Winterizing your Airstream

For some, prepping the RV for freezing weather can seem like a daunting task.  With the right accessories, and a few pointers, it’s easy.

You southerners might say: “Winterize, what’s that?”.  Well, there’s two methods: ‘wet’ and ‘dry’.

With a ‘wet’ winterize, you simply drain all three holding tanks, and pump non-toxic anti-freeze through the system at the water pump.  The RV ‘pink’ stuff is supposed to be non-toxic, and odor-free.  I’ve heard it definitely leaves an odor.  Never done it that way, and I’m not interested in finding out for myself.

I’ll cover the ‘dry’ method, which is what I do every year (sometimes several times, per year).  Never had an ounce of trouble surviving these Michigan winters.

Here’s my process:

1. Dump grey and black tanks.  I give the black tank a good flushing using the water jet port.  I typically use Thetford Aqua-Kem throughout the camping season, so flushing usually isn’t a problem for either.

2. Drain fresh water at holding tank spigot.  The Classic’s drain is located off the side of the tank, directly behind the curb side front tire.  Leave the kitchen faucet ‘on’, it will help it drain.

3. Open all fixtures, and hook up the air compressor to the fresh water service.  I use this handy little device shown above.  The ball valve makes regulating the air a little more convenient.  Also, be sure to regulate the pressure.  Typically, I set to 60psi.  This gives plenty of pressure to evacuate all the lines and fixtures, without blowing any connections.  Don’t forget to open the outside service spigot!

At this point, the lines are empty, and the holding tanks will continue to slowly dribble out the evacuated water.  The only left is all the water in the hot water heater, and getting that out takes a little bit of doing…

4. Remove hot water heater drain plug.  Close all the fixtures, before turning on the air pressure.  The HWH drain isn’t exactly at the lowest point, so you’ll need to spend some time evacuating this one.  I will ‘rock’ the trailer back and forth (just push on the side rear) while evacuating, to help get the water out.

5. Pour anti-freeze in all the traps, and toilet.

6. Pull the batteries.

7. Wait for spring!


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