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Old 01-03-2018, 06:57 AM   #1
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2016 23' Flying Cloud
Fanwood , New Jersey
Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 103
Learned a lot from traveling in sub freezing temp with unwinterized trailer

We traveled to SC from NJ and back this holiday season, and we made some mistakes. Very fortunately, there seems to be no damage sustained so far, but I would like to share my mistakes here.

I had thought that running the furnace at 45 would keep the plumbing from freezing. It didn't.

Using a space heater for comfort is not a good idea when outside temperature is in 20s. Plus, the furnace won't kick in because the inside temperature is in 60s.

Low point drains and valves were the first to freeze. So we couldn't drain the plumbing nor could we put AF from city water inlet with manual pump when we did realize we have to winterize.

We couldn't drain water heater either because drain was frozen (I don't think it was frozen solid; it was just frozen near the drain plug where it was closest to the outside world).

We were able to put AF via water pump to bathroom sink and toilet. But not shower or kitchen sink because plumbing must have gotten frozen between toilet and shower. This does puzzle me because when the furnace was on, bathroom was pretty warm--it seemed like the least likely place for freezing.

We drove 5 hours to get home yesterday and outside temperature was 3F~15F for the whole time. We did keep the furnace at 60F, hoping that it would slow the progress of freezing (It sort of did).

As soon as we got home and got shore power, we crank up the furnace to 75F.

We removed mattress and opened cabinet doors so that the hot air could reach frozen plumbing. It did.

We couldn't drain the fresh water tank because drain valve was frozen. So we used outside shower to drain it (outside shower had been winterized earlier and was never de-winterized).

We turned on water heater and that thaw the ice inside pretty quickly, so we could drain it.


Valves for black and grey water tanks were frozen. Both were about 10%. We decided to wait for them to thaw on their own (We didn't want to force the valves open and break them). At the worst case scenario, this part of plumbing may need to be replaced. But looking at how thick and robust the pluming looks down there, I'm optimistic that all we have to do is to dump the content when it gets warmer.

We circulated AF by water pump and after plumbing thawed out, AF reached shower and kitchen sink. We put AF in outside shower too because we used it to drain fresh water tank.

With plumbing system pressurized, we looked for evidence of leak, and we found none....although we did hear water pump running for 0.5 second when we were not using water several times when we were camping. I'm wondering if that indicates a slow leak somewhere we couldn't see. If so, I think it's a very very slow leak.

Going forward, I swear to myself that I would never travel unwinterized if there is a possibility of temperature going below freezing. I was hubris this time, thinking I could winterize at a rest stop somewhere. I didn't realize that crucial places, such as lowest drains, city water inlet and water heater plug are the first places to get frozen. With these places frozen and with just battery power alone, there is not much we can do to winterize.

I hope other beginners can learn from my mistakes.


Safe travel!
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Old 01-03-2018, 07:19 AM   #2
GLCMRANGER - Sue
 
2016 25' International
Littlestown , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 196
Thanks for all the "Lessons Learned" synopsis. I'll share too: I DID winterize before traveling south to Canopener Rally. At a truck stop, I noticed the AF was frozen in the Toilet bowl and slush coming out of the Kitchen faucet. I quickly turned on the furnace to 45 degrees, opened up cabinets, and continued down the road. Once I got to Florida (still freezing), I turned on the Water Pump, using a gallon of AF, to pressurize the system and look for leaks --- found one. A continuous drip with the Kitchen faucet. It seems a plastic piece cracked inside the hot/cold section of the handle. No worries -- waiting for Amazon to deliver an EXPENSIVE foreign-made faucet here at Canopener. Every time I pressurize via water pump,,,,, It drives me nuts of the continuous drip....... It could have been worse! Like you, I've never traveled before in such cold temperatures ---- AND I WAS WINTERIZED! Don't let the advertising on the AF bottle fool you --- It's rated to -50 degrees from expansion inside pipes but still can turn to slush....... I should have blown out the lines first and THEN used AF. Lessons Learned!!
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Old 01-03-2018, 07:59 AM   #3
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2018 26' Flying Cloud
Thornton , Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by glcmranger View Post
Thanks for all the "Lessons Learned" synopsis. I'll share too: I DID winterize before traveling south to Canopener Rally. At a truck stop, I noticed the AF was frozen in the Toilet bowl and slush coming out of the Kitchen faucet. I quickly turned on the furnace to 45 degrees, opened up cabinets, and continued down the road. Once I got to Florida (still freezing), I turned on the Water Pump, using a gallon of AF, to pressurize the system and look for leaks --- found one. A continuous drip with the Kitchen faucet. It seems a plastic piece cracked inside the hot/cold section of the handle. No worries -- waiting for Amazon to deliver an EXPENSIVE foreign-made faucet here at Canopener. Every time I pressurize via water pump,,,,, It drives me nuts of the continuous drip....... It could have been worse! Like you, I've never traveled before in such cold temperatures ---- AND I WAS WINTERIZED! Don't let the advertising on the AF bottle fool you --- It's rated to -50 degrees from expansion inside pipes but still can turn to slush....... I should have blown out the lines first and THEN used AF. Lessons Learned!!


Thanks for sharing your experience. Iíve never towed our trailer in winter, but wonít rule out the possibility. We have seriously considered a winter campout at Yosemite, and will keep your experience in mind.
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Old 01-03-2018, 05:07 PM   #4
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2016 25' Flying Cloud
Pennsylvania , Pennsylvania
Join Date: May 2016
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Ya, I appreciate the info in this thread. I've winterized twice, each time blowing out the lines and then running antifreeze through the entire system.....I like seeing pink coming out of everywhere!
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Old 01-03-2018, 08:28 PM   #5
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2014 20' Flying Cloud
Long Island , New York
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 7,620
Thank you for the candid assessment and report, and for your awareness of the state of mind which led to your troubles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atsushi View Post
. . .
. . . hubris this time . . .
. . .
A mature way to start out the New Year IMO.

Happy Trails in 2018!

Peter
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Old 01-04-2018, 09:32 AM   #6
AirDreamer
 
2017 27' International
Canfield , Ohio
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 249
Quote:
Originally Posted by glcmranger View Post
Thanks for all the "Lessons Learned" synopsis. I'll share too: I DID winterize before traveling south to Canopener Rally. At a truck stop, I noticed the AF was frozen in the Toilet bowl and slush coming out of the Kitchen faucet. I quickly turned on the furnace to 45 degrees, opened up cabinets, and continued down the road. Once I got to Florida (still freezing), I turned on the Water Pump, using a gallon of AF, to pressurize the system and look for leaks --- found one. A continuous drip with the Kitchen faucet. It seems a plastic piece cracked inside the hot/cold section of the handle. No worries -- waiting for Amazon to deliver an EXPENSIVE foreign-made faucet here at Canopener. Every time I pressurize via water pump,,,,, It drives me nuts of the continuous drip....... It could have been worse! Like you, I've never traveled before in such cold temperatures ---- AND I WAS WINTERIZED! Don't let the advertising on the AF bottle fool you --- It's rated to -50 degrees from expansion inside pipes but still can turn to slush....... I should have blown out the lines first and THEN used AF. Lessons Learned!!
The antifreeze is designed to turn to slush. The important point is that the slush does not expand.
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Old 01-04-2018, 10:02 AM   #7
SophieHaus
 
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2018 25' Flying Cloud
2007 25' International CCD FB
2006 23' Safari SE
Cave Creek , Arizona
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atsushi View Post
We traveled to SC from NJ and back this holiday season, and we made some mistakes. Very fortunately, there seems to be no damage sustained so far, but I would like to share my mistakes here.

I had thought that running the furnace at 45 would keep the plumbing from freezing. It didn't.

Using a space heater for comfort is not a good idea when outside temperature is in 20s. Plus, the furnace won't kick in because the inside temperature is in 60s.

Low point drains and valves were the first to freeze. So we couldn't drain the plumbing nor could we put AF from city water inlet with manual pump when we did realize we have to winterize.

We couldn't drain water heater either because drain was frozen (I don't think it was frozen solid; it was just frozen near the drain plug where it was closest to the outside world).

We were able to put AF via water pump to bathroom sink and toilet. But not shower or kitchen sink because plumbing must have gotten frozen between toilet and shower. This does puzzle me because when the furnace was on, bathroom was pretty warm--it seemed like the least likely place for freezing.

We drove 5 hours to get home yesterday and outside temperature was 3F~15F for the whole time. We did keep the furnace at 60F, hoping that it would slow the progress of freezing (It sort of did).

As soon as we got home and got shore power, we crank up the furnace to 75F.

We removed mattress and opened cabinet doors so that the hot air could reach frozen plumbing. It did.

We couldn't drain the fresh water tank because drain valve was frozen. So we used outside shower to drain it (outside shower had been winterized earlier and was never de-winterized).

We turned on water heater and that thaw the ice inside pretty quickly, so we could drain it.


Valves for black and grey water tanks were frozen. Both were about 10%. We decided to wait for them to thaw on their own (We didn't want to force the valves open and break them). At the worst case scenario, this part of plumbing may need to be replaced. But looking at how thick and robust the pluming looks down there, I'm optimistic that all we have to do is to dump the content when it gets warmer.

We circulated AF by water pump and after plumbing thawed out, AF reached shower and kitchen sink. We put AF in outside shower too because we used it to drain fresh water tank.

With plumbing system pressurized, we looked for evidence of leak, and we found none....although we did hear water pump running for 0.5 second when we were not using water several times when we were camping. I'm wondering if that indicates a slow leak somewhere we couldn't see. If so, I think it's a very very slow leak.

Going forward, I swear to myself that I would never travel unwinterized if there is a possibility of temperature going below freezing. I was hubris this time, thinking I could winterize at a rest stop somewhere. I didn't realize that crucial places, such as lowest drains, city water inlet and water heater plug are the first places to get frozen. With these places frozen and with just battery power alone, there is not much we can do to winterize.

I hope other beginners can learn from my mistakes.


Safe travel!
I travel with water in freezing temperatures. I keep the heat on 65+ degrees. I don’t always turn on the water heater, but the heater ducks should keep the water heater from freezing. I do put one gallon of RV antifreeze in both the black and gray water tanks. This protects the outside drain valves from freezing. I have never had a problem when I take these precautions. I always monitor the propane tanks, because I go through a lot of it under these severe conditions.
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Old 01-04-2018, 10:24 AM   #8
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Tampa , Florida
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atsushi View Post
Using a space heater for comfort is not a good idea when outside temperature is in 20s. Plus, the furnace won't kick in because the inside temperature is in 60s.
Why?
I'm thinking of adding a small ceramic heater for colder days and nights.
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Old 01-04-2018, 10:29 AM   #9
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2016 23' Flying Cloud
Fanwood , New Jersey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mollysdad View Post
Why?
I'm thinking of adding a small ceramic heater for colder days and nights.
Because the temperature sensor (thermostat) thinks it doesn't have to turn on the furnace.
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Old 01-04-2018, 10:59 AM   #10
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1971 21' Globetrotter
santa clarita , California
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heater

Why not just turn up (way up) the furnace thermostat ?
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Old 01-04-2018, 11:54 AM   #11
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Bandera , Texas
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Good comments. I flat forgot about my outside shower, and simply hope that gravity took it down to the lower lines. We'll find out soon!
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:09 PM   #12
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Walkerton , Virginia
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Sounds like you dodged a bullet - but like you, it would have scared the snot out of me, atsushi.

Some folks may not like the analogy - but going unwinterized is a little like drinking and driving (apart from the possibility of hurting someone): the price of getting caught is just too high to contemplate. As is the price of getting frozen and broken.

Pat
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Old 01-04-2018, 01:11 PM   #13
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2017 30' Classic
Anna Maria , Florida
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mollysdad View Post
Why?
I'm thinking of adding a small ceramic heater for colder days and nights.

We have one that we used to use when temperatures at night dropped to 40 but eventually found running the furnace a lot more practical.
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Old 01-04-2018, 02:22 PM   #14
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2007 22' International CCD
Corona , California
Join Date: Jul 2013
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We have traveled and lived in our AS in weather down to around 20F.

A few lessons learned:

We used the propane heater for primary heat because in many AS units the heater is dumping heat into the plumbing areas and tank areas to help keep them above freezing. We also left all the 12 volt tank heaters on 24 hours a day while parked. Since we had shore power, the batteries stayed charged.

Have SEVERAL full spare propane tanks handy--you will eat a lot of propane keeping warm. Nothing is quite as embarrassing as running out of propane while wife is trying to take a nice, warm (she hoped) shower...I'm still hearing about that one!

Disconnect and drain the fresh water supply hose and filter and store it at night. It will freeze, and I suspect the filter could split if prolonged...run on your pump and full fresh water tank.

Be careful walking around outside, a slip and fall on ice or snow is no fun...

Dogs will try to hold it until the very last moment in an attempt to stay warm and inside. Insist they ALL take a walk with you at reasonable intervals...consider doggie coats/raincoats to keep them more comfortable. Our little pups would rather stay in the comfy silver dog crate as much as possible when its cold and windy. Little lap magnets under those conditions...

If the weather is really windy, cold as hell, and rain/snow is in the forecast, stay put--travel is optional, and the heck with the schedule. Crank down the stabilizers, button up, and wait it out. No point in demonstrating that you can be foolish or stupid...we get enough opportunities in better weather!

We spent a rather windy two days in Van Horn, TX on the trip back--PARKED. I'd rather pay for an extra day at a KOA or other campground than participate in an Airstream wreck by being first on the scene in rotten conditions...
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