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Old 10-03-2015, 08:15 AM   #1
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Keeping Airstream constantly warm when not using

I will have my Airstream parked in an area that will see below freezing temps several times during the winter and I will be using it periodically. I will find it a hassle to put anti freeze in the lines every few weekends when I use it and then have to clean the lines out. My trailer will be hooked to AC the whole time so I was wondering if anybody has a recommendation for a safe space heater with a digital thermostat so I can keep the temp set just set about 5 degrees above freezing. I have found some safe space heaters but the thermostats are
hot cold turn Knobs with no exact temp settings. I want to set it at an exact temp.

I will have my trailer parked in an area that is not close to home and I want to make sure the lines don't freeze so when I show up can use it immediately.
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Old 10-03-2015, 08:59 AM   #2
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having power hooked up is no guarantee the the power won't go out. also, the space heater won't heat the tanks. if you can, i'd set the furnace to come on as a backup to the electric.
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Old 10-03-2015, 09:23 AM   #3
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I've done this. Get a ceramic portable heater. They are safe and have temp settings. Works for the inside pipes. Remember to open all sink cabinet doors so heat can get to the pipes.

I always blow the pipes out with compressed air and make sure tanks are empty when doing this. Just another precaution. Keep a jug of pink stuff on hand and pour a little in sink and shower traps just because. That won't hurt and you don't have to do anything to clean out for your next trip. Just add some water to fresh water tank and go camping! No mess no fuss!

Oh, be sure to drain hotwater heater when you drain all the tanks! I leave all low point drains, frest water tank and hotwater heater drain open until next trip.

Never had a problem.
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Old 10-03-2015, 09:31 AM   #4
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Thanks for the info. I always drain my water tanks and the hot water heater. I like the idea of putting anti freeze in traps. years ago when I would leave I blew out the lines with an air compressor and drained all the tanks. The problem I ran into was the faucets froze and cracked. I learned my lesson the hard way and have put pink anti freeze in for the winter. I would prep it for winter and come back in the warm spring. Now I plan on camping in the winter every few to several weeks.
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Old 10-03-2015, 09:39 AM   #5
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Brian,
I think the safest thing to do is blow out your water lines, drain the water heater and FW tank. Also open the low point drains. The water lines below the floor may be subject to freezing if you have only a space heater in the interior. This would be relatively easy to do IF you have access to an air compressor. The space heater could keep the drain traps from freezing if you open the cabinet doors under the sinks. This certainly won't be as simple as switching on a space heater but is not too difficult.

Dan
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Old 10-03-2015, 09:59 AM   #6
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I have had no issues with broken lines in my trailer and all I do is blow the lines out. I do put some pink stuff in the traps. The toilet fill valve seems to be the biggest problem. I usually remove the lines to the water pump as well. A space heater on low will keep pipes from freezing if all tanks are empty. Opening cabinet doors will help. I have found the cheap heaters with the thermostat will come on when the temp gets low enough. Open all faucets and drain the shower hose. Water freezing is not as big of a problem when it has a place to go. When it gets trapped between two closed valves, it has to expand as it freezes and something will break. Replacing copper with PEX helps a lot.

Perry
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Old 10-03-2015, 10:16 AM   #7
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I have two airstreams and had to replace both toilet valves. Last year I put a brand new toilet in one of my airstreams in the fall. I tested the toilet and drained all my lines. I thought I got all my lines free of water and found out last weekend when I took the restored trailer on its first trip the toilet valve cracked and leaked. I replaced it last week. I never had a freeze problem where I live before, but last winter was exceptionally cold and the toilet valve was the only thing that got freeze damage. I will put a electric heater in it this year. I will use it during the winter. I guess I better get used to adding pink antifreeze every time I use it. The other one is very far away so I won't be able to monitor it. I have been checking the different heaters to see which one is the safest on to use.
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Old 10-03-2015, 10:34 AM   #8
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The digital thermostat electric heater you propose may have two issues.

1. It can only measure the temperature where the heater is, which may or may not be what you need to keep pipes and traps from freezing a number of feet away and near the floor or outside walls. In other words an "accurate thermostat" will not insure constant temps all over your trailer.

2. Electronic digital thermostats built into heaters very often lose their temperature setting when a power failure occurs, even a minor one like a half second blip in the power. When the power returns, the thermostat has essentially turned the heater off. So, beware of that issue.
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Old 10-03-2015, 10:49 AM   #9
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We use a Dyson Hot space heater. It measures temperature at it's air intake near its base, heats it and combines it with ambient air pushing it deep into the trailer. It keeps the inside temperature very even throughout the trailer, and is accurate. Does not lose it setting if power is interrupted. High quality so it's expensive, but there are often coupons as well as factory reconditioned heaters that are as nice as new.

You can't effectively heat the plumbing under the floor this way so is important to drain and blow out the lines.
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Old 10-03-2015, 11:07 AM   #10
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cabinetmaker, won't your antifreeze drain out if you leave your low point drains open?
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Old 10-03-2015, 11:25 AM   #11
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Winter heating

Airstream trailers are designed to have some of the furnace heat directed to the under the floor tanks.

Heating the space abovee the floor is OK, but it will not protect those tanks from freezing.

If a freeze happens, and lasts for more than 3 or 4 hours, then the tanks "WILL FREEZE" unless warm air is circulated around them

Best way is to set the furnace thermostat to the lowest temperature possible assuring that if that interior temperature is reached, that the furnace will indeed turn on.

Not doing so, will most likely result in frozen tanks and/or frozen water lines, that cost a lot of money to repair, and unless all of it is repaired, then for the trailers that have copper tubing water lines, the coach will forever provide new leaks in new places, especially the fittings.

Best thing to do when freeze is anticpated, is to properly winterize the trailer, or keep some heat in it. Your 2 choices.

Andy
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Old 10-03-2015, 11:56 AM   #12
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Same situation

I bought my first Airstream, this past December. Being anxious to use it my wife & I did not want to winterize it. Luckily, we have 30 amp electrical service available to us all of the time. The heat pump will work up to a certain extent. When the temp gets to 40 degrees the furnace automatically turns on. The furnace will keep everything warm enough, even the holding tanks. The only problem I encountered was having to fill the propane tanks. The furnace works on propane only. So if the temp gets cold enough & stays cold you'll be using & refilling the propane tanks. Good luck.Hope this helps.
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Old 10-03-2015, 12:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by perryg114 View Post
I have had no issues with broken lines in my trailer and all I do is blow the lines out. I do put some pink stuff in the traps. The toilet fill valve seems to be the biggest problem. I usually remove the lines to the water pump as well. A space heater on low will keep pipes from freezing if all tanks are empty. Opening cabinet doors will help. I have found the cheap heaters with the thermostat will come on when the temp gets low enough. Open all faucets and drain the shower hose. Water freezing is not as big of a problem when it has a place to go. When it gets trapped between two closed valves, it has to expand as it freezes and something will break. Replacing copper with PEX helps a lot.

Perry
This is what I do and no problems with freezing. I live in the mountains in Colorado and have no backup heat source.
I blow each fixture line out three or four times to make sure all the water is out. The toilet valve seems to hold water the longest but eventually will be completely blown out.
I have done it enough times so it only takes me about 40 minutes.
When it is time to go camping, I turn on the pump or city water and refill everything. No bad taste because no anti freeze in the lines.
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Old 10-03-2015, 12:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cabinetmaker View Post
I've done this. Get a ceramic portable heater. They are safe and have temp settings. Works for the inside pipes. Remember to open all sink cabinet doors so heat can get to the pipes.

I always blow the pipes out with compressed air and make sure tanks are empty when doing this. Just another precaution. Keep a jug of pink stuff on hand and pour a little in sink and shower traps just because. That won't hurt and you don't have to do anything to clean out for your next trip. Just add some water to fresh water tank and go camping! No mess no fuss!
Never had a problem.
Precisely what I do in central Texas.. If your A/S has an outside faucet like my Classic, make sure to drain that faucet and leave it open. I also blow out the black tank flush.

The most critical spot is the shower drain. If that freezes and cracks, you have a major problem. Make sure there is plenty of pink stuff in there.
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