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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Winterizing the Motorhome - Such a Sad Time of the Year

Ahhhh it is the time that most RVers in the northern states hate. 

Yes, winterizing the RV.

That means no more camping until spring.  


Although, we do try to sneak off for 6 weeks in the winter to the south, we start out with winterized lines and do not fill with fresh water until we are far beyond the freezing temps as we trek south.

In our motorhome, we have *zones* of water lines in groups to various water items.  The section in our compartment is called a Water Manifold.  Your rig design may vary.....

We use a combination of blowing out with air and also adding some RV antifreeze in some areas.  We know some people do only air, some do only RV antifreeze.  You can choose what works best for you. After owning RVs for over 30 years, I lean to the antifreeze system, while Steve leans to air only technique.  We have reached a happy medium now between us with what works best for us.

We have a washing machine, an ice maker unit, the kitchen sink and then the bathroom group of items, as well as an outside shower unit.  The manifold has valves that let us control each group as to what water goes where.  This also makes it easier to winterize each section.  They are the little white levers on each side of the blue filter in this pic.

Our temps are reaching the freezing mark here in Wisconsin .... so sadly it is that time of year to winterize the rig. 

1. drain the tanks- 
The first step is to drain all the holding tanks. The black and grey we did last weekend at High Cliff before leaving the campground.  Now we had to drain all of our fresh water from the fresh water holding tank. Every rig is different, but our rig has a fresh water tank drain located right near it. Check your owner manual to find yours.

2. pull anode rod out of water heater-
I did not get a pic of this because Steve was working so fast ahead of me.  Be sure your water heater is OFF and drain out all the water. It is a good idea to clean the rod at the same time, or replace it with a new one if it is all pitted up and worn away. Now replace it back in tight (because we do not by pass our water heater) 

3. Now open your low point drain-
On our rig we have two low point drains on our system (not to be confused with the fresh water tank drain).  This lets the water from all the lines run out into the ground, not into your holding tanks.

4. open all the faucets-
We go into the motorhome and open all the faucets wide open, including the shower turned to the spray position. We flush the toilet a few times until no water is running in the bowl.

5. take care of icemaker before blowing lines-
We have a separate built in icemaker unit from Uline.  This is too expensive to ever ruin, so we take extra care to winterize it.  It is built into a cabinet and has a separate manifold valve.

We unhook the fill line on the icemaker unit and turn the end of the hose into a small bucket to catch the blowing water as it comes out. We use this little garden hose valve unit to run it out into a bucket that is set outside the door.  That way it does not accidentally spray loose all over our carpeting or hardwood floors.
(sorry the garden hose is already unhooked in this pic, 
Steve is too fast for me to take pics of everything)

6.  set up the compressor and hose near your water bay-
Next we put on this air compressor fitting to our fill inlet where we normally hook up a water hose. Steve made ours up himself but they might be bought at some rv suppliers or a plumbing store?

We have the air compressor set at only 
40 pounds of air pressure, 
you do NOT want to ruin all your fittings and connections 
by blasting in too much air! 

7. double check your hose and compressor-
We turn the valve from fresh water fill mode over to city use (as if it was water coming from a hose) to allow air to enter the system.


8. We go inside and open each faucet, directing the handle back and forth from hot to cold several times.  We do this on all the sinks and then we flush the toilet several times to be sure there is no more water coming through the lines.. We work the shower diverter control back and forth to do both the tub and shower line.

9. We run the washing machine for a short segment on fill mode with the dial set to WARM so both the hot and cold lines drain into the machine. Run it until you do not hear any more water coming through the fill lines. Then we switch to SPIN so it all spins out. Our washing machine drains straight out the drain, not to either grey or black tank. Do not fret, we do come back to add winterizing antifreeze in a bit.

10 Now we go outside and blow out the out side shower faucet. Next, turn the valve as if to fill the water tank... that then blows air through the pump and into the fresh water tank fill lines.

11 Now turn the fill valve to the use or street position.  Once the water is all blown out ... then we close it everything back up again. Yup we close every valve and faucet and line --- except the ice maker which already has that little garden hose shut off to the inlet connection.

12. Next job is to winterize the waterpump. If you do not do this, you can ruin the diaphragms or crack the pump itself. Not fun come next spring to find out that you ruined your pump!   We take the line off the waterpump connection, add on the extension line that goes into a bottle of safe PINK RV ANTIFREEZE ------  DO NOT USE AUTOMOTIVE RADIATOR ANTIFREEZE. Get two gallons of it.

13. Time to run the water pump. This will suck antifreeze into the pump (our lines are clear so we can see it go through). To get the idea, Steve had ours done before I could snap a pic.  Here is a photo I robbed off the internet of another person setup.  It sucks through about a quart or less.

14. Shut off the pump.

15. Go back inside the rig... Using the rest of that jug of antifreeze to pour in the sink traps, the tub trap, and the toilet.  Now you can open the faucets back up, just in case there is a tiny bit of moisture that could expand under freezing conditions.

16. Now open the next jug and dump about 2 quarts into the washing machine.  We run it though a spin cycle so the pink goes through the pump and out the drain.

We keep the rest of the extra jug of antifreeze onboard in the rig for when we head south. The first day or two we are still travelling in sub freezing temps and might need it to flush the toilet or add to the drains if we stop for the night.... Windshield washing fluid can also be used if you need to flush the toilet and will help prevent anything from freezing in your black tank on the road.  It is readily available at most gas stations, whereas pink RV antifreeze may not be.

Once we reach warmer temps, we hook everything back up and refill our water system  We rinse the system out a few times if we can---  because the pink is in the line near the water pump.... Although it is safe to wash or drink, we do not care for it in our water.  We use bottled water the first few days until we can get all the pink rinsed out.  After a few showers the pink is gone and all is well again.

It is Halloween Time in our small town of Chilton.  This afternoon is trick or treating in our town from 3 till 5.  We decorated up the house a bit the other day after taking down our decorations at High Cliff.  We have had them on each evening to create a ghoulish effect.....

The purple, pink and blue lights create the interesting effect.

Surprisingly, we came home to find a whole bunch of extra decorations piled up at our back door.  A kind neighbor had some leftovers after cleaning out and knew we loved to decorate so she gave them to us!   Steve went out this morning and added a few more to the front yard to really do it up good.

 (do not miss the skeleton hanging on my weeping cherry tree on the far right of the pic) 

He strung the two ghouls up from the tree and they are blowing in the wind.
The yard has been planted with tombstones and gargoyle is on the front steps.

Tomorrow is my birthday,
and I am going out to lunch with our oldest daughter Erin
and brand new grandbaby Claire after their checkups. 
We missed them at High Cliff last weekend, 
so this will be a wonderful way to spend my birthday! 


  1. Wow, Karen, I get tired just reading some of your posts. You and Steve just go, go, go! My guy is not a do-it-yourselfer anymore. As far as winterizing goes, we fulltime people just make sure we're far enough south or park under a palm tree! Happy Birthday, and have a great year ahead!

  2. Congratulations on the birth of your new granddaughter, Claire. She is an absolute doll. Wishing you a wonderful birthday!!


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