Year-round RV living can be an amazing experience! But when it comes time for winter, you will need to take some additional steps to prepare your RV against the cold weather elements. Some areas are a no-brainer when it comes to winterizing, but what can you do to keep water from freezing when RVing in winter? There are a few options, depending on your RV!
It is important to note that many RV models come equipped with an enclosed tank bay and heated water tank, which consists of a pad that sticks to the bottom of the water tank and is plugged into your RV’s electrical supply or can be powered by its own battery. A heavily insulated tank area is also useful, and relies on ambient heat from your furnace to heat your tank. This could be enough to keep your water from freezing, but you might need to take further steps to help prevent this problem.
If your RV does not come equipped with these things, you'll need to take extra measure to prevent freezing. Which method you choose depends on how protected your water hoses are on your RV. With a lot of RVs, the water lines are more sheltered, but sometimes you will find they are more exposed on some models. The more enclosed they are, the less you will have to worry about freezing, as they are generally more protected from wind and cold.
Heat tape, which is a system that is used to help heat and maintain the temperature of pipes, is a great way to help prevent hoses from freezing! First, wrap the heat tape along the length of the pipe, leaving the heating element hanging off the end of the hose. Next, you will need to cover the tape with a section of insulation tubing, which should cover the length of the hose. Finally, wrap the insulation in duct tape to secure the insulation around the heating tape. This system uses electricity to heat the tape to prevent your pipes from freezing!
Disconnect From The Local Water Supply
This method involves eliminating the use of the local water supply. Sometimes this will be your main option if you are boondocking or if you are staying at a campground that turns off their water supply during winter months. First, you will need to fill your fresh water holding tank, then disconnect the water hose and store it away from the cold to prevent it from freezing. Next, be sure to empty your gray and black water tanks to allow maximum room for waste, and make sure your sewer valves are closed so you don’t lose water. From there, you will be able to use your fresh water supply, but restrict it for ordinary household use and utilize the campground’s facilities whenever possible. Using too much water could possibly flood the tanks!
There seems to be some debate on which items are best used in conjunction with this process. Again, it depends on your RV! One method is to situate a light bulb or small lamp of some sort between the fresh water holding tank and the water pump. The radiating heat from the light source will help to keep the tank warm. Another way is to use insulation blankets or an electric heating pad with blankets on the water pump. As we mentioned before, you can purchase water tank heaters and apply them yourself to the underside of your water tank. Again, it depends on which of these is right for your specific RV, depending on how protected your hoses and tanks are, and how low the outside temperature actually drops.
Leave The Faucet Running
Just like you might do at home to keep your pipes from freezing, another tactic to keep your RV water hoses from freezing is to keep your faucets running. Moving water is less likely to freeze, although if temperatures are extremely low, you might want to think about another option.
First of all, you will want to empty your gray and black holding tanks, making sure to rinse your black tank to prevent solid waste from building up and hardening. After emptying these tanks, you will want to keep the valve for your gray water tank open, but be sure to close the black tank to prevent odors. This ensures that the constant stream of water will not overflow your tank! After making sure that your sink drains are open, turn on the bathroom and kitchen faucets for a consistent, slow drip. It is recommended that you only employ this option when you are certain that your pipes will freeze, and should wait until just before you go to bed to open the faucets. Also, remember to close your gray water tank in the morning before you start running water again!
Frozen water hoses and tanks can be very inconvenient and can lead to costly repairs. Taking measures before a big freeze can save you a lot of headaches and money in the long run! Have more tips for keeping water from freezing when RVing in winter? Leave us a comment!