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DeWinterizing-RVFor those of us who aren’t full-time RVers, it’s the time of year when our thoughts turn to the start of the camping season.  If you live in a cold climate, part of the coach prep routine includes de-winterizing. Although this process is more straightforward than winterizing, it is a good idea to remind ourselves of the basic steps. It is assumed that the winterization process was performed by filling the system with non-toxic anti-freeze and bypassing the water heater. These tips should work for any size and type RV.

  1. Make sure all RV water taps are fully closed.
  2. Ensure the water pump is turned off.
  3. Close, plug, or cap the fresh water tank drain.
  4. Cap the low point drains if applicable.
  5. Close the hot water tank drain valve or replace the anode rod or tank plug. Be sure to place thread sealant tape (PTFE tape) on the plug or rod prior to threading it into the hole. If you have an aluminum tank that does not use an anode rod, such as an Atwood, a plastic plug is recommended. If you place a steel plug into an aluminum tank (or vice-versa), an electrochemical reaction, called galvanic corrosion, between the different metals may cause the plug to seize into the hole. For steel tanks, do not substitute a plug for the anode rod, and replace the rod if it has significant erosion.
  6. Connect a potable water hose between a convenient household faucet and the RV fresh water connection.
  7. Turn on the water supply to the RV.
  8. Starting with the tap furthest away from the RV fresh water connection, slowly open the cold water tap so anti-freeze flows (usually pink in color). Note that the furthest fixture from the water connection may be an external tap.
  9. When there is no longer any anti-freeze in the line, turn off the cold water tap and repeat the process with the hot water tap.
  10. Repeat steps 8 & 9 with all remaining tap sets, including the lavatory.
  11. Close all taps and put at least a few inches of water in the fresh water tank. Add some RV water system freshener.
  12. Turn off the fresh water supply and turn on the water pump.
  13. Open any cold water tap for at least 20 seconds to purge anti-freeze in the pump line.
  14. Turn off the water pump and set the water heater bypass valve(s) to disable the bypass.
  15. Turn on the fresh water supply and allow the water heater to fill.
  16. Once the water heater is full, place a rag over the closest hot water tap and SLOWLY open it a small amount. There will be significant aeration from the hot water tank air space, so use the rag to contain the splashing. Do not open the tap fully until aeration is complete.
  17. Repeat step 16 with the other hot water taps until no aeration exists.
  18. Open the cold water taps once more to verify steady flow.
  19. Turn off the fresh water supply and pump and stow the hose.

Congratulations, the de-winterization process is complete, except for draining the holding tanks, which is most conveniently done at your first campsite of the season.

For your convenience, here is a print-ready checklist.

About the Author:

Coach-Net is pleased to welcome Steve Froese to our team of writers. Steve, an avid RV owner, traveler, and  Coach-Net member since 2013, is the principal of “A Word to the Wise Technical Communications”, a published RV author, certified RV technician, and licensed Professional Engineer. He frequently collaborates with the “RV Doctor”, Gary Bunzer, and has worked with the RVIA/RVDA as a technical and training writer and consultant. Professionally, he works as a quality engineer and musician. Watch for more of Steve’s work in upcoming Coach-Net publications.

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