Now that we’re halfway through winter, I finally found the time to go out and winterize the water system in the Westy. Luckily we rarely dip below freezing up here in the Pacific Northwest, so it hasn’t been an issue – in fact, last year I did nothing other than drain my tanks, and didn’t have any problems.
Others on the sprinter_westfalia list claim that filling the system with antifreeze is overkill, and blowing out the lines with compressed air, then filling the traps with antifreeze is sufficient. That may be, but it also sounds more complicated to me! Especially since hauling my air compressor out of the garage is probably a 20 minute job in itself 🙂
This year I figured I’d be a bit more prudent, and went out and bought 10 gallons of RV antifreeze to take care of all of the tanks, lines, and traps.
At about $5 a gallon, that’s not a bad price to prevent freezing and cracking of lines. But I could have saved a few dollars in antifreeze by installing a water heater bypass kit. They work by bridging the hot and cold water lines immediately before the water heater; instead of the water (or antifreeze) going into the hot water tank and filling it up before it reaches the hot water outlet, the water just skips the tank altogether and goes straight from the inlet to the outlet.
I can never remember how big our tank is – 4 gallons, I think? In which case you can save $20 in antifreeze with an $18 part. Not a huge savings the first year, but next year and each year after you’d save the full $20, and it also keeps some chemicals out of the environment.
Anyway, my process for winterizing was simple:
- Drain the gray and black water tanks at a dump station.
- Drain the fresh water from the valve outside the van, on the driver’s side. Drain the hot water heater using the valve inside the lower-right cabinet accessed through the van’s rear doors (my valve is yellow).
- Pour 8 gallons of antifreeze into the fresh water tank through the exterior fill hole.
- Run the bathroom hot water faucet. It took a while for it to change from water to pink antifreeze. Then run the cold at the sink, hot and cold at the kitchen sink, and flush the toilet, until everything’s running pink.
- Pour some antifreeze directly into each drain, to fill the traps. Don’t forget the shower drain in the floor.
- I poured an extra gallon down the toilet to make sure there was enough in the black water tank.
Total time: 20 minutes
Total cost: $50 (10 gallons of RV antifreeze)
In the spring I’ll have to rinse it really well, since I don’t like the idea of antifreeze in my water system. But I like the idea of burst pipes even less 🙂
How do you winterize your system? Have you installed a water heater bypass that worked well (or that didn’t work well!)?