RESTROOM TRAILER MAINTENANCE
As part of restroom trailer maintenance, it is important to understand how to winterize a restroom trailer. If you plan to store a restroom trailer in freezing temperatures, you should consider winterizing it to prevent damage to the plumbing system and components. Obviously, freezing damage can harm any component of the system, including the water tanks, toilets, urinals, pumps, or restroom trailer piping.
Before beginning to prepare the restroom trailer for cold weather storage, a brief explanation of the plumbing system can help you to understand the operation of the restroom trailer. Winterization can be described as part of the restroom trailer maintenance.
MAINTENANCE OF TWO SEPARATE PLUMBING SYSTEMS
The plumbing can be divided into two separate systems. Firstly, the freshwater system consists of those items used to deliver water for your use. While the wastewater system includes the drains and tanks storing and removing water already used in the restroom trailer. Both systems and components require some “winterization”.
If your new restroom trailer was built with an on-board fresh water holding tank, then the plumbing system has the dual ability to contain and use water from on-board storage tank or use. Or alternatively, the fresh water can be sourced through the trailers “city connection” attached to an external pressurized source.
In either case, the components of the restroom trailer plumbing system operate like those in your home. Components of the plumbing system consist of strong, lightweight, corrosion resistant materials. Importantly, the materials provide long life and easy cleaning. By following the instructions outlined here, you can expect efficient operation with a minimum restroom trailer maintenance.
(It is important to note, that if your restroom trailer was manufactured during the fall or winter months the factory has anti- freeze placed in the water lines. Which protects them from freezing. You can recognize the anti-freeze liquid by its pink color. This anti-freeze should be flushed from the system after trailer finishes heating. And before each time the trailer gets placed into service). Never assume your trailer has been winterized. Always confirm before storing your trailer in freezing weather.
HOW DO I WINTERIZE A RESTROOM TRAILER?
The winterization of the restroom trailer can be accomplished by “draining the water out of the system”, “blowing the water out of the system”, and then “adding anti-freeze to the plumbing system”.
RECOMMENDED ANTI-FREEZE FOR RESTROOM TRAILER MAINTENANCE
Removing the water heater and replacing the freshwater system with an RV trailer brand anti-freeze is the common method to winterize a restroom trailer. (This is available at any large retailer or RV dealer). In preparation to winterizing, and before you begin adding anti-freeze, level the restroom trailer to help system drainage. Also, confirm you have a proper electrical source to the trailer to operate the on-board pump.
FIRST, DRAIN EXISTING WATER OUT OF RESTROOM TRAILER SYSTEM
Begin trailer winterization by first draining as much water out of the on-board fresh tank and water lines as possible. The freshwater tank will have a drain located on the bottom of the tank. As provided with most restroom and shower trailers, a valved drain line connection on the fresh tank allows the tank water to drain into the waste holding tank below the floor. Or if a valve is provided on the trailer and if allowed by local code drain to the ground outside.
- If your restroom trailer has a water heater, first turn off electric to the water heater so you don’t burn up the heating element when the water heater is drained.
- Turn the water pump switch on.
- Open all faucets. (Can begin with faucet or toilet farthest from water supply)
- Run water until all water empties from the freshwater tank and water lines. This water will be drained into your restroom trailer wastewater tank.
- Drain the wastewater tank to remove as much water and waste from the restroom trailer as possible.
- If the water heater has a drain, firstly open and drain out water. Secondly, close the water supply valve and open the bypass valve to allow antifreeze to flow bypass the water heater. If it has no drain (which is common with small water heaters) the water heater will need to be removed or filled with antifreeze.
SECOND, DRAIN & BLOW OUT WATER FOR RESTROOM TRAILER MAINTENANCE
After draining the water from your water lines, not all of the water will have been removed from the plumbing system. An air blow out of the fresh water plumbing will aid in preparation before installing anti-freeze.
Before using compressed air to blow out water in the restroom trailer, begin with the steps above to drain the existing water out of the system.
In order to clear the freshwater lines with air you will need an air compressor and a fitting to attach to the freshwater lines. Connect the air hose to the city fill connection.
- If the restroom trailer has an on-board freshwater tank, open the fresh tank fill valve and let the compressed air clear the fresh tank supply line. Once the water has cleared this line, close the valve.
- Open the city fill valve. Then go to each of the sinks, toilets and urinals and let them run until only dry air comes out. It helps to begin with the fixture farthest from the air supply. Normally, it takes several tries of opening the restroom trailer toilets and sinks until only air comes out and water has been removed.
Even though the water may have been removed from the freshwater system, you will still need to add anti-freeze to the trailers waterlines and any P-traps where water may be trapped in the wastewater system. Fixtures may include sinks, toilets and urinals. Because a “drain-out” and a “blow-out” of the restroom trailers plumbing lines will not completely protect all plumbing valves and fixtures, anti-freeze installation is required for thorough winter freezing protection.
FINALLY, ADD ANTI-FREEZE TO MAINTAIN RESTROOM TRAILER WATER SYSTEM
We recommend an RV anti-freeze (propylene glycol) for your restroom trailer maintenance. To add anti-freeze to the restroom trailer plumbing system it can be drawn from the existing on-board water tank. Which you can accomplish by dumping anti-freeze directly in the tank. Or, by drawing from an individual container. (Most trailers are equipped with a white convenience “draw line” near the pump. This line can be conveniently placed into an anti-freeze container for the winterization anti-freeze supply source.) It will take several gallons to be added to the system. Alternative choices than the traditional anti-freeze can be found on the internet.
- After you dump anti-freeze into the restroom trailer fresh tank, turn on the water pump and open all of the fixtures until the pink anti-freeze flows out. (Can begin with faucet or toilet farthest from water supply)
- Close each faucet as the pink solution flows freely from it. This also includes the water line to the toilet. Please note: metered faucet cartridges and toilet water supply valves are very susceptible to freeze damage, so extra care should be taken to confirm anti- freeze has been added to these valves.
- Perform this process with every restroom trailer sink and toilet.
- Confirm anti-freeze is in every p-traps for the toilets, flushing urinals (if applicable) and sinks. An amount of anti-freeze left in waste tank will prevent the restroom trailer waste tank from freezing.
Be sure to read the literature supplied with restroom trailer plumbing components, such as the pump, for troubleshooting tips. Also, remember electrical problems possibly cause water system problems. A variety of reasons can cause lack of power to the pump. If you do not know how to locate and/or repair a plumbing problem, a qualified plumber should handle the job.
FLUSH THE SYSTEM BEFORE USING AGAIN
Before using the system again in warmer weather, completely flush the restroom trailer systems with water, flush the toilet, and sanitize the entire freshwater system. In the event, when using the restroom trailer during cold weather, the water in a tank or drain line should happen to freeze, you should take immediate steps to thaw it before damage to the system occurs. DO NOT continue to use water system components if such a condition exists. If damage has occurred, make sure to have it repaired before using again.
HOW DO I MAINTAIN A WATERLESS URINAL IN A RESTROOM TRAILER?
As described, the waterless urinal is just that,” waterless”. It does not have a freshwater plumbing line connected or a flush valve installed. The urinals don’t flush, but instead, they drain by gravity into the waste tank of the restroom trailer.
Importantly, the key to the waterless urinal is the special cartridge trap at the bottom of the urinal.
Because the urinal cartridge does collect uric sediment, we recommend you replace the cartridge consistently. Change the waterless urinal in the restroom trailer every three months or about 7,000 uses. After you pull the old cartridge trap pulled and before you place the new cartridge trap in the urinal, we recommend cleaning the restroom trailer urinal piping. Clean by pouring gallons of water into the urinal and down the drain into the restroom trailer holding tank. Then, you can easily change the cartridges with a tool provided with the cartridge. At the present time, the internet has many tools readily available.
Restroom Trailer Maintenance and Cleaning of “Waterless Urinal” in a Restroom Trailer:
Perform cleaning once a day, or as needed.
Remove any litter in the bowl and clear cartridge holes.
Use mild disinfectant cleaner on a cloth to wipe the bowl.
DO NOT use aggressive/concentrated detergents or any other chemicals on your restroom trailer.
DO NOT dispose of water into the restroom trailer urinal.
HOW DO I OPERATE A TOILET IN RESTROOM TRAILER?
Add water to bowl
To add water to the restroom trailer toilet, press the flush pedal part way down. Water flows into the bowl while flush ball remains closed. If the flush ball moves, let up on the pedal slightly. Adding water to an empty restroom trailer toilet bowl helps prevent holding tank odors from entering the living space. Above all, we recommend having water in the toilet prior to flushing solids and toilet paper.
Flush toilet on a restroom trailer
To flush, press pedal down until it contacts the floor. Release pedal after complete flush.
• If disposing liquids, press the pedal for 1-2 seconds.
• When dumping solids in a restroom trailer, press pedal until contents are rinsed from bowl. Flushing longer than necessary will cause holding tank to fill too quickly.
A small amount of water will collect in the bowl after a flush to create an airtight seal.
NOTE FOR RESTROOM TRAILER MAINTENANCE OF TOILETS
To prevent holding tank odors from entering the living space, make sure a small amount of water remains in the toilet bowl of the restroom trailer.
There are two ways to monitor the waste level in the Rich Specialty Trailer waste tank. Either with an electric monitor or visually with a site glass. The restroom trailer offers an electrical sensor which determines how full the tank is. This monitor panel, located in the trailer mechanical room has a sensor board with 5 lights, which will show whether the tank is E (empty), ¼ (1/4 full), ½ (½ full), ¾ (3/4 full), or F (tank if full). One of these lights will come on when you push the trailer “TANK” button. Before the monitor can operate it must be calibrated with the tank empty and with the tank full.
The electrical sensor monitor should be calibrated with the trailer as close to level as possible. Depending on where the sensor strips are located on the restroom trailer tank, the readings may be somewhat sensitive to the pitch of the vehicle (due to the fluid sloshing either against or away from the sensor elements mounted to the tank wall). Keep this in mind when interpreting what otherwise might be a malfunctioning sensor or display.
HOW DO I CALIBRATE THE MONITOR PANEL IN A RESTROOM TRAILER?
RESTROOM TRAILER TANK MONITOR MAINTENANCE
This monitor panel in the trailer features a smart chip calibration algorithm.
Note: You can calibrate either empty or full first, but you need to have the tank at the level you want calibrated (i.e. empty for empty or full for full).
When you calibrate the empty level, start with an empty tank. Hold the tank reading button. While holding the tank reading button, press and hold the empty calibration button for 5 seconds (the button marked with an “E”) lights should then note you have an empty tank.
While calibrating the full level for the restroom trailer, fill the tank with water repeat the same procedures above but press the “F” button. The lights should then note when you have a full tank.
The second method to check the level of the restroom trailer tank is to simply open the rear door on the trailer to expose the tank. We build a site strip into the restroom trailer tank. Which will allow you to see the waste level against the rear of the tank.
HOW DO I CLEAN MY RESTROOM TRAILERS SIDING?
The care of fiberglass siding is essentially the same as any automotive finish. Wash your trailer at least once a month. Use warm water and a mild detergent to clean the finish. Take care to avoid spraying water directly into appliance vents such as gas furnaces when washing the trailer. Remove bird and tree sap droppings, insects, and tar as soon as possible to avoid staining of the finish.
It is important to note that any finish will deteriorate with time. Dulling and fading can he increased by exposure to extreme sunlight, air pollutants, and excessive moisture. Surface weathering of fiberglass does not change the strength of the fiberglass. Regular washing and waxing of exterior surfaces is the best insurance against surface deterioration such as fading, yellowing, or chalking.
If surface deterioration has occurred, check with your local trailer service dealer for the steps required to restore the finish, buffing or even painting may be necessary in extreme cases. Small cracks appearing in the fiberglass can be repaired by using a fiber-glass filler. Allow the filler to harden, sand, and then repaint with gelcoat (check with your service center for further instructions and product information).
Wax fiberglass surfaces at least once a year with a standard liquid or paste wax. Make sure to follow the directions for use as outlined by the product manufacturer. Make sure to wash and wax your unit out of the hot sun when exterior surfaces are cool. Storage of the trailer out of direct sun can also help preserve fiberglass finishes.
Physical damage to fiberglass should be taken care of immediately to avoid moisture from entering through breaks and causing problems with interior walls and components. Cover breaks in the fiberglass with plastic, sealing the edges with tape until proper repairs can be made.
HOW DO I TAKE CARE OF MY RESTROOM TRAILER ROOF?
Inspection of roof components every 90 days (or immediately if you suspect the roof has suffered exterior damage) is very important to make sure seams and seals are not cracked or worn. Proper maintenance of seals is necessary to keep moisture from entering and causing damage to interior components. If you encounter drying, cracked, or weathered seals, make sure to reseal as necessary. Check with the factory service department or your local service dealer for the type of caulking required for rolled membrane roofs or fiberglass roofs and correct methods of resealing. Silicones and synthetic sealers cannot be used on the rolled membrane roofs or fiberglass roofs. Special sealers are also required for roof edge and for the roof vents or skylights.
It is especially important to check the seals before and after periods of extended storage or non-use. Fall and spring inspections are recommended. A mild household soap solution can be used to clean your trailer roof.
DOES YOUR RESTROOM TRAILER BATTERY NEED MAINTENANCE ATTENTION?
Yes. Your trailer was originally manufactured with a 12volt battery installed and connected to the 12v system of your trailer. This battery provides key functions for your trailer. When fully charged, the battery will operate the trailer’s towing breakaway switch when transporting the trailer. And, additionally, the trailer battery provides power for key features of the trailer such as the LED lighting, the water pump, thermostats, sensors.
WHAT ARE THE RESTROOM TRAILER BATTERY BASICS?
There are three main categories of batteries installed in trailers. Firstly, the lead acid battery, secondly, the AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) battery, and finally, the Lithium. The most commonly used battery in a trailer is described as a “flooded lead acid, deep cycle”. Your trailer likely includes the lead acid battery type. This battery type can be recognized by the obvious name printed on the battery and because it is commonly not a sealed battery. There will be caps on the top of the battery which can be removed to add water. Important to know, the lead-acid battery requires regular charging, maintenance, and cleaning. With proper care the life span of this battery type is approximately 3-6 years.
HOW DOES THE LEAD ACID BATTERY FUNCTION IN MY RESTROOM TRAILER?
The fluid in your lead-acid battery is called electrolyte. It’s primarily a mixture of sulfuric acid and water. When your battery charges, the electrolyte heats up and some of the water evaporates. During a process called electrolysis, the water breaks down into hydrogen and oxygen gases that dissipate. The result is that the electrolyte level in the battery lowers over time.
If the fluid level is too low, the plates in the battery cells are exposed and will suffer damage. In addition, the sulfuric acid will become more concentrated. When the batteries remain discharged for long time the sulfate material in the batteries start to form crystals. This process is called sulfation. This means you need to replace the electrolyte by adding distilled water. Be very careful as this process can expose you to the acids in the battery.
HOW ARE RESTROOM TRAILER BATTERIES SIZED?
Batteries have Ampere-Hour (A-H) ratings which are a way of rating how long a battery can handle a load. The higher the A-H rating, the more powerful the battery.
A-H ratings are determined by multiplying output current in amps by time (in hours) that the load is applied, until the voltage drops to 1.75 volts per cell (considered to be discharged).
WILL THE BATTERY REMAIN CHARGED IF THE TRAILER IS NOT IN USE?
No, batteries lose charge over time, and most trailers also have small parasitic current draws which will kill a battery in days or weeks. Non-smart basic power chargers/converters without charging limits may damage batteries if left on for long periods such as during storage. That’s because they produce a steady current which may overcharge and cause damage once the battery is fully charged. It may be necessary to use a separate portable maintenance-type charger during storage of the trailer.
DOES COLD WEATHER AFFECT MY RESTROOM TRAILER BATTERY?
Yes, maintaining your trailer’s battery becomes even more important in cold weather. The best practice to extend the life of your battery is to give it attention, especially during those winter months. It can’t sit idle for a length of time and be expected to perform when needed. If the battery is low on liquid or low on charge it is much more suspectable to damage during cold weather. It is even more important to maintain a fully charged battery during cold weather. A discharged battery has higher chances of freezing then the fully charged one.
A fully charged battery can freeze if the temperature goes below -30 degree or so where as a discharged battery can freeze at -10 degrees or less.
HOW DO I CLEAN MY RESTROOM TRAILER BATTERY?
Your battery may need to be cleaned when corrosion forms on top of the battery. Use baking soda and water mixture to remove any corrosion that may have resulted from long use.
Corrosion results in discharging of the batteries when in storage, so better to clean them properly. If you are not comfortable handling a battery, be sure to get help from a trailer service center or battery service center.
Clean the terminal if you see any corrosion. Use a wire brush for this. If you will be putting your restroom trailer in storage for several months, it is a good idea to clean before putting the battery into storage.
ARE RESTROOM TRAILER BATTERIES DANGEROUS?
Battery acid is extremely corrosive. Wear rubber gloves and eye protection whenever working with batteries. Water and baking soda can neutralize the acid and should be kept close by when cleaning or when working around batteries.
Batteries produce hydrogen when being charged, which can explode if there’s a spark nearby. Connect the positive (red clamp) jumper cable to the positive (+) battery terminals first. Then to keep sparks away from the battery, connect the final negative (black/ground) jumper cable to a grounded unpainted metal portion of the chassis, rather than on the battery itself. Lead Acid batteries must be used or stored in a vented area. The Lead Acid battery should never be stored or used inside of the trailer without properly sealed and vented away from interior of the trailer.
HOW DO I KNOW WHEN MY RESTROOM TRAILER BATTERY IS CHARGED ?
It is important to note, A 12- volt Battery doesn’t mean it will test at 12 volts of power. When a 12v trailer battery is fully charged, a multi-meter tester gauge will read the voltage at 12.73 volts. When the battery is 50% charged the battery tester will read 12.10 volts.
When charging your battery, use a battery charger specifically designed for your battery type (AGM, FLA, or Li-Ion). Some chargers will charge all types of batteries. It is important to confirm the settings on the charger to match the battery type. Normally, your converter functions as a battery charger when the trailers shore cord is plugged in to shore power.
Charge the battery to its recommended voltage level. Avoid overcharging the battery, as this can lead to damage and reduce the battery’s lifespan.
Very importantly, the lead acid batteries should not be fully discharged. The battery charge should not be below 50%. Discharged batteries will reduce its capacity by approximately 10% each time it is discharged below 50%. You can extend the life of the battery by immediately charging a battery which has been discharged. If the lead acid battery is fully discharged (below 50%) regularly it will fail quickly.
WHAT IS THE READING ON A TRAILER LEAD ACID BATTERY AT A LOW CHARGE?
While it is logical to think that a 12v battery when 50% discharged will read 1/2 of 12, or 6, this is not correct. A 12v battery when 50% discharged with have a meter reading of 12.10 V. A fully charged 12 V battery will read 12.73 V on the volt meter.
If tested and the battery meter shows 0V that means the battery has gone bad, either due to short circuit of neglected maintenance. When you fully charge the battery and the voltmeter still reads less than 12.7V this may mean your battery is undercharging due to sulfation.
Below is a chart to indicate the voltage level of the battery when tested with a volt meter.
Percentage 12V Reading
Discharging batteries deeply (below 50% capacity) shortens their life. Therefore, it’s important to have sufficient battery capacity. Re-charge discharged batteries as soon as possible. Don’t allow a battery to remain at a low state of charge for an extended period, even overnight. Leaving a battery discharged causes the cells to become “sulfated” and they lose their ability to receive and hold a charge.
STORING YOUR 12V TRAILER BATTERY
The longer after its initial use and the battery sits without operating, or the longer the battery is into its life span, the less of a charge the battery will hold. When a battery is new, it should hold 100% capacity, meaning it is holding the full charge it was intended to. Instead of holding 100% capacity, it will gradually drop down to 90%, 70%, 40%, and more until it is destroyed.
HOW DO I REMOVE AND STORE RESTROOM TRAILER BATTERY?
The correct way to remove the battery from trailer is to first disconnect the negative terminal. If the battery terminals don’t have positive/negative marking, then be sure you mark/label them before putting the battery into storage. This is important. By first removing the negative line you will avoid the short that may be caused due to any capacitance charge devices on positive circuit line touching the ground. When you are putting the batteries back you do the exact opposite.
WHEN IS IT TIME TO REPLACE MY RESTROOM TRAILER BATTERY?
For lead-acid batteries, beware of the following signs that it’s time to for a new battery.
Are you frequently recharging your trailer battery?
Is your trailer battery is not holding a charge as well as it used to?
Is your trailer battery is swelling or leaking?
Are your trailer lights are dimming?
All of these are signs that your battery may need to be replaced.
SUMMARY KEYS TO MAINTENANCE OF A RESTROOM TRAILER BATTERY
Importantly, the trailer battery maintenance is key to extending the life of your Flooded Led Acid Battery.
Firstly, your battery must receive power from an external source and must be charged on a regular basis. Avoid discharging the battery below 50% of their capacity, and recharge them as soon as possible. Battery power can be measured with a voltmeter at the battery terminals. To use the volt meter properly, the battery must be disconnected from a converter battery charger.
You’ll need to regularly check water levels and keep the terminals clean and corrosion-free. Add distilled water to replace water lost during operation the conventional flooded-type battery.
A fully charged battery at rest (no load or charging being done) should read 12.73 volts. A 50% charged battery would be 12.10 volts. Use a maintenance type charger (or smart-type power converter) during periods of storage.
WHAT IS DOES THE ELECTRICAL CONVERTER DO FOR THE RESTROOM TRAILER?
Your trailer is normally equipped with a 120v to 12v Converter which uses the 120v power from the shore line cord and converts the power down to 12v to operate the 12v lights, 12v water pump, any other 12v fixtures. But just as importantly, the converter will charge the installed battery when the shore cord for the converter is plugged in to matching shore power cord or an electrical generator.
Please be aware if the type of battery is changed from a lead acid battery in your trailer the existing charger will also need to be changed to match the type of battery you install.
HOW DO I GREASE MY RESTROOM TRAILER’S AXLES?
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HOW DO I INSPECT MY RESTROOM TRAILER’S TIRES?
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WHAT IS MY SELF MAINTENANCE TIME SCHEDULE?
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