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Old 08-11-2009, 04:50   #1
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Winterizing Water System with One Gallon of Antifreeze

To those cruisers unlucky enough like me to be spending the winter in the cold north. I thought some might be interested in how I winterize my on board water system using only one gallon of antifreeze. You can see the procedure here:
THE BIANKA LOG BLOG: Winterizing a boat with one gallon of antifreeze
While the amount used may vary depending on your on board plumbing At five dollars a gallon for antifreeze the savings and benefits start to add up fast for your wallet and the environment.

Capt. Mike
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Old 08-11-2009, 05:31   #2
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I'm gald for you that you could do it with only 1. I used 8 gals and for me the extra cost was less that the extra hassle of catching the gylcol and reusing
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Old 08-11-2009, 05:34   #3
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✓ Good stuff.
Thanks for the clear & concise description (/w pics), Mike.
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Old 08-11-2009, 06:00   #4
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A neat system without tons of complications.
Juuuuust a quick comment for those that have never winterized a plumbing system and because I didn't see it mentioned in your blog. The proper anitfreeze is Propylene Glycol not Ethylene Glycol lest somebody is tempted to run to the auto store to pick up some antifreeze.
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Old 08-11-2009, 06:21   #5
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Hot Water Tank??

I don't see any mention of the hot water tank. If you winterize the way it's depicted in Capt. Mike's pictures and you have a hot water tank the anti-freeze will be diluted by the water in the hot water tank. One gallon will not do it!! To reduce the usage of anti-freeze when you have a hot water tank the hot water tank should be drained and bypassed by connecting the inlet and the outlet hoses of the tank.

I (1) empty my fresh water tank and the hot water tank. (2) connect the two hoses (in and out) of the hot water tank. (3) pour 1 1/2 gal of AF in the fresh water tank. (3) pump it through galley and head sinks.
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Old 08-11-2009, 07:51   #6
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If you pour the anti-freeze directly into the fresh water tank, just be certain that it is really empty. If not, you might dillute it down to where it won't be effective. Generally, it is better to pump it through the system directly out of the bottle.

Also, I would be careful about "collecting" the anti-freeze from the faucets. This can be watered down from the water in the system as well.
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Old 08-11-2009, 08:15   #7
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Every year AFTER the winterizing rush is over you can buy pink stuff for about 60% of normal, so I try to buy next year's supply this year. Cheap bastard but whatever, it works for me.

I like this idea but won't do it because there's too much risk of dilution with our systems. Just letting the tanks drain doesn't work because there is always some residual water in them. One gallon isn't enough in any of our 3 tanks to get it to the pump, we need two in each tank to start flow. The hot water tank is a problem because it will not drain totally, there is about a gallon of water left in it. Siphon that as much as possible using a small hose in the lowest fitting hole and then pour a gallon in through the siphon line to ensure there's no risk of the remainder freezing.

The diesel will suck up almost 2 gallons of pink juice before it starts flying out the exhaust a good solid pink even after draining the muffler of water first.

Given the cost of a hot water tank, or any of our water tanks, or the time spent trying to find a burst hose or fitting somewhere in the boat I think I'll stick with what we've been doing. At least until I can find a way to do it with less pink juice that is safe.
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Old 08-11-2009, 09:44   #8
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Potable antifreeze in water but not in your motor

Remember you want to use plumbing antifreeze in a diesel engine. The plumbing antifreeze I have seen doesn't contain the same rust inhibitors that engine antifreeze does. Yanmar suggests a product like dexcool usualy the orange coloured stuff for winterizing a raw water cooled engine.

Although GM owners don't like it..

GM Owners Still Steaming Over Dex-Cool
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Old 10-11-2009, 15:53   #9
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Winterizing

Tellie:

Right you are about using Propylene Glycol for the winterizing the fresh water system. I just assumed that's what people would be using. But, probably should be mentioned again and again.

Vasco this procedure works in my boat which has a Paloma on demand hot water heater. If you have a water tank I agree that draining it and connecting the in and output hoses together would be the way to go. If it is feasable. Sometimes those things are out of sight and not very accesible.

I'm not too concerned about the dilution issue since I start out with -50 antifreeze and the average winter temperture in my area is 33F and rarely goes into the single digits. Plus I really only start collecting from the faucets when the pink propylene glycol starts flowing.

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Old 10-11-2009, 16:17   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbianka View Post
I'm not too concerned about the dilution issue since I start out with -50 antifreeze and the average winter temperture in my area is 33F and rarely goes into the single digits. Plus I really only start collecting from the faucets when the pink propylene glycol starts flowing.

Capt. Mike
THE BIANKA LOG BLOG
Good blog!

The dilution in your area may not be a problem but folks reading your blog may be in considerably colder climates so you may want to make mention of it. -50 is the point at which the pipes will burst. Any water dilution raises the burst point and expansion properties dramatically..

In my area I suck through more than one gallon as the piping has considerable water in it. Another option if you are in a "warm" winter area is blowing out the lines with compressed air . This can be successful if you have a simple plumbing system but a nightmare of burst fittings in hidden areas on a complicated system.

My routine is similar though I include by-passing the hot water heater:

Winterizing a Fresh Water System (LINK)





Also, for those in sub freezing climes, don't forget the engine..

It is always best to run the engine long enough at full operating temp to burn off any start up condensation. I usually winterize my engine while it is still in the water so I can run it long enough to burn off the condensation.

Just a word of caution about the antifreeze:

Before you suck any antifreeze in through the sea water strainer or engine consider the following:

#1 The -50f pink stuff (propylene glycol) is not intended to be diluted nor is the -60 or -100.

This quote is from Camco one of the largest producers of "RV" antifreeze.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Camco
Q. How much water should I add to your -50 RV Antifreeze to achieve a -25 burst protection?
A. Camco -50 RV Antifreeze should not be diluted. It is a pre-diluted solution that is designed to be used full strength. Additional water dramatically alters the expansion properties of the solution, making an adequate burst protection difficult to achieve.
#2 Your engine has a strainer (unless you by-pass it and drain it), hoses, HX and wet exhaust system that will already be full of water. One or two gallons of -50 pink stuff may not sufficiently prevent a freeze up if diluted with the 1+/- gallon of fresh water probably already in the system.

#3 If your vessel has engine driven refrigeration, like a Sea Frost unit, be sure to drain the refrigeration HX before sucking in the antifreeze as this alone contains at least a gallon of water.

Here in Maine we can see -20f to -30f. Sometimes for up to a week at a time. It is critically important that the -50 antifreeze NOT be diluted and that it can withstand the temps in your region. You don't want to be buying a new HX, Water Lift or raw water pump..

I actually drain all hoses, the wet exhaust water lift, sea strainer, engine HX and my Sea Frost HX before sucking any antifreeze through. This allows me to buy less antifreeze as it is not getting diluted. Up here in Maine I use the -100 stuff for a couple bucks more but only because of our potentially really low temps.

Nearly every spring I hear of someone at the local yards who froze their engine, usually a DIY. Cha-ching $$$$$$$$.. Merely seeing pink out the exhaust does not tell you what the freeze point is or how diluted it has become. Engines & parts are expensive, antifreeze relatively cheap. I would suggest either running more through, like four to five gallons, or drain the system before sucking it in or check the freeze point of what is coming out the wet exhaust by catching it with a cup.

Of course if you're in MD or NJ this might not be a concern but in areas where it gets to -20 below or colder it is a real concern as even antifreeze can freeze, especially stuff that has been diluted with fresh water..
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Old 10-11-2009, 16:50   #11
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I had a number of repairs to do on peoples boats because they were too cheap to buy the right amount of anti-freeze.

This thread is somewhat ill conceived and coild cost people dearly. JMHO
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Old 11-11-2009, 10:02   #12
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Maine Sailor:
-30 F for a few days in row? I shuddering just thinking about that.<g>
This topic is really about winterizing the water system onboard not the engine. Which is another topic for another forumn but, which I agree could not and should not be done with just one gallon of antifreeze and needs to be done with care. However, since I converted to electric propulsion in 2008 I am VERY happy to no longer have to deal with winterizing the propulsion system anymore or buy gallons of antifreeze to do it.<g>
Back to the water system. Granted if you started on a sail through the Northwest Passage that did not quite work out as planned (or are storing in Maine brrr)<g> and experience -30 degree tempertures on a regular basis than this system may not work out for you. But, I still think the dilution using this method is minimal. When I first use to winterize my boat I would pour gallons of propylene antifreeze into the water tanks. This was often diluted too because there was always some water still pooled in the tanks. With this new procedure I bypass the tanks entirely. I use a wet/dry vac to remove the remaining water in the water tanks and suck or blow out the lines from the tanks. IMO the dilution is minimal assuming you wait until the faucets are flowing pink as shown in the photo before you collect the antifreeze. I also take Camco's advice with a grain of salt since they are in the business of selling the antifreeze and do not have a vested interest in selling us less of it. That said this procedure has been working for me a number of years with no problems. As they say your milage or in this case amount of antifreeze may vary.

Capt. Mike
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Old 11-11-2009, 10:16   #13
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Agree with Chief. Sometimes trying to save pennies can cost dollars.
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Old 11-11-2009, 10:38   #14
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I try to use as little of the pink stuff as possible not to save a few bucks but so I don't have to pump and flush the tanks for hours in the spring to get the damn stuff out of the FW system. It smells funny and tastes funny and I drink the water straight from the tanks. It sure ruins good rum. That's why I drain the hot water tank before winterizing.
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Old 11-11-2009, 18:35   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbianka View Post
Maine Sailor:

This topic is really about winterizing the water system onboard not the engine.
When one talks about winterizing it usually stands to reason they will not just be doing the fresh water system so I simply added to your information and thread for those interested. Those with electric propulsion 30+ footers are a lot more rare than those of us with gas or diesel.


Quote:
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Back to the water system. Granted if you started on a sail through the Northwest Passage that did not quite work out as planned (or are storing in Maine brrr)<g> and experience -30 degree tempertures on a regular basis than this system may not work out for you. But, I still think the dilution using this method is minimal.
On our boat, a 36 footer, she has nearly 80 feet of 1/2" piping alone. 100 feet of 1/2" id pipe holds about 1.6 gallons of water. A product I used to sell in the hydronics field, Cryo-Tek antifreeze, is a virgin undiluted propylene glycol with a burst temp of -80. Adding just 33% water by volume to this virgin product raises the burst point to -20. The -50 stuff you are buying for RV's & boats is generally already cut with water to get it to a -50 burst point. Diluting it further will drastically alter the burst point. The manufacturers don't just make this stuff up just for marketing it is also most likely a CYA/legal/liability issue if they don't warn folks about this. I use test strips every season to confirm my burst points. I really don't care about my freeze point only the temp at which the mixture will expand.



Quote:
Originally Posted by mbianka View Post
When I first use to winterize my boat I would pour gallons of propylene antifreeze into the water tanks. This was often diluted too because there was always some water still pooled in the tanks.
With this new procedure I bypass the tanks entirely.
Yes many DIY boat owners make this common mistake. The technique however is not new and yards in Northern climes have been doing this for years without adding any antifreeze to the tanks and only sucking it through the lines.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mbianka View Post
IMO the dilution is minimal assuming you wait until the faucets are flowing pink as shown in the photo before you collect the antifreeze.
The only way to know your burst point is to test it. For you with self admitted 33 degree lows you'll never need to worry but for others freeze ups and bursts happen nearly every winter at boat yards up North. I've seen engines ruined, water makers, generator etc. etc..



Quote:
Originally Posted by mbianka View Post
I also take Camco's advice with a grain of salt since they are in the business of selling the antifreeze and do not have a vested interest in selling us less of it.
See comments above..

Quote:
Originally Posted by mbianka View Post
That said this procedure has been working for me a number of years with no problems. As they say your milage or in this case amount of antifreeze may vary.

Capt. Mike
I have no doubt it works in 33 degree temps but it may not work for all the folks who read your blog and try it. That was my only point. You might also want to mention the use of a propylene glycol tester to confirm burst points, though an extra bottle or two of antifreeze will cost less, at least the first year.

You spent, I would guess, a large sum of money on a charter (Lagoon 42 IIRC), converted to electric propulsion and other expensive stuff but are focused over a $5.00 +/- bottle of antifreeze that you could have bought at a Wal*Mart for $3.49 (what I paid this season). For me anti-freeze is about the cheapest insurance I buy all year and even one failed fitting will cost more than the extra $3.49 bottle or RV antifreeze..
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