Winterizing Fresh Water System

We did two things last year that made winterizing the fresh-water system a real easy job. One, we installed a bypass hose and a vent valve in the hot-water plumbing, and two, we made up a short replacement hose to run from the fresh-water pump to the antifreeze jc_pexshutoff2bucket. What this means is that we do not have to put pink stuff in the water tanks or in the hot-water heater. A big savings in pink stuff.

Before you begin, have your holding tank pumped out and flushed.

The procedure we use:
1. Drain all water from the water tanks.

2. Shut off the Fresh Water Pump switch on the DC panel.

3. Drain the hot-water heater by closing the bypass shutoff valves and opening the vent valve. Open the faucet at the bottom of the hot-water heater and drain all the water out. (We didn’t measure it, but guess we got out about a gallon of water.) Connect an air supply to the open vent valve to blow out the remaining water. We found our manual dinghy air pump worked fine. A few ups and downs with the air pump gets out any residual water.

4. Close shut-off valve to water filter.

Winterizing System5. Leave the hot-water heater bypass valves closed, close the vent valve, and proceed to winterize the entire fresh-water system. At the fresh-water pump in the engine room, remove the hose running from the tanks to the pump and replace it with the hose/fitting you’ve made up, running the other end into a bucket.

6. Fill bucket with antifreeze. Make sure all faucets are closed. Turn on the water pump and go to each faucet on the boat, turning first the cold until pink stuff runs out, then the hot until pink runs out. Don’t forget to do the shower and the head if you’ve got a fresh-water head, Also remember to do any other fresh-water outlets on your boat–e.g., cockpit shower.

7. Pour some pink into the shower drain and turn the sump on. Pour a little pink into each sink drain to be sure there’s no fresh water sitting there.

8. Pour an additional two gallons directly into the head and flush it into your clean holding tank. If you have a macerator at the discharge end, run it for a half minute or so to be sure pink stuff runs through it.

Total time it takes to winterize system once tanks are empty: about 15 minutes. Total savings: $160 in our marina. Total effort on a scale of 1 to 10: less than 1.

When winterizing in this fashion, there is an added bonus in the spring: time. Just fill the tanks, leave the hot-water bypass valves in place until water runs clear throughout the system, then open the valves and let the hot-water tank fill. There’s no need to flush the tanks!

Ruth Jansson & Bette Conner
Annie B – NT 32-172