Thought it was about time to post the steps that we do to open and close our Alto. It's not really that big a job, and I probably have a few steps in here that are perhaps extra, but I figure while I am at it, why not. So here goes. I've recently updated a few things here.

We always go to a campsite that has full hookups to do both our opening and closing. It is real handy to have the water and sewer, this allows you to do a real good flush of the tanks without having to haul the trailer to a dump station.

1. At one point I was bleaching the fresh water tank before closing, but I came to the conclusion that was probably a waste of time at closing, given that I was following this with a bunch of the RV antifreeze. Makes more sense to only do this in the spring. In my humble opinion as they say...

2. The GEO method. I happened across this cleaning method and it seemed to make sense. It is a combination of Dawn dish detergent and Calgon water softener. The theory being that the Dawn is an excellent grease cutter, and the Calgon is an excellent surfactant, helping get rid of the work done by the detergent. I used this method first in 2015 and it seemed OK, so I will continue with this at closing. Some recipes of this method add in bleach, but I'm not keen on that, so I stick with just the Dawn and the Calgon. I mix up 1 cup of each in a bucket of water, and then pour this into both the black and grey tanks, before we drive out to the campsite. It sloshes around in the tanks on the drive, then just sits there working over the weekend. It then gets drained when we start the tank cleaning on the final morning we are there.

2. Drain the hot water tank. There is a small valve on a tube going through the floor. To drain, move the lever in line with the tube. Open a hot water tap to allow air into the system, which helps it drain faster. Once it is empty, close the valve.

3. Rinse the black tank. We have one of those tank wands which connects to a hose, and is then pushed into the tank through the toilet, and the water jets spray down the tank. We always do our winterizing at a campground that offers all three services. Having the tanks connected to a sewer system helps the whole process, as the rinsing then just flows through the sewer hose.

4. Fill and drain the grey water tank. We throw in one of those grey water tank degreasers a couple of hours before totally filling and draining the grey tank. I think it helps break up any grease or sludge.

5. With all the tanks empty, it is now time for the RV antifreeze to be pumped through the lines. I have been using the propylene glycol based stuff, rather than the ethanol based, as it seems to leave less of an after smell in the tank and lines, and it is apparently easier on any rubber seals or gaskets that may be in the system. It is also non-flammable. It is however, definitely more expensive, but the general consensus is that it is a better product. Be sure to read the label closely though, as there are versions out there with called ethanol/glycol blends. Not the same thing at all.  Pour at least one jug, perhaps even a bit more, into the fresh water tank. Remember to check that you have closed the drain valve, located under the Alto, behind the drivers side wheel. If you have the propane hot water heater, there is a bypass line and valves that are used to prevent filling the hot water tank with RV fluid, which at 6 gallons, would be a huge waste. There is a pipe that connects the hot and cold lines going into the water heater. There are two valves, one on each end of this pipe. Move the levers so that they are inline with the bypass pipe. This prevents the RV fluid from entering the tank. Turn on the pump, and open each of the taps, both on the hot and cold side. As the pump picks up the RV antifreeze, the water in the lines will be replaced by the anti-freeze. You will see it come out the taps, as it is generally coloured fluid. It is important to do this for both the hot and cold lines. Do the same for the shower taps, and the toilet. Don't forget the toilet sprayer. Add more anti-freeze to the fresh water tank if needed.

6. Now pour some anti-freeze down the kitchen sink, and the shower drain.

7. I now empty the black and grey tanks again, to get rid of the water that came out of the lines.

8. I add more anti-freeze to the sink, shower and the toilet. I want all the tanks to have a little anti-freeze in them over the winter. That pretty much completes the job.

9. I also treat all the rubber seals before putting the Alto away. Actually, I do this a few times a season. The rubber seals are a big part of the Alto, so why not keep them in good shape. I contacted Frederic at Safari Condo, and they use a product made by Thetford, called Slide Out Rubber Seal Conditioner. I wipe it on all the seals with a small rag. It works great, as after 5 years, the seals on our Alto look brand new…soft and pliable.

Similar routine as closing, except now we are getting rid of the anti-freeze.

1. Drain all the tanks. Again, being at a full service campsite makes the routine a lot easier.

2. Fill the fresh water tank, about 1/2 full, to give it a bit of a rinse.

3. Turn on the pump and run water through all the taps, until the water runs clear, including the toilet.

4. Drain all the tanks again.

5. Mix a couple of ounces of Clorox bleach with some water, and pour it into the fresh water tank. Then fill the tank. Now pump this bleached water through all the pipes, and let the water system sit untouched for a couple of hours.

6. Drain the fresh water tank, then fill it again. Some people put a 1/2 cup of  of baking soda mixed with water in a bucket, into the tank to try to clear the bleach smell. I have never tried this, but do find that if you fill and pump the fresh water, perhaps even a couple of times, the bleach smell does go away. Now pump this clear water through all the pipes to give them a good flush.
Update: I found the bleach smell seemed to stay in the fresh tank most of this past summer, so I will be definitely giving the baking soda a try next time.

7. Drain the fresh water tank and refill if needed.

8. I now switch back the hot water heater bypass valves to where they should be, which is inline with the supply lines, and fill and flow some water through the hot water tank.

9. I once again do the rubber seal conditioner treatment, just to start the season. I will treat the seals a couple of times over the course of the season, it is easy and fast to do, and pays off in the long run.

10. Generally at this point, I crack a beer and then clean the windows. We clean our windows a lot, given that they are the focal point of the Alto, and provide such a positive vibe to the whole Alto. Why not keep them at their best!


Post a Comment