Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Winterizing the Water System

If you live in a colder part of the country visited by Ole Man Winter, you'll need to winterize the water system to prevent damage to water lines and faucets. There are two basic approaches to this need: the use of compressed air or RV anti-freeze. Complete details on both methods are contained in the Lazy Daze manual. This FAQ summarizes them.
Winterizing with Compressed Air
You'll need an "oil free" air compressor with a 2-4 gallon tank capacity. The tank will ensure enough pressure to purge the lines of air. An "oil type" compressor could allow oil to contaminate the water system. To make the job even easier, you can purchase a specially-made Blow-Out hose from Lazy Daze. This hose has an air fitting on one end to connect to the compressor; the other end has a water fitting that will connect the hose to the water system. You could also make such a hose yourself. What follows is a short-version of the Lazy Daze manual; refer to it for complete instructions on each of the steps below.
- Make sure pump is off and that you're NOT connected to city water.
- Drain the fresh water tank. Leave the valve slightly open to prevent damage to the valve from any water that may drip into it and freeze.
- Completely drain the hot water heater (HWH), flush it and replace the drain plug.
- Remove the faucet aeration screens, the hand held sprayer, the hose/spray head and the outside shower head (if you have one). This will prevent sediment blown through the lines from clogging the faucets and sprayers.
- Empty and clean the water pump debris strainer bowl.
- Disconnect the pump's out-going water line.
- Put a rag under the pump and turn it on for a few seconds to purge the incoming line and pump head assembly.
- Attach the Blow-Out hose to the disconnected water line; be sure it is firmly tightened.
- Set your air compressor to about 50 psi and start it. Never exceed 75 psi!
- Starting with the cold water faucet nearest the pump, slowly open it and wait until only air is coming out. Close it and do the same for the hot water faucet. Continue on to the next nearest faucet and repeat the process. Work your way through all the faucets, including the outside shower, if you have one. Likewise for the ice-maker. Repeat the process until you are convinced you are getting only air.
- Shut off the compressor, release the air pressure and remove the Blow-Out hose.
- Reattach the water line to the pump.
- Replace the faucet aeration screens, the hand held sprayer, the hose/spray head and the outside shower head (if you have one).
- Leave all faucets open.
- Remove the HWH drain plug to allow any remaining water to drain. Replace the plug.
- Put a damp rag around the compressor hose and insert it into each sink and shower drain to blow water out of the traps. To be extra cautious, you can also add some anit-freeze into the traps.
- Depress and hold in the center portion of the city water inlet valve to drain any water from that part of the line.
- When de-winterizing in the spring, remove the faucet aeration screens, the hand held sprayer, the hose/spray head and the outside shower head (if you have one). This will prevent sediment with the initial flow of water from clogging the faucets and sprayers. Once things appear to be running clear, replace them.
Winterizing with Anti-Freeze
- Purchase enough RV-type anti-freeze to fill the water lines and the HWH. You can install a HWH bypass that will let you add the anti-freeze to the lines without filling the HWH - this will save you about 6 gallons of ani-freeze.
- Make sure pump is off and that you're NOT connected to city water.
- Drain the fresh water tank. Leave the valve slightly open to prevent damage to the valve from any water that may drip into it and freeze
- Completely drain the HWH, flush it and replace the drain plug.
- Empty and clean the water pump debris strainer bowl.
- Disconnect the incoming water line from the pump. This is the line with the debris strainer.
- Connect a piece of hose to the inlet side of the pump. You can buy a fitting that allows you connect a hose directly to the pump inlet.
- Put the other end of the hose directly into the anti-freeze bottle.
- Turn on the water pump.
- Go to the cold water faucet nearest the pump. Open it until the anti-freeze replaces water coming from the faucet. Do the same for the matching hot water faucet (UNLESS you have installed a bypass kit).
- Repeat for each set of faucets working away from the pump. Don't forget the outside shower and/or ice-maker, if so equipped.
- Turn off the water pump and relieve the pressure by opening a cold water faucet.
- Depress and hold in the center portion of the city water inlet valve to drain any water from that part of the line.
- Reattach the incoming water line to the pump.
- In the spring, you'll have to purge the system of the anti-freeze and sanitize it.
Odds and Ends
- Camping World and others sell a so-called blow-out adapter that attaches to the city water inlet. However, you will not fully purge the system using this approach. Water will be forced back into the water pump where it can freeze and damage the pump.
- Several people report that they have successfully used the output port of a vacuum cleaner or Shopvac in place of an air compressor. Gus says: "With the vacuum on blowing mode, I hold the vacuum hose into the fresh water fill, Nancy turns on each faucet starting with the one closes to the fresh water tank when it blows only air she closes that one and moves to the next. We drain the hot water first (and last) making sure there is no water in the hot water tank as it is the most expensive to replace. We do this routine at lease twice, and it only takes us about thirty minutes. If there is any water left in the line and it freezes, the water lines are plastic and will expand a little. This system has been working for us for eighteen years."

Contributors: Gus, Lazy Daze, WxToad, Ed Daniels

Updated: 4 Feb 2014

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