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Old 02-21-2015, 02:27 PM   #1
demijac
 
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What Should We Do Differently Next Time

What should we do differently next time to keep our trailer pipes and gray water tank from freezing during a multi-day period where the temperature gets down to low single digits and never gets above freezing during the day?

As background, we are full-timers. We've been in the mountains of North Georgia the last three weeks and for the first time, our trailer pipes froze which meant no access to the Airstream's water tank for a couple of days. This was the first time we were able to test the cold temperature limits - we experienced two nights in a row of low single digit temperatures (well below zero with windchill factored in) and during the day, the temperature never got above 32 degrees. This resulted in our not being able to get water from our water tank even though it was warm enough for the outside water source and water hose to work normally. Also, we lost ability to drain the gray water through the slinky.

Now, it's a balmy 36 degrees and everything has thawed out and is working normally.
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Old 02-21-2015, 02:55 PM   #2
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Are you using your furnace for heat? I only ask because the furnace does get ducted to the tank enclosure to keep things from freezing. In my rig, I always run the furnace (instead of two space heaters) when the temp is forecast to drop below freezing for just that reason.

If you are using your furnace and the water lines and/or tank froze anyway, I would check to make sure that the below floor duct isn't blocked off or otherwise occluded.

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Old 02-21-2015, 03:38 PM   #3
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Winterize before you camp in these areas. If you don't own an air compressor any RV service centre can blow out your pipes for you. You have to drain your water heater and fresh water tank, also. Some will put anti-freeze in your system. But it's really simple to de-winterize it yourself. Just plug up your water-heater & tank drains, and run a lot of water through the system if it has anti-freeze in it, prior to using your fresh water.

Then just keep a lot of water bottles handy (incl. for manual toilet flushes,) and use the CG showers.

If you don't wish to do this, keep your furnace on (it blows hot air under the floor,) and put a light antifreeze down your toilet & sink-- our salesman at Can-Am in Ontario recommended simple windshield washer fluid. But this probably won't help a lot for really cold freezing temps 24/7.

Freezing your pipes is not a trivial problem.
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Old 02-21-2015, 05:22 PM   #4
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When it's in the single digits for multiple days and if you can't get winterize, I would say some kind of skirting and supplement heat under the trailer would be an option.
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Old 02-21-2015, 05:33 PM   #5
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Open cabinet and closet doors to let the heat in areas that contain the plumbing as well as the pump.
If the grey water froze. You must have had the dump valve closed or the slinking in a position where it would not drain completely.
As mentioned. Skirting helps.


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Old 02-21-2015, 05:56 PM   #6
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My advice is simple: Go South! Why the heck would you voluntarily stay where the temperatures are so darn cold???
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Old 02-22-2015, 10:15 AM   #7
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Thanks for the feedback?

We kept our furnace on the whole time to keep the piping warm. We also kept the bathroom door and sink cabinet open for maximum heat. Maybe next time we should keep the closet door open as well.

What about keeping the water running during the night - either from the external water source or the internal water tank? - I've been told that if the water is running, it and the pipes won't freeze.

What about placing a light (or heat lamp) under the exposed piping under the trailer?

We like the idea about pouring windshield wiper fluid down the sink and toilet before we go to bed because it won't compromise our water supply.

Any more ideas out there?
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Old 02-22-2015, 10:29 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by demijac View Post
What about keeping the water running during the night - either from the external water source or the internal water tank? - I've been told that if the water is running, it and the pipes won't freeze.
Be careful of this idea. While it may keep the water intake pipes from freezing, a small amount of water in a large holding tank, then draining into a large sewer pipe can freeze in layers. Then, with time, the drain freezes into one solid ice mass, but the water is still running into it. I think you can see that a back up flood is in the works.

How do I know... well just trust me on this one....LOL.
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Old 02-22-2015, 10:59 AM   #9
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What Bob said,,,,go south

The other thing is elevation.( you mentioned mountains ) Once my farmhouse at 1200 feet elevation, had 7 inches of snow. At 700 feetů..no snow.

You may have picked the wrong location if you wanted to stay put THIS winter
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Old 02-22-2015, 12:00 PM   #10
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I use my AS 12 months of the year and almost always in the places every body else wants to leave in the winter. I have spent many a night with temps into the single digits and day time temps below freezing. Here are a few things I have done to avoid freezing problems:

1) Never hook up to city water. Always just fill the fresh water tank and use that water.
2) I remove the cap from the sewer drain and install a short extension into which I mounted a 40 watt light bulb. Once plugged in, it helps keep the black and gray valves from freezing. Obviously I keep these valves closed. (Of course, it kind of makes my trailer look like a chicken house but ...)
3) I pour RV antifreeze (just a few cups each) into my gray and black tanks after every dump to cover the valves.
4) Always use the furnace and not space heaters. Some people use a space heater to supplement the furnace, but the thermostat will shut the furnace off too soon and leave your under floor too cold.
5) Open all cabinet doors at night or when convenient during the day.
6) Sometimes, in severe situations (sub-zero), I wrap my black and gray output pipes with some heated pipe tape that I carry. Only takes a few minutes to install or remove.
7) I removed the outside shower (capping the hot and cold supply lines behind it) and filled the box with a piece of foam rubber. I found the shower to be fairly useless anyway and haven't missed it.

I wouldn't recommend the running of water to avoid freezing. That's like using a band aid when you really needed stitches. I agree 100% with idroba on that one.

I hope you can find a way to make it work in the location you want to be.
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Old 02-22-2015, 12:05 PM   #11
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Drain and winterize is the easiest and safest way in my opinion.
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Old 02-22-2015, 12:26 PM   #12
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Drain and winterize is the easiest and safest way in my opinion.
The trailer was occupied, and they needed to be able to use the water :-)
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Old 02-22-2015, 12:33 PM   #13
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Thanks Minipad

Great ideas. We'll try some of this next time.
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Old 02-22-2015, 05:13 PM   #14
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We have camped many times with a winterized trailer.

It's inconvenient, perhaps; but nothing compared to the inconvenience of freezing your water lines. Some of the strategies for avoiding winterizing are probably best for people staying in one place for a bit.

If you or your RVing neighbour don't have an air compressor (we don't) just take your AS to your local RV service center. Up North these folks winterize trailers all the time.

Take a lot of water bottles. If you have space for a jerry can or two, that's fine, but they can be very heavy to lift. Use this water for basic washing-up and manual toilet flushes.

Use your tea kettle for hot water needs.

Put a light anti-freeze down your toilet & sink, such as windshield washer fluid.

If you need to bathe, either use an RV park's showers, or else do a sponge bath with water heated up on the stove.

Then it's quick and easy to de-winterize.

I agree with the sunny southern destination post; but actually some people use their trailer to sleep in for ski trips, or simply driving during the off-season.

If you winterize, you lose some convenience, but gain a lot of peace of mind.
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