(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the time to start winterizing our RVs. And when it comes to Roadtreks, it seems there are as many suggested ways to winterize as there are Roadtrek models. Lynn and Roger Brucker have put together a four-part series for us that applies specifically to their 1995 Dodge Roadtrek 190 Popular. Now most of these suggestions will also apply to other models but you will likely find differences in yours. If in doubt, check your manual for your specific RV. I'll do one in a week or so on how to wintnerize an eTrek, for those of you with newer Sprinter models – Mike Wendland)
It is that time of year for many of us. Temperatures are dipping below freezing at night. We've already seen snow flakes the size of dinner plates and it is not yet Halloween.
Winterizing your Roadtrek is not hard, or even very time consuming. And if you travel to the south in the winter and back before spring you will get to winterize and de-winterize on the road. Be sure to carry the necessary tools with you – especially the socket to remove the water heater anode.
The most time consuming part is draining the fresh water tank. It seems to take forever. So that is the first thing you want to do. The fresh water tank drain pipe is located next to the dump hose on our Roadtrek – under the driver's flip-up step. Check your manual if you don't know where yours is located.
If your Roadtrek has this same design you will need an adjustable wrench for the plug and pliers to keep the pipe from twisting as you screw the plug. Remember, turn counter-clockwise to remove the plug.
Now go have a cup of coffee while you wait for it to drain. Or if you forgot, go to Walmart or your local RV place for 2 gallons of RV antifreeze (if you have a water heater bypass) or 8 gallons of RV antifreeze if you don't. And be sure to get RV anti-freeze. It is non-toxic and is safe to use in a fresh water system.
The next step is to drain your water heater. We're assuming a Suburban water heater, not one of those fancy schmacy things like Mike has. This is where you need some special tools. If you don't have them, get them and carry them with you. You can get decent cheap hand tools at Harbor Freight.
You need these to remove the anode and drain the water heater. First take the cover off the water heater. You twist the latch at the top to line it up with the slot and tip the cover forward. It sits on two pins at the bottom. Set the cover aside in a safe place. You don't want to step on it.
Now find the anode. It is at the bottom center. The job of the anode is to “sacrifice” itself to save the tank from corrosion. So you need to check the anode annually to make sure it still has enough material left to do its job. If all you see is a skinny wire, you have waited too long to replace it.
Before you attempt to remove the anode you want depressurize the water system. The water pump should be off. Open both the hot and cold water at the sink to make sure nothing comes out. If there is any pressure, not only could the anode come flying out, but so will six gallons of water – and it will happen too quickly to get out of the way (don't ask how we know).
Now pull the anode out, but stay clear of the water that will follow. This anode looks good. It has some crud on it, but that can be cleaned off, but it is only somewhat pitted. Fine shape for another year. There are too types of anode rods, aluminum and magnesium. Generally it seems that magnesium is preferred unless you get sulfur smelling water or the anode is used up in less than a year, then switch to the aluminum rod. The aluminum rod will last longer, but the magnesium one may protect the tank better. This rod is aluminum and shows little corrosion. Perhaps we should switch to a magnesium rod?
Once the water has drained from the tank use a hose to flush any deposits out. There is a special wand you can get at Camping World, but you can manage with a standard hose nozzle to generate some high pressure water. Once you stop getting crud out of the tank, you can put fresh Teflon tape on the anode threads and reinstall.
If the water has stopped draining from your fresh water tank you can replace the drain plug. You are now ready for Part 2 of our series on RV winterizing.