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Old 05-09-2005, 08:26 PM   #1
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1955 16' Bubble
Bend , Oregon
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 254
Water Pipe freeze protection

HELP. I have run across a potential problem that I hope that someone in airstream land has dealt with once before. My 55 Bubble has a "Basement" type floor where the pipes and wires run. I can foresee an issue with the pipes in my trailer freezing and bursting. I go to a place in late October Elk hunting where the over night low I have seen dip into the -20's Deg F, and the day time "High" is a balmy 10 Deg F. So what can a guy do to help prevent the mother of all leaks in the trailer floor?

I have done some research with the possibility of some sort of heat rope/wrap that I can place in the pipe insulation. But the draw back is a big time drain on the battery (I guess that I can add one battery dedicated just to this purpose but that might be overkill).
One cool thing that I have found at my local pluming store is a relativity new product. There is a pipe that is designed to handle the stress of freezing with out bursting. This may be old news but I thought I would throw it out there. The draw back to this pipe it that it is put together with a crimp style clamp, and the tool costs about $150 (sounds like one of those micro shavers doesnít it). But the pipe will not protect against freezing.

Iíve been told that I should just run the pipes next to the duct work in the floor. Good idea, but I do not have any heating duct. The heater that I have is a LPG catalytic style in cabinet heater that has two setting high and off. So keeping the heat on could cause its own problems. I asked the wife if I could replace the heater but my money scrooge (wife) said something to the affect of hell freezing over and a few other choice words.

I thought of one other solution, and that is to winterize the trailer and carry water in portable tanks in the trailer. But that only makes a small trailer even smaller.

OK thatís my question in a nut shell I hope that I covered every thing. I hope that someone can help. If you have a question or comment it's all welcome.

Thanks in advance

BB 55 Bubble

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Old 05-10-2005, 05:09 AM   #2
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Seriously, If I were going to use the coach in temperatures that low, I think I would not even use the plumbing system at all. The piping you are refering to is installed on all the new A/S, but I think the fittings and valves will still have problems. Chain always breaks at the weakest link.

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Old 05-10-2005, 05:09 AM   #3
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Thumbs up freeze frame

Originally Posted by BB 55 Bubble
.... There is a pipe that is designed to handle the stress of freezing with out bursting...
Hi and welcome to the forums. Minus 20 degress farenheit is pretty cold.

The non-bursting pipe wouldn't solve your problem because when you wake up in the morning you wouldn't have water anyway and might as well carry portable tanks. I'm thinking that winterizing is still the best solution.

It sounds like you don't want to run the heater at night. I might suggest that you add a fan to the floor and ventilate. But I suppose that you have fiberglass insulation down there and you wouldn't want to blow that all around. Also, I don't think that heat tape is feasible to run on battery power due to the power required. Using the flexible plastic pipe would it be possible to replumb the camper with pipes above the floor? Then do you have to worry about the black tank?

I'll be interested to see what solutions are offered.

Best of luck,

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Old 05-10-2005, 11:04 AM   #4
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1955 16' Bubble
Bend , Oregon
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Talking OH the Possibilities

I was offered a suggestion by a friend of mine that might work. I could use the heat tape in conjunction with a solar panel. But I would need some type of inverter for it possibility, where would I get that? The fan idea intrigues me. I could place a small VERY low setting heater to kick on at a temperature that is just above freezing and have it blow its warm goodness down a plumed vent that I can house the pipes in. Too much SI-FI? Any one knows where I can get such parts? Any other ideas?
Let me know.
Thanks Steve for the input, you got the creative juices flowing (my wife is worried!) The black tank can be kept from freezing by adding rock salt or antifreeze. That is according to a local RV dealer. I like that idea because going potty outside in temps that cold has the tendency to allow icicles forming on certain places. :-0
Pick I think that you are right, simplicity might be better that the contraptions.

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Old 05-10-2005, 01:02 PM   #5
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There are limits. I think you may have found one. There is no way you could carry enough batteries to run the heat tape. But you could take a generator. You may need a 2000 watt set. Figure how much tape you need, add up the watts. Seems relocating the pipes above the floor would be easier if this is a regular event. Then you could carry extra LPG in place of the genset and gas.
You might also consider a removible skirt. For the trailer that is... Can you even keep it above 30 at floor level if it's -10 with a wind? That's alot of BTU's for a cat to put out.
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