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Old 11-23-2013, 06:37 AM   #1
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Question Frozen Dump Pipes

Good Morning from Frozen Minnesota...
We recently return from a two month road trip. I made the mistake of not dumping my holding and fresh water tanks in temperate weather. I went out to winterize my AS yesterday and the dump tank pipes were frozen. I got out the trusty hair blower and was able to thaw the gate on the black water, but alas it is frozen solid above the gate on the pipe that is exposed.

Any suggestions on how to thaw out the pipes from the gray and black water tanks. I have left the heat on so the internal water pipes don't freeze. I plan to empty the fresh water tank by filling pots of water in the sink and then dumping it outside, and then putting rv antifreeze in the inside pipes. I will also heat and then drain the hot water heater.

Both the gray and black water holding tanks are about 1/8 to 1/4 full. Will there be enough room in my holding tanks for expansion if they freeze?

I am going to wrap heat tape around the pipes and see if that does it. Any other ideas.

Thanks for any help.

Next winter...we are not coming back to MN until April or May.

Bert
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Old 11-23-2013, 06:58 AM   #2
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Both the gray and black water holding tanks are about 1/8 to 1/4 full. Will there be enough room in my holding tanks for expansion if they freeze?
Sadly, that makes little difference. When water turns to ice, it expands in all directions, not just up. That's why ice cube trays are tapered rather than having vertical sides. But a holding tank with vertical sides is subject to damage from ice buildup even when partially full.

A question: Can you disconnect the frozen pipes? If so, you can take them inside to thaw. And if you find out they're damaged, you'd have to take them off anyway.
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Old 11-23-2013, 08:17 AM   #3
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If it were me I would build a small temporary enclosure, like a small tent, around the area that is frozen. A space heater in a small area like that should thaw those pipes out pretty quickly. I would leave the heat on inside the trailer too, until everything thaws. Then dump all the holding tanks before winterizing all the pipes.

The best option would be to hook up and drive south ASAP
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Old 11-23-2013, 08:29 AM   #4
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I would use a kerosene salamander heater...from a proper distance, of course.
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Old 11-23-2013, 08:32 AM   #5
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Sadly, that makes little difference. When water turns to ice, it expands in all directions, not just up. That's why ice cube trays are tapered rather than having vertical sides. But a holding tank with vertical sides is subject to damage from ice buildup even when partially
Not sure i am right, but I think the vibrations of being on the road would tend to splash water up from the forming block of ice thus leaving a lose fit after it all froze. I live in Texas so I have limited experience.
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Old 11-23-2013, 10:28 AM   #6
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One thing that may save you with the waste tank freeze is the impurities within the water alowing some compression. These tanks and pipes will crack with ease from inside pressure. One should always be prepared??

You might pour some hot RV antifreeze into the system while leaving some source of heat on in the close vicinity of the dump valves and plumbing.

Hope you are lucky on this one.

Leave the waste cap off for the winter as any water that gets by the valve will freeze and bust the pipe at the cap.

Dave
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Old 11-23-2013, 12:21 PM   #7
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I would use a kerosene salamander heater...from a proper distance, of course.

X2, good idea. One of those kerosene blow heaters.

John
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Old 11-23-2013, 12:35 PM   #8
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Sadly, that makes little difference. When water turns to ice, it expands in all directions, not just up.

I would only expect that to true if the water was freezing at the same rate on all sides.

If the heat is on in the trailer, could not one expect the tank to stay liquid while only the exposed pumping froze, thereby allowing the expansion to push the warmer liquid back into the tank?

Path of least resistance.

I would keep the heat on and wait for a warm day.

I have day this situation in the past, and had nothing broken.


Regards,

JD
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Old 11-23-2013, 04:31 PM   #9
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I suspect your frozen pipes are in up above the belly pan. If so cut a small hole in the pan and insert a hair dryer and turn on.
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Old 11-23-2013, 06:06 PM   #10
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What's the chance of finding someone with a heated barn big enough to park in for a few days ?? The cost of that would be less than repairing the plumbing failures you may be subject to should mother nature get the better of you.

Just a thought that hasn't been mentioned yet.

Good luck
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Old 11-23-2013, 06:13 PM   #11
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Leave the heat on inside your Airstream. Enclose the bottom area with one or more tarps. Duct tape the tarp to your trailer and weight the ground area with rocks. Put an electric space heater inside the "tent". Everything will thaw faster if the sun is shining and day is warm.
I realize the duct tape may leave a residue on your finish but unless you have access to heated indoor storage, you don't have much choice.
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Old 11-23-2013, 06:42 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bertheep View Post
Good Morning from Frozen Minnesota... We recently return from a two month road trip. I made the mistake of not dumping my holding and fresh water tanks in temperate weather. I went out to winterize my AS yesterday and the dump tank pipes were frozen. I got out the trusty hair blower and was able to thaw the gate on the black water, but alas it is frozen solid above the gate on the pipe that is exposed. Any suggestions on how to thaw out the pipes from the gray and black water tanks. I have left the heat on so the internal water pipes don't freeze. I plan to empty the fresh water tank by filling pots of water in the sink and then dumping it outside, and then putting rv antifreeze in the inside pipes. I will also heat and then drain the hot water heater. Both the gray and black water holding tanks are about 1/8 to 1/4 full. Will there be enough room in my holding tanks for expansion if they freeze? I am going to wrap heat tape around the pipes and see if that does it. Any other ideas. Thanks for any help. Next winter...we are not coming back to MN until April or May. Bert
Hi Bert, I happen to be in Minneapolis tonight and it is 10 to 15 degrees F with a nasty wind. Since you now have the valve on your black tank frozen open, I would say that you are in a nasty predicament. You must seal the opening to prevent the thawed sewage from cascading some place once you have the valves un thawed. To do this, since this is Minneapolis, and the likely hood of a natural thaw will be April, I would lickity-split beg, borrow, or rent a heated garage, warehouse, or some shop facility, in order to get that thing inside and thawed out. You will save a lot of grief and future expense and ware and tare on everything,including fingers,nerves and Airstream. You know it is only going to get colder and more miserable. Jim
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