How To Keep RV Pipes From Freezing While Camping (2023)
Camping is becoming more popular since recreational vehicles (RV) make camping more convenient and straightforward. In the past, people only chose to go camping on beautiful sunny days. However, nowadays, it is possible to go camping in winter. It must be an exciting experience.
To have integral camping on cold days, you should prepare more carefully. One of the things you should care for is your RV pipes since they can be frozen quickly under cold weather. Don’t worry; let’s find out how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping.
The Importance of RV Pipes While Camping
Imagine how you feel if there is no appearance of water during your camping time. What a disaster! If you have a day camp trip, some water bottles from the supermarket are enough for your drinking. However, if you are going on an extended camping trip with your RV car, it is essential to check the RV pipes carefully before you start and during your trip.
Each RV has a water tank to store water for the whole trip, and RV pipes are used to transfer this water to other parts of the car for different use purposes. Water from the freshwater tank goes through a water pump and the pipe system to the toilet, bathroom, sinks, and kitchen.
Therefore, it means that if there is any problem with your RV pipes that prevents them from working correctly, the only way you can use the water is to open the tank and scoop water out into a basin. I believe that no one wants to endure that.
Furthermore, you should notice that water stored in the tank is at an environmental temperature. Therefore, in winter, the water is frigid, and you need to heat it before use. RV pipes transfer water from the tank to the heating system before it comes to taps for use. So, you will not have warm and hot water to use if your RV pipes are in trouble.
Under that circumstance, if you need hot water, you have to scoop it out from the tank and then use your electric stove to heat it. How inconvenient and time-consuming it is. Therefore, your RV pipes need special care before and during your trip so that your camping time can be the most enjoyable.
How To Prevent RV Plumbing From Freezing
Freezing is the most common issue which your RV plumbing has to face in cold weather. Once it is frozen, it is neutralized, and water from the RV tank can not run through taps for use. Therefore, if you are a person loving camping in winter, you should learn how to prevent your RV plumbing from freezing.
Let’s start from the outside to the inside of the RV.
The first thing you should do is to keep your freshwater hoses from freezing. If you are traveling, fill up your freshwater tank and disconnect all the water hoses each night. If you will park your RV for an extended length of time, consider insulating and heating your water hoses.
Follow these three simple steps:
- Use heat tape to wrap the first layer around the hoses
- Cover them the second layer with foam insulation
- Wrap again with one more layer of heat tape
Also, don’t forget to insulate the faucet where it connects the hose to the RV. If the temperature is below zero, you should do one more extra step: open all the faucets and let them dip overnight. It wastes a little bit of water, but it is helpful to keep your water hoses from freezing.
Sewer lines might also need some attention in sub-freezing weather. It may be necessary to support those hoses that provide routing slopes from the RV sewer connection to the park’s sewer hookup. Do the same as you do with the water hoses.
You can use straight sections of a thin wall of PVC pipe and necessary fittings to complete your thorough cup in worse cases. The PVC will stand up to the cold temperatures better than plastic sewer hoses.
Water and holding tanks
Once your water and sewer lines are protected, you need to move on to the freshwater and holding tanks. During the day, when the temperature rises above freezing, what you should do is:
- Drain the fresh water tanks
- Keep tank valves closed and only open them when necessary
But on frigid days, when the temperature drops deeply, you may want to consider insulating or heating your tanks.
Cover the water tank with a wood box
If your RV is parked for a while, tank insulation can be exposed, and holding tanks can be fabricated. Under this circumstance, you should build a small light wood box around the tank and line it with fiberglass. A small electric bulb can be used to provide a safe source of heat.
Use heating pads
Another alternative that can be considered is adding heating pads designed strictly for the RV holding tank. They are usually 12-volt products, so they will pull power from the converter or batteries.
A heating pad has a self-adhesive back so you can stick it to the tank when the temperature decreases below 40 degrees Fahrenheit; the thermostat inside can kick on and start warming. By the time you hit those freezing temperatures, this thing has already been on and warming up the tank. The water inside will get warm.
These heating pads can be purchased from any RV parts dealership camping catalogs and will allow you to use your holding tanks as you normally would without fear of them freezing up.
Step 1: Cleaning
Please fill all the black and gray tanks with fresh water and then drain them by leaving both gate valves open. Water will wash away all dust and dregs. It would help if you also cleaned the water heater. It is simple.
- Open the pressure valve so that the water is disconnected and there is no water going to the coach, and the water pump is off.
- Close the relief valve.
- Take the drain plug out, and the water will start coming out.
- Reopen the valve to get it to come out at a quicker speed.
- Check all the faucets in your RV to make sure that there is no water running out.
Step 2: Add antifreeze
- Install a water pump converter kit
- Get the whole house filter off
- Take the inside water filter out
- Put an empty water bottle in to create some space so that you can save your antifreeze
- Put the housing filter back in its place
- Take the cap off the winterizing hose and stick it to the bottom of the RV antifreeze can
- Turn the water pump on
Step 3: Let the antifreeze flow out
- Go around and open each faucet until you see the antifreeze flows out.
- Wait until the antifreeze spread throughout the RV water system
- Keep all faucets open
- Pour a half cup of the antifreeze left down the sink, bathroom, and toilet drain to prevent any remaining water from freezing.
What Should Do If RV Plumbing Has Frozen Already?
Once your RV plumbing is already frozen, all you need to do is heat it. All of you know that the heat can melt ice into water, and then the plumbing can work properly again. Do not try turning on your water pump if you suspect that your lines are frozen since the ice can puncture the diaphragm causing damage to the water pump.
If you do so, you will have to either get a repair kit or replace the water pump altogether. So don’t do that if you suspect that they are frozen. Find ways to get everything warms up. That’s it.
Step 1: Locate
The first thing you need to do is locate the water tank and water pump to check out the area and see what is going on. Please take off the water tank cover to be heated when you crank up the heat.
If your water pipes are already frozen, and you know you have fresh water in the tank and the lines, you should pull the plugs on the low point drains to see if water starts flowing out.
If it does, your pipes may not freeze. If nothing comes out, then there is a good chance that it is frozen solid, and we are going to have to thaw anything out.
Step 2: Open up
Open up all the cabinets and drawers underneath the bathroom, sink, and anywhere else you can get to that has plumbing pipes. Then close all the doors and windows so that the heat does not escape from your RV.
Step 3: Crank on
Once you are sure that everything that involves water is exposed as possible, you should crank the heat. It will take about six to eight hours to heat your whole RV. It varies depending on the type of RV you have and how accessible all your pipes are.
If you are sure that everything is frozen solid, you will have to give these one or two days. Remember to get everything warmed up before you turn on the water pump. The longer you keep everything heated up, the better your chances are for success.
Step 4: Check
Once you believe that your RV gets warmed up enough, you should check to ensure that everything is ready for the winterizing process.
- Close the drain plugs
- Turn on the water pump
- Keep your finger crossed and hope
- Turn a faucet on to check whether there is water running out or not.
- If all the air is out of the lines and you can hear the water pump going. It is a good sign.
The Most Things To Freeze In An RV System
Metal is sensitive to temperature, so it can quickly get cold and freeze in cold weather. Therefore, metal components in your RV system are the things that have the most chance of being frozen.
However, it is also effortless to thaw ice from them since they can endure high heat, and you can apply heat directly on these metal parts.
If I have to place parts of an RV system in a descending rank according to the vulnerability to freezing, it would be:
- The water pump
- The freshwater storage tank
- The gooseneck drains of the sinks
- The gray and black tanks
Common Tips for Winter Camping
Choose a four-season RV
As you might guess, RVs do not have as good insulation as a brick home. Some RVs but not all come as a four-season certified rig; this means you can expect better installations in a four-season capable RV, including the floor, the wall, and the ceiling. You may also get dual pane windows to prevent heat loss.
A furnace is an indispensable piece of equipment for your RV in cold weather. Most RVs come with a propane-based furnace which releases heat into the RV and down into the storage bays near your tanks to maintain the warm air and keep this area from freezing. Oil filled electric heaters or portable space heaters are also a good choice.
Increase insulation value
- Seal all windows and doors to reduce heat loss and prevent cold winter winds.
- Use insulative pillows, put the reflective side down to reflect the heat into your RV.
- Insulate the floors with heavy rugs or carpets
- Install RV skirting around the base to prevent cold air blowing underneath and freezing the water tanks.
Protect the RV plumbing
- Use heat tape to wrap the water hoses and sewer lines
- Open all cabinets and draws while the heater is on to get them warmed up
- Add antifreeze to the water supply system to prevent all water lines and valves from freezing.
Don’t keep water on overnight.
Before you go to sleep, turn off the water system and drain all the hoses if possible to prevent them from cracking and leaking when the water inside them gets frozen.
At what temperature will my RV water freeze?
When the temperature falls below 32 for around 24 hours, your RV pipes can be frozen if you don’t do anything to protect them. Your RV water can freeze faster if the temperature drops deeply.
How cold is too cold for an RV?
The ideal temperature for RV camping is above 32 degrees F. If it drops below that index, your RV plumbing system can be frozen in 8 to 24 hours, depending on what you have done to insulate it.
Can my RV pipes freeze in one night?
It is possible if the temperature dips much below 32 degrees F. Under this circumstance, you will see your RV get frozen when you get up after a night.
How can I thaw frozen RV pipes?
There are different ways to thaw frozen pipes, but the only principle is to heat them so that the ice can melt.
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