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Old 11-07-2012, 08:06 PM   #1
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Leaving the furnace on instead of winterizing?

Hey All,

Living in Central Texas, we don't get many days below freezing. I was thinking of just blowing out the lines (discussed on a different thread), then I realized I would still need to get the other freezables out of the trailer.

Then I started wondering if I could just turn the furnace on (heated holding tanks after all) the nights it was supposed to freeze. The trailer is not far from the house, and there is access to electric power.

Shouldn't that work? If so, any thoughts on the minimum temperature to set the thermostat on?

We winterized our previous trailer with pink stuff, but then didn't use it during the winter months. I trying to keep the AS ready-to-go so we can do more camping over the next few months!

Thanks in advance,
Jeff
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Old 11-07-2012, 08:57 PM   #2
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I blow out my lines and use the 'pink stuff'. We do sometimes get freezing weather although not to much 'hard freezes'. During those I open the lower interior storage areas....where most plumbing is, ie. galley and bath sinks, then plug in an electric heater on enough to keep the 'chill' away. Works for me.
Neil
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Old 11-07-2012, 09:01 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by barrettjl View Post
Hey All,


Then I started wondering if I could just turn the furnace on (heated holding tanks after all) the nights it was supposed to freeze. The trailer is not far from the house, and there is access to electric power.

Shouldn't that work? If so, any thoughts on the minimum temperature to set the thermostat on?


Thanks in advance,
Jeff
Yes, the furnace will keep everything from freezing assuming it doesn't get too cold, and it doesn't normally get that cold in central Texas.

I have friends who do just that in North Texas, never winterize, and never have a problem. They do, however, use some propane.


The minimum thermostat setting should be good.
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Old 11-07-2012, 09:21 PM   #4
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Jeff, I have only had my AS for one winter so I'm not an authority. The only thing I did last winter was drain the hot water heater and drain the fresh water tank. I did not put any pink stuff in. I did put the thermostat on 55 or there a bouts and no problems. My AS is in a covered area but not enclosed. I plan on doing the same thing this year.

Good luck,

Kelly
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Old 11-07-2012, 09:32 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by barrettjl View Post
Hey All,

Living in Central Texas, we don't get many days below freezing. I was thinking of just blowing out the lines (discussed on a different thread), then I realized I would still need to get the other freezables out of the trailer.

Then I started wondering if I could just turn the furnace on (heated holding tanks after all) the nights it was supposed to freeze. The trailer is not far from the house, and there is access to electric power.

Shouldn't that work? If so, any thoughts on the minimum temperature to set the thermostat on?
Sounds like as much or maybe even more hassle to worry about if the furnace should be on or off, and if you guess wrong and miss one "hard freeze" night, it could cause a bunch of damage.

Why not at least take the time to drain and blow out the lines? If you do this properly, there's nothing left to freeze, and bingo: you just wait for spring!
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Old 11-07-2012, 09:36 PM   #6
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We do not winterize here in Tucson. If it's going to get to freezing (which is only occasionally and is never for sustained periods), I leave the furnace set low to keep the interior above freezing. Before I go to bed, I crank up the water heater to get the water hot, and run some hot water through the lines... then turn the water heater off (the water is still warm in the AM). I open the bathroom door and drawers and cabinet doors so warm air can get to plumbed areas...

So far, so good in this relatively mild-winter area.
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Old 11-07-2012, 11:16 PM   #7
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We live in North TX. The trailer is going into it's 5th winter season. I have yet to winterize it. I want to be ready to go at a moments notice for a quick weekend getaway.

I turn off the pump. Open all the water taps (sinks / shower / outside shower) then set the furnace to 40 which is the lowest setting on my unit. I double check the propane supply and make sure it is plugged in to 15A power.

I have yet to have a problem. Temps have been in the teens a number of times and single digits more than once.

I typically use 2 full bottles of propane over the winter for this purpose which is a fair price to me in exchange for being able to camp year round without worrying about the extra 30 minutes or more to winterize / de-winterize on each end of the trip.

It works for me. YMMV.
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Old 11-08-2012, 01:43 AM   #8
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Barrettjl, it looks like your RECORD lows in December (the coldest month) are around 20 degrees, and it probably warms to at least 40-45 during the day. Last year, the coldest evenings were in the mid- to high-30's. I'm guessing that the subfreezing temperature duration probably isn't long enough to freeze anything. Usually mid- to low-20's for 4-6 hours is required to freeze the lines, and quick dip to mid-20's for a couple of hours won't hurt.

Personally, since it appears AVERAGE overnight lows are freezing or above, I wouldn't winterize the water lines/tanks. I'd watch the weather and maybe leave the furnace on it's lowest setting overnight (approximately equal to 50 degrees) for that night only, if temperatures below 25 are forecast.
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Old 11-08-2012, 06:40 AM   #9
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A trailer or motorhome may not be well-insulated, but it still has significant thermal mass. The inside temperature will be warmer than the outside temperature most nights, especially if parked where it can get daytime sunlight. And remember, there's no wind chill inside your trailer, either. Unless the daytime high is also below freezing, you're unlikely to have to worry about things inside your trailer freezing overnight. Geting cold, yes; freezing, no.

A handy hint, if you really need to keep something from freezing overnight, and it will fit, put it inside the refrigerator (with the refrigerator turned off). The refrigerator is the best-insulated space in most Airstreams. When I was living in Oklahoma as a kid, lots of farmers used old refrigerators as small pumphouses to keep their well water pumps from freezing, for just that reason. One hole drilled in the bottom to connect to the well casing, one hole in the side for the pump discharge, and a hasp and padlock on the door to keep anyone/anything from getting inside. If they could use refrigerators as insulators against the cold, you can, too.

Finally, if you leave the furnace on, you'll need to leave at least one window or vent open for air circulation. If you leave the furnace off, you can close it up tight with no worries.
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Old 11-08-2012, 06:53 AM   #10
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I read the OP to say he was going to use both the furnace and an electric heater. If you an electric heater to warm the trailer, the furnace won't go on.

The lowest temp our thermostat goes to is 40˚. Just keep pushing the button until the temp setting won't go any lower and you'll find out how low it goes.

The record lows for any particular day can be broken any winter.

It only takes a few days with the fridge doors closed for mold to start to grow in it.

Gene
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Old 11-08-2012, 07:08 AM   #11
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Coming from Idaho and Utah where we definately winterize and going to Pleasanton, Texas, south of San Antonio, I did not winterize last winter. As discussed, I had the stat at the lowest setting and the propane full, and all the sink cabinets open. I like the idea of cranking up the hot water heater and running the lines with hot water before shutting down. We got froze up once when we had a Carriage 5th wheel in Wyoming once and it isn't very fun to see the aftermath.

Same situation in the summer, I have the AC set on 85 so the interior doesn't get so beastly hot. In the summer I have figured it costs me an extra $60-80/month of electricity.
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Old 11-08-2012, 07:10 AM   #12
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Quote:
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I read the OP to say he was going to use both the furnace and an electric heater. If you an electric heater to warm the trailer, the furnace won't go on.

The lowest temp our thermostat goes to is 40˚. Just keep pushing the button until the temp setting won't go any lower and you'll find out how low it goes.

The record lows for any particular day can be broken any winter.

It only takes a few days with the fridge doors closed for mold to start to grow in it.

Gene
I've never had a problem with mold growing in the fridge. Not even in New Orleans, mold and mildew capital of the world, not even my home fridge in the late summer after a three-week power outage following Hurricane Katrina. When I turn off the fridge, I clean it with disinfectant, dry it thoroughly, then put a small (fist-sized) bag of dessicant (many brands available, take your pick) inside to trap any moisture remaining in the air that's in the fridge.

In a drier climate like central Texas, in the winter, mold is less likely even without those precautions.
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Old 11-08-2012, 09:41 AM   #13
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As to winterizing, I would.

Get the equipment that makes it easy to do (is 90% of the problem). A bit of experience afterwards makes it no big deal. My favorite was the guy around here who used cheap vodka instead of anti-freeze.

There are years where the climate is not so amenable to the non-winterizing plan. 1989 saw temps never rise above 20F for ten days in early December in North Texas . . I'd imagine Central Texas was little better.

I had phone calls from those out-of-state and overseas asking me to go to their houses to check problems. Problems there were. Raised eyebrow stories at the local ACE Hardware from others abounded for the next several weeks.

Evidence of a serious plumbing break is nearly a deal make-or-break as I look for another trailer. Replacing all the plumbing (and, by extension, the tanks) is no small job. $$$$

Experience (the practice) makes it fast.

.
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Old 11-08-2012, 09:47 AM   #14
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Why does it matter if the holding tanks freeze in the winter if they are not full? They should be empty or close to, in which case it won't matter if they freeze.

Perry
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