How to winterize a travel trailer by blowing out the lines
We were backing out of the driveway, taking off into town yesterday when my son piped up, “Mom, it’s 1 degree out! It’s nearly ready to snow, right?!”
Yes son, it’s nearly ready to snow. And good golly, I could have burst my travel trailer plumbing system due to freezing! I had forgotten to drain the the water lines and no one needs pipes to freeze and burst.
The typical way to winterize a travel trailer is to pour rv antifreeze down all the lines. However once spring arrives, the drinking water pipes require thorough rinsing before you can drink from the rv again. I’ve never loved this thought.
So I have a special way to winterize an rv that leaves your entire water system drinking lines totally chemical-free!
Here is how to winterize a travel trailer by blowing out the lines with compressed air, alleviating the need for gallons of antifreeze through your drinking lines!
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How to winterize a travel trailer by blowing out the lines
Rv wintering supplies:
Air compressor with a tire pump tip
Insulated rubber boots (you’ll thank me later)
Tools to remove caps where needed.
Why water lines must be winterized
Every winter before it freezes, it’s important to winterize any trailer that has running water capabilities.
Winterizing a travel trailer basically means removing all standing water inside any interior water pipes.
For if you don’t, the pipes or the hot water tank could expand and burst from the ice.
Which can lead to endless leaks and some very expensive rv plumbing repair work.
When is the best time to winterize a trailer?
The best time to winterize an rv is right after the last time you use your trailer for the year before it freezes.
If you use your trailer while it sits at home year around, just remember to winterize before the freezing temperatures officially arrive by insulating all the pipes so they don’t freeze.
2 winterizing methods
There are two main ways to remove the water from the lines. Either way works however they both require different steps.
Be sure to refer to your owners manual to locate where all your rv pipes are located to ensure you understand how they all connect.
1. With RV antifreeze
1. One way is via a small pump that pushes RV non-toxic antifreeze through everything. This includes the drinking water lines.
The con with that is you have to flush out your system really well come spring so you don’t end up ingesting antifreeze remnants from your drinking water.
If you use this method, use only non-toxic rv antifreeze and be sure to use a water heater bypass kit as well as closing off your fresh water tank storage. You will also require a pump.
Please learn how to use this method from knowledgeable sources so it’s done safely.
2. Blowing out the lines with air
2. My preferred way to winterize a travel trailer is by blowing out the lines with compressed air.
An air compressor has the ability to push every drop of water out of the pipes, leaving them perfectly dry and clean before they have a chance to freeze.
This method is clean, quick, and of course a great way to bypass using rv antifreeze in your fresh water drinking lines!
I learned how to do this by another camper at a campsite. By helping him do his, I learned how so I could do mine once I returned home.
So this is how he taught me to winterize a travel trailer by blowing out the lines, and I’ve been doing it like this ever since.
How to drain the hot water heater tank
1. Drain the hot water tank first.
- Ensure water tank is cool.
- Unscrew the water tank cap and allow to drain.
- Do the same to any other water holding tanks you may have as well.
- Important: be sure to close them all up again before using air
Just be sure to stand back or you’ll get a few showers… ask me how I know.
How to blow out the lines with air
A blow plug is a simple adaptor that screws onto your outdoor water intake valve. It is teamed up with an air compressor to push water out of any rv lines. They are easily found in most rv supply places.
Here’s how to use it.
How to use a blow plug
2. Turn down the air compressor to a pressure between to 30-40 psi.
3. Attach a blow out plug to your water intake valve.
4. Standing by the blow out plug outdoors, have someone go inside the trailer and turn off every tap faucet. Then go to the closest faucet to the outdoor plug. This will likely be the kitchen sink.
Have them turn on just the hot OR cold tap (not both) and to yell and let you know when the water has stopped running once you start blowing air through the lines.
5. Using the air compressor, blow air through the blow out valve with a tire pump tip attached to the hose, until you hear their ok.
6. Once dry, have them turn off the one tap, then turn on the other.
7. Once all the water has stopped running through the taps inside, turn off the taps to that sink completely, then move to the next closest set of taps and repeat.
Do this with every tap, including the toilet lever.
- Take some breaks rather than push the air through all at once. It’s easier on the lines. And your freezing hands…
- Leave your socket where the hot water tank drain resides.
Just leave it there. Year around. It sure beats tripping over crap in your garage, and going through 5082 tool sockets trying to find one that fits!
8. Pour some rv antifreeze down each drain, then cover with drain plugs.
9. Also pour some antifreeze into the toilet bowl, then flush, and top up a little more inside the bowl to protect the valve inside.
This helps keep the grey and black water tanks, p traps and lines from freezing in case there’s still some water present.
Just be sure to drain the black and grey tanks completely before winter sets in.
You are done! And are free to change your wet shoes and head into town.
And here’s why it was a VERY good idea to delay our trip to town. An icicle transpired the very next AM!
Why I don’t do this when it’s warm and lovely out in September, I’ll never know.
But I do suggest to winterize your travel trailer pipes for storage before it gets cold if you have the chance.
Other helpful travel trailer winterizing tips:
- Turn off the fridge and leave the main and freezer / ice maker doors wide open to allow them to air out.
- Remove bedding to avoid it becoming damp unless you heat the interior.
- Store boxed or bagged food products that need to stay dry in your house.
- Place moisture eliminating products inside the rv and closets. This reduces the build-up of mildew and condensation.
- Consider running a small, safe rv heater on a timer on low to keep the air from freezing, to reduce the chance of mold and mildew growing. A heater that stops when it falls is safest.
- Store extra non-toxic rv antifreeze in case you wish to top up the drains and toilet over winter.
- Keep rv batteries protected and topped up with water or bring them indoors.
- Ensure propane tanks are turned off and well protected.
- Check all rubber moldings and caulk where needed to avoid water leaks.
- Clean cupboards and hiding places to keep free of pests.
- Stock some fuel stabilizer in case some of your gas gets water in it.
- Go over the manufacturer’s instructions to see if you’ve missed anything that needs winterizing.
Aren’t you looking forward to fresh clean drinking water you won’t need to filter next spring?!
I really hope these tips on how to winterize a travel trailer by blowing out the lines with compressed air have been helpful!
Think you’ll give this method a go this season?
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Other helpful RV posts you may enjoy:
- special water hookups that help
- see-through must-get sewer adapters
- how to easily jack the trailer up
- outdoor campsite setups
and much more!
I kid you not. And here I nearly got a new door!