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Old 11-30-2016, 04:53 PM   #1
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Some winter use water tank thoughts

We just got back from our first major run in our new to us E350 RB50. We used it down to the upper 20sF a couple of nights but the days warmed, easy to use the gas furnace. We got home to Salt Lake yesterday eve and I drained the water tank and ran the pump with both faucets open. I drained under the tank, the infill valve by the rear city water connection, and the waste water.

There was about an inch or less of water left in the fresh water tank. It got to 20F last night. When I got in there was a tiny frozen icicle under the hot faucet drip and the bit of water in the tank appeared to be frozen, not sloshing anyway. I thawed things out with the heater, but now I'm wondering if this is nothing to be concerned about. Or if so, then what to do about it? It does not appear to be much if at all insulated under the water tank.

So how do you deal with this when it sits in the cold for a week? Add something nasty to the water then flush for next use? Not worry? Blow it all out every time with pressure? We plan to use it sporadically all winter. Guess they call it winterizing but do you have to do it repeatedly if you're going to use it during the winter?

Thanks as always,
Scott and Margaret
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Old 11-30-2016, 05:01 PM   #2
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Move south?
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Old 11-30-2016, 05:05 PM   #3
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But seriously, I have no experience in the vans systems freezing, but I think you're fine.

The problems caused by water freezing is that it expands, bursting pipes. As long as you have mostly cleared out the pipes and tanks, then the remaining water has some room to expand and shouldn't cause any danger...

This is all theoretical, but based on growing up with a vacation house in the woods in NH, and we did the same thing. Gravity drain the system at the end of the weekend, and let everything freeze solid all week. Never any issues.
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Old 11-30-2016, 05:20 PM   #4
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The tank won't be hurt by a little water. It's the water systems fittings that always have caused be problems. For quick trip-prep, I stopped winterizing with chemicals, and instead blow out all the lines. Works great. I bought an oil-less compressor for doing this, and a $2 city water to air-chuck adapter.
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Old 11-30-2016, 05:24 PM   #5
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I have done basically what you have described for the past 2 winters in SLC with no problems. In my water tank the outlet for the pump faces the rear of the van so I park the van on a hill and pump and drain the residual water out of the tank. I also found that if I open the rear drain by the city water connection and run the pump that will drain water pretty well from the lines. After everything is drained I leave the sink faucet open as well as the city water bypass valve near the tank.
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Old 11-30-2016, 05:35 PM   #6
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Good to know, I have been wondering as well since I just got a new to me Sportsmobile and live In SLC. Its currently in St. George but I will be bringing it up here in the next week or two once I finish raptor lining my top.
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Old 11-30-2016, 05:47 PM   #7
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I wouldn't be too concerned. The tank will be fine. It's the lines and connections that can be problematic if they freeze. Just make sure everything is drained if you store it and put RV antifreeze or cheap vodka in the P trap.

I camped many times in below freezing temps in my 04 SMB. Down to minus 15 deg. F. I had constant issues with the water lines freezing even around 20 deg F, with the heat on. SMB may have changed their routing of lines but my 04 was completely asinine, especially for such an expensive "all weather" rig. They routed the sink lines in the wall and over the rear doors. No wonder they froze all the time. I eventually got fed up with it and re routed all of the lines interior and insulated them. No more problems.
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Old 11-30-2016, 05:51 PM   #8
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Having owned other types of traditional RV's in the past, and having dealt with frozen plumbing, I will utter the old saying: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
I live at high elevation in the mountains where it gets very cold very regularly. At my home, it has not been above 25 F in over a week. I cut no corners when it comes to winterizing, as it takes only minutes (I can do it with my on-board compressor, or shop compressor).
I prioritize what needs to be drained based on how cold it will be, and whether or not I'm using the system. In order of freezing vulnerability, 1) the flat plate water heater, 2) the lines in the walls, 3) the pump, and 4) the tank.
If it's only going to be somewhat cold (e.g. those summer nights when it drops just a little below freezing, and yes, it does up here, any time of year), I will, at minimum, open the gravity drain to the water lines, especially the flat plate, and open the faucets to allow minor expansion.
When the cold becomes sustained or below 28 F, I blow out the lines in the walls with an air compressor, but leave water in the tank and the pump. I have a small stub of old garden hose that I attach to the city water inlet that allows me to get a pretty good seal with a rubber blow-off nozzle, then systematically open each valve in the system to clear out lines.
Once the temps drop < 25 F, I drain the whole tank (gravity valve) and run the pump dry, too.
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Old 11-30-2016, 06:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BVerhulst View Post
Having owned other types of traditional RV's in the past, and having dealt with frozen plumbing, I will utter the old saying: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
I live at high elevation in the mountains where it gets very cold very regularly. At my home, it has not been above 25 F in over a week. I cut no corners when it comes to winterizing, as it takes only minutes (I can do it with my on-board compressor, or shop compressor).
I prioritize what needs to be drained based on how cold it will be, and whether or not I'm using the system. In order of freezing vulnerability, 1) the flat plate water heater, 2) the lines in the walls, 3) the pump, and 4) the tank.
If it's only going to be somewhat cold (e.g. those summer nights when it drops just a little below freezing, and yes, it does up here, any time of year), I will, at minimum, open the gravity drain to the water lines, especially the flat plate, and open the faucets to allow minor expansion.
When the cold becomes sustained or below 28 F, I blow out the lines in the walls with an air compressor, but leave water in the tank and the pump. I have a small stub of old garden hose that I attach to the city water inlet that allows me to get a pretty good seal with a rubber blow-off nozzle, then systematically open each valve in the system to clear out lines.
Once the temps drop < 25 F, I drain the whole tank (gravity valve) and run the pump dry, too.
I do this exactly and have on many RVs for years. On a typical RV there are some weak points, the outdoor (or indoor) cheap plastic shower nozzles and the toilet valve. If you have neither of these in your van you're mostly good with the above advice. Anything can happen but SMB uses pretty good PEX and brass fittings. I've never seen an SMB line leak or burst.

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