight).

If you rig things right, you will have two levels of mild freeze protection. One is heating inside the rig and the other is a pretty well drained system so there isn't much to freeze - and it shouldn't take more than a few minutes to be back together and ready for the road.
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Old 11-02-2003, 01:15 PM   #3
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Steph...

You're doing the right stuff...

I don't use anti-freeze in the lines (although I probably should), I just blow mine out with compressed air until all of the water droplets are out, and there's just air coming through. DO make sure your water heater is emptied out, and that you do ALL of the lines, and both hot and cold, including the shower, water filter (if you have one) etc. etc.

You might also considered draining your 12v pump by removing the inlet hose.

I DO dump anti-freeze into the P-traps and both holding tanks; not that the tanks are a big deal after they've been emptied... it just seems like a good idea in case a seal seeps or something.

I leave all of the faucets/drain valves open after they're blown out.

Good luck!

Roger
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Old 11-02-2003, 05:47 PM   #4
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Thanks. We thought the heater sounded like a great idea, so I went and got one of those and the temp sensitive plug adaptor. I put the heater at the living room end of the trailer and opened all the covers and removed cushions so the water hoses were easily accessable (they are all above the floor in our trailer). Then I used an extension cord and plugged the heater into the temp sensitive adaptor in the back of the bathroom. Hopefully this way when it gets cold enough to kick on the heater, the whole trailer will have to warm up before it warms up the temp device (since it's furthest away), and shuts the system down. I'm sure I'll be peeking in on it when the temps drop tonight.

One last question: Do I leave the vent completely closed? Seems like the best idea for keeping it warm inside, but I know you aren't supposed to live in a trailer that's closed with the heat running. Can I hurt anything by heating an empty trailer with the vent closed?
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Old 11-02-2003, 06:07 PM   #5
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That rule of thumb is only if you are heating with a cataltic heater or a gas light.
Electric heat or using the furnace, if it is working properly, does not require the same venting.
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Old 11-02-2003, 06:11 PM   #6
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Thanks, Brett. That's what I figured, just wanted to be sure.
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Old 11-03-2003, 11:00 AM   #7
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Cool Depends

Stef
Depends if your not in the rig for a few weeks, A/S recommands that for long term storage to crack a vent ever so slightly..That's a judgmental call. I'd say what you've done should cover it adequately.
Brent is right on target about the the use of compressed air and, anti freeze in the traps..Don't forget the wand next to the toilet..It may need to be flushed of water as well..(for those of us in harsher zones...lol)
I might add one thing I discovered just recently. I was using a fitting attached to the city water that had a positive action valve and, discovered that, when I took the air compressor off..it seal the line and, water flowed actually smoother than it did with the air rushing thru the line from the compressor..Took alot of hands on efforts off, as I was able to watch the process from inside..If you follow me.

Good luck..
ciao
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Old 11-03-2003, 12:32 PM   #8
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Be very careful Stefrobrts. Damage from freezing water occurs just above 32 degrees F. That is when water expands as it forms ice.

In the Portland Vancouver Area, I have been able to pick up Airstreams pretty cheeply due to cracked and broken plumbing. Surprisingly this does not happen during the harsh years of our famous ice storms but during mild years when it just drops down to freezing for a few days. Come spring, I watch for more bargains.

Having a auxilary heaters running in the Airstream does not heat the storage tanks or the water lines exposed to the exterior. I would leave your cabinets open under sinks and place a light bulb in your external water service bay or wrap those pipes with thermostatic controlled heat tape. If you have access to fresh pressurized water to flush your water lines, I would recommend keeping antifreeze in your lines when stored. It doesnot take that long to flush the system.

Having a warm coast is a great feature of our area but keeping the trailer ready between trips does take extra work and precautions.

I can hardly wait until I go to the coast again to get some hot clam chowder and toasted english muffins with fresh grab and Tillamook cheese! Lets not tell anyone else about this area.
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Old 11-03-2003, 12:54 PM   #9
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interesting that folks will sell an Airstream at discount because a pipe leaks.

I agree that the biggest problems with freezing are at the margins. When it first gets to a hard freeze in the fall or a sudden front comes in is when most folks are unprepared.

But don't get overly paranoid.

Freezing is not instantaneous and it takes several hours (depending upon how much below freezing) of below freezing temperatures to do damage. There is a lot of heat capacity to overcome to freeze things.

Most of the pipes in modern RV's is PEX which can be frozen solid under full water pressure and not burst.

Holding tanks are not much of a concern if they are nearly empty as freezing expansion will not be constrained.

So the hazard is mostly in fittings and valves and appliances and these are usually well inside the living space.

My Airstream doesn't have any exposed outside plumbing. It takes a good hard freeze to get the inside down to freezing temperatures and only a little bit of heat to keep it from freezing.

Last week we had 80F highs on Monday and 20F lows on Friday. I had the tanks drained, the system drained, and an 800w heater near the bathroom of the BVan. Should be OK, but still I worry. I guess I will find out before the Thanksgiving outing at Lahontan.

But then, I normally don't experience freezing problems until we get lows in the teens or lower.
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Old 11-03-2003, 01:59 PM   #10
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Not to be argumentative but here is my experiences. The majority of Airstreams do not have pex. Most problems occur when the temperature hovers around 32 degrees F. for a few days in areas that people risk not taking precautions. The majority of freezing problems occur at or near the fresh water intake or on rear bath models.

The point of my post was to caution people who live in areas that do not have really cold weather that freezing does occur and can damage their systems.

I am a refugee from Chicago and spent part of my youth in rural Wisconsin. I have seen and heard trees crack when the temperature dropped down to -20 and stated there for weeks. In these areas, locals know to take precautions with both equipment, animals, and their families.

There are people who do not do any maintenance or work on there trailers. I bought a 30 foot Airstreams $3000 only because the belly pan was ripped and I repaired for less that $10 dollars. I know of another who picked up a trailer because none of the propane appliances worked for $2000. The only problem, it was out of propane. This trailer was at an SOB dealer under sales consignment. Some dealers are also very lazy or, as I found out, afraid of working on Airstreams.

It is better to be proactive rather than reactive. I am a retired comunications maintenance engineer who has worked or consulted on many disasters. Its the little things that cause the majority of damages.
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Old 11-03-2003, 02:40 PM   #11
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Thanks guys, after talking to some other folks here locally, I think I might just turn the heater onto low and let it keep the trailer warmed up all winter. I don't mind the extra electricity to keep it ready to go. I'm in and out of it all the time, so I'll keep an eye on everything in there. All the lines are inside above the floorboards. Even the exterior access area is under the gaucho, so I just pulled off the cushions to let the inside air flow into that area easier, and opened the cupboards so the air could get to the lines under the sinks. No wand on the toilet to worry about. The joys of having a simple trailer. Hopefully I won't have to do any plumbing in the spring!

Hey Diesel, if you run into any smaller trailers let me know. I'm looking for one in the 22-24ft range for a remodeling project.
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Old 11-03-2003, 05:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
It is better to be proactive rather than reactive. ... Its the little things that cause the majority of damages.
definitely words worth noting!
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