My first camping trip after winterizing was an exercise in patience and problem-solving. I was out alone with my eight-year-old and had never been through a de-winterizing before. The dealership winterized for us this first time because I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize the warranty. Also, I am a newbie and am not confident I’d do it correctly. Before the trip, I flushed out the antifreeze and thought I was ready to roll! Not so fast.
Once at the campsite, I hooked up, flicked on the hot water heater switch to electric and waited for the water to warm up while I played cards with my daughter. An hour or so later I turned on the kitchen hot water tap to wash my hands and a single, lonely drip of water fell onto my soapy hands. No water pressure to speak of. I didn’t turn on the pump because I knew we had the city water connection hooked up and the cold water tap worked perfectly. Hot water was nonexistent.
Was it the water heater? I went outside to assess the situation and the water heater definitely was getting the signal to heat up so I turned it off and looked up videos on YouTube to help get me out of this jam! I was so lucky to have a cell signal!
I determined the lack of water pressure had to be a closed valve from winterizing. I read that these are located behind the water heater. Our water heater is in the back of the coach but I didn’t see an interior access to it. I started digging like a mad woman. I eventually determined it had to be under the bottom bunk, but lifting up the mattress I noticed all the sections of the base were screwed in. Do I disassemble the bed? That can’t be right. They would at least put a hinge where we could access the valves, right? No. I indeed did have to unscrew the board to get down there and the dealership screwed it back down after they turned off the valves while winterizing. Not intuitive, but I was really proud of myself for figuring it out!
In the photo above there are three water valves that were all turned to the closed position. If the valve is turned perpendicular to the direction of the pipe, that is off and if the valve ends are pointed in the same direction as the pipe, they are on allowing water to flow through. In the photo above all the valves are preventing water from passing. I turned them all on and instantly heard the rush of glorious water flowing into the heater. I was thrilled!! Success!
I wiggled out the cramped space to hear water rushing in another area of the trailer. It wasn’t coming from inside so I ran outside to find water rushing out of the outdoor shower door, which was locked closed. I couldn’t find my keys. My eight-year-old was hugging her stuffed animal in a death strangle as I ran around the trailer screaming, “My keys! My keys!” I turned off the main water connection to buy myself some time and eventually found my keys (inside the trailer instruction binder I was using to help solve this debacle in the first place). I unlocked the outside shower door and turned the water off. The dealership evidently left it on during winterizing. I could now turn the main water connection back on and the water heater back on.
Think that was all? Close, but the water was lukewarm and my shower was very unsatisfying! I made one big mistake. If you look back at the photo of the heater valves, there are three:
- One red pipe coming from the water heater (hot = red)
- One white cold water pipe sending water into the heater (white = cold)
- One red and white pipe with a valve between each color
The red and white connection mixes the hot and cold water and I opened this. I’m sure there’s a good reason for it but I don’t know what that is yet – I’ll probably figure it out when I winterize myself next time. The mixing valve needs to be turned off so hot water doesn’t mix with the cold.
Now, with the hot and cold valves open and the mix closed, I was able to successfully take a shower without freezing my ass off.