Last updated on June 5th, 2023 at 12:07 pm
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There are two methods of RV winterization, the first involves blowing out the water lines using compressed air and the second uses RV-specific antifreeze through the water system.
Both methods can be used to protect the plumbing system from freezing temperatures but they need to be completed correctly in order to work.
But which is the better winterization method, blowing out RV water lines or using antifreeze?
Both methods of RV winterization are effective. Blowing out RV water lines with compressed air is a safe and cost-effective way of winterizing your RV, but it needs to be done correctly to work well against freezing temperatures. Using antifreeze for winterization is a popular, reliable, and quick RV winterization method but isn’t environmentally friendly.
When deciding which winterization method to choose, it’s important to look at both methods in detail to see which is best for your RV water system.
Blowing Out RV Water Lines vs Antifreeze?
Winterizing your RV is a must and involves using either compressed air or antifreeze through your system to prevent your water lines from freezing. Both methods have upsides and downsides so you will need to choose the method that will work best for you and your RV.
Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of both, as well as the step-by-step processes involved in each winterization method.
What are the Advantages of Blowing Out RV Water Lines with Compressed Air?
Blowing air through your plumbing system to remove water from the pipes has many advantages. Let’s explore some of the main benefits of choosing this winterization method.
1. Less Risky
One of the biggest worries people often have when it comes to winterizing their RV, is using antifreeze through the plumbing system and small amounts being left behind after de-winterization.
Compressed air doesn’t come with the same risks, as it is a chemical-free method of protecting your water pipes from the cold. It also doesn’t make the water taste strange; a common problem with using antifreeze for winterization.
2. De-winterizing Process is Easier
Winterizing your RV using compressed air means the de-winterization process will be both easier and faster than using antifreeze. This is because flushing all the residual antifreeze out from the water system requires quite a lot of effort and water!
Although you’ll still want to sanitize your water system before heading off on the road for spring camping adventures, the overall process can be completed far quicker, as there is no risk of chemicals being left in your water pipes.
3. Cheaper Long-Term
There is an upfront cost to blowing out your RV lines as you’ll need to buy specific equipment fit for the job, such as an air compressor and blow out plug. Once these items are bought, however, there is no further cost involved and you can keep using the equipment each year as winter approaches.
What are the Disadvantages of Blowing Out RV Water Lines for Winterization?
While there are many advantages of blowing out your water lines with air, there are some downsides to this method too.
1. Water Can Be Left Behind
If you don’t get rid of all the water in the lines of your plumbing system, small amounts will remain in the pipes and may freeze when temperatures plummet over winter.
When blowing out the water lines using an air compressor, be sure to complete the process thoroughly and remove as much water as possible to get the best results.
It’s always best to take things slow and use the right equipment.
2. Risk of Damaging the Plumbing System
Using an air compressor and blow out plug can be daunting and trust me, I know new equipment can be a little scary!
Blowing air through your system at a pressure that’s too high can cause damage to the plumbing, resulting in costly repairs. When in doubt, always read the instruction manual, and for blowing out your water lines, be sure your psi is set to the right setting.
3. Still May Require Antifreeze
The process of blowing out the lines themselves doesn’t require the use of antifreeze, however, in your toilet and drains, you may still want to use a small amount of antifreeze for additional winter protection.
What are the Advantages of Using Antifreeze for Winterization?
Using antifreeze to protect your RV from the winter season is a method trusted by many, and has a range of benefits. It’s vital to use RV-specific antifreeze and choose the one best suited to you and your RV.
1. Antifreeze is Widely Available
Most hardware or automotive stores stock antifreeze, so it’s a method widely available. RV antifreeze is non-toxic, as it is designed to be used in RV water systems. Normal automotive antifreeze is very different as it contains the toxic chemical ethylene glycol, whereas RV antifreeze contains the non-toxic propylene glycol.
2. Reliable Method
Antifreeze works well even in ice cold temperatures and is a method recommended if your RV will be stored in low temperatures over winter. Antifreeze is reliable in preventing water pipes from cracking under cold temperatures, which can be a costly repair.
3. Simple Process
The process of winterizing an RV with antifreeze is easy and can be completed in next to no time. It’s also a useful method if you decided to winterize your RV a little too late, as the antifreeze can get to work and flow through your pipes in minutes once the process has been started.
What are the Disadvantages of Using Antifreeze?
Antifreeze is a straightforward method of winterizing your RV, but it does have some flaws, particularly when it comes to the environment and the hassle of finding somewhere to safely dispose of it.
1. Not Environmentally Friendly
One of the biggest drawbacks of using antifreeze is that it isn’t very environmentally friendly. When using antifreeze, it’s important to dispose of it correctly and make sure it doesn’t come into contact with your environment or get ingested by pets as it is poisonous to animals.
2. Expensive Long Term
Once you’ve used antifreeze through your water system, you can’t drain and reuse it again next year. This means using antifreeze for winterization can be expensive in the long run as you’ll have to buy a new container every time.
3. Longer De-Winterization Process
When spring camping season arrives and the de-winterization of your RV begins, it’s a lengthy process to get all the antifreeze out from the water system. The system will need to be flushed thoroughly and sanitized to make sure every last drop of antifreeze has been washed out from the water pipes.
4. Weird Taste
If the antifreeze isn’t rinsed out from the water wipes thoroughly enough and a little bit remains, it can make the water have a strange, unpleasant taste. To avoid this, you need to complete the sanitizing process efficiently and flush the system well enough.
I’ve rushed the de-winterization process before and it honestly isn’t worth cutting any corners. If you use antifreeze in your water system, flush it through well and get rid of all the pink stuff!
Which Method is Best?
Both methods of RV winterization are effective and have different upsides and downsides. Antifreeze may be a better option if your RV is going to be stored in a particularly cold climate as it performs well in low temperatures. Blowing out your water lines with air also has many benefits and is a safe, environmentally friendly option.
My best piece of advice would be to choose the method that suits your RV and your location for winter the best. This will be personal to you, so don’t worry too much about what other RVers are doing, and trust your gut – and the owner’s manual!
If you decide to use antifreeze in your water system, make sure you check the manufacturer’s guidance to make sure it’s a suitable option for your system. Only non-toxic, RV-specific antifreeze should be used to prevent any damage from coming to the water system.
How to Blow Out RV Water Lines with Compressed Air
Blowing compressed air through your water system is an effective way of protecting your RV and its components from the cold. Although there are a few steps involved in the process, it’s fairly simple, so take your time when doing this for the first time.
What You’ll Need:
It’s worth investing in the right equipment as nothing is worse than starting the process, only to realize you don’t have all the tools.
Having the correct equipment is essential for blowing out your water lines effectively and safely. It’s worth investing in a high-quality air compressor that will help winterize your RV for many winter seasons to come!
Blow-Out Adaptor Plug
Using a blow-out plug is an important part of the process as it helps prevent damage from coming to the water lines. If for whatever reason, you can’t seem to find your blow-out plug or your RV doesn’t have one, you can buy them at hardware stores.
When draining out the black waste, make sure to use the sewer hose to avoid any contamination.
Step 1: Cut The Power
Before you begin the process of winterizing your RV, make sure you cut the power and turn the gas off too. By taking safety precautions like this, you can take away potential risks like the water being heated up whilst you are completing the air compressor process.
Step 2: Turn Off Water Supply
The next step is to turn the water supply off and allow it to drain out through the faucets in the RV. Make sure to wait a minimum of an hour if the water heater has recently been used as no one wants boiling water splashing out from all the faucets!
This is a good time to drain the freshwater tank along with the gray and black water tanks as these need to be protected from winter too.
To speed up the process, check if your freshwater tank has a manual clear out. If it does, the tank can be drained directly out from the bottom, but make sure you’re in the correct place such as a dump station to do this.
Step 3: Finish Draining and Disconnect Water Pipes
After checking all the water has drained out from the system, disconnect the water pipes along with the inlet and outlet water connections, any inline water filters, or water filter additions to your plumbing setup.
Step 4: Locate Blow-Out Plug
The blow-out plug needs to be screwed on well to the water inlet on the outside of the RV. Once it’s on there tightly, the air compressor can be attached too, as it’s nearly time to get started with blowing out the lines!
Step 5: Use the Air Compressor
Air compressors are commonly used to pump up tires, but they are also the perfect tool to blow out your RV water lines. Remember not to set your PSI too high, as blowing air through your water system at a pressure that’s too high can cause a whole load of problems. The recommended pressure for blowing out RV water lines is between 30 and 40 PSI.
When no more water is dripping out from the shower or faucets, the process is complete! Make sure to remove as much water as possible from the water lines, as even a small amount left behind can freeze and cause the lines to crack and burst.
Blowing out the water lines can be intimidating, especially if this is your first winter season with an RV! The video above is an awesome step-by-step guide to completing this process correctly, so you can get it right the first time.
How to Winterize RV Water Lines Using Antifreeze
Using antifreeze to prevent your RV water lines from freezing is a great method and can be finished pretty quickly too. Before going ahead and pumping antifreeze through your water pipes, be sure to check the manufacturer’s guide in case you can’t use it in your system.
What You’ll Need:
There may be less equipment involved in the antifreeze winterization process, but you still need to use the right tools to get the job done right.
RV-specific antifreeze is the only type that should be used through your water lines as it is designed to be used in RV water systems. The chemicals are very different from normal automotive antifreeze, so my best piece of advice is to double-check the label before putting it in your system.
Water Heater Bypass Kit
Antifreeze can damage the water filter so it’s important to either remove the filter or buy a filter bypass kit. If your water heater doesn’t already have a filter bypass kit, it’s worth installing one as otherwise, the water heater will fill up with antifreeze before it even makes it into the lines. This wastes a substantial amount of antifreeze as it can’t be reused again next winter.
Step 1: Turn off Electrical Power and Gas
It’s better to be safe than sorry, so before starting the antifreeze winterization process, turn off any power or gas supply. Whether you choose the antifreeze method or the compressed air method, always make sure the power doesn’t stay turned on.
Step 2: Cut Water Supply
Turn off the water supply and if the water heater has been in recent use, give it an hour or so to cool off. Open up the faucets throughout the RV and let the water drain out. Once the water has finished dripping out from the faucets, turn them back off again.
Step 3: Pump the Antifreeze
Once the inlet side of the water pump has been disconnected, you can attach a tube from the water pump inlet to the container of RV antifreeze. Turn the water pump on and one by one, open both the hot and cold faucets in the RV along with the shower.
The antifreeze is easily noticeably due to its pink color, so once you see the pink liquid coming out from the faucets, turn them off as the process is complete!
Step 4: Pour Antifreeze into Drains
It’s also worth pouring a small amount of antifreeze down each drain throughout the RV, especially if the temperatures are sub-zero. Also, don’t make the same mistake as me and forget to winterize your RV toilet. Be on the safe side and put some antifreeze down the toilet too!
This video provides an ideal breakdown of each step of winterizing your RV using antifreeze. As mentioned in the video, it’s best to make sure this method is suitable for your system. If using antifreeze isn’t recommended for your water system, it’s best to go with the compressed air winterization method.
When choosing which RV winterization method is best for you and your rig, the most important thing is that you complete the process safely and effectively.
Blowing out RV water lines takes a longer time to complete but requires no chemicals, whereas the antifreeze method is quick and easy but isn’t the most environmentally friendly option.