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JulianneJ 11-18-2004 01:10 PM

I live in Seattle and am debating the importance of winterizing only because where I store "Lucy" the Airstream is a totally bugger to get in and out of for one hours work. What are the dangers of not winterizing?

dmac 11-18-2004 01:37 PM

Does it freeze there? If so - some of your plumbing system will bust up.

Perhaps you can do the winterizing in-place. I did mine right in the barn where it is stored. I had previously drained the water and dumped the holding tanks. All I had to do was run RV antifreeze through it.

Silvertwinkie 11-18-2004 04:13 PM

dmac is right....if it freezes there, water and sewer lines can be damaged. As much of a PITA as it can be, if you freeze where you are, it's less of a PITA to winterize it properly than it is to replace/repair plumbing.

Stefrobrts 11-18-2004 04:41 PM

I don't winterize with RV antifreeze. I do empty out the water and I leave the trailer plugged in next to the house with an electric heater running so it's ready to use again when I want to. The PO told me to just empty the water and blow out the pipes with compressed air to get most of the water out. Apparently that had been working for him for the last 7 years.

I'm afraid if you didn't winterize at all you would have some burst pipes, as even in our mild weather we drop below freezing a few times each winter. Only takes once to ruin your day.

kenny2 11-13-2005 06:44 PM

Location of drain valves 89 34'excella?
Need to winterize my 89 34' Excella. Owners manual says valves to drain lines and freshwater tank are under the microwave cabinet. Checked there as well as bathroom, under queen bed (free standing) and all other doors and cabinetsand nothing. Owners manual shows a rear corner double even though a rear center double is present. Possibly the OM is in error. Drain tube hangs down below the fresh water tank on the outside so one is present. Any ideas?
Have taken trailer to Az in the past so have not had to winterize before.

john hd 11-13-2005 11:38 PM


look directly above the drain tubes. that is where you will find the valves.

in some trailers such as mine the handles for the valves are actually below floor level.

you may need to reach around a bit. a small mirror may help finding them.


TroutStream 11-14-2005 01:43 AM

I'm slow to winterize with RV Antifreeze this year as I did it last year and we had a mild winter. It took me forever to get the AF out of my system. I thought that putting 2 gallons into my FW tank and then running the water pump to circulate it was a good idea... wrongo... I ran about 1,000 gallons thru my FW tank before I could get the taste out... Yecchh!!! :sick: I may just drain the lines and throw in a low wattage electric heater. But I know first hand what frozen lines can do as PO let the copper freeze.

BTW, If someone knows a good way to circulate the antifreeze that works better than mine... I'm listening.



Silvertwinkie 11-14-2005 08:34 AM

Here is the steps I use and my coach has survived below zero temperatures outside (though now it is inside).

1) Use and air compressor and buy one of these:

2) Attach item above to the city water connector.

3) Opening all the faucets and all the low end valves, turn your compressor to approx 45-50 psi and attach it to the blow by plug above (that is at this time attached to your city water connection.

4)After running for a few minutes, go ahead and close each open valve and faucet.

5)Turn the pressure down to about 40psi and open one facuet at a time, blowing out first all the ones in the coach. Once done, then open the low end valves and empty both hot and cold.

6) Open the water heater up, and release any water that is in the tank.

7) Dump the remaining water in the fresh, gray and black tanks.

7.5) If you go no further, then simply put RV antifreeze in the sink traps and a bit into the black, fresh and gray tanks.

You have now sucessfully purged most of the remaining water in the lines and water heater and done the basics. Most folks see this next part as optional, but it's cheap and takes only about 30 minutes more as added insurance.

8) Where your pump connects to the fresh water tank, disconnect it. At your local harware store, buy a fitting that will connect to the pump intake to a hose that you will also buy at the hardware store. Connect the fitting to the pump, attach your hose to the other end of the fitting and place the hose into a gallon of antifreeze.

9) Blow some antifreeze out the lower end valves(if your Airstream has them). When you open one, the pump goes on, when you close them the pump will go off. Open both the hot and cold and rear valve near the water heater. You only need to see pink fluid come out, and it will very soon, so you don't need to let it run long for each of the three (again if your Airstream even has them.

10) Next run the pump (making sure that the gallon of RV fluid still has some in it) by turning on each faucet, hot then cold (or cold then hot) one at a time. Allow the fluid coming out to be pink in color before move to the next faucet or water using fixutre.

11) Pour about a half gallon to a gallon (depending on tank size..larger using more) into the fresh tank. Why? Well, even after the tank is empty, you don't really get ALL the water out, so I pour about a gallon into my 39 gallon fresh tank. Overkill? Probobly, but in my opinion an ounce of prevention is worth 100lbs of cure.

12) Take some of your remaining RV antifreeze and pour some in each of the sink, shower and/or bathtub drain traps, and a bit for the black tank. Remove your hose attachment from the pump intake and replace the fresh tank pipe to the pump. **remember to check for leaks in the spring to make sure you connect the fresh pipe to the pump correctly **

You have now fully winterized the plumbing in your Airstream using the Tim Allen method. After your second time around you should be able to do all this in about an hour and use about 3 gallons of RV antifreeze, maybe 4 if you forget to close the low end valves (which I have never done). ;)

If you can give it a wash and a walbernize, inflate the tires to the proper max pressure, yer done, provied you have taken all the provisions out of the camper that are perishable, can freeze (liquids...soda, water, beer, etc) or be found and open by any critters that may get inside. Also prop your fridge open and put a box of baking soda in the freezer and the fridge as you might in your home fridge and freezer.

In the spring, connect the city water to your garden hose (fresh water approved hose) and open all the valves talked about above and let the water run through the system, fresh tank and water heater for about 20-30 minutes. After you are sure the fresh tank is flushed, put about 3 ounces of bleach into the tank, fill it up open the faucets to let the mixture get into the pipes and let it sit for about 3-4 hours. Reflush everything. If you have a bit of clorine taste after you flush everything, you can add a bit of baking soda to the fresh tank (very little mind you) and most of the taste should be gone.

Two side notes: I switched from the conventional RV antifreeze to one sold at Ace Hardware that is mint flavored RV antifreeze. Not as nasty if you have some residue left behind as the conventional stuff. The other thing is to take out any of the water filters you have. Our Safari has one in the galley sink built into the faucet. Make sure to take it out before putting RV antifreeze through it or you will never get the taste out of the filter.....ask me how I know. :D

juel 11-14-2005 09:57 AM

I like the guy on here last year who used Vodka to winterize his coach. I never heard how that came out. Wonder if it worked for him. Sounded like a wonderfu idea to me.

TroutStream 11-14-2005 11:27 AM

Thanks Twink,

Great instructions, thanks for taking the time to list them. I'm going to blow out the lines at least and keeps tabs on the weather. I'm in Victoria, BC and we get the same weather as Seattle, Wa, so some years we may get a week or 2 of nasty cold but usually we can fish the the lakes without drilling a hole.


letsgo 11-14-2005 07:21 PM

Just an add on
If you have the instant hot water heater under the kitchen sink.
There is a 1 quart copper tank that should be drained or filled with the pink anti freeze.
mine split!!!!!!
drive safe

rfield54 11-15-2005 02:55 PM


Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie
11) Pour about a half gallon to a gallon (depending on tank size..larger using more) into the fresh tank. Why? Well, even after the tank is empty, you don't really get ALL the water out, so I pour about a gallon into my 39 gallon fresh tank. Overkill? Probobly, but in my opinion an ounce of prevention is worth 100lbs of cure.

IMHO this step is a waste of time as well as a needless spring chore purging the taste of antifreeze out of the FW tank. A TINY BIT OF FROZEN WATER WILL NOT DAMAGE THE FW TANK. If you have doubts, then try putting a cup of water into an empty plastic water jug and freeze it to see what happens to the jug . . . Nothing! ;) - Roy

CanoeStream 11-15-2005 07:43 PM

rfield54 -- I hear you loud and clear, agreeing fully. I can't store my Airstream at home and leave the drain valve open for the ride back to the storage facility to let most of the small remaining amount slosh out.

We now have a winterizing sub-forum at The 2nd sticky thread by johnhd has pictures and arrows about how to install a bypass valve. I used a little 4-gal air compressor I use for tires; using a $2 Blow-out Plug from CW on the city water intake we opened one water valve at a time. Shower valves are notoriously sensitive. Then per johnhd's instructions I installed the $13.50 Camco valve (from CW). I only had to unscrew one fitting between my water tank and water pump -- the Camco threads matched perfectly. It took only 2 gallons of antifreeze to circulate full-strength out of each faucet, hot and cold -- and there's not any antifreeze in the fresh water tank! Don't forget the traps, the screen filter before the pump and maintenance of the hotwater heater.

The filter in my main kitchen faucet did not blow out very well, in spite of spitting mostly air after a good while. So ditto on Silvertwinkie's advice! I wanted to remove it before circulating antifreeze anyway and can report it still held back a lot of water!

Julianne -- You probably have PEX piping and not the fragile copper piping in a 2003 Airstream. Does it get below 25 degrees in sea-level Seattle at least every year? All it takes is once... I remember the thread requesting emergency advice last month from a California forum member fall camping in the mountains. This is an easy process if you are systematic and thorough -- but have done it at least once! And I am thrilled at not having to set up time at a dealer (and whichever potential flunky is going to have the life of my water system in their hands!!!). Don't ask me about do-it-yourself coronary artery bypass... :)

3Ms75Argosy 11-15-2005 08:11 PM

I live in Seattle as well.... last year I did not winterize (wife was having surgery), and ended up replacing all the copper lines. While I'm sure there was previous damage (trailer's been in the Seattle area all it's 30 years), it didn't take much more to split the lines. I'd take the time to protect you're investment. Can you just winterize it where it's at? I'd at least blow all the water out of the lines and dump antifreeze in the traps. That's all I've done in the past. (It's down to at least 36 tonight....brrrr)

maxandgeorgia 11-15-2005 10:27 PM

Sorta like the ant and the grasshopper: all those mild fall, even summery days in October, but "no time to winterize." Tonight is wet, blustery, nasty and the temperature is predicted to drop to mid-20's and even colder tomorrow night, so there we were, just before dark fell, draining, purging, antifreezing. . .while WE were freezing. . . We really should know better! I wonder if next winter we'll not only plan for winterizing, but put those plans into action BEFORE the emergency???

Stefrobrts 11-16-2005 12:43 AM

I'm so with you guys. I put off winterizing until I woke up this morning and noticed ice on all the puddles and frost everywhere. Then I broke out the compressor and finished blowing out the lines - at least I'd already drained everything. Worst of all I still needed to empty the black tank from our last trip (we forgot to empty it on our way home). So we emptyed it into the blueboy and took it to the dumpstation at a nearby park, only to find they had already shut off their water to the dumpstation for the winter! Yuk! Next year I'll get on it sooner!

Silvertwinkie 11-16-2005 07:17 AM

I was suprised the first time I blew out the lines how much water actually sits in the pipes when you think you have it totally empty, pre blow out.

I've always put some antifreeze in the fresh tanks and both the black and grey tanks, and personally have had zero issues with lingering taste in from the fresh tank, specifically because I dewinterize as outlined in that book I posted a few posts back. I will say this, if you try that trick of a plastic jug in freezing temps, the odds are it will not crack or break, but over time, the jug will start to deform due to the expansion and contraction and eventually I feel that will weaken the plastic to the point of **maybe** cracking or starting a leak. I know that when I empty my fresh tank, there is a fair amount of water left in the tank. I err on the safe side as a gallon of the mint RV antifreeze is $3.99, fresh water, bleach and baking soda are cheap, while tank replacement is several hundred dollars if not more....and since I have to disinfect the fresh water system anyway in the spring...... To me you just can't be too careful and this practice has served us well in all of our RVing years (about 30), and I do list it as possible overkill in the post....but to each thier own. :)

vajeep 11-16-2005 08:10 AM

Pressure regulator

The only thing that I do in addition to your list is to drain the small amout of water in the pressure regulator. On our 76 Overlander the pressure regulator is in the rear hatch and I open a small petcock to drain.
And during the entire process I raise the tongue of the traler to near the upper limit.

Stefrobrts 11-16-2005 12:25 PM

I put RV antifreeze in the traps and black tank this time, but not in the fresh water tank. Luckily we don't get severe freezes here, but I have a feeling this winter might turn out to be a little harder than usual. I still run a small heater in the trailer to keep the interior above freezing. I think in addition to keeping the lines and tanks a little warmer (they are all inside the trailer on mine) it helps keeps the trailer dry so it doesn't get that funky 'trailer' smell. I keep a dri-z-air on the counter too, and it has already picked up some moisture. And of course I brought all the bedding and pillows and towels inside for the winter.

The one thing I'm never sure about is the water heater. I drained it, blew air through it, and I can't get any more water out, but you can't SEE what's in it, so I'm always worried it's going to freeze.

I hate putting the trailer away for the winter. It seems like such a long time until spring!

Silvertwinkie 11-16-2005 12:36 PM

I'm with ya there Steph. I hate to do it too. The heater is a metal tank and although I don't worry too much about it, I do run a touch of the pink stuff through it too just to keep the water in it from freezing. I know that clearly this is overkill, but it's a matter of a quick twist of the bypass and it get's a shot of it.

That's a good point on the pressure regulator on a vintage proceedure is for a 2003 and/or 2004 Airstream. :)

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