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Old 11-02-2019, 11:32 AM   #1
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Water System Winterizing Problems


I apologize in advance as this may be a long post.

I researched how to winterize my water system on our 2013 new-to-us 238ML Passport Ultra Lite. I found a YouTube video and followed it to the letter, taking the following steps:

1. Took off my fresh water low point drain cap....also, my hot and my cold low point drains.

2. I emptied the hot water heater and as instructed in the video, left the plug off for winter for any residual water to expand.

3. I shut off the water supply to water heater.

4. Turned on the water pump and let it run long enough until no more water came out of the drains (about five minutes). Turned the water pump off.

5. I installed the fresh water drain, hot and cold drain caps back on.

6. I poured 7 gallons of RV antifreeze into the 30 gallon freshwater tank and turned on the water pump.

7. I ran water through hot and cold faucets in kitchen, bathroom, shower, toilet, and external shower until I saw pink antifreeze.

I noticed that when I ran the cold side in the kitchen, the water volume was great, as was the cold water in the bathroom sink and shower. What stood out to me was that the amount of hot water coming out of each faucet was much less. I was able to get pink to come out the hot side but it in some cases it wasn’t much more than a trickle.

After doing the kitchen, I moved to the shower and tub. As I was there, I heard what sounded like water pouring out the back of the trailer. I turned the pump off and ran outside to see pink antifreeze pouring out of the drain plug to the hot water heater. I left the plug off as instructed in the video in case any residual water expanded over the winter. Since fluid pouring out the plug wasn’t supposed to happen, I reinstalled the plug.

1. What did I miss? Any ideas on what went wrong? I shut the valve (ball valve?) off so no water, in this case antifreeze would flow into the hot water tank, but it did.

2. Could there be something wrong with the shutoff valve to the hot water tank? The hot water tank is brand new and installed by the previous owner shortly before we bought the trailer. The tank has worked for us well, without any problems on our camping trips over the Summer. I don’t know if the valve or lines to the new tank are new....I’m thinking probably not.

3. Given the situation, do you think the water system is adequately protected for the winter? I saw pink through every line...hot and cold. However, the hot side was a trickle at times, but it was a pink trickle.

Below is a link to the video. Hopefully it will work and I’m going to attempt to attach a picture of the back of the tank and the shutoff valve.


Thank you!


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Old 11-02-2019, 12:24 PM   #2
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sounds like the water heater wasn't in BYPASS mode. Depending on how its plumbed, there can be from a single valve to three valves.

COLD IN is at the bottom of water heater HOT OUT is at the top, with that in mind:

SINGLE VALVE: it will be at the cold side. Handle of valve will point in the direction of flow, meaning if its pointed towards the line that goes into the heater then its in REGULAR mode ( hot water to trailer). If its pointed 90 degrees then its in BYPASS mode ( no flow to the heater). There is a check valve at the HOT OUT to prevent any back flow.

THREE VALVW: there will be a valve at the COLD IN, HOT OUT, and a line with a valve between the two. The COLD IN valve will point again to the flow of water. The difference is that the COLD IN and the HOT OUT have to be turned to PREVENT FLOW and the valve in the middle has to be turn to ALLOW FLOW to bypass the heater.

I hope this makes sense. In that video the cold valve was pointed UP to bypass the water heater


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Old 11-02-2019, 01:48 PM   #3
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The HWH - either the valve was not in position correctly or the check valve in the line is stuck open. Leaving the antifreeze in the hot water tank can create an issue as it's corrosive to the metal in the tank.
The issue you have with winterizing the way you did (via the freshwater tank) is:
That method requires a LOT more antifreeze
Now you have a fresh water tank with antifreeze in it that will require repeated flushing in the spring to remove the taste and the chemicals.
Most people will use the pump to directly pump the antifreeze thru a "winterizing pick up tube". That's a plastic line typically found close to the pump connected by a "T" fitting and a valve (like the winterizing valve on the HWH.
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Old 11-03-2019, 01:47 AM   #4
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It only has the one valve and I turned it like you mentioned and as shown in the video. Trying to upload a photo.
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Old 11-03-2019, 05:46 AM   #5
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I would guess that the backflow fitting on the hot outlet is either missing or malfunctioning. It is possible that when the tank was replaced, the fitting was left on the old tank and/or not installed in the new one. You can either add/replace the backflow fitting or convert to a three valve system.

As far as pumping antifreeze, you can pump direct from the bottle and use 2 gallons or less for the entire camper (We have a toilet, tub/shower, bath sink, kitchen sink, outside kitchen and outside shower). As a short-term solution, I bought a spare quick connect fitting for the pump, and added a 2’ piece of hose. I pull the quick fitting on the suction side of the pump, snap in my new short suction hose and pump right from the jug, then remove and reconnect the tank suction line. In the spring, I am going to add a tee valve into the tank suction line and permanently install the bottle draw line.

Pump off, all faucets and low point drains opened. Fresh water tank drained and valve left open. Water heater drained and bypass set. Air compressor to (gently) blow water out of lines, including black tank rinse line. Grey and black tanks rinsed, drained and valves closed. Low point drains closed to retain antifreeze. Close all faucets, connect antifreeze bottle draw and turn on pump. Starting at faucet furthest away, go to each faucet and open until you get antifreeze, hot then cold. Change bottle as needed. Flush toilet a few times leaving antifreeze in bowl. Now you have antifreeze in all plumbing lines, faucets, drains, traps, grey tank, black tank and pump.
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Old 11-03-2019, 06:12 AM   #6
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Dont forget to winterize the toilet and an outside shower and black tank rinse if you have them.

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Old 11-03-2019, 06:43 AM   #7
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I agree with Rob (NH_Bulldog). It's probably a defective bypass valve (unlikely) or a calcified (stuck open) backflow valve on the hot water outlet.

Essentially, I winterize using the same process as Rob. The exceptions are that I use a 4' piece of 1/2" clear vinyl tube with a 90 degree fitting to draw antifreeze into the pump. For me, I wouldn't install an additional 3 way valve to replace that device. On my system, and yours if you have a strainer/inlet screen (and you should if you don't), to protect the pump from debris in the fresh water tank, you'll still need to remove that strainer/screen to clean it every year. Seems to me "self defeating" to add a valve that might leak if you're going to be removing the pump input to clean it anyway...

Either method will work, but since I'm going to be unhooking the pump to clean the strainer anyway, seems simpler not to add another valve to the system.

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Old 11-05-2019, 03:47 PM   #8
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Have to agree with John here on not being eager to add a valve/hose when it's so easy to just unplug the intake line from the fresh water tank. And for us, that's only an annual event.

But I do have a question about pushing antifreeze down the black tank flush line. Have I just "dodged a bullet" for the past couple of years since we got into this? (271RL bought new in 2017) I haven't been adding antifreeze to the flush line since I have been under the impression it's just an 'open' line straight to the tank sprayer; any water injected while flushing drains into the black tank.

Not aware of any problems so far but, as I said, I could be just "dodging bullets". (And not the Keystone kind.... .)

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