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When It's Cold Out

(Aaron asks...)

How do I keep my plumbing in working order when the temperature is below freezing? If I put antifreeze in my septic tanks, fine, but what of my fresh water? When hooked up at a park site how do you keep the fresh water hose from bursting?

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Comments for When It's Cold Out

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Heat Tape, Insulation, and Duct Tape
by: Coleen, the RVing editor

I think you'd have better luck putting salt in your black and gray tanks, rather than antifreeze. You'd need a lot of RV antifreeze to keep a full tank from freezing.

You can get special heating pad blankets to put on your RV tanks. These are made specifically for this purpose.

If your tanks are enclosed in the underbelly of your rig, leaving a vent or door open into the underbelly from the living area will help.

Here's one way we've dealt with the freshwater hose in freezing weather: Wrap the hose in heat tape. Cover it with foam insulation. Wrap it with duct tape to keep it together.

You may find it easier to fill your fresh water tank periodically, rather than to have a hose running continuously.

For more ideas on RVing when it is cold out -- really cold out -- see our cold weather RVing section.

Water in Sub-freezing Temp's...
by: Anonymous

My trailer is 100' from water hookup. I taped a eave de-icing heat tape to the water hose (do not spiral it, lay it along the hose!)...covered that with split foam pipe insulation, then slid it all inside 3" flexible plastic drain tube, like used for downspout extension. Plug it into a Thermo-cube unit that turns it on as temp approaches freezing. Never had a freeze-up!

Using a Thermal Blanket and More Cold Weather RVing Tips
by: Anonymous

I worked in an environment that was 17 degrees below zero and 60 mile an hour winds at times. I did something that made that winter a breeze.

I got a roll of sidewalk insulation cover from a local builders supply. It is four feet wide and 50 feet long, for the one I used. It has five layers of bubble wrap and two tarps attached together. One tarp is silver and the other is black. Turn the black one out to absorb heat from the sun, and the silver side in to reflect your RV heat back in.

I placed it around the bottom of the motor home up to the three foot level, and cut access flaps out where I had places I needed to access. It had a one-foot fold that outward from the motor home, where I laid anything heavy I could find. In my work that means chains and rocks. When the snow came, it was kept out from under the motorhome.

The underside was kept just above freezing by a small electric fan heater. I never froze up.

Note, don't forget if you are in a class C to cover your engine compartment and hood to protect your engine from the extreme temps, and to keep blowing wind from packing snow in places where you will never get it out of when it is time to roll out.

If you place an extension on your exhaust so that it penetrates the thermal lining, you can start your engine on occasion and make the under coach temps rise quickly in case you start getting a frozen tank.

One more modification that is cheap. Place small 500-watt electric heaters in your storage areas and in the basement for those who have them. This will keep the cold from freezing all your supplies, and make it less likely that you will get a frozen water line that might burst when it thaws and spew water all over your RV, or worse, run all night flooding your floor and making a huge ice problem under your RV, not to mention the water bill.

The heat tape on the hose is a good idea inside of split insulation and a flexible outer hose. Don't forget to insulate well right where your water hooks up on your RV.

It really is not that much of a big deal.

Now for the severe winter, stuck in one place, there is one more thing you can do. I have the silver sided bubble wrap that you can get at your local home supply outlet and I have made a cover for the outside and inside of all unnecessary windows, and the roof. It is taped on with the silver colored metallic tape and peals away easily in the spring. You loose a tremendous amount of heat through the uninsulated windows and the roof vents. Once in place, put a dark colored tarp over the roof to protect the insulation bubble wrap and pick up extra heat from the sun.

Batten everything down well and you will have a happy and warm winter.

Crickett Green

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