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icedcacti 01-05-2006 10:10 PM

full-time winter living problems, questions by college girl (freezing temps, furnace)
 
Hi everyone, I could certainly use some advice on full-time winter airstreaming! I started living in a mint 1975 31' Sovereign last August which I'll be doing at least until I finish college (a creative way to save money, one might say), and although summer and fall were lovely I've been having a lot of trouble this winter.
I live in santa fe which gets very cold! I go to school during the day and can't hang out to take care of the 'stream, so I have come home a few times to find that my water froze because the furnace went out. I try to keep an electric oil heater on full-blast too but by itself the water still freezes. Fortunately I am hooked up to city water (& the hose has heat tape) so I haven't had to worry about the tanks freezing.
---So my questions are:
A.) My furnace goes out a lot, & seems to do so whenever it shuts down to just the pilot light. The book says that happens because I need to adjust the thermocouple... What does that thing look like?! Has anyone had this problem before? I am using way too much propane and for a college kid that means less food. :(

B.) If I have heat tape around my hose outside so the incoming water isn't frozen, where is the water freezing? I can't seem to find a map anywhere for the water pipes. I called an RV place and the lady suggested I wrap heat tape around the pipes that are freezing, but I can't find the pipes...

C.) Someone suggested I invest in some hay or put a trailer skirt around the outside. Will that make enough of a difference to keep the water freezing when the temperature drops? (Please keep in mind too that I am on a budget but if such an investment would drop my heating bills I'd be into it.)


Things I think I did right:
A) I bought some silver bubble-wrap-like insulation & taped it on my windows inside to cut drafts.
B) I have an extra electric heater that I run constantly.
C) I wear wool sweaters to bed!

Things I think I should do but can't:
A) I'd like to run the furnace just enough to keep pipes from freezing and then rely on electric heat, but if I keep the furnace on low it seems to not come on enough b/c of the interior electric heat messing w/ the thermostat. When it doesn't come on the pilot light goes out (see above).


Thanks to anyone who had the heart to read through all this and help me out! I'm about to head back for another semester (yes, I did winterize the airstream before leaving it) and have about 3 more months of freezing temps.

sincerely,
longing for spring

2airishuman 01-05-2006 10:55 PM

hello icedcacti and welcome to the forums......

the short answer is get a large lp gas tank delivered to your spot and use the central furnace as the primary heat source....with the little electric just for the cold spot (say bedroom at night or front lounge area in daytime). this will protect the tanks and all the inside plumbing. yes you'll use lp but rent a big tank and have someone fill it regularly at the trailer site.

the trailer is really designed to say warm best and avoid freeze issues by using the central heat. also virtually every electric space heater is designed for intermittent use and you really do risk fire hazards by keeping it on constantly....you should reconsider this.....really.

airstreams aren't thick walled or really well insulated so it takes some heat ($$$) to keep them from freezing....your tanks aren't freezing because they are basically inside the trailer. it really has nothing to do with the city water line.....which connects to one of the few pipes in the trailer that ISN'T kept warm...

fill water tank as needed and use it instead of keeping a hose connected.... yes you can heat tape the hose but the connecting pipe just inside the trailer wall isn't warmed so it can freeze. also, you'll still have trouble with the gray and black water lines...so just keep all the lines dis connected until filling or dumping is required. filling the water tank should only take 15-30 minutes every few days....

your foil insulation would be better just under the glass inserted from the outside. the window frames need warmth from inside.

open all the cabinet doors when it's really cold this will better circulate the room heat.

there are lots of threads here on winter living with lots of great winter tips.....people don't wanna type them again........so......stfa noob!

here is a very revealing thread on the winter hardship saga.....

http://www.airforums.com/forum...ving-2738.html

of a family in the ozarks....funny and sad....like all good dramas.

cheers
2air'

malconium 01-06-2006 02:37 PM

I like the idea of getting a larger propane supply and relying only on the propane heater. It sounds like the heater needs some (hopefully) minor adjustment. Does anyone know if this sort of adjustment can be done by the propane supplier? I know that for house gas appliances that the gas company will check things out for free. I am assuming that it is not convenient to move the trailer some where for heater service? Maybe it would be a good idea to check around in your area for an RV service person that makes house calls and ask what they would charge to service your heater.

I have a 1973 31' unit that is now undergoing restoration. I found that virtually all of my water lines from the supply to the holding tank were above the floor except where they actually connected into the tank and the pump area. There is an area under the floor and around the fresh water holding tank in my unit that these pipes run in. There was also a small connection from my gas heater to the under floor area to help keep this area from freezing. If you are not running the gas heater enough then this area could very well be the area that is freezing.

I hope this helps,

Malcolm

05ModPod 01-06-2006 04:50 PM

brrrrr not sure how much snow you have?

But you instead of hay bales - you could build a 2x2 spruce frame and staple 6mil plastic sort of a ridgid skirt around the trailer - then either stick a light bulb or two - or even one of those little "Buddy" Heaters from Camping World - they are safetied and have an auto shut off - you can buy the adapter and run them off a big tank rather than the little tanks.

We are using one for my brother - he has a little shelter just out side his door for the winter - keeps his boots warm and a hmmmm:rolleyes: warm smoking area - better there than in my Bunkie!

does the trick in keeping things warm. If too much just make a frame for the back part of your trailer where the water comes in a keep it warm with a light bulb.

good Luck

Chaplain Kent 01-07-2006 09:57 AM

I agree with switching to your water tank and shutting off the outside water. Next get someone to change your thermocouple its a simple fix and a good friend who's handy can do the job. The larger tank will help your propane situation buying in bulk should lower your cost a little and you can set up a schedule with the supplier. The hay bales are not the worse idea and could be a cheap fix for you. Possibly you could borrow some until spring.

Pick 01-07-2006 11:13 AM

Are you using the water heater on propane? Some of the residual heat from the hot water system can help in keeping pipes from freezing. Just having the pilot going can keep the water in the tank warm.I had problems with my pilot going out a few winters ago, as well as this winter. I have the original furnace in mine. Upgrading the furnace, (I know, you don't want to here that!) to a pizo ignition system would help. Not sure what causes the pilot to go out, but I suspect it is the wind. Make sure you have a CO detector. I had high CO levels in mine, due to some missing screws (3!) on the outside furnace vent. After all 4 screw were in, CO dropped to zero.

dmac 01-07-2006 12:23 PM

You need to find someone who can check out your furnace for you... perhaps someone on the forums might look at it?

I assume that the motivation to use as much electric heat as possible is that electricity is "free" for you (embedded in your parking space rent), correct? If so, then a couple of good electric heaters will save you a lot on the heat bill. But without the furnace running the warmed air does not circulate the through the vents, or to the water and waste tanks. Perhaps when it is very cold you could leave the furnace fan running?

Putting some kind of skirting around the trailer will help, perhaps with a small "ceramic" or "oil-filled" electric heater - all mentioned earlier.

How cold does it get there?

CanoeStream 01-07-2006 12:48 PM

Space heaters deny the opportunity for the furnace to turn on. Furnace air is ducted to the spaces around your fresh, black & grey water tanks. This helps keep things "unthawed" (in Minnesota-speak). Space heaters may aggravate the tendency to freeze up!

Most of the water pipes are bracketed to the floor -- the coldest part of the trailer to begin with. This is compounded if no air is being circulated. An additional caution would be if your shower valve is on an outside wall; this valve is quite vulnerable to freeze damage. Get your furnace running properly, rely on it, and at the coldest times open the lower cabinet doors to let more air circulate to these areas.

If your Sovereign has copper pipe, a freeze-up could put you into an unusable situation unless the entire plumbing is replaced. Be careful out there!

... and you are getting the benefit of several years of mild winters!

IceKing02 01-09-2006 03:14 AM

The next best things--
 
1. Pray for global warming...:D

2. Move further south...

3. Take heart, I'm trying to get mine able to withstand the winters up here in AK eventually...

BTW, what year of college are you in? This may determine how much you'd want to spend based upon your number of years that you'll be forced to face this situation...

davidh 01-22-2006 12:45 PM

Hi from Montana, I live in a 1977 31' rear bath Airstream Land Yacht that I bought from a lady in Duluth MN In April of 05, and pulled it to Kalispell MT in June of 05. I do missions work for a christian group known as YWAM ( Youth With a Mission) here in Kalispell & on the Flathead Indian Reservation. I live at a RV Park in Kalispell MT, I have trailers on both sides of my site one is a new 06 Coachman and the other is a 04 Jayco that have had there tanks and traps frozen up, the Coachman also had a main water line break inside. We had a very cold streach here for awhile the coldest was -20, I have had no troubles with my Aistream at all.:D Befor I bought My Airstream I did many HRS of research on what to buy. I chose to buy Airstream because of there qaulity in workmanship and there resell value far excedes any other travel trailer on the market. I am very Proud of my vintage Airstream it was very well taken care of, and also have had many comments on how nice it looks for its age. Have safe trips and happy roads to you all this summer and if you are planing a trip to Montana and you get up to Kalispell look me up I am staying at Rocky Mountain Hi RV Park its a nice park to stay at. Keep polishing those vintage Airstreams and GOD BLESS..

davidh 01-22-2006 12:48 PM

Yes I have the water line heat taped and insulated also took 1" styrofoam and skirted the trailer. I leave the grey tank valve open and the black closed,I also have a small electric heater under the table that helps to keep the chill out in the living room. I have not had any problems with humidity, the trailer I bought has Heated tanks and also dual pane windows. I'm Up in the northwest corner of MT westside of Glacier National Park.
__________________
1977 31' landyaght Sovereign:bb:

davidh 01-22-2006 12:50 PM

The airstream that I bought came with a winter package, it has forced air to all three tanks fresh grey & black, all water lines from the back to the gally run next to the heat ducts, when you turn on the cold water at the gally sink it is hot enough to pull your hand away, I also have had no moisture problems at all. Be safe and have fun this summer GOD BLESS..

davidh 01-22-2006 12:52 PM

Yes I have the water line heat taped and insulated also took 1" styrofoam and skirted the trailer. I leave the grey tank valve open and the black closed,I also have a small electric heater under the table that helps to keep the chill out in the living room. I have not had any problems with humidity, the trailer I bought has Heated tanks and also dual pane windows. I'm Up in the northwest corner of MT westside of Glacier National Park.

davidh 01-22-2006 01:45 PM

If your water line is freezing up it is more than likely where your hose hooks to your fresh water connection on your trailer. If you look at that connection you will see that your water pipe on the trailer has a 90 degree elbow that gose up into the trailer so from the hose coupler to where it gose into the trailer is more than likely the spot were it is freezing. The way to thaw this spot out is to get a small propane torch remove your water service hose from coupler and heat at the 90 degree elbow this will thaw out that short section of exposed pipe, but be carefull not to get it to hot that you melt your hose gasket inside of the coupler, but if you do, you can buy them for a $1.50 for a dozzen at the local hardware store. Another thing that you can do is leave your water run at a slow pace,this way your water line will not freeze because of the constant moveing water. But make sure that your sewer hose dose not have any big dips in it from trailer to to sewer hook up, other wise the low spot will hold water and then you will freeze your sewer hose up. I let my water trickle when the temps drop to ten degrees and lower for the same reason I explained about. You can also tape styrofoam around the section of open pipe back to where your heat tape ends on you water hose this will also help tremendusly. Also skirt your trailer with 1" thick styrofoam it will take about four and a half 4 by 8 sheets of styrofoam. By doing this it will help to keep your floor much warmer and you will use less propane. At each seem of styro on your skiting use duct tape to hol it together messure 8' leangth's messure from bottom of trailer to the ground cut styro leangth wise to your messure ments and just wege the piece between trailr and ground dose not half to be super tight fit just so it is snug enough to help hold the piece in place. do this all the way around your trailer and you will notice the diffeance in comfort and also $$$$$$ savings in propane I have done all this and have delt with -20 temps with no problems..

icedcacti 01-27-2006 05:25 PM

Reply
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by dmac
You need to find someone who can check out your furnace for you... perhaps someone on the forums might look at it?

Quote:

Originally Posted by dmac

I assume that the motivation to use as much electric heat as possible is that electricity is "free" for you (embedded in your parking space rent), correct? If so, then a couple of good electric heaters will save you a lot on the heat bill. But without the furnace running the warmed air does not circulate the through the vents, or to the water and waste tanks. Perhaps when it is very cold you could leave the furnace fan running?

Putting some kind of skirting around the trailer will help, perhaps with a small "ceramic" or "oil-filled" electric heater - all mentioned earlier.

How cold does it get there?



REPLY:
Hi there,

Thanks for your reply. I think that running the furnace fan is a great idea, and I'll try that next time its super cold. I definitely think the suggestions people have been making to make or get some sort of skirting are useful - I will do that for next year since I've only got about a month more of super-cold temps left (yay!). The average at night in Santa Fe is about 18 degrees from Dec to Jan. Once we're back above 25 I'll have less problems (so far i know this from november). Right now I've been turning the water off at night and have traced part of the problem to the outside water line, which in spite of heat tape is freezing (ah ha!). Things are looking up!
Lauren

CanoeStream 01-28-2006 01:29 PM

Good to get followup -- thanks!

Foiled Again 01-28-2006 04:30 PM

Trailer skirt - Well
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by GT6921
But you instead of hay bales - you could build a 2x2 spruce frame and staple 6mil plastic sort of a ridgid skirt around the trailer - then either stick a light bulb or two...

I was worried about my winter over experience, but here in Virginia we've had a record mild winter so far. It's only gone below freezing twice this winter for only a day at a time. (Backup plan, pull it to Florida for a month or two.)

I was considering the bubble foil insulation too, and wondering what to fold it over, when I saw plain old chicken wire in the hardware store - dirt cheap and pretty rigid too. I decided that I could get a roll, cut the bottom rail, fold alternate "legs left and right 90 degrees to make a base, cover with the bubble foil inside and out and skirt the whole base just under the edge of the bottom curve touching the top of the belly wrap. There would be no chance of getting a scratch where it would show and no need to tape anything to the side of the trailer. I was planning to cover the wheel wells using higher pieces of chicken wire, cut to match the inside profile of the wheel well, and finished on top with foam hose covering for a tight seal and to keep the raw wire edges from abrading either the bubble insulation or the wheel well.

Knowing I could do this in a single afternoon, I held off - and just haven't needed to do it so far.

In some respects, Airstreams really are ideal for three seasons, the CCD particularly. It does get chilly around the edges on a cold night, but I've got a lot of pillows which "bumper" my bed and keep me away from the br-r-r-r aluminum, and I sleep under a down comforter. (Which next year may be replaced by polyester filled.) Nothing is as comfortable as down, but it doesn't all stay inside the comforter no matter what they say. I've had to take up dusting and sweeping every day or every other day just to keep the featherlets under control. Not whining - it's a 10 minute chore - but I'm embarassed to have folks over if I haven't done it, as they may leave with feather fanny. The tiny feathers cling to everything.

Tin Lizzie

Rog0525 01-28-2006 06:44 PM

I would strongly advise against putting hay, straw or any combustible material under a trailer. It's a fire hazard.
icedcacti, for lots of good tips on winter living in an Airstream, turn up the heat, kick back with your favorite beverage and read throught this lengthy thread:

http://www.airforums.com/forum...ving-2738.html

janars 09-25-2006 05:52 PM

Winter $ Saving Airstream Living
 
So interested to see another woman braving the winter Airstream land alone! Good for you! It has helped me save enough $ to finally get a place of my own. Maybe the AS will live in the backyard!

It has been such a journey living at your same altitude but here in Colorado! One point I didn't see in this thread is that when you heat tape your hose, take it on inside the trailer, through the opening in the floor where the plumbing comes in. Wrap it tightly, and attach it with electrical tape as required, then that little copper elbow (the most vulnerable spot) isn't left to the cold.
I saw where someone said to just use your internal tanks, to skip the hose, but I disagree. In this cold climate, dealing with filling tanks, and keeping the internal pump going whenever you need water, isn't worth it to me. The fill hose will freeze, unless you have someway to insure it's totally empty before putting it away, and it's generally a hassle to deal with.
Also be sure to wrap that hose well with foam pipe insulation, it's so cheap. This year, if I stayed another winter in mine, I had planned to build a sort of doghouse over the whole plumbing thing, over the hose and all, insulate it, and leave room for an electric heater on a low thermostat just in case.
By the way, I NEVER TURN OFF THE WATER ALL WINTER. I keep it flowing pretty well, that way no matter what else happens, it's ok. You get used to the white noise of it when you sleep. I don't want to replace any more pipe.
Good luck! Contact me if you're ever in Southwest CO!
Jana

Rubyslipper 09-28-2006 09:27 AM

I found that opening all the cabinet doors at night helped to keep the inside warmer. We do this in the summer too due to heat build up.If you are in a really cold area..buy some thin bubble wrap like you wrap something for shipping..$3.00 at Sprawl-Mart.Double sided tape it to the back wall of the cabinets.I also made sure that the storage area under the bed was filled with stuff..less dead air space to get cold and layed a blanket of bubble wrap over the top of everything.The heated mattress pad was used ONLY to warm up the bed and then turned off once we were tucked in.

Happycampers 09-28-2006 02:00 PM

I had the same trouble with my furnace, I took the pilot apart and the burner tip has about 500 tiny holes in it, when it is clean you can hold it up to a bright light or the sun and see them. Take it out of the furnace and soak it over night, then blow it out with high pressure air, blow the opposite way of the gas flow. I forget what I used but you can go to a auto parts store or rv dealer and tell them what you want to do. I never had any problem after that.

peegreen 09-28-2006 03:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rog0525
I would strongly advise against putting hay, straw or any combustible material under a trailer. It's a fire hazard.
icedcacti, for lots of good tips on winter living in an Airstream, turn up the heat, kick back with your favorite beverage and read throught this lengthy thread:

http://www.airforums.com/forum...ving-2738.html

The hay also attracts 4 legged critters that like to nest, find small openings in your heated space and chow down on your leftovers.

Rubyslipper 09-28-2006 03:38 PM

Hey...dont use hay!!!!! Bad deal.If you are in an RV park forget it.Their insurance will not abide with that one.If you research back to the beginning of Winter Living when we first set out to live in our A/S you will see what we used thru 2 winters.Putting a light under the Rv will help also.Be safe.

zoli 06-02-2010 12:07 PM

full timing
 
HI

I love the Airstream forum, unfortunatly I do not have one, many years reading abaout heating, dead battery middle of the night...etc..... so...People...... listen to me: only sulution : wented wall furnace, used 1/3 of propane, no battery need to run , no noise furnace, all over europa we used it for ever... wee live in 2010 this furnace what you find in any trailer, i s100 years technology, think obout heated floor, I have it for $30.... and it,s make a big big diffferent

thanx for read my words

callie 06-02-2010 11:23 PM

Howdy from TEXAS!!! Zoli, please tell me more about your heated floors ....I have been searching for a way to heat the floors in "THE MONEY PIT" so that I might live more comfortably through some very cold Panhandle nights!

Thanks in advance for any information....

Blessings sent your way....adios....Callie

HOOK 'EM HORNS!!!

TAC TX 42

zoli 06-03-2010 10:55 AM

HI!

Heated floor can B $ 4 thausand, or...$ 39.00/ her is a big secret: taka part a heating blanket, put under your laminate floor, and never gonna be cold feet again, it,s NOT gonna be hot, or too warm, but will not be cold... it, GFI protected, adjustable , top of that it,s take only 80watts.....so I did mine and its perfect, kids can run around bear feet, / of course, my rig is not 40 feet, and did not cost 2 million dollars:)))))/

Hibby 08-22-2010 12:22 PM

Excellent thought... I might just lay it on top of the flooring for temporary use if it's not too cold. I have been wanting to find a heated floor mat that is thin enough and long enough to use as a runner in our Sport 22. If we have electrical hookup, it would allow us to heat the trailer and have warm feet, no propane required! But the biggest issue is not being awoken by the furnace blower and igniter every time it kicks on...

Hibby 08-22-2010 12:28 PM

Oh! And another thought:

We always travel with our black lab. He is a seasoned (11 year old) hunting dog, and he sleeps and relaxes in a large crate which we have an insulated jacket for... However, we have been looking for a way to provide some gentle heat on colder nights now as he gets older, and the electric blanket may be a perfect solution.

malconium 08-23-2010 10:52 PM

Electric heating pads for pets...
 
You can buy electric heating pads that are especially designed for pets. We bought a cat sized one for our outdoor cat which seemed to be much appreciated. As I recall they do come in different sizes.

Malcolm

AIR-Quarius 08-24-2010 05:17 AM

In this video you will see what we used for heat. Mr. Heater attachments are great, we evn cook with it if we have too, heat and boil water for coffee. We had a seven day blackout last year and this set up is what saved us from ruin. They cost about forty five dollars from most hardware stores.YouTube - 1970 Airstream in Winter storm
Mind you YOU MUSTunder skirt that trailer...Bales of hay is kind of dangerous...but you want mostly to block the wind from going under neath. Your central heat is going to EAT YOU UP! Just get a tank with a Mr. Heater and set it on the corner by the front door...and position it in just the right way that you know it is not going to roast a wall. Because it does not take long at all to heat the house with it, you can roast hotdogs etc and boil water if you are carful using the right cooking stuff.

wasagachris 08-24-2010 09:07 AM

using those Mr. Heaters indoors is a recipe for disaster. A propane heater needs oxygen to mix with the propane in order burn. The unit will slowly burn up all the oxygen in side the trailer. They do burn clean as long as they have a supply of oxygen and emit only carbon dioxide (not harmful). But carbon dioxide is lighter than air and will rise to the ceiling as the heater burns the height of the oxygen in the room will drop until it falls below the level of the burner. Once that happens the burner can no longer burn clean and starts emitting carbon monoxide (this kills you). Please do not use open flame burners in an enclosed space.
People die every year from doing this!!!!!!


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