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Old 03-15-2020, 10:48 PM   #1
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Emergency winterization racing home to Canada because of Covid-19

Hey All Im heading back to Ottawa Canada urgently to look after my Mom.

It will be freezing so Im wondering if I can add anti-freeze to my black tank to avoid it freezing ?

Do I risk damaging it with the anti-freeze ?

Ill have to empty the fresh water tank. But can I defer blowing out the lines until I get home ?

Appreciate your advise. Thank you. Stay safe yall!
.julian
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Old 03-16-2020, 12:07 AM   #2
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Freezing

Adding anti-freeze to the black tank will do no harm. Just remember that if the black tank has much in it, it will severely dilute the anti-freeze. So if you can, dump the tank first.

Water under pressure in your water lines will take longer to freeze than if its not. Driving in really cold weather causes freezing faster.



Before getting the trailer very cold, I would the turn off the water pump, open all the faucets, open the low point drains, open the water tank valve, pull the drain plug from the water heater, flip the winterizing valve(s) on the water heater and turn the pump back on for about 60 seconds after the water tank is dry. Drive a while with everything open. It will evacuate everything pretty well.


Don't forget a gallon of RV antifreeze in both waste tanks.



BUT, you can winterize the system by filling the lines with RV antifreeze. Check you owners manual. Every Airstream I've owned had a integral tube to draw antifreeze into the system.


Remember, Anti-freeze is cheap! frozen pipes, tanks of water heater, not so much!
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Old 03-16-2020, 12:49 AM   #3
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If you don't have time to winterize correctly in full, this is a great first step to take:

Quote:
Originally Posted by airstreambob View Post
. . .
Before getting the trailer very cold, I would the turn off the water pump, open all the faucets, open the low point drains, open the water tank valve, pull the drain plug from the water heater, flip the winterizing valve(s) on the water heater and turn the pump back on for about 60 seconds after the water tank is dry. Drive a while with everything open. It will evacuate everything pretty well.
. . .
Drain the grey holding tank before you leave, or add tons of antifreeze to it, along with the black tank.

Good luck,

Peter
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Old 03-16-2020, 06:17 AM   #4
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Others may not realize your 16' Sport only has one waste tank.

The advice originally from airstreambob is good and will work for you especially if you can keep the furnace on low 45-50F or so.

The tank is insulated except for the outlet pipe and dump valve. If you have a chance get some bubble wrap (because it is plastic and won't get damaged if wet) and when about to enter a cold area, wrap the entire portion of the exposed pipe with it. Wrap it several times to try to get it about 2 inches thick tape it with shipping tape or duct tape. cover the outlet too so it does not conduct heat away from the rest of the pipe. Devise a way to more easily remove the end for dumping.

Now fully insulated, 50% full, it will take some time to freeze, at least 2-3 days with no heat in the trailer. If less full, it will freeze faster, but it is not likely to get damaged even if it does freeze if less than 25% full. While driving, the sloshing action will prevent damage also if it freezes if less than 50% full. Don't let the tank get more than 75% full if you can help it and never let it get more than 85% full just in case, that gives you the needed 11% expansion space. Keep the furnace on at least 50F and the tank won't freeze at all unless it gets below 0 F.

If you add a gallon of hot water to the drain every 12 hours or so, The tank also won't freeze but you will need to dump some out to prevent it from getting too full.

Antifreeze will work but you'll need to maintain 25% alcohol (don't use automotive antifreeze it is a bit hard on the sewer plants), to maintain protection down to 10F so antifreeze is impractical unless the tank is nearly empty, and if nearly empty while driving you don't need to worry even if it does freeze.

You should at least empty the lines using the mentioned advice unless you instead decide to keep the the furnace on, You can stop and run the water heater every 8 hours that will keep it from freezing. If the furnace, water heater or refrigerator is on, turn them off before entering the gasoline bays. Diesel only bays won't have flammable vapors to worry about.
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Old 03-16-2020, 06:34 AM   #5
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Thank you so very much folks ! Great advice.
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Old 03-16-2020, 06:51 AM   #6
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When you disconnected the inlet hose to attach the antifreeze hose did a lot of water come out? Yes? Air in the pump=airlock.

I open the kitchen sink first, close when it flows, and go to the rest one at a time.
It can be hard to clear. (one of the reasons I just blow the lines well with the pump on, W/O adding AF).
Was the WH empty? That also takes some time to fill.

Good Luck..

Bob
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Old 03-16-2020, 11:05 AM   #7
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Little known secret - CODVID 19 is in CANADA. Panic is one of the worst things you can do right now. Having worked for DHS, I can say expect questions and possible issues at the Canadian border, especially if you have been in an area (or state) with a major outbreak.

Panic is your worst enemy!!!!!
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Old 03-16-2020, 11:10 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by juliandurand View Post
Hey All Im heading back to Ottawa Canada urgently to look after my Mom.

It will be freezing so Im wondering if I can add anti-freeze to my black tank to avoid it freezing ?

Do I risk damaging it with the anti-freeze ?

Ill have to empty the fresh water tank. But can I defer blowing out the lines until I get home ?

Appreciate your advise. Thank you. Stay safe yall!
.julian
Julian, are there any U.S. / Canada border restrictions currently in effect given virus considerations?
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Old 03-16-2020, 11:35 AM   #9
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Julian, are there any U.S. / Canada border restrictions currently in effect given virus considerations?
Yes. Land crossings are open and are expected to stay open. Heightened screening. Self isolation for 14 days for those entering Canada with no symptoms.

Ports closed to cruise ships docking.

Airport closures expected to be announced today for international arrivals; press conference scheduled this hour. Number of airports receiving international flights being reviewed. Health authorities shifting health workers to airports, but those are provincial authorities so that may vary by province.

Edit: Canadian border closed to other than Canadian citizens and permanent residents in the past few minutes. Air travel into Canada blocked for those showing symptoms. Airports receiving passenger flights from outside Canada, other than returning flights from the US and Mexico, are restricted to four cities.
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Old 03-16-2020, 11:37 AM   #10
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If you can find an air pump, then get a connector from a camping store to attach to your water inlet and blow it out.

OR

You can hand pump antifreeze through your system very easily by getting one at a camping store.

I would also empty out your hot water tank.
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Old 03-16-2020, 12:57 PM   #11
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Yes. Land crossings are open and are expected to stay open.
. . .


Canada just closed its border to non-citizens.

Peter

Edit -- Missed your edit PS about the border closing . . . sorry.
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Old 03-16-2020, 02:02 PM   #12
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If you can’t winterize your water lines I would suggest that you shut propane to your hot water heater and flush all hot water from the system, cold water will not freeze as quickly as hot water. The best remedy would be to blow out ALL water lines toilet, shower, out side and in including fresh water storage tank and waste tanks. Add RV anti freeze to all drains, shower drain also. Personally if I had RV anti freeze I would add it to all water lines, not fresh water tank. Do the best you can with what you have to work with. Some may not agree but traveling with heat on, turning off while gassing up and subject to local laws that may prohibit its use.
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Old 03-19-2020, 08:23 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by xyzabe View Post
Little known secret - CODVID 19 is in CANADA. Panic is one of the worst things you can do right now. Having worked for DHS, I can say expect questions and possible issues at the Canadian border, especially if you have been in an area (or state) with a major outbreak.

Panic is your worst enemy!!!!!


Thanks. My elderly Mom is ill and in Canada
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Old 03-19-2020, 08:34 AM   #14
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It appears that the coldest it will get is 8 deg F this weekend. If I keep the furnace on and at least 65 F in the trailer do you think that will be enough to keep from PEX pipes freezing and wrecking my water pump ?

Are there external parts I need to worry about other than the black tank pipe ?

I can run space heaters and I will be in a wood shed.

Again thank you all for your invaluable advice in these stressy times. It makes a world of difference. Thank you !!

ps. I crossed the border yesterday. I am a Canadian (as well as US) citizen and so they were required to let me in. Border official was not friendly as they often are but all went smoothly and where I crossed (Flint / Sarnia) there was no line
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Old 03-19-2020, 09:04 AM   #15
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Freezing

If you are inside out of the wind and can keep that temp, all should be good.

Make sure you open all interior cabinet doors so the entire interior can get heat soaked.
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Old 03-19-2020, 09:40 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airstreambob View Post
If you are inside out of the wind and can keep that temp, all should be good.

Make sure you open all interior cabinet doors so the entire interior can get heat soaked.


Thank you so much for your speedy reply airstreambob !!
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Old 03-19-2020, 10:01 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by juliandurand View Post
. . .
It appears that the coldest it will get is 8 deg F this weekend. If I keep the furnace on and at least 65 F in the trailer do you think that will be enough to keep from PEX pipes freezing and wrecking my water pump ?

Are there external parts I need to worry about other than the black tank pipe ?

I can run space heaters and I will be in a wood shed.
. . .
Thanks for the update, and welcome home!

Do your best to prevent any wind leaks in the shed from blowing on areas that have plumbing buried inside the walls, like the exterior shower, inside shower valve, pump etc.. 8 degrees F is mighty cold. Personally I would take a small electric heater and aim it at the exterior and interior shower valve areas. If any of these pipes freeze and break, it is a very expensive repair.

I would drain your fresh water tank ASAP too, if you did not do that before.

Good luck and please keep us advised. Hope your Mom is doing OK.

Peter
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Old 03-19-2020, 10:07 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by juliandurand View Post
Attachment 363508

It appears that the coldest it will get is 8 deg F this weekend. If I keep the furnace on and at least 65 F in the trailer do you think that will be enough to keep from PEX pipes freezing and wrecking my water pump ?

Are there external parts I need to worry about other than the black tank pipe ?

I can run space heaters and I will be in a wood shed.

Again thank you all for your invaluable advice in these stressy times. It makes a world of difference. Thank you !!

ps. I crossed the border yesterday. I am a Canadian (as well as US) citizen and so they were required to let me in. Border official was not friendly as they often are but all went smoothly and where I crossed (Flint / Sarnia) there was no line
,......winterize the camper...easier than repairing broken plastic fittings...
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Old 03-19-2020, 11:09 AM   #19
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Emergency winterization racing home to Canada because of Covid-19

8 degrees is well below freezing, if your primary concern is water pump, lift the roadside cushion and disconnect the water pump of course place dry rags around it to sop up water. Also dont reassemble seat leave open for air circulation as well as bathroom door and under sink cabinets drain shower and release pressure from all water fixtures toilet too. Steps you can take to maybe mitigate damage. Also open low pound drains under trailer to drain some water. BTW Airstream Manual is available on line with all this. Sorry to hear of your problem hope everything works out well for you.
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Old 03-19-2020, 11:10 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by juliandurand View Post
Attachment 363508

It appears that the coldest it will get is 8 deg F this weekend. If I keep the furnace on and at least 65 F in the trailer do you think that will be enough to keep from PEX pipes freezing and wrecking my water pump ?

Are there external parts I need to worry about other than the black tank pipe ?

I can run space heaters and I will be in a wood shed.

Again thank you all for your invaluable advice in these stressy times. It makes a world of difference. Thank you !!

ps. I crossed the border yesterday. I am a Canadian (as well as US) citizen and so they were required to let me in. Border official was not friendly as they often are but all went smoothly and where I crossed (Flint / Sarnia) there was no line
It's surprising how some (airstreambob being the exception) fail to apply physical chemistry and direct experience to inform their opinions.

I get the meaning behind the saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but you asked precise questions, so without regard to what can go wrong and applying the requisite heat transfer and latent heat of fusion principles here goes.

If you keep the furnace and hot water heater on and above even 45F inside the trailer you won't have any trouble with freezing water or tanks down to -10F factoring in wind chill. At 65F you can go even lower but you will start having some difficulty with places that are poorly insulated even at 65F. Above 20 F space heaters are fine, below 20F you need the warmth the furnace routes to the tanks and water pump so let the furnace do at least half the work below 20F.

The non-insulated areas will be a bit of a problem less than 10F. The outdoor shower? Fill the void space with plastic bags or bubble wrap. Wrap Exposed parts of the sewer drain with bubble wrap and packing tape to prevent heat from conducting down the exposed pipe.

In a wood shed, wind chill won't be a factor even if it is drafty. If the furnace and/or space heaters fail, you have 4 hours before you will have any serious issues.

With that info, good luck with what you decide to do.

edit: Consider adding some insulation or bubble wrap to the spare tire well. It is very poorly insulated. I realize you don't have an outdoor shower, but some readers might.
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