Winterizing Hot Water Heater

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Q: How do I winterize my water heater? Do I need to drain it? I hate to put the water into my dry bilge.

Since my bilge is always wet, I don't get too worked up about draining the heater into the bilge. But you could attach some 3/8" plastic tubing to the drain and run that to a container set into the bilge to catch the run off. If you do get a spill in the bilge, use that shop vac to suck it dry again. I also use the shop vac to blow out the water lines; just stick it in the water tank fill inlets and open the facets and disconnect the inlet to the water tank. Then I follow with vodka into the water tanks and run that though the lines. I add food coloring to the vodka so that I can see that it made it through them all. I know, some people say don't do this, but others recommend it. It beats all the flushing of anti freeze in the spring to get the taste out of the system. I've been doing it for 4 years and it works fine. Of course the yard workers all want to have a commissioning party on Tail Wind in the spring! If you don't want to run antifreeze through your salt-water engine cooling system because of the effect on the impeller, you can use your shop vac again to blow out the line and heat exchanger from the pump outlet. Then drain the muffler. Luv my shop vac. Ed, Tail Wind #866

You are better off to save your Vodka for a Very dry Martini. The Mark I from 1987 and later is an easy boat to winterize. The aft tank is higher than the starboard tank so if you pump all the water out and the faucet starts to spit, the aft tank is completely empty and there is minimal water in the starboard tank. Open up the clean out on the starboard tank. With a sponge and within 5 min you will have the starboard tank completely empty. Then, as a number of us have done for many years, disconnect your hoses to the water heater and you can either suck it out or pressure it out with a wet/dry shop vac. What a lot of people don't realize is that just because you open the drain valve in the water heater you do not get all of the water out without pressure/vacuum. Back in 1989 I disconnected both lines to the water heater and physically "huffed and puffed" and blew the water out which also works. It's a lot easier to empty all the water than to fool around with vodka/dye/potable antifreeze.

To winterize the head on the 1986 and subsequent Mark I(s), shut off the head intake through hull, take the lever on the head and put it to wet bowl, and take antifreeze (propylene glycol), pour it in the shower sump, turn on the shower sump drain and wait until you see the colored fluid in the bowl of the toilet. Do this for another 30 seconds after you see the color in the bowl, then shut off the Shower pump. Flip the lever to dry bowl and hand pump out some of the colored fluid so you are sure the line is filled between the bowl and the holding tank.

Unless you are in a fresh water environment, it is beyond me why any one would want nasty corrosive salt water in their bilge. I myself have a dry bilge and use drip less packing. With a dry bilge it is much easier to find leaks by testing the water to find out whether it is fresh or salt and then determine where it is coming from. There is an article by an owner in the C34 section of the November Mainsheet on corroded keel bolts. The Nov Mainsheet should be in your mailbox the first week in Nov.

I always use the propylene glycol and run it through the engine raw water system. However, what I do after is remove the impeller and shaft from the raw water pump and also un-tension the alternator drive belt. No sense in keeping the belt tight all winter and impeller goes into a shallow glass and is sprayed with silicone so it is ready for the next season. One time I used the same impeller for 4 seasons and it was still good when I replaced it on general principles! BTW, I'd guess if you follow my procedures you'll get 95-98% of all the water out and the little bit left won't make any difference. Remember to empty all the lines, i.e., strainer to pump, pump to galley and headwater fixtures.

Ron Hill, Apache #788