Having an RV has its own perks, but it needs a lot of maintenance, especially in winters. When the winter arrives, the piping system in the RV starts freezing. As a result, the pipes expand and even break sometimes.
If you live in a state where it snows, you need to winterize your piping system. For this purpose, you need to buy an RV antifreeze before the winter approaches. The winterizing process is mandatory, and the cheapest solution is antifreeze.
I have written a detailed guide for you so you can understand what RV antifreeze is and how it works.
What is RV Antifreeze?
Why get into the hassle of changing the piping system every year when you can avoid the breaking of pipes? The RV piping system is narrow, which expands in winter. As the temperature drops below freezing point, it results in expanding or breaking of the pipe.
An RV antifreeze is used to protect your piping system from freezing in winter. This liquid antifreeze is a great way to winterize the RV and prevent any damages caused to your piping system.
The process of winterizing is mandatory for every RV owner if you want to avoid the extra cost of changing pipes. The process of changing an entire plumbing system is quite daunting and time-consuming.
Types of RV Antifreeze
You can find three types of RV antifreeze in the market on the basis of ingredients. All of them have their own pros and cons, you can decide which antifreeze is best for you, but it is better to consult an RV professional.
Ethanol Based Antifreeze
The most common and readily available non-toxic antifreeze is Ethanol. You can use it to winterize the plumbing system; however, ethanol is only suitable with either Quest or Pex lines as it taints the pipes. It is available at a lower price on every hardware store or RV shop.
Despite being the cheapest antifreeze, many RVers do not prefer using it. The reason behind this is, the ethanol leaves a bad taste in water pipes, which remains there for a long time. Moreover, it has alcohol that dries out the rubber seal present in your toilets.
Not only that, the ethanol is extremely flammable, which is quite dangerous to handle. Also, it may cause severe damage in the case of mishandling.
Propylene Glycol Based Antifreeze
The Propylene Glycol based antifreeze is one of the best antifreezes for your piping systems. Like ethanol antifreeze, propylene glycol is also non-toxic antifreeze, but you will have a hard time finding it at RV shops.
Propylene glycol is safe for all kinds of RV plumbings, and it doesn’t leave any sort of bad taste or smell in the water. Instead of drying out, the propylene glycol antifreeze acts as a lubricant to extend the lives of the rubber seals.
In addition, it is not hazardous at all, unlike Ethanol based antifreeze. The pros make the propylene glycol antifreeze the absolute favorite for every RVer. However, all these advantages come at a higher cost, the propylene glycol is expensive, and you can’t find it at any hardware store.
Propylene/ Ethanol Blend Antifreeze
As the name states, propylene/ethanol blend antifreeze has the contents of both propylene and ethanol. It has alcohol that dries out the rubber seals of the pipes. Moreover, it is flammable and leaves a bad taste in the pipeline as well.
However, the blend antifreeze is not popular among RVers due to the presence of alcohol and other cons. You can find the antifreeze from some RV shops as it is not commonly available.
How Does Antifreeze Work?
As winterizing your RV is essential, you can either do it on your own or take it to the local RV maintenance shop. The antifreeze works when you drain the plumbing system until water comes out completely.
When you are sure there is no more water left, pour antifreeze solution into the water tanks. The liquid will reach the drain valves and seals. You can apply the same method on every drain and pipe in the RV.
The RV antifreeze increases the freezing temperature much below so that the pipes don’t damage when it is cold outside. It takes a lot of time and effort to winterize, but the process is worthwhile when you go for your next trip after winters.
How to Use the RV Antifreeze?
Many people use the RV antifreeze in the wrong way, and if you are one of them, you need to stop right away. Using the RV antifreeze after diluting with water is not the right way to use it.
The diluted antifreeze will reduce the effect of antifreeze, resulting in improper winterizing. Moreover, once you have drained the water content to stop it from expanding, the diluting antifreeze may not prevent the expanding and breaking of the piping system.
You need to directly pour the antifreeze from the bottle into the drains for an accurate outcome.
Can Normal Antifreeze be Used for RV?
If you think normal antifreeze can be used for winterizing the RV, you are wrong! There is a lot of difference between a normal antifreeze and an RV antifreeze.
RV antifreeze is non-toxic and specially composed to winterize in RV. Unlike other automobiles, RV has freshwater drains that you cannot winterize with a normal antifreeze.
The normal antifreeze is toxic in nature, and it is used in the engines only. If you want to differentiate both by looking at them, normal antifreeze mostly comes in green color.
Color of the RV Antifreeze
As the RV antifreeze is different from normal antifreeze, you will commonly find the RV antifreeze in pink color or sometimes in blue color.
Both Ethanol and Propylene Glycol antifreeze are available in pink color, so make sure you’re choosing the right one for your RV.
Do RV Antifreeze Get Frozen?
When the water in the pipes freeze, it expands and breaks the pipes. The antifreeze is poured in the pipes to avoid damage, but when the temperature drops down to -50 F, does the RV antifreeze freeze or not?
Definitely yes! Just like any other liquid, an RV antifreeze has a freezing point and when it’s cold outside, the antifreeze freezes inside the pipes. However, unlike water, the RV antifreeze does not expand after freezing.
This is the reason you should drain out the water from the pipes, and use RV antifreeze instead.
Is it Safe to Use RV Antifreeze in Freshwater Pipe?
The RV antifreeze is non-toxic; it is safe to use in the freshwater pipe. As I have already discussed, the ethanol based antifreeze leaves an unpleasant taste in the pipe. I would not recommend you to use it in the freshwater pipe.
Instead, you can use the propylene glycol antifreeze in the freshwater pipe as it neither leaves the bad taste, nor is it harmful to health. You can also use it in the pipes of the sink and shower.
How Much RV Antifreeze is Required to Winterize?
There are various sizes of an RV; thus, the amount of RV antifreeze required totally depends on its length, size, and layout. The bigger the RV, the larger will be the plumbing system of the motorhome.
On average, you will require 2-3 gallons of RV antifreeze to winterize the whole RV plumbing system. You can use both types of RV antifreeze to cut down the cost of winterizing even more.
How Long Will RV Antifreeze Last?
There are chances that your RV antifreeze gallon from last year is still unused. Should you use it or not? It totally depends on whether the seal of RV antifreeze is open or it is still intact.
The shelf life of an RV antifreeze is up to five years. So if the seal is intact, you can use it without giving it a second thought.
If your gallon is already opened and you have kept it for next year, there are chances some of the solution has evaporated. The antifreeze has the tendency to evaporate but at a slower rate than that of the water.
You can use the opened antifreeze next year, but make sure it is working fine. In order to check if it is working or not, you can freeze a small quantity in a cup. If the antifreeze becomes slushy after 24 hours, it is working well. If not, better to buy a new gallon.
As the old antifreeze may not work as well as a new one, you should double the quantity into the pipe to make sure it winterizes well.
Winterizing is a necessary process, which you need to do every year in order to keep your RV in a good condition. Considering the nature and usage of the vehicle called Motorhome, the RV antifreeze is different from automobile antifreeze due to its non-toxic nature.
There is no way you can avoid winterizing, so instead of doing it at the last moment, do it before winter arrives. As soon as the new season arrives, you can use your RV without doing much maintenance.