So we all know that Winter livin' in an Airstream is at best......a chore. Daily, we battle Mother Nature and her elements, fighting to be just ahead of whatever catastrophe is lurking around the corner. Am I being dramatic? Ask someone who lives in an aluminum house in Winter, and they'll tell you, that is exactly what it's like!
So, in our quest for comfortable "quarters" this Winter we're actually doing pretty good. I was very worried about humidity and condensation, a problem we just haven't had to deal with. ( I must be doing something right!)
We're managing to keep the Airstream fairly comfortable using only the furnace and one of those quartz heaters. ( I must say....that furnace is earning it's keep. It almost runs constantly and I'm glad I have two 100 gallon propane tanks hooked up to it)
One thing that has been a "thorn" in my side has been the water supply. My first attempt involved heat tape, aluminum foil, insulation, etc.... The first sub-freezing night I found out that the heat tape was actually faulty from the manufacturer. So of course I then had a completely frozen supply system.
8 hours later I had completely re-done everything. In my quest to "never have this problem again" I go overboard with the heat tape using a longer tape and coiling it around the hoses leading into the water closet. This time the tape was working, working so good that after a week it got so hot it melted the hose and the tape itself! (it seemed like such a good idea at the time)
Third times a charm, right?
This time I follow the directions for the heat tape to the "T" , I even did away with the RV water hose as much as I could and ran copper pipe from the main INTO the water closet. Now I have just a short 12" piece of hose connecting the copper to the water inlet.
We get up this morning and......Yup, no water! Of course, I'm furious. Thank God it's my day off work and I actually have time to mess with it.
As I start to troubleshoot I'm surprised to see that everything is actually working as it should (expected failed heat tape again) I have water all the way up to the city water inlet on the Airstream. So I figure it's frozen somewhere behind the water inlet, but you cant see where the lines go from there. I notice the little metal wall, where the black tank flush fitting is located, has screws in it and looks like it can be removed.(the little wall was only held in place with 3 screws. The flush fitting is mounted to this wall and was only held in place with 2 screws) With the removal of these 5 screws, you can remove this little wall and see the lines behind and where they go. So right behind the water inlet is the built in water pressure regulator. The lines take a 90 degree turn, go about 6 inches, then straight up into the Airstream to where all the shut offs are. Seeing this, I immediately know THIS is where the line is frozen! The one place that is exposed to the elements and blocked from my heat sources. I point my heat gun in this little dead air space and within minutes, we have running water! YEA!
Then it hits me....What an awful design! I know these Airstreams aren't made to out in freezing weather, but why alienate such a small section of main water line ? You can heat tape and insulate all you want, but this area is going to freeze every night if you dont open it up and get some heat back there. Because I'm not familiar with other models, and how their water lines are plumbed I dont know if this is going to benefit too many people or not.
Our Airstream is a 2001 '34 Limited, and if your water closet looks like this one AND your stationary in a freezing climate, you need to take this little wall out and put a light bulb in there. (will keep the temp above freezing)