“Tis the season” and whether you like it or not, winter is here and temperatures are dropping fast. You may not be a snowbird, but every van owner ends up somewhere with freezing temperatures. At OHV, we try to make winterization as low-maintenance as possible. The process is extremely simple, so don’t worry if you’ve never done it before.
Before getting started, you’ll want to make sure you have the following - antifreeze (3-4 gallons), a hand pump, and/or an air compressor. It’s possible wrenches and pliers might be needed, but most valves should turn by hand. OHV provides customers with a pump in their maintenance kit at delivery. If you haven’t received a pump/lost your pump, please feel free to contact us to get a new one sent your way.
Pro Tip: Make sure to use RV antifreeze, and not regular vehicle antifreeze. While regular antifreeze will get the job done, it is also extremely toxic. RV antifreeze is specially designed not to harm humans and animals if ingested, should remain in the system.
When it comes to winterization, there are basically two options - either pump antifreeze through the system or use an air compressor to blow out the lines. Some van owners like to take every precaution and use both procedures to ensure zero water system damage.
1. Drain the Tank
Regardless of which procedure you choose, draining the tank is applicable to both. This is the first step to getting rid of the bulk of the water in the system. Simply locate the valve, open, and let drain until water stops pouring. These valves connect to the grey tank and are located externally. If the van has a water heater, its tank will have a separate drain valve which will need to be opened to release another 4-5 gallons of water housed in the system.
You’ll also want to turn on your water pump and open faucets (sink, shower, etc.) to empty any water in the lines. Do this until water starts sputtering, then move on to the next step.
2. Circulate with Antifreeze
Antifreeze ensures van protection because it flushes all water out of the system, whereas blowing out the lines can leave some water remaining to accumulate in low points or valves that could result in damage. First, you’ll need to use a pump to transfer the antifreeze into the water tank. Once in the tank, turn on the water pump and open faucets one at a time (sink, shower, etc.) to begin flushing the lines. When pink fluid begins running out of each faucet, you know the antifreeze has traveled through the entire system. You’ll want to make sure you pump antifreeze through both hot and cold lines since they are separate and if you have a water heater, pull the water filter before circulating antifreeze. If you forget, replacement filters are inexpensive and easy to find.
Antifreeze is safe to leave in water lines for up to 4 years with most brands. But some people prefer not to leave it in the system during the cold months because it can leave a bitter taste to water when de-winterized in the Spring. For that reason, you may want to drain the antifreeze out of the van. Remember, antifreeze is reusable and can be saved for next year. It’s also biodegradable and non-toxic, meaning it can be flushed down any sanitary sewer.
3. Connect to Air Compressor
This step is totally optional and can even be used as an alternative to antifreeze. If you don’t have an air compressor, renting from a hardware store for a small fee is a great option. A lot of power is not necessary - a simple and small machine will even do the trick. OHV also installs onboard air compressors as one of our many upgrades.
Before blowing out the lines, make sure the tanks and lines have been drained of the majority of water or antifreeze in the system.
Pro Tip: Do not exceed 10-15 psi. Doing so will result in damaged water lines/connections. Make sure to blow out both hot and cold lines; the process usually takes less and 30 minutes.
Throughout most of North America, temperatures can drop below freezing for the majority of the year (September-April). As a result, we offer our 4-season package which eliminates the need to winterize. Along with doubled insulation, the package includes a glycol heating system that circulates through the vehicle to prevent water from freezing.
While totally separate from the engine, it runs along all water lines and tanks, keeping them warm. Heat transfers easily from the glycol because of adjacent lines and due to the fact that the glycol heater and water tank are housed in the same unit. All you have to do is make sure the electric heat is turned on and the van is plugged into shore power.
Don’t have an OHV van?
There are a lot of van configurations and setups out there, each one is going to vary in its winterization procedure, but the principles are generally the same. The goal is to get as much water as possible out of the system. It’s inevitable that some droplets will remain - but not to worry - only bigger pools of water left in freezing temperatures will expand lines causing damage. Following the procedure listed out above will likely get your van winterized successfully.
Technical information varies from build to build as hookups, valves, and drain plugs can be placed in numerous locations. The most important aspect is to simply get water out of the system. Be aware of weather patterns in your area and plan to winterize if temperatures are expected to drop below 40 degrees F.
As with everything we build, we aspire for quality and simplicity. Our engineering background allows us to create builds that are both efficient and easily serviceable. If you have any questions about our winterization process, you can contact our shop directly by emailing our shop manager at email@example.com.