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Old 12-11-2012, 03:01   #1
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Winterization - Drain or Antifreeze?

I am lifting my boat out and leaving her on the hard over the winter, for the first time since I've owned her.

Boats in the water don't get winterized at all here. Although we get some reasonably hard freezes (down to maybe -10C), they are generally short, and with the boat in the water, no one experiences any freezing problems. I like leaving the boat in the water during the winter -- seems to me better for the boat. But this year I am having the mast out and having a lot of work done, so there's nothing to be done about it.

I was just about to order a jillion gallons of non-toxic antifreeze to winterize the fresh water system when I decided to read the very comprehensive owner's manual from Moody -- and it says there categorically to never put any kind of antifreeze in the fresh water system, just drain it down to winterize.

What do you guys think? I tend to trust the designer of my boat and the very good manual -- maybe the water system was designed without low points (and I can't see any) so that this will work? It sure is a lot less trouble.

I will of course in any case pump antifreeze through the engine and genset seawater circuits.
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Old 12-11-2012, 03:08   #2
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Re: Winterization - Drain or Antifreeze?

Wow? No antifreeze? My Yanmar is filled with antifreeze both winter and summer. When I winterize, I pump some antifreeze/fresh water through the seawater side of the heat exchanger. I don't drain the fresh water side.

Never heard of that. But if the manual says to do it...........

What have you done when you have left the boat in the water? Also no antifreeze?


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Old 12-11-2012, 03:18   #3
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Re: Winterization - Drain or Antifreeze?

It sounds like your winter temps are similar to where I live
For my boats I have never used antifreeze ,always drained the fresh water system if we haul out over the winter
I drain tanks,remove the inlet screen cover to the fresh water pump,remove the quick disconnects on the fresh water pump and open all the taps
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Old 12-11-2012, 03:27   #4
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Re: Winterization - Drain or Antifreeze?

I think Dockhead is referring to the potable water system, not the engine cooling system, as he mentions the engine in the last paragraph.
Dockhead, I've heard long term forecast of down to -15C for the UK this winter.
I drain my system even with boat in the water, or rather, blow out as much water as possible from the lines.
No idea on your set up, but I have quick release fittings at the FW pump. I remove the hoses, then connect to dink inflation pump, a few pumps is enough to push the water back to the tanks. (I leave the tanks about 75% full) Same with hoses to the various taps, just open the taps one by one and blow through. You would be safe to drain the HW tank.
Once all done, I leave the hoses off the pump (allows pump to drain, and a bit of expansion room in the hoses) Also leave the taps in the open position.
This has worked OK for the last 3 years, with one week out of the water in winter.
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Old 12-11-2012, 03:38   #5
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Re: Winterization - Drain or Antifreeze?

In theory you should be able to simply drain all the water out of all your systems, and then you'll be fine. But the problem is knowing if you've got it all. By running antifreeze through all the systems, you confirm you've removed the water from all the pumps, valves, hoses, and tiny places. These are the things that are vulnerable to freeze damage. The tanks will be fine if there is some water left in them.

Each boat is different, and I certainly don't know yours, but it's not a big deal to do, and doesn't take huge volumes. I use four jugs (4x3.7 litres) to do the plumbing on my 37-footer, and about 4 litres of coolant (mixed about 75:25) to do my engine.

BTW, we get serious freezing here for extended periods (-30C), and everyone winterizes with antifreeze. Plumber's pink (non-toxic) in the water systems, and engine coolant through the fresh water system. Of course, if you're only dealing with -10C as a min., then I probably wouldn't worry too much about it. That ain't no "hard freeze" .
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:20   #6
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Re: Winterization - Drain or Antifreeze?

Quote:
Originally Posted by carstenb View Post
Wow? No antifreeze? My Yanmar is filled with antifreeze both winter and summer. When I winterize, I pump some antifreeze/fresh water through the seawater side of the heat exchanger. I don't drain the fresh water side.

Never heard of that. But if the manual says to do it...........

What have you done when you have left the boat in the water? Also no antifreeze?


No, no, no -- not the engine. Of course the fresh water side of the engine is always full of 50/50 antifreeze mix.

The fresh water supply system -- drinking, showers, etc.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:24   #7
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Re: Winterization - Drain or Antifreeze?

Quote:
Originally Posted by nigel1 View Post
I think Dockhead is referring to the potable water system, not the engine cooling system, as he mentions the engine in the last paragraph.
Dockhead, I've heard long term forecast of down to -15C for the UK this winter.
I drain my system even with boat in the water, or rather, blow out as much water as possible from the lines.
No idea on your set up, but I have quick release fittings at the FW pump. I remove the hoses, then connect to dink inflation pump, a few pumps is enough to push the water back to the tanks. (I leave the tanks about 75% full) Same with hoses to the various taps, just open the taps one by one and blow through. You would be safe to drain the HW tank.
Once all done, I leave the hoses off the pump (allows pump to drain, and a bit of expansion room in the hoses) Also leave the taps in the open position.
This has worked OK for the last 3 years, with one week out of the water in winter.
OK, well, I think it's a bit warmer down here on the Isle of Wight than up there where you are, so that's encouraging.

I will be out of the water all winter so will definitelly drain the tanks down, and definitely the calorifier. I will have electrical heat on inside the boat, so maybe it won't even freeze inside. Maybe I'm making too big a deal out of this, but I don't want frost damage on top of everything else I have to fix.

I guess some antifreeze down the toilets wouldn't hurt anything either.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:46   #8
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Re: Winterization - Drain or Antifreeze?

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post

I guess some antifreeze down the toilets wouldn't hurt anything either.
If boat out of the water, should be able to drain the heads and their hoses easily enough
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:50   #9
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Re: Winterization - Drain or Antifreeze?

Sorry Dockhead, I guess I read your post wrong. It is as least as cold here in DK as in the UK. I drain all my water tanks. Basically I just let them pump out. I usually put a cup of antifreeze i my toilet and pump a little of it into the holding tank.

That's it. I've never had any problems
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:13   #10
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Re: Winterization - Drain or Antifreeze?

Did the manufacture say why? Is it possible that there is a material incompatibility issue with propylene glycol (neoprene is "c" rated with PG, where "a" is the best rating)? It could be, for example, that the pump impeller does not like PG.

And of course, you are not in a cold climate.
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:59   #11
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Re: Winterization - Drain or Antifreeze?

Dockhead,

Non toxic antifreeze is fairly cheap, at least here in the US and you definitely do not need a jillion gallons of it. Besides when it is -10C you will be able to sleep at night.

Fresh water system:
  1. If you have a hot water heater most likely it has a drain and a water bypass. The bypass is used so you do not have to fill the hot water tank full of antifreeze, just the water lines.
  2. Pump all the water out of the system until the pump runs dry. Add 2-3 gallon of non toxic antifreeze to the water fill. Turn the faucets one at a time and wait for pink. Do not forget any. If you have an ice maker check the manual for how to winterize it.
Head:
  1. Pump the head dry when the boat is out of the water with the seacock open and the control in the wet bowl position. When it is dry dump about 1/2 gallon into the bowl and pump most of it away. I like to leave a little fluid it there to keep the smell down.
  2. If you have a macerator it is nice to run some antifreeze thru it too.
Air conditioning:
  1. Disconnect the hose at the seacock for the air conditioning intake and stick it in a bottle of antifreeze.
  2. Turn the air conditioning on(if it has a reverse cycle you may have to turn it on heat). Wait a minute and the recirc pump will turn on. You will see pink shoot out the side of the boat.
Any other systems just get some pink thru them. I winterize my boat and others and usually use less than 6 gallons.

The layup section of your boat manual should describe everything and help you out quite a bit.

Good luck...
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:08   #12
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Re: Winterization - Drain or Antifreeze?

I drain my water tanks into the bilge and then suck the lines dry using a wet/dry vacuum. For the rest of the water system I use a non toxic antifreeze for the rest of the system. By careful collecting of the antifreeze I find I can winterize my entire water system with one gallon:
THE BIANKA LOG BLOG: Winterizing a boat with one gallon of antifreeze
The reason I do use the non toxic antifreeze is because just draining the water from the lines may not get all the water remaining in the pumps used. Which can be expensive to repair of replace in the spring.
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:22   #13
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Re: Winterization - Drain or Antifreeze?

Don't forget to leave thru-hulls and seacocks open. Any trapped water can crack the valves.
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:43   #14
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Re: Winterization - Drain or Antifreeze?

Here's what most of us do in the Great White North.

1/ empty FW tanks

2/ disconnect "in" and "out" hose at hot water tank.

3/ connect the two hoses (in & out) together.

4/ drain hot water tank

6/ pour about 1 gal potable anti-freeze into FW tank

7/ pump anti- freeze through system

Some folks skip 6 and 7 and blow the lines clear with a little compressor but I prefer the anti freeze. 1 gal is easy to pump through and very easy to pump clear in the spring. Don't forget to open the cockpit shower when pumping the anti freeze through if you have one.

8/ (optional) head south!!
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:55   #15
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Re: Winterization - Drain or Antifreeze?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
Here's what most of us do in the Great White North.

1/ empty FW tanks

2/ disconnect "in" and "out" hose at hot water tank.

3/ connect the two hoses (in & out) together.

4/ drain hot water tank

6/ pour about 1 gal potable anti-freeze into FW tank

7/ pump anti- freeze through system

Some folks skip 6 and 7 and blow the lines clear with a little compressor but I prefer the anti freeze. 1 gal is easy to pump through and very easy to pump clear in the spring. Don't forget to open the cockpit shower when pumping the anti freeze through if you have one.
I do the same. Last year I skipped adding the anti-freeze to the tanks and just pumped the anti-freeze though the lines. But the extra work compared to the lost cost of the anti-freeze just wasn't worth it far as taking apart fittings etc so I could blow them out.

Anti-freeze is just so cheap compared to the time etc to fix anything that freezes and breaks that it is a no brainer to me. The only issue is that you need to flush the lines well after for taste and biological control. But since you are going to flush the tanks after they have sat all winter anyway whats the point.
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