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Old 09-17-2020, 08:22 AM   #1
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Winterizing Adventurer

So first time living where it freezes and have a couple questions, what is required for winterizing? What about camping in winter, how do you keep pipes from freezing when camped? And last, where are the low point drains? I have a 96 Adventurer 34RQ.

Thank you and I know probably stupid questions......
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Old 09-17-2020, 08:37 AM   #2
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Not stupid at all. I cannot help you with your vehicle specific issues, but here's what I do.

The first thing I do is drain the main tank and water heater and set the bypass valves to bypass the water heater. I'll assume your unit has those valves, but you'll need to locate them. On mine the water heater has a plug that gets removed, the main tank valve is under the unit, and the two low point drains are under a panel in the bathroom cabinet. Finding where they drain out will help you locate the valves if you don't have a manual.

I then use a regulated air compressor--one where the pressure is limited to about 30 pounds--to blow out the lines starting from the closest fixtures and working toward the furthest away fixture. Don't forget the external shower connection if you have one. Then I take a gallon of RV antifreeze and use the siphon connection near the water pump to suck about 1/2 gallon into the pump and the lower lines of the system, just in case there's residual water left over. My water pump is accessed under a kitchen cabinet panel.

The alternative is to do the draining and to use much more antifreeze to fill the lines with antifreeze. I winterize and de-winterize too many times to make that practical. Also that would require more antifreeze in the grey tank since the water you're displacing would end up there.

Finally you need to put a bit of antifreeze in the black and grey tanks, and it's also best to remove the cap just to make sure there isn't a lot of water stuck in there that might freeze.

On my trailer all the lines are internal to the trailer, so freezing isn't much of a concern when camping, and I don't tend to camp when it is much below freezing in any event. The furnace even blows a bit of warm air into the area where the water tank and many of the lines are positioned.

Edit: One more thing. Walmart is a good place to buy the RV antifreeze. It can be 2-3 times more expensive at auto parts stores.
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Old 09-17-2020, 09:02 AM   #3
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Goodspike gave a good summary of the winterizing procedure, but here is one more tip that I learned the hard way.

When you blow out the lines, including the toilet flush line, a little water is left in the short line from the flush valve up to the toilet rim. This water settles back down, fills the flush valve and will crack the valve when it freezes.

The valve on Dometic toilets (are there any other kind?) is removed after blowing by disconnecting the tubing and depressing two tabs on the side of the valve holder while pulling the valve body out. Snap it back in when you are done.

Put a tablespoon of antifreeze in the valve itself and reassemble. Make sure you depress the valve button so it opens and antifreeze gets inside. This keeps the valve from freezing.

David
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Old 09-17-2020, 09:10 AM   #4
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When you blow out the lines, including the toilet flush line, a little water is left in the short line from the flush valve up to the toilet rim. This water settles back down, fills the flush valve and will crack the valve when it freezes.David
Interesting. I suppose you could also deal with that using my hybrid method of both blowing and using antifreeze, but using the toilet as the open fixture when pumping in antifreeze. You'd need to run the pump until antifreeze comes out the toilet, but you could keep going until you felt you'd added enough antifreeze to the black tank. My pump though is a long way from the toilet so that would require a fair amount of antifreeze, but probably not that much more. It wouldn't be nearly as much as filling the entire piping with antifreeze.
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Old 09-17-2020, 09:34 AM   #5
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There are lots of posts on the forums about this process so I would read through some of them and create your own checklist specific to your coach. Some coaches don't have dedicated low point drains - not sure about yours. Think about everyplace in your motorhome that might have water. Sometimes people forget sink/shower drains, washing machine, dishwasher, refrigerator ice maker, etc. Also figure out a plan for your batteries if you have the typical flooded lead acid type.

As far as camping in cold weather, it depends on how cold and how your coach is configured. Some motorhomes send a little bit of heat to the storage bays and tanks, others don't. Luckily mine does. I've camped when it got down to 9 degrees F overnight with no problems but I did have to stow the fresh water hose or it would have frozen solid (and probably split open).
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Old 09-17-2020, 09:42 AM   #6
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Sometimes people forget sink/shower drains, washing machine, dishwasher, refrigerator ice maker, etc. Also figure out a plan for your batteries if you have the typical flooded lead acid type.
Actually I forgot about the sink and shower traps in my first post! But yes, that's another part of the sewer system that needs to be dealt with.

As to batteries I think it's best that they simply be removed and brought home if they are some place you cannot maintain their charge. But as long as we're expanding the list, for a motorized vehicle you'd want to consider long term storage issues for the engine and fuel system.
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Old 09-17-2020, 09:58 AM   #7
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If your 96' Winnebago is like my 93' and the floor plan is similar, then your low points should be located...

To the left under the sink and their might be another under or almost under the oven. If you have a water filter remove it prior to putting the MH away for the season.

Under the booth table top and against the wall, back behind some carpet stapled to some very thin plywood. You'll have to pull it up.

Under the bed, left hand corner up front. Flip it up and look again for some carpet stapeled to thin plywood. On mine, three lines are located here.

The water heater should have its own drain plug, easily got to. I usually drain my fresh water tank and activate a bypass located on the waterpump and then run RV antifreeze through the whole system then I pull the rings and let the rest of the lines drain. The drains themselves get a couple of cups down each one. Don't forget to drain the black/grey water tanks.

I go through 3 to 5 gallons of RV antifreeze depending on the mess I make. I check to make sure that all faucets run "pink" with antifreeze with the exception of the filtered water tap. When I think I'm done I drive around a bit to make sure all the lines are empty and leave all taps/faucets open a bit.

I've went the route of blowing compressed air through the lines before on an 76' Brougham. I had water that I didn't/couldn't clear and it settled and froze under the shower. The maker (Brougham) went out of business in 1986. The copper line was a non standard size that I couldn't find but the father-in-law located at a plumbing warehouse. To remove the shower it took pulling nearly 100 screws of a type I have not seen before or since. In winterizing I've found it best to be thorough.

Don't forget the outside shower (if you have one) either.
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Old 09-17-2020, 10:02 AM   #8
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If you have a water filter remove it prior to putting the MH away for the season.
That's another vehicle specific situation that is easy to miss. I was glad mine didn't have a filter for this very reason. I don't need or want a filter since I don't drink or even cook from the system.

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I've went the route of blowing compressed air through the lines before on an 76' Brougham. I had water that I didn't/couldn't clear and it settled and froze under the shower.
That's why I don't like to rely on just blowing out the system and also hit the low points with antifreeze. I'm also though worried about the water pump--I'm not sure blowing out the system does much at all for that part.

But you say you use 3-5 gallons of antifreeze. If I did just antifreeze I'd probably go through at least 20 gallons a year. The other issue is when you de-winterize you then have 5+ gallons of water/antifreeze in your grey tank when starting out.
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Old 09-17-2020, 10:36 AM   #9
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Goodspike,

If I didn't have a bypass by my water pump I too (and have) would be going through something like 12 to 18 gallons. I just turn the valve, pull out the plastic straw and draw from the gallon directly. No need to fill the fresh water tank and waterheater now. Just the lines from the water pump and back.

I usually empty my waste tanks at the very end. I leave those a little open too for the winter.
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Old 09-17-2020, 10:44 AM   #10
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Goodspike,

If I didn't have a bypass by my water pump I too (and have) would be going through something like 12 to 18 gallons. I just turn the valve, pull out the plastic straw and draw from the gallon directly.
That's not quite what I was saying. I draw from the gallon directly into the pump too, but I only draw about a half gallon to do what I need to do.

If I only winterized once it wouldn't be a big deal to fill the entire plumbing system with antifreeze--the 3-5 gallons. I would probably do that. But since I like to go on trips into the fall and get back out in the early spring I have to winterize/de-winterize several times, so just needing 1/2 gallon for the pipes and something less than a gallon for the grey/black tanks and traps is easier.

I don't put any antifreeze in the main water tank--I just open the drain.
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Old 09-18-2020, 06:44 AM   #11
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Man such good replies and help appreciate it guys!
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Old 09-24-2020, 07:47 AM   #12
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One little gotcha that I found the hard way on mine is the small section of pipe between the water heater bypass valve and the water heater inlet. After you bypass the water heater, there's still a little water in that line, so at some point in the blowout or antifreeze process, I have to switch the bypass back to flowing into the hot water heater to clear the water sitting there.
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Old 09-24-2020, 08:59 AM   #13
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One little gotcha that I found the hard way on mine is the small section of pipe between the water heater bypass valve and the water heater inlet. After you bypass the water heater, there's still a little water in that line, so at some point in the blowout or antifreeze process, I have to switch the bypass back to flowing into the hot water heater to clear the water sitting there.
I'm going to have to look at that next time, but I wonder if that water would flow down if you reset the bypass valve after doing your winterization???? I usually do that just so I don't have to do it when I fill up again next time, and so I don't have to remove the panel again.
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Old 09-24-2020, 09:37 AM   #14
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I'm going to have to look at that next time, but I wonder if that water would flow down if you reset the bypass valve after doing your winterization???? I usually do that just so I don't have to do it when I fill up again next time, and so I don't have to remove the panel again.
Opening the bypass valve after pumping antifreeze into the bypass line would probably lead to some diffusion of antifreeze into the short line to the water heater. Over time it would probably mix adequately to give full protection.

I figure it doesn't hurt for a little antifreeze to make it into the bottom of the water heater. I usually give the water heater a good fresh water purge with the plug removed during de-winterization, so I don't care if some antifreeze gets into the water heater tank.

It's been a long time since I looked at and followed the owner's manual instructions step by step, but it seemed at the time I discovered the issue via a cracked line and reviewed the instructions, there was nothing in the instructions if followed to the letter that would protect that little line between the bypass valve and the water heater.
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Old 09-24-2020, 10:02 AM   #15
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Hopefully, you have a Black Bag; and in it a "Adventurer 1996 Operator Manual." If not, find a copy, download it, and print it out. (Hopefully a double sided print out) This is the most important publication you will have for your unit. Take a highlighter to sections specific to your individual model in it. Make sure you carry it in your unit on every trip.
Among many other things, it will walk you through winterization of your unit.
It will also tell you things you didn't know you wanted to know, and answer questions, you didn't know to ask.
If yours is like mine, the index is imperfect, and you'll pretty much need to read through it to find what you're looking for at times.
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Old 09-24-2020, 10:23 AM   #16
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I figure it doesn't hurt for a little antifreeze to make it into the bottom of the water heater. I usually give the water heater a good fresh water purge with the plug removed during de-winterization, so I don't care if some antifreeze gets into the water heater tank.
It might even be a slight benefit if there is water left in there, although that probably doesn't matter.

Even without the purge I wouldn't care because: (1) I never drink or cook from the hot water side of any plumbing system; and (2) I never drink or cook from an RV water system. I use jug water instead.
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Old 09-24-2020, 10:23 AM   #17
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Hopefully, you have the Black Bag; and in it your "Sightseer 2009 Operator Manual." If not, find a copy, download it, and print it out. (Hopefully a double sided print out) This is the most important publication you will have for your unit. Take a highlighter to sections specific to your individual model in it. Make sure you carry it in your unit on every trip.
Among many other things, it will walk you through winterization of your unit.
It will also tell you things you didn't know you wanted to know, and answer questions, you didn't know to ask.
If yours is like mine, the index is imperfect, and you'll pretty much need to read through it to find what you're looking for at times.
The OP has a 1996 Adventurer.

I am the original owner of my 2009 Sightseer and have all of the original documentation.

My point, and I've looked it up online to verify this now, is that the step by step antifreeze fill procedure in the documentation -- if followed to the letter -- will leave water in the line between the water heater bypass valve and the water heater tank. As a noob, I followed the procedure to the letter and I ended up with a cracked line between the bypass valve and the water heater.

Broader point: the instructions are a good guide, but they're no substitute for common sense and thinking about every sensitive place water might be sitting during freezing weather.

Given that most units have a heater bypass valve and likely have instructions written by the same people who wrote my manuals and didn't address the little piece of line between the bypass valve and the water heater, it's a gotcha a lot of owners, especially new owners, might appreciate a heads up about.
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Old 09-25-2020, 09:20 AM   #18
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So first time living where it freezes and have a couple questions, what is required for winterizing? What about camping in winter, how do you keep pipes from freezing when camped? And last, where are the low point drains? I have a 96 Adventurer 34RQ.

Thank you and I know probably stupid questions......
Lots of good info in this thread. However, standard lead-acid and gel batteries do not freeze at the temperatures normally encountered even in very cold climates (I live in Colorado). We store racecars outside in unheated trailers, and as long as you use battery maintainers there are no issues with either the car or trailer batteries. On our RV, which has two large banks of many batteries , we don't even bother with battery maintainers; there is no way all of those parallel batteries will drain to the point we can't get the engine to crank in the spring.
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Old 09-25-2020, 07:25 PM   #19
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Lots of good info in this thread. However, standard lead-acid and gel batteries do not freeze at the temperatures normally encountered even in very cold climates (I live in Colorado).
Your absolutely right. A fully charged battery in good working condition should be able to carry over to spring without any problems. I suppose its smart to remove them to your basement or wherever but I usually just make sure its got that full charge when I park it and then just break the grounds.

I do the same with my motorcycle.
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Old 09-25-2020, 11:22 PM   #20
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That's not quite what I was saying. I draw from the gallon directly into the pump too, but I only draw about a half gallon to do what I need to do.

If I only winterized once it wouldn't be a big deal to fill the entire plumbing system with antifreeze--the 3-5 gallons. I would probably do that. But since I like to go on trips into the fall and get back out in the early spring I have to winterize/de-winterize several times, so just needing 1/2 gallon for the pipes and something less than a gallon for the grey/black tanks and traps is easier.

I don't put any antifreeze in the main water tank--I just open the drain.
Sounds like I do what you do except for drawing some antifreeze directly to the pump. I have the draw tube, but opted not to use because I didn't want the antifreeze to go through the lines like sink faucets or shower heads etc.

What I did last year several times because I winterize on each threat of a freeze was after blowing out & bypassing. I poured a little antifreeze in each drain to fill the P traps.

I am reluctant to use the draw tube because of the sanitizing that I think I would need to do? So far all went well last winter. If a really hard freeze were to coming, I could additionally turn on furnace which would heat plumbing in the basement as a backup precaution.

Note: My main water tank does not have a true drain plug. To drain I have to open a low point line and turn on the water pump My dealer didn't even know that as they spent a lot of time trying to describe to me where the drain plug should be. To make matters worse my owners manual was wrong I could open the valves but no water would come out. But when I turn on the water pump it comes out under pressure and will dump all 80 gallons in less than 5 minutes.

Eventually Winnebago sent me a new owners manual with it corrected
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