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Old 11-12-2011, 09:02 PM   #1
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Freezing up while traveling in cold climates

I have been trying to come up with ways to keep the trailer warm while going down the road. Short of rerouting some of the plumbing. Or running dry, no water.
Thought of installing a second furnace that is ducted specifically to keep the plumbing warm. My first thought is. Would it stay lit going down the road. Second; Is it OK to run it when moving? Legal, I mean.
Second thought would be to have a generator in the back of the TV. I could provide AC power to the trailer and thereby use electric heat to keep the plumbing warm. This would require a conduit under the trailer for the wiring of the shore power cable from the generator in the back of the TV. There would be an outlet mounted in the rear compartment of the trailer to plug the shore power cable into. There would also be a 120 volt AC umbilical cord that would go to the generator in the TV.
Your thoughts and any ideas are welcome.
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Old 11-12-2011, 09:12 PM   #2
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Catalytic heater?
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Old 11-12-2011, 09:34 PM   #3
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Hello TG Twinkie. If you accept the hazards of going down the road with your propane valves open, here are a few thoughts.

I felt I had to do this once in 16-degree temperatures. The main furnace may be useful because the ducts closely accompany the plumbing under gauchos, cabinets, etc. Early in my Airstream ownership, I set the thermostat for 65 and traveled about 350 miles. That alone caused an entire 30# LP cylinder to be used up on this one trip leg. Wind chill & air movement must have made the furnace be on a significant portion of this trip. This experience was not based on any empiric evidence and I certainly erred in this approach.

How I'd do it different? Yes, maybe I'd use the furnace if it was cold enough to warrant. Maybe 30 outside temps won't freeze up your trailer. Will 25? How do you know the break point in such general statements? You know by putting a thermometer down on the floor under your cabinets where the plumbing runs. Be careful -- stop at several points when underway and go back and check the actual temperature. And then operate the furnace if you need to. I'd probably start with a thermostat set point of maybe 50 and then reevaluate by way of my thermometer further on down the road.

A catalytic heater will disperse warm air so generally that I do not feel that it would introduce any warmth under the cabinets down by the floor.

Caution: copper pipes have a greater catastrophe potential than PEX
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Old 11-12-2011, 09:39 PM   #4
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I have replaced all the copper with PEX. The propane line is charged so the refer will continue to work.
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Old 11-12-2011, 09:53 PM   #5
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I've given thought of routing the cold water pipe from the holding tank (located across the front of the trailer) thru the upper storage cabinets. Since it would be a straight run with no joints or connections, the chance of a leak would be minimal, especially with PEX. All of the remaining plumbing is located in the bath cabinetry, except the hot and cold lines going to the galley sink. It would be relatively easy to heat the space in the bath and just slightly more difficult for the piping to the galley. The most vulnerable place right now is where the cold water line crosses behind the refer. The refer vent intake is open to the outside air. I think relocating the line would be easier than trying to keep the aforementioned line from freezing.
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Old 11-12-2011, 10:23 PM   #6
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I vote for running dry - few worries there. I carry a portapottie when needed. If that freezes up it's only a $50 loss.
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Old 11-13-2011, 08:12 AM   #7
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As JamieEllis says "Run Dry" we have done this w/porta pottie in AS and SOB. Easy and NO worries. I think of it as an camping in an Aluminum Tent. I like to keep it simple.
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Old 11-13-2011, 08:29 AM   #8
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I have run with the furnace on and all the cabinet doors open in the 69 ambassador. When the temps dipped to near zero the lines froze to the point there was no water flow but nothing broke.
My current policy when heading south is to just carry a few jugs of water and fill the tanks when far enough south. I also carry a couple gallons of pink stuff in case I have to do an "emergency roadside winterization" on the trip north.
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Old 11-13-2011, 10:21 AM   #9
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for reasonably short trips we just run winterized. Carry gallon bottles of water in the shower. Use a mix of rv fluid and bottled water to flush. no hot water and no shower though. generally my only cold weather camping is when I am caught it it trying to get to some place warm.
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Old 11-13-2011, 12:51 PM   #10
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When we head to Alaska in the early spring, we winterize and porta john from the midwest, through Canada until we get to our RV spot. Then, even though the temperatures at night are in the low 20s, we clean it all up and use the furnace and a little electric heat if needed.
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Old 11-13-2011, 01:04 PM   #11
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Newer thermostats can be set at 40˚ for travel. We've never used the furnace while moving, but we've never had temps lower than about 18˚ in the early morning. By the time we get going it was in the 20's and the trailer will hold some heat for a while, but not all that long.

The water sloshing around in the tanks is unlikely to freeze as long as you keep moving, but that pipe behind the fridge sounds like the weak spot. Is there a way to put valves on each end of it to drain that one section? I suppose you could let a faucet drip and leave the pump on just like people sometimes do at home.

(Jerry, how are you? I don't think I ever sent you the photos we took a couple of years ago. I'll get to it.)

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Old 11-20-2011, 12:18 PM   #12
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Just came across some small windshield defrosters (150 watts or so) with a fan. They are 12 volts and are designed to fit on a sun visor to defrost the windshield or window.
I am considering installing 1 or 2 of these in strategic locations to prevent the pipes from freezing while on the move. They draw about 12 amps each, so I would think the charge line from the TV could keep up with them while the engine is running.
It looks like they would fit in small spaces like the areas where the water lines run without causing a fire hazard.
A reasonably sized inverter could power these units while on shore power along with other 12 volt requirements.
Any thoughts?
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Old 11-20-2011, 12:30 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TG Twinkie
Just came across some small windshield defrosters (150 watts or so) with a fan. They are 12 volts and are designed to fit on a sun visor to defrost the windshield or window.
I am considering installing 1 or 2 of these in strategic locations to prevent the pipes from freezing while on the move. They draw about 12 amps each, so I would think the charge line from the TV could keep up with them while the engine is running.
It looks like they would fit in small spaces like the areas where the water lines run without causing a fire hazard.
A reasonably sized inverter could power these units while on shore power along with other 12 volt requirements.
Any thoughts?
With two of them you're talking about 20 - 25 amps draw. That's, arguably more or most of the supply from your TV. Your batts may slowly drain. Not a big deal, just keep it in mind.......
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Old 11-20-2011, 12:37 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TG Twinkie View Post
Just came across some small windshield defrosters (150 watts or so) with a fan. They are 12 volts and are designed to fit on a sun visor to defrost the windshield or window.
I am considering installing 1 or 2 of these in strategic locations to prevent the pipes from freezing while on the move. They draw about 12 amps each, so I would think the charge line from the TV could keep up with them while the engine is running.
It looks like they would fit in small spaces like the areas where the water lines run without causing a fire hazard.
A reasonably sized inverter could power these units while on shore power along with other 12 volt requirements.
Any thoughts?
If you have some areas of pipe which need protection, just use regular 120 volt heat tape with insulation on the pipes, and run the tape from an inverter. I am sure it would take less power and provide better heating protection than those little defroster heaters, which are much more of a joke than a heater anyway.
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