dwight.hughes
HOW TO WINTERIZE YOUR RETRO 177se RV TRAILER


OVERVIEW:
It's that time of the year again.  Time to winterize your Retro RV trailer.  At the end of the camping season each year, prior to the first freeze, you will want to winterize your RV plumbing to prevent water freezing in the lines and causing pipes to burst.

TIME REQUIRED:  30 minutes

DIFFICULTY:  EASY

TOOLS & SUPPLIES:  One Philips screwdriver, 27mm socket, 4"+ socket extension, socket wrench, one gallon of RV Antifreeze, a few paper towels, tape

SAFETY NOTICE:  RV antifreeze IS NOT the same as automotive antifreeze.  RV antifreeze is essentially just alcohol with food coloring so it is reasonable safe in small residual amounts.  Conversely automotive antifreeze will KILL YOU!  It will be almost impossible to get it back out again so be very careful to use the right one. 



STEP 1:  Expel remaining water from the fresh water lines and tanks. 

  • Locate your fresh water tank underneath your trailer towards the back end, immediately back from the axle.  It has a small blue-color hose with a screw-on plug on the “passenger side” of the tank.  Remove the plug and allow all the water to drain out then replace the plug.
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  • Locate the undercarriage cold and hot water lines underneath your trailer, immediately in-front of the axle on the “driver side”. They have small blue-color and red-color hoses with a screw-on plugs.  Remove both plugs. Then turn both the hot and cold water knobs in the kitchen sink to the on/open position to allow all the water to drain out of the undercarriage lines.  Then replace the undercarriage line plugs and turn both kitchen sink knobs to the off/closed position.

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  • Locate the water heater access panel outside your trailer, towards the front end of the trailer on the “driver side”. Open the cover and inside you'll see the water heater pressure bypass valve at the top center inside.  Open the valve by puling the metal bar, flipping it like you would turn on/off a light switch until it is pointing strait outwards towards you.  Water may come gushing/spraying out.  After water ceases to come out close the valve by pulling the metal bar, flipping it like you would turn on/off a light switch until it is pointing either upwards or downwards.
  • Next, you'll see the water heater pressure anode rod at the bottom center inside, it looks like a large plug/bolt-head.  Use a 27mm socket and socket extension to remove the water heater anode rod by turning it counterclockwise.  Water will probably come gushing out.  Remove the rod completely and visually inspect it for corrosion. These rods are designed to corrode away over time.  If it no longer looks like a smooth rod you may want to replace it with a new one.  Also the threads may have a bit of plumbers tape on them and if this looks ward or is missing you should wrap some fresh plumbers tape around the threads.  After the water has ceased you want to replace the anode rod.  Screw it back in but this time use only your hands on the socket to tighten it down.  Do not over-tighten it, only hand tightening is allowed.

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STEP TWO:  Waterline Bypass Valves

  • You need to turn the waterline bypass valves to prevent the antifreeze getting into both the fresh water tank and also the water heater.  First, before we get started here is a quick review of how to know when a waterline valve is either in the open or closed position.

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Locate the water tank inside the RV trailer underneath the "driver side" dinette bench.  Remove both bench cushions and then lift up the plywood/OSB panel to expose the inside of the bench.  You will see the white-color tank insulation and several red-color and blue-color water lines.  There are three water line valves.  Find the two water lines going into the hot water tank and turn both of those valves to the CLOSED position.

Next, find the bypass water line that extends vertically between the red-color and blue-color lines and turn that valve to the OPEN position.

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Locate the water pump access panel inside the RV trailer underneath the refrigerator.  You'll need to use a Philips screwdriver to remove the two screws holding the cover plate in place.  Inside the opening you will see a blue-color water line for the fresh water tank, and you'll need to feel along that water line with your hand for the valve, located somewhere out of visible eye sight to the far left side inside of the opening.  Turn the valve to the CLOSED position.

Next, find the white-color water line which is only connected at one end, the other end is loose and you can pull it out of the opening towards you.  It has a valve on the line, turn this valve to the OPEN position.  Stick the loose end of the white-color water line into your gallon bottle of RV antifreeze.  Make sure to insert it until the hose extends all the way to the bottom of the container. Tape the water line at the top of the container to prevent it from coming out accidentally while the pump is running, but don't tape it air-tight, leave most of the antifreeze container hole exposed for air to backfill the container as the antifreeze is pumped out.

SAFETY NOTICE: RV antifreeze IS NOT the same as automotive antifreeze.  RV antifreeze is essentially just alcohol with food coloring so it is reasonable safe in small residual amounts.  Conversely automotive antifreeze will KILL YOU!  It will be almost impossible to get it back out again so be very careful to use the right one. 
  
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STEP THREE:  Fill the Water Lines with Antifreeze

Time to pump the RV antifreeze into the fresh water lines.  To do this turn on the pump.  If you have not already you'll need to ether have your battery in and on or be on shore power so the pump will run.

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Turn on/open the kitchen sink cold water and let the water run until it no-longer runs clear water, it eventually runs a pink-color (or whatever color your RV antifreeze is) when all the water is pushed out of the line and replaced by antifreeze.  Once this happens immediately turn off/close the kitchen sink cold water.

Repeat this with the hot water.  Turn on/open the kitchen sink hot water and let the water run until it no-longer runs clear water, note it may actually run antifreeze initially but let it run for a second or two longer as that was residual antifreeze in the faucet from the cold water side, the hot water will then begin to run clear and then when all the water is pushed out of the line and replaced by antifreeze immediately turn off/close the kitchen sink hot water.
  
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Same procedure again for the bathroom shower.  Turn on/open the shower cold water and let the water run out the shower head, preferably into the toilet, until it no-longer runs clear water, it eventually runs a pink-color (or whatever color your RV antifreeze is) when all the water is pushed out of the line and replaced by antifreeze.  Once this happens immediately turn off/close the shower cold water.

Repeat this with the hot water.  Turn on/open the shower hot water and let the water run until it no-longer runs clear water, note it may actually run antifreeze initially but let it run for a second or two longer as that was residual antifreeze in the long shower head hose from the cold water side, the hot water will then begin to run clear and then when all the water is pushed out of the line and replaced by antifreeze immediately turn off/close the shower hot water.

Next, flush the toilet.  Hold the flush pedal down until you see antifreeze streaming down the inside ofd the bowl.

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If you have the outside shower on your Retro...  Turn on/open the outside shower cold water and let the water run out the shower head until it no-longer runs clear water, it eventually runs a pink-color (or whatever color your RV antifreeze is) when all the water is pushed out of the line and replaced by antifreeze.  Once this happens immediately turn off/close the outside shower cold water.

Repeat this with the hot water.  Turn on/open the outside shower hot water and let the water run until it no-longer runs clear water, note it may actually run antifreeze initially but let it run for a second or two longer as that was residual antifreeze in the faucet from the cold water side, the hot water will then begin to run clear and then when all the water is pushed out of the line and replaced by antifreeze immediately turn off/close the outside shower hot water.

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Turn off the pump.  Remove the water line hose from the container of RV antifreeze.  Turn that white-color hose water line valve back to the CLOSED position and wipe of the hose with a paper towel and tuck it back inside the water pump access area.  Replace the cover plate and screw it back into place.

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Place the plywood/OSB panel back into position on the bench in the dining area.  Position the two cushions back into place.  With paper towels wipe up any residual antifreeze in the kitchen sink, bathroom area, etc.

Congratulations, your RV trailer is now winterized.  You can still take it out camping anytime now, you just can't use the plumbing (sink, shower, toilet).  We call this dry camping.  And actually there are some tricks to making dry-camping better.

Dwight's Dy Camping Tips...
We purchase a disposable gallon container of water at the grocery store and keep it by the toilet.  If you use the toilet just press the flush pedal and poor some of the water from the gallon jug into the bowl as rinse water.  And put a 2.5 gallon container at the sink, the disposable type of container with a open/close pull/push valve on it.  Available at most grocery stores.  Now we have sink water for brushing teeth, light dish duty, etc.
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Kathleen
Great instructions.  It really sounds easy.
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sunvalleyjoe
great info and photos GBA!!SVJ
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Tom
One last note on antifreeze from (begin dramatic voice here) ...   SAFETY MAN!!!

Be sure to rinse out your system well in the spring. 
This stuff is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS),
but still isn't something you want to be drinking.

Here are some Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for the first product that came up on Google.
An SDS is available for any product from the manufacturer. 
But you have to ask for it and then actually read it.
Be informed, you are your best guardian.  🙂

SDS for "ethanol" based antifreeze:  https://peakauto.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/PEAK-50-F-RV-Marine-Antifreeze.pdf

SDS for "propylene glycol" (the safe glycol) based antifreeze:  https://peakauto.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/PEAK-RV-and-Marine-Antifreeze-50-F-Burst-PKR.pdf
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Shelleybean
That was so helpful- my hoses are under my cooktop area, so have to remove the draw- I have 181 retro- didn’t know I hose for antifreeze there! Thanks!
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