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WINTERIZING PLUMBING

Dec 2, 1997
8,089
- - LIttle Rock
WINTERIZING PLUMBING

FRESH WATER SYSTEM :
There are two ways to winterize fresh water and sanitation plumbing: with antifreeze and without antifreeze. If you opt for the “no antifreeze” method, ALL the water MUST be removed from the entire system. Why? Because it’s not freezing temperatures that break pipes and crack tanks, it’s because ice occupies about 10% more space than the same amount water…and when it expands, something has to give—and that something will be your water or holding tank, water heater, hose connection, water pipe, or toilet bowl.
ANTFREEZE METHOD (Easiest)
1. Drain the water tanks completely (just turn on all the faucets).
2. Drain water heater. Most have a drain petcock; follow manufacturer’s instructions to find it and use it. Remove both the inlet and outlet hoses, and if necessary use a shop vac to be sure of getting all the water out of it.
3. Do NOT put antifreeze in the water heater. (Ok, you can if you want to, but it’s not necessary). Connect water heater inlet and outlet hoses together to bypass it. Bypass kits for this purpose are available from boat stores and RV supply stores.
Why drain the water heater and bypass it instead putting antifreeze into it? Because it’s not freezing temps that damage pipes, tanks and water heaters, it’s water sitting in a confined space with nowhere to expand. The very small amount of water that may be lleft in the bottom of a water heater has plenty of room to expand, plus water heaters are insulated which protects them from freezing, and it takes forever to flush the taste and smell of antifreeze out your hot water in the spring!
4. Put a few gallons of non-toxic antifreeze ("the pink stuff") into the water tank and pump that through the system until all outlets--hot and cold in the galley, head, shower, and any deck wash--run only antifreeze. Leave all the faucets open to make sure there is no pressure in the system.
NO ANTIFREEZE (“dry”) METHOD:
1. Follow the first three steps listed above.
2. Using an air compressor, blow ALL the water out of ALL the plumbing, disconnecting it where necessary to achieve this. The first time you opt for this method can be difficult and labor intensive, but if connections are reassembled in the spring using quick-connect fittings, it becomes a lot easier in the future.

SANITATION SYSTEM
The sanitation system is the easy job:

Pump out the holding tank, then rinse thoroughly to flush out any sludge. This does not require filling the tank and can even be done with sea water. Here’s how:
Put enough water into the tank via the deck pumpout fitting—because that sends the water into the tank at the bottom to stir up any sludge and hold it in suspension so it can be flushed out-- to cover the bottom to a depth of at least four inches. Pump that out. Repeat…repeat…repeat…till you’re pumping out clean water. Then add water one more time and turn on the macerator to rinse it out along with the overboard discharge plumbing.
Alternatively, you can use a washdown pump to do the whole job. Stick the nozzle into the deck pumpout out fitting and turn on the water. When the depth reaches a few inches, leave the water running and turn on the macerator pump. Let both run till the water runs clean (it may be best to do this offshore outside the “3 mile limit”).
By the way, this should be done at least 2-3x a season, more often if live aboard or use your boat year round and in preparation for any extended layup, not just winter layup

Now you’re ready to winterize the system.
Sea water toilet, manual or electric: Just flushing antifreeze through the bowl will not protect the intake line, the toilet pump or the bowl...it'll only go out the discharge to the tank. To protect the whole system, it's necessary to close the toilet intake through-hull, disconnect inlet hose and stick it in a gallon of non-toxic ("the pink stuff") antifreeze. Pump the whole gallon through the system into the holding tank. Do not reconnect head intake hose to the through-hull.
If your toilet’s flush water intake line is teed into the head sink drain line, you can add the antifreeze by just pouring it down the sink--after you've closed the drain seacock, of course! Pump the head or hold the button down long enough to get the excess fluid out of the system as possible.
Fresh water toilet: If your toilet uses onboard pressurized fresh water, you winterized it when you winterized your fresh water system. All that remains is, flush the appropriate amount of non-toxic antifreeze ("the pink stuff") down the toilet into the tank.

Do not use antifreeze in an ElectroScan, Lectra/San, PuraSan, or any other Type I or Type II MSD. Follow manufacturers instructions to winterize all Type I and II MSDs.

After the boat comes out of the water, open all the sea cocks to drain any trapped water. (Omit this step if the boat will remain in the water).

And you’re done!
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,738
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
@Peggie Hall HeadMistress is planning ahead for the inevitable questions about winterizing. Thanks Peggie!

There seems to be some conflicting information, though. No AF in the hot water tank, but put AF in the water tank. I've always followed what's good the goose (HW tank) is good for the gander (water tank) and avoid putting AF in either. After draining the tanks and the filters, I connect a hose to the water pump intake and pump AF from the jug into the system making sure that AF comes out every faucet.

Also don't forget the wash down pump. They can be rebuilt for almost the cost of a new one, just sayin'.
 
Dec 2, 1997
8,089
- - LIttle Rock
There seems to be some conflicting information, though. No AF in the hot water tank, but put AF in the water tank
No conflicting info... Water heaters are insulated, they don't need antifreeze. It can damage the thermostat if the water heater is turned on while antifreeze is in it...flushing it out in the spring is a major PITA job that almost always leaves just enough to make your hot water taste and smell like antifreeze. Much easier just to by-pass the water heater.

As for the washdown pump...removing it for the winter is the easiest way to "winterize" it.

--Peggie
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,738
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
For those of us in the north country, where the temperatures will stay below freezing for 30 or 40 days at a time, the HW tank insulation doesn't amount to much. It just takes longer to freeze and then to thaw. A little water in the bottom of the tank will freeze, however there is plenty of room for the ice to expand. Same with the freshwater tanks, a few cups of water in the bottom of the tank and it is not a problem.

To prevent accidentally turning on the HW tank, a piece fo blue tape goes across the circuit breaker. Likewise the head is labeled once the holding tank is pumped out and rinsed.
 
Jan 7, 2011
2,829
Oday 322 East Chicago, IN
WINTERIZING PLUMBING

FRESH WATER SYSTEM :
There are two ways to winterize fresh water and sanitation plumbing: with antifreeze and without antifreeze. If you opt for the “no antifreeze” method, ALL the water MUST be removed from the entire system. Why? Because it’s not freezing temperatures that break pipes and crack tanks, it’s because ice occupies about 10% more space than the same amount water…and when it expands, something has to give—and that something will be your water or holding tank, water heater, hose connection, water pipe, or toilet bowl.
ANTFREEZE METHOD (Easiest)
1. Drain the water tanks completely (just turn on all the faucets).
2. Drain water heater. Most have a drain petcock; follow manufacturer’s instructions to find it and use it. Remove both the inlet and outlet hoses, and if necessary use a shop vac to be sure of getting all the water out of it.
3. Do NOT put antifreeze in the water heater. (Ok, you can if you want to, but it’s not necessary). Connect water heater inlet and outlet hoses together to bypass it. Bypass kits for this purpose are available from boat stores and RV supply stores.
Why drain the water heater and bypass it instead putting antifreeze into it? Because it’s not freezing temps that damage pipes, tanks and water heaters, it’s water sitting in a confined space with nowhere to expand. The very small amount of water that may be lleft in the bottom of a water heater has plenty of room to expand, plus water heaters are insulated which protects them from freezing, and it takes forever to flush the taste and smell of antifreeze out your hot water in the spring!
4. Put a few gallons of non-toxic antifreeze ("the pink stuff") into the water tank and pump that through the system until all outlets--hot and cold in the galley, head, shower, and any deck wash--run only antifreeze. Leave all the faucets open to make sure there is no pressure in the system.
NO ANTIFREEZE (“dry”) METHOD:
1. Follow the first three steps listed above.
2. Using an air compressor, blow ALL the water out of ALL the plumbing, disconnecting it where necessary to achieve this. The first time you opt for this method can be difficult and labor intensive, but if connections are reassembled in the spring using quick-connect fittings, it becomes a lot easier in the future.

SANITATION SYSTEM
The sanitation system is the easy job:

Pump out the holding tank, then rinse thoroughly to flush out any sludge. This does not require filling the tank and can even be done with sea water. Here’s how:
Put enough water into the tank via the deck pumpout fitting—because that sends the water into the tank at the bottom to stir up any sludge and hold it in suspension so it can be flushed out-- to cover the bottom to a depth of at least four inches. Pump that out. Repeat…repeat…repeat…till you’re pumping out clean water. Then add water one more time and turn on the macerator to rinse it out along with the overboard discharge plumbing.
Alternatively, you can use a washdown pump to do the whole job. Stick the nozzle into the deck pumpout out fitting and turn on the water. When the depth reaches a few inches, leave the water running and turn on the macerator pump. Let both run till the water runs clean (it may be best to do this offshore outside the “3 mile limit”).
By the way, this should be done at least 2-3x a season, more often if live aboard or use your boat year round and in preparation for any extended layup, not just winter layup

Now you’re ready to winterize the system.
Sea water toilet, manual or electric: Just flushing antifreeze through the bowl will not protect the intake line, the toilet pump or the bowl...it'll only go out the discharge to the tank. To protect the whole system, it's necessary to close the toilet intake through-hull, disconnect inlet hose and stick it in a gallon of non-toxic ("the pink stuff") antifreeze. Pump the whole gallon through the system into the holding tank. Do not reconnect head intake hose to the through-hull.
If your toilet’s flush water intake line is teed into the head sink drain line, you can add the antifreeze by just pouring it down the sink--after you've closed the drain seacock, of course! Pump the head or hold the button down long enough to get the excess fluid out of the system as possible.
Fresh water toilet: If your toilet uses onboard pressurized fresh water, you winterized it when you winterized your fresh water system. All that remains is, flush the appropriate amount of non-toxic antifreeze ("the pink stuff") down the toilet into the tank.

Do not use antifreeze in an ElectroScan, Lectra/San, PuraSan, or any other Type I or Type II MSD. Follow manufacturers instructions to winterize all Type I and II MSDs.

After the boat comes out of the water, open all the sea cocks to drain any trapped water. (Omit this step if the boat will remain in the water).

And you’re done!
NNNNNNNOOOOOOOOO!

My sailing season is NOT over yet:yikes:

(but thanks for the good instructions Peggy....but don’t rush it)


Greg
 
  • Ha
Likes: dlochner
Aug 13, 2012
531
Catalina 270 Ottawa
I use the method Dave (@dlochner ) describes - connect an AF jug with a length of hose to the fresh water pump. If you buy an extra connector for that length of hose, it is very easy to attach.

I also use the belt and suspenders approach (both with AF and without AF method as @Peggie Hall HeadMistress described; i.e. drain the water, purge it with compressed air, run AF through it, purge it with compressed air. This does not leave (almost) any AF in the system, so there is nothing to provide that special AF taste in the spring. There is also lesser chance that the AF got diluted in some low point in the system. We regularly get temperatures in the -30s (C, but that is almost the same in F), so the chance that somewhat diluted AF could freeze is not that remote. Anyway you look at it, good AF (and plenty of it) is a cheap insurance.
 
Jul 5, 2011
598
Oday 28 Madison, CT
I found filling the water tank itself takes a lot of antifreeze and some time to get a good pink flow through the faucets. Now I plug a plastic tube into the water tank outlet and suck anti freeze out of the antifreeze bottle. Very fast and very rich mixture. Note I have a gallon Groco diaphragm tank so that was eating up a lot of antifreeze and diluting as well. Now all goes lickety split with maybe half the antifreeze.
 
May 17, 2004
3,428
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
Has anyone ever had or heard of a cracked tank caused by whatever residual water is left in it if AF is pulled straight into the pump? I’ve always poured the AF into the tank, and I’d rather stop doing that, but only if there’s 0 chance of anything going wrong. A few gallons of AF and a few minutes of running it through the tank seems inexpensive insurance compared to the cost and work needed to repair or replace a tank.

It seems from the above like plenty of people bypass the tank and have not had problems, I’m just curious if anyone has had a problem, especially with oddly shaped tanks or ones with baffles.
 
Jan 7, 2011
2,829
Oday 322 East Chicago, IN
I am in the frozen tundra of Chicago, and my 30-year old water tanks get drained, and then I disconnect the outlet hose and stick it in a bottle of AF. No damage to my old tanks.

Greg
 
Jan 7, 2014
239
Beneteau 45F5 51551 Port Jefferson
I use a pvc union to bypass the water heater.
When I winterize the AC, I use a small electric pump to pump antifreeze through the outlet until I see pink come out the inlet. That could also work on the toilet intake if you have an assistant pump the toilet at the same time
 

Attachments

Feb 8, 2014
1,300
Columbia 36 Muskegon
I haven't put AF in my water tanks for a couple decades now. And I'm in Michigan so it definitely freezes. Instead I pull the hoses off the tank drains and let them drain into the bilge. Bilge pump or drain plug will take care of that, I have a drain plug. Then I put the hoses I took off into the AF jug and run the pump to pickle the system. I also disconnect the in and out hoses from the water heater and connect them together to bypass the heater. As Peggy said that's not absolutely necessary, but it's a 20 gallon tank and it will drink 20 gallons of AF before any gets to the lines. I also lock out the WH breaker as turning on the power will burn out the element in about 5 seconds if it's empty. WH gets drained and with the hoses off there's plenty of room for any remaining water to expand. Same with the water tanks, there's always a little left but it's free to expand and doesn't hurt anything. I can do the whole system on my 36 foot boat with only two gallons of AF this way. Back when I was putting it in the tanks it would take at least 5 gallons and would take half the season to get rid of the AF taste. Theoretically the pink stuff won't hurt you, but I don't like the taste and why take the chance. With the AF only in the lines 5 minutes running on each faucet clears the lines nicely.
 
Jul 5, 2011
598
Oday 28 Madison, CT
Has anyone ever had or heard of a cracked tank caused by whatever residual water is left in it if AF is pulled straight into the pump? I’ve always poured the AF into the tank, and I’d rather stop doing that, but only if there’s 0 chance of anything going wrong. A few gallons of AF and a few minutes of running it through the tank seems inexpensive insurance compared to the cost and work needed to repair or replace a tank.

It seems from the above like plenty of people bypass the tank and have not had problems, I’m just curious if anyone has had a problem, especially with oddly shaped tanks or ones with baffles.
I never heard of a tank freeze cracking when it was 95% empty. Should not happen. Still to clean and help drain the last bit I installed a 4 or 5" screw top port on top, just big enough to get my hand in. That has been very helpful, but you must seal it well with rubber gasket and machine screws (not wood screws!)
 
  • Like
Likes: Tally Ho

Cu-Can

.
Oct 14, 2020
2
Ticon T-30 Nepean Sailing Club
Thank you for your post! I have a few questions about the instructions below:

1. After flushing the anti freeze through the bowl from the inlet pump to the holding tank, should I pump the bowl dry (on dry bowl setting) or just leave it on wet bowl setting?

2. Does it matter if I reconnected the head intake to the through-hull, if I plan on opening the seacock after I haul out?

3. Since it is not possible to pump out all the sludge/water from the holding tank, does it matter if a bit remains and is mixed with the antifreeze that I pumped in?

Thanks!


Sea water toilet, manual or electric: Just flushing antifreeze through the bowl will not protect the intake line, the toilet pump or the bowl...it'll only go out the discharge to the tank. To protect the whole system, it's necessary to close the toilet intake through-hull, disconnect inlet hose and stick it in a gallon of non-toxic ("the pink stuff") antifreeze. Pump the whole gallon through the system into the holding tank. Do not reconnect head intake hose to the through-hull.
 
Jan 19, 2010
940
Catalina 34 Casco Bay
When I installed a new water heater last fall, it had a 3 valve manifold attached. The manifold valves are all oriented in the same direction for season. All valves in the vertical position for summer, horizontal for winter. In winter mode the water heater is isolated and antifreeze that follows the cold water hose goes directly to the out hot water hose.
IMG_7554.jpg
 
Dec 2, 1997
8,089
- - LIttle Rock
1. After flushing the anti freeze through the bowl from the inlet pump to the holding tank, should I pump the bowl dry (on dry bowl setting) or just leave it on wet bowl setting?
Pump the bowl dry.

2. Does it matter if I reconnected the head intake to the through-hull, if I plan on opening the seacock after I haul out?
Why bother unless you intend to use the head again after you've winterized the system (which I don't recommend doing)?

3. Since it is not possible to pump out all the sludge/water from the holding tank, does it matter if a bit remains and is mixed with the antifreeze that I pumped in?
What makes you think it's not possible. It is possible and should be done, but BEFORE you put antifreeze in the tank. It appears from your paragraph below that you have my book...the instructions for flushing/rinsing out the holding tank and any macerator pump and related plumbing are on page 43.

However for those who don't have my book plus a little more I should have added but didn't:
Pump out the tank, or dump it at sea. Then put enough water into the tank via the deck pumpout--'cuz that sends the water into the tank at the bottom to stir up any sludge and hold it in suspension so it can be pumped out--to cover the bottom to a depth of 4-6"...it can be fresh water at the dock or sea water using a washdown pump. Pump out or dump...repeat...repeat...repeat...till you're pumping or dumping clean water. Last step if you have a macerator pump: the pump and related plumbing should also be flushed out. Put another 2-3 gals. of water into the tank and this time turn on the macerator pump to emtpy the tank.

Sea water toilet, manual or electric: Just flushing antifreeze through the bowl will not protect the intake line, the toilet pump or the bowl...it'll only go out the discharge to the tank. To protect the whole system, it's necessary to close the toilet intake through-hull, disconnect inlet hose and stick it in a gallon of non-toxic ("the pink stuff") antifreeze. Pump the whole gallon through the system into the holding tank. Do not reconnect head intake hose to the through-hull.

--Peggie
 
Dec 28, 2015
1,347
Laser, Hunter H30 Cherubini Tacoma
I would recommend leaving all faucets/discharge valves open to relieve air pressure in the case you do have trapped and it freezes.
 
Jul 5, 2011
598
Oday 28 Madison, CT
If you do not re-connect the intake hose at the seacock and, like on my boat, just reach into the hatch, feel and open the seacock before each trip, you run the risk (after spring launch) of getting the deluge of seawater surprise. After sucking the glycol through the head, I always reconnect that hose and open the seacock, close again just before spring launch. If you have a build up of algae, crustacean remains, etc, it might be a good idea to take a rat tail file and gently ream out the seacock itself. This summer mine got all clogged up as I forgot to do that and had to do a "rat tail filing swim".