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Old 10-22-2018, 12:08 PM   #1
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On-the-road water winterizing

I've seen prior posts about winterizing, but ran into some issues last week when I camped where it got a bit colder than expected (20F). Did a basic drain, and was OK. I had some moonshine I'd just got in Panamint Valley but didn't wanna use that...although it has got me wondering if just an ethyl alcohol/water mixture might work. Wouldn't affect washing, and would boil off in cooking. And we could use a separate water container for drinking water.

So I'm wondering what folks do when traveling and hitting intermittent below freezing conditions for days. Aside from the pain of draining, there's also a need to flush and a place where one can empty out say a glycol-based antifreeze.
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Old 10-22-2018, 12:25 PM   #2
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So I'm wondering what folks do when traveling and hitting intermittent below freezing conditions for days. Aside from the pain of draining, there's also a need to flush and a place where one can empty out say a glycol-based antifreeze.
You pose a good question, one I have been pondering for a while now, since last year I froze my system and busted the water pump after a couple weeks in Montana. My current plan is to simply drain the water tank and blow out the lines. My tank is inside as is the pump, but it's not insulated and contacts the wheel well. I don't use much water, and normally carry a 6 gallon jug, along with another 3 gallon, both used for drinking only. When it's that cold, I use less water, so that gets me along fine for many days. You shouldn't add Glycol based antifreeze as it can be poisonous, but RV anti freeze is non toxic. It's less expensive though to simply blow out all the water, and no need to dump and flush afterword. Adding booze might work, but I'd rather drink it as was originally intended by the distiller.
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Old 10-22-2018, 01:27 PM   #3
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On an RV forum, some people just use cheap vodka. Not sure if that leaves a taste though.
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Old 10-22-2018, 01:39 PM   #4
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The key is using the right glycol; propylene is commonly used in potable systems. Wouldn't wanna drink it straight as it is still a type of alcohol I believe.

This site actually tested cheap vodka amongst the standard potable system antifreeze compounds and found it wanting, as it corroded some types of fittings. I've heard it can also grow stuff, but I dunno. I think the mechanical flushing out seems to be easiest. But still a pain. I have a very simple system; perhaps just emptying without blowing would work. There's just one under-floor drain valve that's likely to hold some water, and the pump itself.
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Old 10-23-2018, 05:09 AM   #5
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I'm a bit dumb about these types of on-board systems but is it possible to build new or modify something already in use with a drain that allows every bit of freezable water to be removed?
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Old 10-23-2018, 10:41 AM   #6
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I'm a bit dumb about these types of on-board systems but is it possible to build new or modify something already in use with a drain that allows every bit of freezable water to be removed?
My van is like many SMBs in that it DOES hae a drain system. But getting all the water out can be tricky, as the low spot isn't that far below the bottom of the tank, the tank empties out the sides always leaving a bit, the various lines and sink traps have low spots that can collect water, and water can be in the pump itself. Hence the blow-out method. Generally you want all out that could freeze and have nowhere to expand to. And that's why some flush with antifreeze so that anything left will stay mushy at lower temps.
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Old 10-23-2018, 12:56 PM   #7
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Leaving a bit of water in the bottom of the tank won't hurt, it just forms a small sheet of ice. The problems start when water is trapped in a closed area and can't expand without pressurizing what ever it's in. As mentioned above, most likely to be an issue is the pump, water lines (if they are Pex, the tubing will expand and contract without damage) the trap under the sink etc. Adding RV antifreeze assures those areas won't freeze, but I prefer to just blow out the lines with a little air pressure. A few drops of remaining water can still freeze, but won't damage anything as long as they can expand without being trapped.
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Old 10-23-2018, 11:52 PM   #8
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Drain most the water then add a gallon or two of cheap vodka and run it through the system. This way if any of you low spots have water it has a way lower freeze point.
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Old 10-24-2018, 07:23 AM   #9
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While I don't have a fancy onboard ARB compressor or anything -- but I did purchase one of those 12v compressors that are rated sufficiently to (slowly) pump up my tires if needed.

I've only used it to top of tire pressure once. But i've used it a few times now to winterize. It takes less time to get out and setup then even pulling the pancake compressor out of the garage.
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Old 10-24-2018, 05:53 PM   #10
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IFYOU HAVE A FLUSH TOILET...don't forget to hold flush handle open and blow out ALL WATER out of toilet piece...small tubes from line to toilet (in back) hold water and will burst..like me last winter...AND SHOP VAC THE WATER HEATER!!!! Use the release valve at bottom...have hose READY/Sucking b/c it will start to drain as soon as you open it!!

Ps Arctic...I am SURE you could drink the booze in the spring?!? Aged even...
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