Winterizing RV Water Lines… Plus A New RVgeeks Giveaway!

TheRVgeeks Winter RVing 38 Comments

We’re usually snowbirds, but this winter we’ll be storing our RV in a cold climate for a couple of months while we’re traveling by air. We’ll be using our Viair compressor to blow out our water lines, and we’ll be giving one away, too… just in time for the holidays!

We could pump the system full of anti-freeze, but we prefer to use compressed air to blow the water out instead. This video covers every detail about how we protect our RV’s plumbing system from freezing in cold weather. The last thing we want to come home to is a broken pipe!


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Special thanks to our friends Bill & Mark for sharing their RV winterizing know-how.

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On Sunday, December 14th, 2014 at 5:00PM Pacific Time, one lucky RVgeeks viewer will win a Viair 400P-RV Automatic Portable Air Compressor Kit, with a total value of about $250! Use the form below to enter for your chance to win the same awesome compressor we use on our motorhome!

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We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

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Comments 38

  1. Thanks for all the great info! I’m not too knowledgeable about this winterizing stuff, so I assume I may be missing something. If you always have a faucet open when using the compressor, wouldn’t that keep pressure from building and negate the need for a pressure regulator? Or does the air coming out of the air hose come at such a high force that the force alone could cause damage even without the buildup of pressure in the lines?

    Also, you mentioned that the air pressure regulator you use keeps the compressor from continually running to reach 150 psi. I know you said that a water pressure regulator could also be used, but would it achieve the same purpose of keeping the compressor from running?

    Thanks again! I just subscribed to your site and I’m looking forward to learning.

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      Hi Don! We have an expression we use quite a lot: “It’s not the likelihood. It’s the consequences.” So even though it’s unlikely that a plumbing line would be ruptured with a faucet open, we ALWAYS use a pressure regulator. All it would take is one mistake (squeezing the air trigger without a faucet open) to explode a water line and cause a very bad self-inflicted wound. So we use one just in case. Same goes for the use of a regular water regulator. We prefer a dedicated air pressure regulator. And since we keep one on board, it’s always available for use. Hope this makes sense!

      1. Wow, that’s a quick reply…thanks! Sure, that makes sense to use the air pressure regulator. I plan to get the Viair compressor you recommend. I’m waiting a bit in hopes I’ll get a better price since I don’t need it right away. I was unsure about the air pressure regulator, but I think I’ll get that too. Thanks again.

  2. GREAT Video! You mention that a compressor with a tank should not be used. You can get compressor with tanks that are oil free and have a air intake filter. Wouldn’t these be OK to use? What other contaminants are a concern besides the oil?

    I just subscribed to rvgeeks and looking forward to all the good info. A great RV resource!

    Thanks,

    Dan

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      Thanks so much, Dan, and welcome! Great to have you here with us. Our concern with tank-type compressors is primarily the lack of a filter on the output side. Over time, moisture can build up in the tank, causing rust. We don’t want any of that (the moisture OR the rust) to end up in our drinking water system. The reason we like a unit like the Viair so much is that that can’t happen, it’s so compact (great for us full-timers), powerful (able to top up the big tires on our diesel pusher), and does everything we need all in one little package.

      1. Thanks for the response! It makes sense that rust/moisture is a concern. I have heard the Viair is a good unit, so I will be taking a look. Thanks again!

  3. I just watched your first winter video, and had a suggestion for the mouse problem around the pass-through for the sewer hose.

    I noticed that you have a threaded filler plate for that access port where the hose drops through the bottom. You might consider obtaining a spare plate, and cutting a hole in the center that would just fit snugly around the hose. If possible, remove the hose end so you can make the hole as tight fitting as you can. If not, try cutting the plate in half after cutting the hose sized hole. Then, add a couple of brackets or plates to bridge the parting line to hold the two halves together. If there is a rubber or plastic gasket used in the hose end fitting, adding them to one or both sides of this plate may help.
    I would just leave the plate permanently on the sewer hose.

    This filler plate will help insulate your water cabinet area, by completely blocking airflow around that hose.
    NOTE: Mice can squeeze through a gap only a quarter inch high, by maybe an inch or so wide. Apparently, they can distort their skull to accomplish this. Very determined critters.

    I find those spring traps to not be very effective. I have found that they can eat food right off the trigger without tripping it. My best results have been the paper backed sticky traps. Flat works best, but folded up can do the job, if they need to be put in locations where things move around. The plastic tray type glue traps don’t seem to be effective, as the mice tend to run around them, instead of over them.

    Neat videos! I may be full-timing soon, so I’ve started looking around.

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      Author

      Thanks for all the anti-rodent input, Will! Sounds like lots of possibilities for us to think about next time we spend a winter in a cold climate. As we’re heading south this year as usual, we we shouldn’t encounter any critters on board. We’ve never gotten a mouse in the Desert SW, so hopefully they haven’t started migrating. ;-)

  4. Thanks a bunch for the quick response. Also, thanks for putting together the list of equipment. Adding the items to my Amazon cart at this time. Keep the videos comming???

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  5. Very new to RVing and really appreciate all you videos. We plan to winterize per your air pressure method. That way if we get some good weather in December, it is easy to set it back up and use it for a weekend. One question and maybe I missed it. How do you make sure the water pump is empty? We have a 2006 Pace Arrow and the manual says it can be run dry. I would assume we would run it for say 30 seconds then put air pressure on the line to make any residual water is removed. Thanks a bunch.

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      Hi Jeff! You got it right. Running the pump dry for 30 seconds is what we do too. Sorry if we moved so fast and covered so much in this video… there are a lot of pipes to clear! lol We did cover the water pump for a very brief few seconds, right around the 8 minute mark here: https://youtu.be/fyjFAFFe7xs?t=7m58s

      Have a great winter. Hope you get to use your RV a bit during that time.

  6. Pingback: Tips for Storing Your RV When You Need to Leave it Behind | Technomadia

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      1. When we emptied our lines by opening the main drain and all the faucets what looked like most of the water came out. BUT when we hooked up the Viair more came out-that more is what would have been in the lines, frozen and possibly cracked them. And don’t forget to run the pump dry.
        Thanks guys you were a great help with this and we are happily awaiting our southward journey after Christmas secure in the knowledge that our lines are protected.

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  7. In Europe you can’t even buy pink antifreeze. They use the same water pumps, etc. that we do. All they do is drain everything. If anyone knows why that works there, but we have to go through all this winterizing–please let me know!

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  8. Love the article, My wife and I are NEW to RVing as we just purchase our first Travel Trailer not even a month ago and your videos have been a great help and getting to know what we didn’t even think about asking.

  9. I do the same thing using an air compressor. First time I forgot to empty the kitchen sprayer and to flush the toilet. Won’t forget that again… Lol

  10. I am trying to enter every day but sometimes I forget! Just love getting old :-) ! Wish my wife would get this for me for Christmas but I’ll probably get stuff I don’t need… BIG SIGH Have great off season!

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  11. Thank you for another very helpful video. There is a lot to consider when one has a dishwasher, clothes washer, aqua hot HWH & a refrigerator with an ice maker. I like the idea of using the air but I still prefer to pump RV Antifreeze through everything to be certain that all is protected. I think it’s important that the antifreeze is pumped through the system with the 12V water pump, if not the pump itself can freeze if there is any water left in it. I’d like to also add that I’m careful to dry all the RV Antifreeze out of our sinks, toilets, dishwasher etc. because it will leave a pink stain that’s hard to clean.

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      Thanks for the additional tip about antifreeze staining, Roger. We weren’t sure it would stain, but we wiped it up anyway. ;-) And we’ll report back in January if we had any freezing while we were gone. Our winter storage gurus have said they never use antifreeze in the water lines, and have never had a freeze-up, so we’ll see!

  12. Another great video full of information. I did the same process as you do when we had our Baystar. This summer we bought a 2011 Ventana and I was afraid to do the same with it. It has the Oasis system for hot water and two Tecma electric toilets. It also is plumbed for washer and dryer and has a residential fridge. With all the changes I was afraid to use air but is sounds like that I could have after watching your video. I used 6 gallons of RV antifreeze this year as compared to about 1 gallon in the past couple of years.

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