Food for thought on winterizing Airstreams.
This page is for general information on winterizing concerns as it
relates to Airstream units, with an extra emphasis on older units.
Basically winterizing is getting the water out of the pipes and tanks so that when it gets cold enough to freeze water, your unit won't be damaged from the expanding ice. There is more to winterizing a unit than just getting the water out of the pipes, like battery storage etc. , but water damage is all we are going to address here.
The best way to winterize a unit is to blow out the lines, drain the tanks and put freeze-ban in the lines as well as the P-traps. The easiest way to do that is with a by-pass on the water heater. However, Airstream has been around well before By-pass kits were
common place on RV's. Somewhere around 1987 Airstream started to put by-pass valves on their units, so the chances are, if your unit made before that it does not have a by-pass on the water heater.
The water heater by-pass does just what it says. It by-passes the water heater
so that when you get ready to winterize the unit you won't have to pump 6 or 10
gallons of Freeze-Ban into the water heater. Most units, with a by-pass should use
between 1.5 to3 gallons of freeze-ban.
Below is a picture of a water heater tank with the insulation taken off.
You will notice the arrows. The green arrows show how the freeze ban
travels in the bypass hose.
If your unit does not have a bypass you might want to get one on there.
However, getting one on there if your unit has cooper lines is another story.
The parts you see in the above picture is the easy part.
Getting the copper lines to interface with what you see is the pictures
is the hard part. What makes it hard is the rigid-ness of the thick copper line.
Below are pictures and links to bypass kits we have
in our parts store. If you are wanting to install one of them
on an Airstream you will need other parts from a local hardware store.
I would suggest taking a picture of the back of your water heater, and
printing it out, so the when you get to the store you will have something
to look at as a reference. It may just cut down on your trips back and forth.
Click on the picture, to see these products in our parts store.
Once there, you can hit your back button to get back here.
This item attaches onto the intake side of the water pump in a tee fasten. The hose
pulls the freeze ban out of the bottle. The freeze ban has some properties
that keep the rubber diaphragm moist. It is good for
extending the life of the water pump.
This is a much easier install than the bypass kit.
This plug allows you to blow the lines with an air compressor. This by itself
is not a good winterizing method, but if old man winter sneaks up on you
and you kept putting off winterizing because you thought you might use it "one more time", this is better than nothing.
Not the best way, but helpful in a time pinch.
The other thing to keep in mind is that the furnace of the unit expels warm
air into the lower compartment to keep freezing water from doing damage. Keep in mind that is the furnace. Space heaters left running up in the living area is not the same.
That does not get heat down stairs where damage could occur.
Another thought about winterizing is that some people think that if you in Tennessee
and south all you need to do is blow out the lines. I would say south of Atlanta Ga.
I have seen to many time where people had 2 to 3 thousand dollars of repair
bills from freeze damage. The part that get so pricey is the labor. It takes time
to get to all those tight places.
As always your comments and feedback are welcome.