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When the cold weather hits, using an RV antifreeze on your recreational vehicle is really important. Or else, your water pipe will burst due to the frozen water. But the thing is, this would cost you about $20 a year and this is on top of other things that you need to do for your rig’s maintenance. In that case, have you ever thought about reusing an RV antifreeze? Is it even possible and safe?
RV antifreeze is safe to reuse since it is non-toxic. However, you should not reuse any that might have been mixed with water since it will change the properties and may not protect the pipes.
Here are some resources that might interest you:
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What Is an RV Antifreeze?
Antifreeze is a liquid used to prevent your piping system from freezing and expanding during winter. The piping system of your RV tends to expand as the temperature gets lower which leads to breakage and bigger problems.
That’s where the antifreeze becomes significantly useful. It will increase the freezing point of your plumbing system, winterizing it in order for it to withstand the low temperature during winter.
The amount of RV antifreeze that you would need to winterize your RV may vary depending on your RV’s plumbing system size. Your way of winterizing your RV, and the brand may also cause the amount needed to vary.
You can check on the labels of your RV antifreeze to have an idea of how much you would need. There are three types of antifreeze namely, ethanol-based, propylene-glycol based, and propylene ethanol blend RV antifreeze.
Ethanol-Based RV Antifreeze
Is sometimes called alcohol-based RV antifreeze because of the ethanol. This type of antifreeze is generally widely available and inexpensive.
Although it is widely available and inexpensive, it also has some drawbacks. The ethanol is flammable and it can also leave a nasty taste on the water system even after being flushed out.
Propylene-Glycol Based RV Antifreeze
Is the more expensive option for an RV antifreeze. Although it is expensive, it is the preferred type of RV antifreeze most especially for your RV’s water system.
This type of RV antifreeze is odorless, tasteless, and non-toxic making it safe to be placed on your water system. It can also be used as a lubricant on your traps and seals to prolong their life or use.
Propylene Ethanol Blend RV Antifreeze
Is the mixture of the first two. It lets you enjoy the benefits of the two previous types of RV antifreeze with just one.
This type is also non-toxic making it safe for your plumbing system, but since there is still ethanol in it, it can still cause damage to your rubber seals with frequent use.
Why Reuse Antifreeze?
Do you want to save money instead of buying new RV antifreeze every year? Most people get the idea of reusing antifreeze to save money each year. Another reason is to reduce the amount of waste to the environment.
If you have a large RV and use a lot of RV antifreeze to winterize it, reusing your RV antifreeze can be economical and save you some money. It may be true that an RV antifreeze does not cost much. If you can save $20-$30 a year through reusing it, then it would be better.
How To Reuse RV Antifreeze
If you want to reuse your RV antifreeze, here’s what you can do:
1. Prepare a container that can be sealed tight
-You need to find yourself something to catch and store your RV antifreeze into. You have to make sure that you can close and seal this container properly to prevent contamination.
2. Blow as much RV antifreeze you can with air
-Instead of flushing your antifreeze with water, try to blow out as much RV antifreeze you can with air. This will avoid further dilution of the antifreeze.
3. Store it for next winter
-You can now put it away and store it ready for next winter.
4. Test your RV antifreeze (optional)
-Before reusing your RV antifreeze, you can have the option of testing it by putting it in a container. Then store it in the freezer to see if it would expand. This will help you see if you can still reuse it or if it is already too diluted to be reused.
5. Reuse the RV antifreeze
-By the following winter you can already reuse your RV antifreeze. In order to avoid the risk of contaminating your fresh water system, it is advisable to place the reused RV antifreeze in your toilet bowl, greywater traps and tank, and your black tank. It’s safer to use new RV antifreeze if you are going to place it on your freshwater tank.
People who reuse their RV antifreeze tend to reuse it for 2-4 winters, but to make sure that your RV antifreeze is still capable of winterizing your RV, not skipping step 4 is a good practice.
How Much Money Can You save Reusing Antifreeze?
Since winterizing an RV only takes 1-4 gallons of antifreeze, you likely save $20 to $45 reusing RV antifreeze.
Some would say reusing your antifreeze would not save you much. This is true when you do not use much antifreeze and do the “air compression method” of winterizing your RV.
The air compression method of winterizing your RV is done by draining and blowing every tank on your RV using the air compressor until no water particle is left.
People winterizing their RV through this method believe that if there is no water left in your system, there is nothing for winter to freeze and expand.
Therefore everything is just left empty with no RV antifreeze in them and RV antifreeze is just placed on traps and valves for lubrication and protection. This is a risky method if you do not know how to do it properly.
If you are one of these RV users, reusing your RV antifreeze might not also save you that much.
Although some would also say reusing antifreeze would really save them money especially if they use much antifreeze and even put antifreeze in their freshwater tanks.
These people believe that it is better to be safe than sorry and that removing the nasty after taste and scent of an RV antifreeze from the fresh water tank is easier than getting the RV plumbing system damaged.
If you are one of these RV users who really use a lot of RV antifreeze for winterizing your RV, reusing your RV antifreeze can really save you money.
As mentioned earlier, you may not be able to salvage all the RV antifreeze in your plumbing system, but if you can save 2/3 of it, then it could still save you some money.
Taking for example you use 6 gallons of RV antifreeze to winterize your RV. You might salvage 2/3 of it which is 4 gallons. If a gallon costs $3 each then you are able to save $12 for the next winter. Instead of spending another $18 for the next winter, you would only need $6.
If you use more than 6 gallons, then you will be able to save more.
What Are the Dangers to Reusing RV Antifreeze?
Is reused antifreeze safe to drink?
Generally, an RV antifreeze is safe to drink since it is non-toxic, but a reused RV antifreeze is a different story.
During the process of salvaging your RV antifreeze and during the storage period it underwent, it is not impossible that it got contaminated. Because of this, it is better that you do not put the reused RV antifreeze on your freshwater system to prevent problems.
Is it safe to dump it on the ground or drain?
Since RV antifreeze is biodegradable and non-toxic, it is still safe to dump it on the ground or the drain. But a factor to be mindful of is if you have certain laws in your area that restrict you from doing so.
If there is a recycling center or a place where you can send it instead of just dumping it away, then that would also be a better option.
Does it get dirty or diluted or go bad?
As mentioned earlier, contamination is not avoidable especially during the process of salvaging your RV antifreeze. To avoid further contamination, you should store your salvaged RV antifreeze in an enclosed container.
It getting diluted is also not avoidable most especially if it’s from your fresh water tank. To make sure that it is not yet too diluted to be reused, you can freeze test it and see if it expands.
In order to avoid diluting your RV antifreeze, remember to avoid mixing it with water.
Can Bacteria grow in RV antifreeze?
Technically, RV antifreeze is generally not meant to be a disinfectant. If you are using an ethanol-based RV antifreeze, it would have the ability to resist and kill most bacteria. But if you are using a propylene-glycol-based RV antifreeze, then it would have little to no capability of doing so.
This is the reason why you should store your salvaged RV antifreeze in an enclosed and sealed container; to avoid bacteria from building up into it.
Final Thoughts on Reusing RV Antifreeze
After all the things discussed, reusing your RV antifreeze would still depend on your way of winterizing your RV and your preferences. If you want to reuse it, then it would not be a problem because there are not many drawbacks to it.
If you are planning on reusing your RV antifreeze, hopefully, this article helped you know more about its advantage.
Remember all the warnings mentioned in this article and be cautious in order to enjoy the advantage of saving your money without risking your and your family’s health.
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Hi, I’m Shauna – Welcome to Family Travel Fever. We are a large family, that was bitten by the travel bug! We travel with kids and extended family. I take the kids by myself sometimes because I don’t mind flying or driving solo with my crew to discover the coolest places.
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