How To Winterize An RV Without Antifreeze
The cold season is here. By now, most RV owners have probably taken steps to winterize their camper. If you haven’t, now is the time to jump on that. After all, nobody wants to deal with burst water lines or broken tanks at the end of the winter, and unless you live in a very warm place where it never freezes, that is what you will likely be stuck with.
Of course, in order to winterize your rig, you have to know how to go about it. This may leave you wondering how to winterize an RV without antifreeze on hand. Surprisingly, it can be done and it is definitely effective.
In this article, we are going to discuss how to winterize an RV without antifreeze, as well as why you might do this. This will help you decide if this method is for you, so you can get to work before the first major freeze blows in.
Two RV winterization methods
If you’ve been RVing for a while, you probably already know about the more traditional way of winterizing an RV. This involves filling the water lines with a special, non-toxic RV antifreeze that prevents any leftover water from freezing. If you were to choose this method, you would also dump some of that same antifreeze into your holding tanks and empty your water heater and freshwater tank in order to protect those as well.
That said, some people prefer to skip the antifreeze. Meanwhile, there are those who need to winterize in a hurry and don’t have access to RV antifreeze. No matter what your reason might be for winterizing your RV sans antifreeze, the process is the same.
The goal with this winterization method is to remove as much water as possible from the lines and tanks. This is done using an air compressor to blow the lines out after emptying all tanks. Yes, this might leave trace amounts of water behind, but there won’t be enough remaining to do damage when it freezes.
Why winterize without antifreeze?
Why would someone choose to winterize an RV without antifreeze? Well, there are of course the cases where a person can’t get a hold of RV antifreeze in time to winterize before a big freeze. That said, as mentioned above, some people just prefer to avoid using RV antifreeze.
Reasons for this could include:
- A preference to use as few chemicals as possible.
- Worries about the antifreeze leaving behind a funny taste.
- Concerns about animals or kids finding and drinking antifreeze (it smells and tastes sweet).
- A desire to save money (Antifreeze isn’t expensive, but if your RV goes in and out of winterization multiple times a year, it can add up.)
- A broken water pump. (Without a pump, you can’t pump antifreeze through the lines, but you can still blow them out.)
How to winterize an RV without antifreeze
By now you’re probably wondering how to winterize an RV without antifreeze, so let’s dive in. Below are step-by-step instructions for ensuring your RV plumbing system is safe for winter without ever purchasing a bottle of RV antifreeze.
What you need
- Air compressor
- Blowout adapter
- Tools for dumping and cleaning holding tanks
Dump the black and gray tanks
Begin by dumping and cleaning your black and gray tanks as you normally would. Make sure they are especially empty and clean in order to avoid stink in the RV over the winter.
Turn the water heater off
Turn the water heater off and let it cool completely before moving on to the next steps.
Drain the freshwater tank and the pipes
Find the freshwater drain valve and the low point drains and open them. Let all of the water drain out onto the ground and leave the valves open.
Bypass the water heater
Find the water heater bypass valve and switch it into bypass mode. If you don’t have a water heater bypass, you can install one using a kit like this.
Open all faucets
Open all faucets, including the sinks and indoor and outdoor showers. Flush the toilet until water stops flowing as well to make sure most of the water is removed from the toilet lines. Leave the faucets open even after water stops flowing.
Turn on the pump
Turn the water pump on to remove any leftover water. Turn the pump off when no more water is working its way through the lines.
Empty the water heater tank
Open the water heater drain and let all of the water drain out. If you have an anode rod, leave it out and make a note to replace it next season. Otherwise, you can replace the plug using a bit of Teflon tape.
Attach the compressor to the water inlet
Connect the blowout adapter to your air compressor. This will then connect to the RV city water inlet.
Blow out the lines
Make sure all of your valves and faucets are open. Set the air compressor to between 30 and 50 psi (DO NOT set the pressure higher than this) and run it in 30-second increments until no more water comes out of the faucets or valves.
Close all valves
Turn off the sinks and showers and close the low point drains.
As you can see, it’s fairly easy to winterize an RV without antifreeze. That said, antifreeze is not all that hard to use either. Choosing which option is best for you all comes down to personal preference and whether it’s easier for you to access RV antifreeze or an air compressor.
Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool such as Maintain My RV. Not only can you keep all of your documents in one place, but you’ll also receive timely reminders when maintenance is due to help you avoid costly repairs and potentially serious accidents.
- How To Winterize Your RV Water System Using An Air Compressor
- What Is The Minimum Size Air Compressor For Winterizing An RV?
- Tech Tips: RV Antifreeze: Not All the Same