The thrill of camping in winter is unparalleled; hence, it has become a favorite activity among youths and adventure-seekers. If you go camping regularly, you must be in a recreational vehicle(RV) so that the journey and the camping can be comfortable and enjoyable.
However, when you are going winter camping, the water in the pipes of the RV can freeze. A hard freeze can break down your RV. You may have to spend vast amounts of money on repairing the issue. That is why you should take some precautions to keep your RV pipes from freezing, especially when you are going winter camping.
How To Prepare RV For Cold Camping?
Here are the steps you need to take when you take your RV for winter camping so that there is no incident of freezing pipes and tanks. The process of preparing your RV for cold camping is called winterizing.
1. Things You Require
- Non-toxic anti-freeze for RV (2-3 gallons)
- A Water heater bypass kit and converter kit &
- Black tank cleaner
You can also refer to your RV manual for particular winterizing steps..
2. Remove and Bypass Water Filter
The first thing you need to do is to eliminate the in-line water filters in your RV. This is because of the damaged water filters; the chemicals get winterized. You can even replace your old water filter that has been contaminated.
3. Drain Out Water Tanks
You should consider draining your RV’s water tanks, such as black and grey water tanks. But you must drain out the black water tank and then the grey water tank. Besides, you should clean the water tanks and make them dry. You can use black tank cleaner or perhaps a backwasher for the same.
You should also drain out wastewater. Since there is no more water, there is no question of freezing. This is also important from a hygiene perspective because this will prevent bacterial growth.
4. Drain Out Water Heater
Turn off the water heater and let its temperature come down. After that, you need to drain out the water heater. You must unplug the drain plug & pressure relief valve to drain the water. Along with the water heater, you should drain out the water lines as well as the flush and faucets of the toilet so that there is no freezing issue.
5. Put Antifreeze Throughout
If you are winterizing your RV, installation of antifreeze is essential. This prevents residual water from freezing in RV pipes, lines, and tanks. To put antifreeze, you will need a water pump converter kit. You can detach the pump inlet & place it in the antifreeze bottle.
Switch on the water pump, and the antifreeze will go through your water system. When you know that antifreeze is all over the water system in your RV, you can turn off your water pump. Pour the antifreeze into the toilet and drains as well.
How To Prevent Frozen Pipes Where You Are Camped?
In the previous section, we have discussed how you can prepare your RV for winterization. In this section, we will discuss the steps you need to take to prevent winterization while you are at your campsite.
Before going to that, when you’re driving your RV, you can keep your furnace in low heat settings so that the pipes do not freeze. When you reach the campsite and the temperature is sub-zero, you can find ice building up in dump valves & all over the termination cap. You can use a heat gun to melt the ice.
You should flush the water system to remove all the antifreeze that you have put in the previous section. All you need to do is ensure water flow for ten minutes. Thereafter, you can fill the water tank however make sure the tank is not full. This is because if the water turns into ice, there must be enough area for expansion.
1. Insulate Water Hoses
You need to insulate the outer water hoses to keep water within from freezing. You will need electrical tape, all-weather tape, pipe wrap insulation, and pipe heating cable kit. You should lay the hose on the ground and you should connect the cable and the hose at a regular interval of one feet. Thereafter, cover the insulation layer along with an all-weather tape. You can put the exterior hoses into the RV to prevent exposure and damage. Similarly, you require insulating the sewer hose.
2. Insulate Water Valves
You will find the water valves in exterior compartments. You should also keep the water tank full by 25%. This is because the water in a so-called empty tank is sure to freeze & form clogs in valves & hoses. You can even use a tank heater which acts as one electric blanket to keep the temperature from going below zero.
3. Proper RV Insulation
You should take the initiative to insulate your RV as a whole. This will prevent the freezing of pipes, hoses, valves, and tanks. Besides, this will enhance the energy efficiency of your RV and keep you comfortable.
a. Doors & Windows
You should have a win insulation shrink toolkit and hang insulation drapes. Use of a door snake and weather stripping for doors are also useful. In fact, if you have the budget, you can replace the regular doors & windows with insulated ones for RV.
There is a material called RV skirting that you can place around the RV to keep heat from escaping into the surrounding. This will ensure that you need less propane for heaters as well as preventing freezing. RV skirting involves vinyl material, tarps, and boards for insulation.
c. Insulate Vents and Undercarriage
Vents are where the warm air within an RV can escape. You can use vent covers for this purpose. You can also use foam board, draft shield, or insulating material. There are several openings underneath the RV for hoses, cables, & others. You can spray aerosol foam to block the openings. You can also put foam board on the floor of the RV for insulation.
What To Do When Hoses Have Frozen?
Let us assume that the hoses have frozen and here are the steps to follow.
1. Work Hose Connections
Ice builds up inside the hose connections, and you can use one heat gun to properly thaw the ice. You can heat them up from various angles so that there is no ice left. You should heat them up for at least ten minutes.
2. Disconnect Hoses
Once all the ice melts, you should disconnect the hoses from your water supply. If the hoses do not disconnect easily, the ice is still there. In that case, you should be thawing again by heating them up. After disconnecting them, you should warm them up within your RV so that there is no trace of ice. You can keep the hose in your washroom under water so that ice melts quickly.
3. Look For Damage
If you find that ice has built up inside the hoses, you can check for damage in them. This is because due to the expansion of ice, there are chances of those components getting raptured. You should watch out for cracks and splits and replace them.
Useful Tips To Keep RV Pipes from Freezing
You can consider this as a summary of all the points we have discussed along with points that you must keep in mind:
1. Open Cabinet Doors
You should open the cabinet doors when it is freezing outside. This will allow the warm air inside the RV to flow to the connected pipes and hoses. Therefore, the entire interior of the RV will maintain a constant temperature which will prevent the exterior wall from freezing easily.
2. Heat Up Storage Bays
Storage bays have general pipes, water pipes, and gadgets that can get affected by freezing temperature. You should purchase four-season campers where heat ducts run along the storage bays to prevent them from freezing. If heat ducts are not present, you can use a space heater.
3. Wrap with Heat Tape
You should wrap the essential RV pipes with heat tape. Heat tapes are a special type of tapes that you plug into an electrical outlet, and that is how the warmth spreads through. You can even cover the heat tape with extra insulation material for better protection from freezing temperature.
4. Skirt Your RV
We have already talked about skirting RV. When you park your RV at a campsite, the cool air flows from underneath. RV skirting prevents this from happening as it surrounds the pipes. Apart from cool air flowing, it stops building up of ice and snow on the applied parts to a greater extent.
5. Use Water Tanks Wisely
You should use a freshwater tank more often and let the wastewater tank fill up. The more water in a tank, the less are the chances of the water freezing. You should also close the grey valve so that water does not accumulate in valves that can break them open.
6. Insulate RV Bays
The more your spend time and effort it takes to insulate your RV, the better will be the chances to prevent the pipes and bays from freezing. You should add insulation to holes and cracks so that outside cold wind does not flow inside. You have to pay attention to the storage bays to ensure the entire interior stays warm constantly.
7. Pick A Warmer Area
When it is winter, and you want to camp, you should pick a warmer location. Even in a warmer location, you will get the feel of the chilly winter but you won’t damage RV. You can enjoy the camping session without worrying about freezing pipes.
It is not very difficult to keep your RV pipes free of freezing while camping but you need to follow the correct steps. You have to perform precautionary steps beforehand as well as perform the stated steps when you are at the campsite. We have also stated what to do when your RV pipes get frozen so that you can enjoy your camping without worrying about your RB breaking down.