Blowing Out RV Water Lines vs. Antifreeze: Which is Better?
When winter sets in, it is important to take the necessary precautions to protect your recreational vehicle from the cold weather. One of the most crucial things you can do to preserve the RV’s water lines is to ensure that they don’t freeze. There are two main ways: blowing out the water lines or using antifreeze. In this article, we will compare these two methods and help you decide.
Is It Better To Winterize an RV With Air or Antifreeze?
This is a question we get a lot here at RVing Know How. And, unfortunately, there isn’t really a definitive answer.
That said, we’re going to give you a rundown of the pros and cons of both methods so that you can make an informed decision for yourself.
Blowing out the water lines with compressed air is generally considered the more effective method. This is because it completely removes all the water from your lines, leaving no chance for it to freeze during the winter.
The main downside of this method is that it can be quite time-consuming, depending on the size of your RV. You also need to have access to a compressor, which not everyone has.
The other method is to use RV antifreeze. This is a chemical solution that prevents water from freezing. You simply run it through your lines and then drain it out before winterizing your RV.
However, some people feel that using antifreeze isn’t as effective because it doesn’t remove all the water from your system. This means there’s still a chance for the water to freeze and expand, which could damage your lines.
RV antifreeze types
There are two types of RV antifreeze: propylene glycol and ethylene glycol. Prop. glycol is the type most commonly used in RVs because it’s less toxic. However, both types of antifreeze are poisonous.
RV antifreeze usually comes in concentrated form, so you’ll need to add water before using it. The ratio of water to antifreeze will depend on the temperature at which you plan to use the RV. For example, if you’re going to be camping in freezing temperatures, you’ll need a higher concentration of antifreeze. 
The difference between regular antifreeze and RV antifreeze
Yes, there is a difference between them. Regular antifreeze is made with prop. glycol and is safe for humans, pets, and the environment. However, it can cause corrosion in your water lines if it’s not flushed out properly. RV antifreeze is made with eth. glycol and is poisonous to humans, pets, and the environment. It’s also more effective at preventing freezing.
Advantages of Blowing Out RV Water Lines With Air
The main advantage of blowing out is that it’s much less messy. Antifreeze can leave behind a sticky residue that’s difficult to remove, and it can also be harmful to pets and children if ingested. Air is also more effective at reaching all the nooks and crannies in your plumbing system, so you’re less likely to have any water left behind that could freeze and cause damage.
Another advantage is that it’s much cheaper than antifreeze. A bottle of antifreeze can cost upwards of $15, whereas a tank of compressed air is only a few dollars. You’ll also use less air than you would antifreeze, so it’s more economical in the long run.
Finally, blowing out is better for the environment than using antifreeze. Antifreeze is a petroleum product, so it’s not biodegradable. It can also leach into the ground and contaminate groundwater supplies. Compressed air is much cleaner and won’t harm the environment if it’s released into the atmosphere.
No Antifreeze Needed
If you live in an area with freezing temperatures, then you’ve probably been told that you need to use antifreeze. This is because water can freeze and expand, causing your lines to crack and leak.
However, there is a cheaper and easier way to protect your lines from freezing – by blowing them out with compressed air! All you need is an air compressor and a blow-out adapter (available at most RV supply stores).
Here’s how it works:
Attach the adapter to your air compressor hose. Insert the adapter into your RV’s water intake fitting. Turn on the compressor and let the air flow until all the water has been forced out of the lines. Remove the adapter and close the water intake valve.
There are a few factors to consider when using this method:
Make sure you have a good seal on the adapter so that no air leaks out. If there is a leak, the pressure will not be enough to blow out all of the water.
Don’t use an air compressor with more than 60 PSI (pounds p/square inch). Higher pressures can damage your RV’s plumbing.
De-Winterizing is Faster and Easier
De-winterizing with an air compressor is a lot faster and easier than using antifreeze. All you have to do is connect the air compressor to your RV’s water inlet and turn it on. The air blows out all of the water and you won’t have to worry about any of it freezing.
Another advantage is that you can use it to blow out while you’re still hooked up to a water source. This way, you don’t have to fill up your fresh water tank just to get rid of the antifreeze. All you need is a few minutes of compressed air and your RV will be ready to go.
The only downside to using an air compressor is that it can be a bit noisy. If you’re trying to de-winterize your RV while you’re camping, you might not want to use a compressor.
There Is No Aftertaste or Smell of Antifreeze
Another reason is because people know that all the water is gone. Using antifreeze, there is always a chance that some water could be left behind and this could cause problems later on. When you blow out, ensure that all the water is gone.
Lower Annual Cost
The lower annual cost is the main advantage that RVers experience when they choose to use antifreeze in their lines. The average costs per year are as follows:
Blowing out with compressed air: $15-20
Using antifreeze: $50-60
These numbers will obviously vary depending on how often you need to do each method and the price of air or antifreeze at your local store, but in general, using antifreeze is more expensive. That said, it’s a one-time expense that lasts multiple years. So, over time, it evens out. And, if you live in an area with very cold winters, it’s worth the extra cost to know your lines are protected.
If you’re still not convinced that using antifreeze is worth the extra money, consider this: if you blow your lines out and they freeze, you could be looking at some serious costs. A frozen pipe can burst, causing water damage to your RV. And, if the pipe is metal, it could cause even more extensive damage.
On the other hand, if you use antifreeze, the only thing you’ll have to worry about is replacing the antifreeze in that line. The cost of a gallon of antifreeze is much less than the cost of repairing a burst water line.
So, while the initial investment may be higher, using antifreeze is ultimately cheaper in the long run.
Disadvantages of Blowing Out RV Water Lines With Air
The principal disadvantage of using air to blow out is that it’s not as effective as antifreeze. If there’s any water left, it can freeze and expand, causing damage to the pipes. Additionally, blowing out can be messy and time-consuming.
Choosing air to blow out, ensure to do so on a warm day and have plenty of towels on hand to clean up any messes. Finally, make sure the compressor you’re using is rated for the job – using an air compressor that’s too powerful can damage water lines.
If Not Done Thoroughly, It May Not Prevent Freeze Damage
Another disadvantage is it isn’t so effective in preventing freeze damage if the procedure isn’t completed fully. If there’s even a little amount of water left, it can expand when frozen and cause damage to the pipes. For this reason, it’s crucial to ensure all the water has been expelled before you turn off the compressor.
It’s also worth noting that blowing out is more effective in warmer climates than in cold weather regions. This is because cold weather can cause condensation to form inside the compressor.
Not As Good As Using Antifreeze
While blowing out can be a viable option in some situations, it’s not as good as antifreeze if you’re going to be storing RV in sub-freezing temperatures for a long time. Antifreeze is more effective at preventing freeze damage, and it doesn’t cause condensation or other problems like air does.
Still Need to Use Some Antifreeze
So, how much antifreeze should you use? The general rule of thumb is to add one gallon of non-toxic antifreeze for every two feet of water line length. So, if you have 50 feet of water line in your RV, you would add 25 gallons of antifreeze to the system.
Certain Compressors’ Risks of introducing Contamination into the Plumbing System
Some compressors, such as those used for painting or inflating tires, can introduce contamination into the air stream, which could then be blown into your RV’s plumbing and contaminate the water supply. 
Be sure to use a compressor that’s rated for the job and keep an eye out for condensation inside the compressor.
Advantages of Using RV Antifreeze to Winterize
There are a few key advantages. First, it’s important to note that you should never use regular automotive antifreeze in your drinking water lines – only propylene glycol-based RV antifreeze is safe for this purpose. That being said, here are a few reasons why using RV antifreeze is a good idea:
- It’s easy and quick to do – simply run the pink stuff through your faucets and drains until you see it coming out clear.
- You won’t have to worry about air pockets in the lines, which might occur during spring.
- RV antifreeze is relatively inexpensive, and a little goes a long way.
Most Sure-Fire Way to Protect Plumbing From Freezing in Cold Climates
The best method to prevent the plumbing from freezing if you reside in a particularly chilly region. Attach a compressor to the water intake and run it until the lines are clear.
Antifreeze for RV Plumbing is Easily Available
If you live in a cold climate, then it is to winterize the RV. Ensure that all the lines are protected from freezing.
By adding antifreeze, you can help prevent freezing and costly repairs.
Disadvantages of Using RV Antifreeze to Winterize
The biggest disadvantage is the cost. A gallon of RV antifreeze can cost upwards of $15. This means that if you have a large RV or camper, it can get quite expensive to properly winterize your rig.
Must Buy RV Plumbing Antifreeze Annually
One of the biggest disadvantages of using antifreeze is that you must buy it every year. This can get expensive, especially if you have a large RV or camper.
More Work to De-Winterize
Another disadvantage is that spring de-winterizing your RV might be more challenging. This is because the system must be completely flushed and recharged with antifreeze.
After De-winterizing, The Odor May Linger
Another disadvantage is that the smell can persist after de-winterizing your rig.
Environmental Issues Associated With Antifreeze
Pouring antifreeze down, it goes into the sewage system. This can be harmful to plants, animals, and even humans if we consume contaminated water. 
Steps to filling your pipes with antifreeze
Assuming you’ve already drained the fresh water tank and disconnected the hose from the water connection, follow these steps to fill your pipes with antifreeze.
- Pour non-toxic antifreeze into a bowl.
- Suck up the antifreeze with a turkey baster or small funnel.
- Insert the baster into the opening of the faucet and squeeze the bulb to squirt antifreeze into the faucet.
- Do this for every faucet in your RV until you see pink liquid coming out of each one when you turn on the handle.
- Once that’s done, move on to flushing your toilets.
- Fill the toilet bowl with a gallon of RV antifreeze and swirl it around.
- Flush the toilet until pink liquid appears in the bowl.
- Repeat this process for each toilet in your RV.
- Now it’s time to move on to your water heater.
- Find the anode rod on the heater and remove it.
- Pour half a gallon of RV antifreeze into the opening where the anode rod was.
- Replace the anode rod and screw it back.
- Turn on the water heater (on gas mode) and let it run for a few minutes to circulate the antifreeze through the system.
- Turn off the heater and disconnect the power supply.
- The final step is to winterize your RV’s outside shower, if you have one.
- Remove the shower head and pour RV antifreeze down the shower hose until you see it coming out of the other end.
- Replace the shower head and give everything one last check to make sure there are no leaks. 
Will RV antifreeze keep water from freezing?
Yes, it’ll keep water from freezing. It is important to remember that you should never use regular household antifreeze in your RV because it is poisonous. Be sure to follow the directions on the bottle. 
There are two main types of RV antifreeze: prop. glycol and eth. glycol. Prop. glycol is the more common type and it is not toxic. Ethylene glycol is more toxic, but it works better at lower temperatures. If you’re going to be camping in bitterly cold weather, consider utilizing ethylene glycol.
Do you leave antifreeze in RV lines?
Yes, you can leave antifreeze in your RV lines. In fact, many people do just that. The main reason to do so is because it provides extra protection against freezing temperatures.
However, there are a few downsides to using antifreeze in your RV lines. First, it can be toxic to animals if they drink it. Second, it can leave behind a nasty residue if not flushed out properly before use. Finally, some people simply don’t like the taste of antifreeze and prefer not to use it in their drinking water lines.
If you decide to use antifreeze in your RV lines, be sure to flush the lines thoroughly before using them for drinking water. You can also add a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar to the antifreeze solution to help neutralize the taste.
Will RV antifreeze damage the water heater?
No, it will not damage the water heater. In fact, it is actually recommended by many manufacturers to use RV antifreeze in the water lines leading to and including the water heater. This is because the prop. glycol in RV antifreeze prevents scale buildup in the lines and on heating elements, which can lead to premature failure of those components. 
Is RV antifreeze the same as plumbing antifreeze?
No, not at all. Plumbing antifreeze is made with different chemicals and for different purposes. RV antifreeze is designed to protect the plumbing from freezing temperatures, while plumbing antifreeze is designed to keep your plumbing from rusting and corrosion. 
So, which one should you use? Well, it depends on your needs. If you live in an area with very cold winters, then using antifreeze in your plumbing lines is a good idea. However, if you don’t think your lines will freeze, then using plumbing antifreeze might be a better option for you.
Useful Video: When winterizing RV, should lines be blown out or is RV antifreeze better?
So, what’s the verdict? Is it more effective to use air to blow out RV’s water lines, or is antifreeze preferable?
Well, it really depends on your personal preference and needs. If you’re someone who likes to winterize their RV themselves, then blowing out is probably the way to go. However, if you don’t mind paying a professional to do it for you, then using antifreeze is probably the easier option.
Whichever method you choose, just make sure that you do something to protect your RV from freezing temperatures. Otherwise, you could end up with a very costly repair bill! Thanks for reading! We hope this article was helpful.