How to Winterize a Keystone Hideout
Ahhh, the annual tradition of coming to grips with the reality of the season ending and getting the trailer ready for winter hibernation. The process can seem a bit daunting but it really isn’t that difficult. It also is a great time to do some annual maintenance and check things over to make sure they are ready for next season.
When we start the winterization process we first drain the water heater. You will want to make sure that the water has had time to cool and that you turn off any gas or heating elements before you drain the water. You also want to release the pressure in the tank using the valve at the top of the heater. Once the water is cool and the pressure is released you can remove the plug at the bottom. In our Hideout, we have a Suburban water heater, so the plug uses a 1-1/16″ diameter socket.
Probably the two most common RV water heaters are Suburban and Atwood. An easy way (not fail proof) to tell the difference is by the plug. If it is metal you likely have a Suburban; if it is nylon, then you likely have an Atwood. The reason the Suburban water heaters have a metal plug is because they are attached to an anode rod. The rod is a sacrificial part that breaks down over time and is designed to help protect the steel tank from corrosion. Atwood water heaters are made of aluminum and do not require an anode rod for protection.
Near the front of the trailer on the street side there is a single blue line with a screw off cap. Removing this cap will drain the water in your fresh water tank. Near the back of the trailer, also on the street side, you will find red and blue lines. These are the low point drains and removing the caps will drain some water from the lines. It is important to re-cap the low point drains as you will be running the water pump later in the process and if the caps are off you will be pumping the anti freeze right out of the trailer onto the ground.
By now the water heater should be fully drained and we can rinse it out. I use a Camco 11691 Water Heater Tank Rinser attachment for my garden hose. This allows me to insert it into the water heater and shoot a stream of water which breaks up some of the deposits in the tank.
This is just a small sampling of some of the deposits that came out during my rinse. The RV Geeks have a great video where they look in the tank with a borescope so you can see all the stuff. I just did a basic rinse but the RV Geeks go into a much deeper cleaning in their video that you could also do.
Now with all that done, the next step is to bypass the water heater. This will allow us to pull the antifreeze into the water lines in the trailer without filling up the water heater. The bypass is located on the back of the water heater under the kitchen sink. You need to remove the panel in the cabinet by removing the 4 screws that hold it into the floor. Once the panel is removed you can easily reach in and flip the 3-way valve so that the cold water in the blue line will be sent up the red line and not into the water heater.
In our last post, Installing a Winter Bypass Kit, we showed how to install a Camco 36543 Winterizing Kit and now we get to use it. We flip it into bypass mode and insert the clear tube (straw) into a bottle of RV Antifreeze. It is VERY important to ONLY use RV rated antifreeze and NOT automotive antifreeze. Usually, RV antifreeze is pink in color but verify on the label before using. With the straw in the jug, flip on the pump. This will cause the pump to start pulling the antifreeze into the trailers water lines. The pump should fully pressurize the system fairly quickly and shut off. If the pump does not cycle off, you should turn it off and find out where your leak is so you are not waisting antifreeze.
With the pump on, you now go one by one opening up cold water and then hot water one at a time until you see pink. I like to make sure it is good pink and not just a slight shade of pink. Keep an eye on the antifreeze bottle as you go through this process. I can do my trailer with 2 bottles but you may need more or less depending on your setup. You want to also make sure that you get any outdoor kitchens that have water and any outdoor showers. You should also run the toilet until you have pink running into the bowl.
For the last few steps, I pour any leftover antifreeze down each drain to help cover the p-traps and once those are covered I put the rest of the antifreeze in my black tank. I also make sure I return the winter bypass on the pump to its normal operating position so that it is ready for next season. That last part of our process is to pull the batteries and place them on a charger at the house. I put the batteries on my workbench and couple them in parallel (red to red/black to black) and then connect them to a Battery Tender Plus charger. I like this charger because it will not only float but will also charge. A lot of the battery maintenance chargers are only a float and do not have the capability to charge the batteries if needed.
And that is it! There are a lot of steps but none of it is really all that hard. Especially not as hard as saying goodbye to the RV until next season.
11 thoughts on “How to Winterize a Keystone Hideout”
Do you need to have all the grey tank, black tank, and galley tank empty first?
Where do you find RV antifreeze?
So at the start of everything I dump all tanks and drain the fresh water. I make sure there is some antifreeze in the gray and black when I am done so they are not sitting dry.
As far as where to get it, I usually get mine at the local Wal-Mart. It is back in the RV section. Just be sure to get the RV stuff and not the Auto stuff. I also saw it at my local Lowes recently.
what does the black water back flush do? Do i have to do something to it beside drain it?
The back flush adds water to the black tank. Usually this is though some type of nozzle that sprays around and helps clear stuff out. It isn’t required but really helps keep things clean. If you don’t have a built in back flush that make after market ones that can be added. Another way is via a back flush that attaches inline with your dump hose. It doesn’t spray in the tank but can fill water back up to help get rid of more stuff.
Think of a dirty plate. Rinsing it multiple times results in a cleaner plate.
in my Keystone hideout 31rbds i don’t see floor screws to access the hot water tank i’m a little concerned is there another way to access the by pass valve ?
So in our Keystone the water heater was under the kitchen sink and we removed a panel under the sink to access it. I am not familiar with the 31RBDS. Is there maybe a drawer that you would remove to access it?
2016 31rbds the hot water tank is under the closet by the table.
Last night me and my wife was arguing about cost of a tankless water heater. People says that it costs a lot compared to tank type water heater and as these units are active for almost all the time will they consume more power than a tank type heater? If you could help me on this then it will be great help.
We’re planning to buy it due to space issue and sometime it consumes too much time when we already running late.
Thank you for this blog. It’s been very helpful.
When pumping the antifreeze in, does it fill the hot water lines as well as the cold? How do both the cold and hot water lines get filled once the hot water tank is bypassed when switching the 3-was switch behind the tank?
You’re help is greatly appreciated.
You will want to bypass the water heater so you aren’t filling it with antifreeze. No issue if you don’t other than just needing a lot more. When the antifreeze is being pulled out of the bottle and into your lines via the pump you will need to open the cold and then the warm (the order is not important). Once you see the pink stuff comes out switch to the other and wait for fo rhte pink to show up again.
Thank you so much for this article! Watched a lot of youtube videos on this and this totally resonates and reinforces my understanding. Now to try it out for real. Thank you for writing this blog!