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Old 12-22-2012, 08:13 AM   #1
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Freezing Weather & Water Tanks

Hi Everyone,

We were wondering how cold weather is dealt with. We might go out to the desert where they have warm days but the temp can drop below freezing. Do the water tanks (fresh, grey, black) freeze up? What do you do about this?

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Old 12-22-2012, 08:30 AM   #2
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If it is warm enough for you inside, should be warm enough to keep things from freezing.

That is the basic rule, we have followed it and never had anything freeze inside.

Happy camping!


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Old 12-22-2012, 08:33 AM   #3
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The tanks are not and issue. They have enough thermal mass that short durations below freezing will not be a problem.

Generally you water lines will sustain themselves over night, even if the trailer in not occupied, as long as the day time temperature has been above 40 degrees and the follow day is expected to be the same. This is because the trailer has absorbed heat during the day greater than what will be removed during the night.

Keep in mind that it takes 80 time as much energy to change a unit of water from 32 degrees liquid to 32 degrees ice as it does to drop the temperature from 33 to 32.

If you are going to see day time temperatures below freezing, that night below freezing and the following day below freezing than it is time to take action.
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Old 12-22-2012, 08:39 AM   #4
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Great

Quote:
Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
The tanks are not and issue. They have enough thermal mass that short durations below freezing will not be a problem.

Generally you water lines will sustain themselves over night, even if the trailer in not occupied, as long as the day time temperature has been above 40 degrees and the follow day is expected to be the same. This is because the trailer has absorbed heat during the day greater than what will be removed during the night.

Keep in mind that it takes 80 time as much energy to change a unit of water from 32 degrees liquid to 32 degrees ice as it does to drop the temperature from 33 to 32.

If you are going to see day time temperatures below freezing, that night below freezing and the following day below freezing than it is time to take action.
Thanks for that! The last paragraph is great advice that I have followed for years without problems.
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Old 12-22-2012, 09:29 AM   #5
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If it's really a concern you can carry cans of water and leave fresh tank empty -- salt in the black and grey tanks. You'll want a thorough flush at end of trip.
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Old 12-22-2012, 09:47 AM   #6
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The tanks are not the problem because as water freezes it expands and the tanks have head space to expand into. The water lines, pump and filters are another thing. They are pressurized and contained and have no expansion space. This is where the freeze problems occur. Expansion in a confined space = something has to give. Hard copper and rigid plastic will give and break. Pex water lines may be a little forgiving based on their flexibility. Maybe a plumber with experience using it will be able to confirm / contradict this. It takes time and a short duration freeze can usually be handled with no injury to the plumbing. Longer durations, maybe not so well. The on board water system is better designed to handle it. If you expect freezing temps and are hooked to an outside hydrant I would recommend disconnecting and using onboard supplies.

A few bottles of water are a good idea to get by also.
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Old 12-22-2012, 01:13 PM   #7
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The salt is so the black/gray tanks won't freeze and can be dumped...
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Old 12-22-2012, 01:24 PM   #8
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Salt water, the ration of salinity of the ocean, will freeze at 28 degrees F. in standing areas.

Now sure I want to be the one testing the salinity in either tank.
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Old 12-22-2012, 01:25 PM   #9
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Depends upon your unit. Newer units have heat to the plumbing area ducted from the furnace. We've camped many freezing nights without problem.
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Old 12-22-2012, 02:14 PM   #10
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I'm not too sure about introducing salt into the system even though it is mostly plastic. For my money putting a gallon of pink RV antifreeze into each holding tank is a better bet and has worked for us to keep the tanks from freezing up as low as -10F. Put the antifreeze in before using the tanks so that there is some antifreeze at the dump valve before the tank contents become diluted with waste.

If I expect that I will need to dump the tanks while it is still below freezing, what I do is put the antifreeze in the gray and black and with the sewage outlet capped, very quickly pull the gray dump valve and immediately close it. This puts a little antifreeze at the cap so it won't freeze in place. If you expect it will be warm when you dump you don't need to do this step.

With the fresh side we don't use the city connection when it is cold. If we have water in the fresh water tank we shut off the pump at night and open a couple faucets to relieve pressure and leave at least one open. If it is very cold, continously below freezing, we don't have water in the fresh tank and use it from water jugs.

This assumes you have the newer heated tanks.
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Old 12-07-2017, 09:16 PM   #11
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I am going to get to about 15 tonight and wondered since the tanks should not freeze then if they are almost full, how much better insulated will I be?
Boy, I really over think thangs.
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Old 12-07-2017, 09:35 PM   #12
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We camped without shore power nine days at Sun Valley, days were up to low 50s, nights were 19. Ran the catalytic heater daytime and the furnace to 45 setpoint at night. Zero problems with water lines or tanks.

Camped one night in eastern Oregon, went down to 11. Ran the furnace same as at Sun Valley. Again no problem.

Camped on a hill side in NC mountains a year ago. Windy day, temps in the low 20s. Water line on the windward side and against the wheel well froze. We realized it, opened the cabinets, blew heat from a small electric portable in there. Funny thing, the water line was a few inches below the furnace duct. We've since sealed the cracks between the wheel well and the floor on that side.

Going down to 24 tonight, high in low 30s tomorrow. 'Bout time to come down off the mountain.
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Old 12-07-2017, 09:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beaerman View Post
I am going to get to about 15 tonight and wondered since the tanks should not freeze then if they are almost full, how much better insulated will I be?
Boy, I really over think thangs.
Oh, I forgot.
V6 EcoBoost Transit Van. It walks and talks up these mountains pullin this 25 cloud. Is that how ya do it?

I forgot, this oil radiant heater keeps us good to 15 outside. I only use the propane when I get out of the shower.

Question: Since when lightening strikes something like a trailer it must find a ground with 1000s of volts. If it has to jump to a ground there will be a fire. Why do rvers insulate there rigs from the surface with those plastic squares?
Footnote: The ground should substantial to transfer the bolt.

Ok, Don't insulate and radiate.
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