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Old 02-23-2024, 08:53 AM   #1
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Possible Freeze Damage - - What to Inspect?

We are shopping for a smaller Airstream single-axle trailer. One candidate unit is located in a fairly southern region, but stored several hours away from the owner. The owner is super nice but not the mechanically-savvy, hands-on type.

When I asked about whether the trailer is currently fully winterized, the owner was not sure (maintenance is usually taken care of by an RV place near where the owner remotely stores the trailer.) I am taking this answer as a “no” on the assumption it would be hard to miss this service fee on a bill.

I looked at historical weather data for the area where the trailer is stored. Winter climate is generally mild, however temp date shows at least two deep cold snaps (overnight low single digit *F several days in a row) over the past two winters.

Contributing to my concern is the trailer has not been used by the owner for the past 12-18 months. So owner has not spent much time with it recently and may not have had opportunity to discover freeze damage issues.

How do I inspect for freeze damage? Beyond plumbing leaks, what are other areas of concern? Cabinetry, floor, tanks?

Finally, has anyone tackled repairing a trailer with freeze damage? How big of a job is this and how much $$$ should we factor?

Note: Single axel trailer with kitchen sink, bathroom sink, toilet, outside shower, fresh, black, & grey holding tanks, 6-gallon hot water heater tank.
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Old 02-23-2024, 04:25 PM   #2
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I would think, just for starters, you'd want to fully pressurize the water system, run all systems on board, including freshwater tank, pump, and a hookup to city water connection.

Fill all tanks, and drain.

All while looking for and listening for leaks.
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Old 02-23-2024, 04:38 PM   #3
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Yes, load it with water, pressurize, and run things one at a time while watching and listening. My trailer was improperly winterized once and I lost only the kitchen faucet and toilet valve — which showed themselves immediately!

Even if damage is more extensive, compared to other potential Airstream expenses (like floor rot, front end separation, and damaged panels) freeze damage is not a big expense to repair.
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Old 02-23-2024, 05:46 PM   #4
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Checking for proper operation of the fresh water system is something you shoud always inspect before a purchase. Freeze or no freeze...
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Old 02-23-2024, 06:18 PM   #5
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RV antifreeze is red. Open a faucet and see if you can detect any red antifreeze. The water heater should have been drained, placed on bypass so it doesn't fill with antifreeze. The toilet plastic connection and valve are likely candidates for freeze damage. Same with a plastic shower head or plastic valves.

Freeze damage isn't hard or very expensive to repair; especially if you do it yourself. Older Airstreams had copper tubing plumbing which would tend to split when frozen. Newer Airstreams have plastic tubing plumbing which is more forgiving if frozen.

Search these Forums for the Airstream Inspection Checklist. You will find 4 pages of items to inspect.

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Old 02-23-2024, 08:15 PM   #6
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All very helpful info - - thanks everyone!

I will go looking for the inspection checklist.

Can I assume that 2005+ trailers would be in the range of “newer airstreams” with the more forgiving plumbing? Or was the cut-off later?
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Old 02-23-2024, 09:44 PM   #7
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I have one of these testers which I got when I was trying to locate & repair plumbing leaks on my vintage rig.

https://train.rvti.org/products/water-test-kit

For $20, it's a simple way to pressure test a plumbing system. Connect it to your system and then leave it for a while (overnight). You'll know if there are leaks if the pressure drops. Takes about 5 minutes to assemble the tool when you get it, and it connects to the city water input.

You'll still have to confirm function of the onboard pump but since that's accessible for inspection it should be easy.

Great tool to use at the start of every season.
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Old 02-24-2024, 04:00 AM   #8
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Great, thanks, I will check that out.

Could someone please direct me to the inspection checklist mentioned earlier? Not sure what I’m doing wrong, but I have searched around the site a bit and can’t seem to find it. Thank you kindly.
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Old 02-24-2024, 04:13 AM   #9
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Search for rear bumper leak and check it out for that too. Lots of info on this site. Here's one thread.

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f36...ed-155995.html
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Old 02-24-2024, 06:50 AM   #10
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Similar situation: I purchased my 2001 Bambi in Texas, where winterizing is an unknown language. Did not test anything before I towed it home. The only issue I had was the onboard water pressure regulator in the rear storage compartment. When the PO opened the drain valves, they drained everything except the lower part of the regulator, which blew out. I removed the regulator and repaired the pipe with Sharkbite fittings. I now use an accessory regulator with gauge at the hydrant. You should thoroughly test the whole fresh water system and be prepared to deal with any leakage immediately to avoid additional damage. Any low spot can collect water and freeze.
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Old 02-28-2024, 09:35 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BikeCamper View Post
All very helpful info - - thanks everyone!

I will go looking for the inspection checklist.

Can I assume that 2005+ trailers would be in the range of “newer airstreams” with the more forgiving plumbing? Or was the cut-off later?
Yes, I think so. I've seen a reference online to a 2005 Safari that had PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) piping. That's consistent with my experience with house plumbing; very little copper seemed to be used after the early 2000s.

Copper is great, but it doesn't last forever, is heavy, expensive, and requires a torch and a measure of skill with solder to work with. PEX is lightweight, durable (as long as it is not exposed to sunlight), and once you buy a crimp or pinch clamp tool just about anyone can assemble it. (Airstream uses pinch clamps at the factory.)
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Old 02-28-2024, 09:36 AM   #12
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Hi

The only thing that is done to winterize a trailer is fiddling with the water system. Nothing is done to the rest of the trailer. If you verify that the pipes hold pressure, there probably isn't a problem.

1) Fill the fresh water tank. Look for a puddle under the trailer.

2) Hook up the hose to the city water inlet. See if water comes back out of the fresh water tank fill. See if it shoots out of the city water inlet when you remove the hose.

3) Turn on the pump, open some faucets to dump the air from the system. Also make sure the hot water heater is in the "not bypassed" mode. Once you have water coming out of all the faucets (including the toilet flushing properly) turn them all off.

4) Listen for the pump coming on. One "burp" after you turn things off is normal. A cycle every ten minutes (or less) means there is a leak somewhere. Take a look under the trailer for puddles .... ( Yes, the pressure test noted above is a better way to go, this is a quick and dirty version of that test).

Not a big deal to check.


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Old 02-28-2024, 10:03 AM   #13
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Thank you all! These tips/advice are hugely appreciated.

We have scheduled the inspection on this trailer for mid-March. (Would have liked to do it sooner but - - schedule/travel conflicts with seller.) If anyone else has suggestions I’m all ears.

I still haven’t found a pre-purchase check-list on this forum. But I’m slowly creating my own.
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Old 02-28-2024, 01:31 PM   #14
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Here you go.
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f13...ist-43294.html
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Old 02-29-2024, 11:37 AM   #15
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Thank you kindly!
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Old 03-20-2024, 05:47 AM   #16
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A follow-up related question: What are the potential issues if holding tanks were not emptied for an extended period of time, including during a deep freeze?

Note: I have no information that this is the case, but want to understand potential issues if it turns out to be.
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