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Old 11-20-2011, 01:44 PM   #15
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Isn't there some way to wrap the pipes with something like an electric blanket and just run it on electricity?
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Old 11-20-2011, 02:13 PM   #16
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All electric resistance heaters consume a lot of power. That's why the all electric home was not a good idea and many were converted to other forms of heating.

Using 120 v. heat tape and an inverter adds to the inefficiency. Same with a 120 v. electric blanket which because of its size would dissipate heat far from the pipe unless they make them for babies. Our trailer has a few 12 v. receptacles, so if I were trying to heat pipes, I would hope to find one close by.

You could try one of the little defrosters and check batteries with a voltmeter before and after an hour or more to see if you are discharging or not. The TV charge line does not provide all that many amps. When I had a 1959 VW I would have loved a defroster since I was afraid to breath on a cold morning because the windshield would fog up, but the VW was 6 v. and the heater would have been 12. I got the VW about 1980 from a client who couldn't pay me, drove it for a while, and sold it to a collector for a profit. It sure was cold in the winter. But I later got a VW bus I used for camping sometimes that actually had a fan to defrost the windows. I used a catalytic heater in that, but had to keep windows opens to prevent fumes from overwhelming us.

The suggestion of using a catalytic heater has some merit if you can ensure it will never fall over, never get too close to something the heat can damage, nit put out dangerous fumes and that it has a working switch to turn it off if it does tip over.

Or, just drive south.

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Old 11-20-2011, 02:51 PM   #17
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It's not trying to keep the pipes warm while in an RV park or campground with power. It's keeping them from freezing while going down the road. Short of running dry, I am trying to come up with other methods.
I don't think contact type heat tapes will work for PEX. Also would think the heat tapes would be a fire hazard since most of the piping is in contact with the wood floor.
The area of piping that is most susceptible to freezing is the water line that runs from the front of the trailer to the back on the street side along with that 4 runs to the galley sink on the curb side. The curb side does have the furnace duct work running in the same space as the hot and cold for the galley sink, with a little work I could locate the lines on top of the heat duct to keep them warm when the furnace is running.
I am still seriously considering rerouting the curb side line thru the upper cabinets since there are no joints or connections the risk of a leak causing any damage would be minimal. Also still considering running a generator while going down the road on those below 26 degree trips.
If I were to reroute the pipes to heated spaces and run a generator, I could run a couple of ceramic heaters as I said before. 2500 watts of electric heat is about 9000 BTU of heat. That should be more than sufficient to keep things from freezing.
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Old 11-20-2011, 03:09 PM   #18
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Running the generator would give me an excuse to buy a Honda 3000. LOL. The 4 in the previous post is a typo. Typing on this iPod is like using a baseball bat for a stylus on a keyboard with my fat fingers.
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Old 11-20-2011, 03:14 PM   #19
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How about those packs that create heat for injuries? They might be an expensive way to do this though. I doubt Pex is very conductive of heat as TG suggests and heat applied in one place may not get far.

At what temp will Pex break? It is reported to be more forgiving than other pipes.

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Old 11-20-2011, 03:48 PM   #20
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There are heat tapes specifically made for PEX; Frostex is one. If you put closed cell insulation over the heat tape and follow the installation directions, this should work. Power consumption is a function for temperature; a quick eyeball estimate looks like 12W/foot of pipe should handle matters down to 0F. Since the tape is internally thermostatically controlled along its length, colder areas will get more power, warmer less.

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Old 11-20-2011, 03:58 PM   #21
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I've never had anything freeze going down the road. We've got a combination of Pex and copper in Bess, prolly frozen a few times, but thawed the next morning. We carry little ceramic heaters to keep both sides of the stern warm and run our big liquid radiators during the night, as well. In sub-freezing temps, there is no place to boondock, find a KOA and plug-in.
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Old 11-20-2011, 04:02 PM   #22
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How long is the trip? Little heat packs like what's used for injuries won't stay hot for too long, maybe 30-45 minutes. I'm using an electric hot pack on my back, it could wrap around a few feet of pipe, gets pretty hot.
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Old 11-20-2011, 04:07 PM   #23
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This is an interesting thread in that we've never had anything in the trailer freeze while in motion with water aboard and the furnace off. We have the trailer warmed before we leave. We drive no more than 3 hours then stop and warm the trailer again. I got really concerned one time when we drove down into a river valley and the temp dipped to 5 degrees, but we stopped within an hour and still no freeze up.
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Old 11-20-2011, 04:22 PM   #24
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radiant heat

For a permanent fix, you might check into radiant floor heating...they sell it for trailers and I think it runs on 12 volt...does anyone know that for sure ??
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Old 11-20-2011, 04:33 PM   #25
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I never add antifreeze to my plumbing, I just use air and blow out the plumbing. A few times while traveling during very cold temps, (0-20F), I have carried a 12 volt air compressor and a blow out plug.

It does't take long to drain the low points and blow out the lines.
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Old 11-20-2011, 10:18 PM   #26
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I have been in State Parks and had power to run the furnace. But still when the outside temp dropped to 16 above for 4 hours or so the line from the FW tank was frozen enough to prevent the pump from delivering water while the living space was quite comfortable. Not enough to cause any damage, just a minor inconvenience as it would thaw out after just an hour or so in the sun.
My objective is to eliminate the inconvenience.
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Old 11-20-2011, 11:06 PM   #27
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After traveling with antifreeze in your pipes do you add more when you arrive?

My RV tech suggests putting a cup of antifreeze in each trap after you add it to the lines.

If you travel and stop do you add more if you are not de-winterizing?

I am considering going from New England to Florida in the winter.

Any suggestions what you do or have done in the past?
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Old 11-21-2011, 08:13 AM   #28
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I know a lot of folks who live up here in sub-zero freezing country and who tow down to Florida or Texas or Mexico in the winter. Without exception, they all do the "porta potty" or "luggable loo" and sponge bath routine during the couple of days it takes to get to warmer climes. They will run furnace (or use shore power if in a campground over night en route) during the night, and they just let the coach get cold while they're driving.

It's simple, easy, and best of all, relatively idiot proof. For my money - and since the idiot who usually tows my trailer (yours truly) often goofs, this just makes sense.
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