Ever wonder what happens at the RV park when the gates close for the end of season? Well stick around for the inside scoop, as we walk through all the steps involved in winterizing this park LHR (Lake Huron Resort), very similar to any vacation home, anything with water is susceptible to freezing. And if it freezes it will break, so there are roughly two hundred sites which means two hundred water spigots each made of brass and subject to freezing so now you start to get the idea that this is a major undertaking.
So let’s start at the washrooms, toilets, urinals, sinks, showers, now the utility room because the park has its own water supply which is feed by a deep well, there are galvanized pressure tanks, a chlorination system, a hot water tank for laundry and showers, multiple spigots. Now the laundry room and the washing machines, the pool pump room with all the water feeds to the pool and the out door shower at the pool. Hell even our honey wagon needs to be winterized, all the equipment that has water cooled engines (the tractors and such) needs to have the antifreeze strength checked to ensure no possible freezing, the pressure washer, the water pumps we use to drain the pool, it is a long check list.
So the first night of closing the water system is shut down and the three large pressure tanks are drained, this takes about twelve hours through a garden hose with just gravity helping. These tanks will become our reserve tanks for compressed air, that the two air compressors will fill, this will take hours to build up enough the air pressure which will be used to blow the water out of thousands of feet of underground water lines. So once pressurized, every site spigot will be blown out by the air pressure and we also check every site to ensure any thing left attached to the water system gets blown out. This is a long process moving through the park making sure every water spigot is drained, remembering just one drop of water can damage or break a water tap. The water system is too large to fill with antifreeze so removing all the water is the only option and rest assured it is a slow methodical process, I can remember charging the system in the spring took the best part of a day and that was quick side of it just run the tap till the water started, this is a more tedious task with each spigot flushed out three times.
The first day after closing, the water heater is drained, the water supply is shut off at the deep water well pump, and the chlorination system removed along with the water meter. The parks water system is broken down into three separate systems, the washroom building which includes laundry and pool room, the north side sites, and the south side sites. So each area is tackled on its own with the washroom building being the most complicated and most likely the most important, because it is all above ground level so most susceptible to freezing, for a little water left in a buried water line has to have the ground freeze to that level to do any damage.
So the valve to each section is closed and the air compressor is connected to the the pressure tanks and air pressure is built to about the same pressure as a normal vehicle tire, next the shower heads are removed and the air purge begins, with each tap, toilet, urinal, being purged three or four times. In fact they are purged until all the water quits flowing, starting with the furthest away items in this case the pool shower and the dump station tap, then working into every item in each washroom, and then repeat, and repeat again. After being satisfied the water is out we now vacuum the water out of the toilet bowls, it is at this point the antifreeze is added to every drain trap, so every sink, toilet bowl, urinal, shower drain, even the drain in the floors have to be winterized.
Next to the laundry room and the washing machines, remembering the machine and floor drains. In the utility room we use a hose to vacuum the water feed from the well pump, a garden hose slides into this feed line to vacuum the water down below the frost line then it is filled with antifreeze. Now the pool pump room, now much of work was done when the pool was closed but now the lines to the pool need to be protected. There is one line that pushes filtered and warmed water to the pool and there are five jets around the pool, this is the task that determines the level needs to be pumped down to. As they need to be exposed to the air, so the water jets are removed, and plugs installed, the lines are blown out the plugs installed as it is filled with antifreeze, this is definitely a two person task as one adds the antifreeze in the pool room while one watches and plugs each jet in the pool.
The second and third lines from the pool room to the pool run to the skimmers that are located one on each side of the pool. And each pool skimmer has a second line that runs to the drains in the bottom of the pool, this needs a special process to winterized, we need to fill that line full of air, to keep the water out of it as much as possible, so we add air until the first bubbles show at each drain, then we seal them off. Now we vacuum and blow the water out of each skimmer line and fill with antifreeze and again seal the off with plugs to contain the antifreeze. A mistake with any of this would be costly and could delay the opening of the pool in the spring if the concrete deck has to be torn up, so slow and careful are what this is all about.
And on the second day after closing the north and south sites are charged with air and the task of flushing every water spigot on every site begins, again starting at the furthest point from the supply and working our way through a couple of hundred sites. The more care spent on this task the less chance of leaks and breakage in the spring, so a few extra moments now saves hours spent digging in the spring, but even as careful as we may be the frost can still play havoc with buried water lines.
Now as all the water has been closing down, there is also many more tasks happening to the preparing the gardens for the winter, cleaning, maintaining, and stowing the equipment away for the winter, repairs made, oil changes, blades sharpened for the spring opening. The store, hall and the owners living area have to have some preparation as well, as no one lives here full time in the off season, the risk of big storms taking out the power are very real, so every thing has to be prepared for the worst case senecio, and planning is what it comes down to.