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Old 10-24-2006, 09:42 PM   #1
Harry P
 
1995 36' Classic 36
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RVing in Cold Weather

I'm sure that this subject has been discussed before, but I thought I would start a new thread. I would like to keep my 95 Airstream MH Classic 36 usable for some more cold weather trips. I will probably winterize in 2 to 3 weeks. I live in the Chicago area.

Question is, do you need to do anything for those cold (less than 32 degrees) nights while the MH is parked in the driveway to keep things from freezing?

At what temperature will damage occur? Has anyone had any problems leaving the rig watered at temps of say, 25 degress and up?

Thanks in advance for any advice you may have.
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Old 10-24-2006, 10:35 PM   #2
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Hi Harry,,, for certain,, leave your furnace running for starters,,, am sure others with motorhomes will post,,, i know about trailers and sorry that is about the extent of my knowledge,,, would worry more now about the roads than the unit,,,, take care,,, donna
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Old 10-24-2006, 11:52 PM   #3
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Water pipes freeze easily. Big (HUGE, actually) mess. Tons of work to repair. Open cupboard doors, drawers, etc. so warm air can circulate around pipes.

I do not know about your specific motorhome, but I would start with the water inlet and see where the pipes go... check to be sure none are on the "outside". Not sure about the gray water/black water issues. I know we had a older motorhome a number of years ago and the pipes froze. Took lots of repair. Do whatever it takes to avoid it! If the temp is below 45 I would turn a heater on!

Good luck!

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Old 10-25-2006, 02:55 AM   #4
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Leave the furnace on! Not just the heat pump. The colder it gets outside the higher you will have to keep the thermostat.
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Old 10-25-2006, 05:38 AM   #5
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I have a 2005 trailer and the manual says to leave the furnace on because the ducts run along with the pipes. Leaving cabinet doors open seems to work also.
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Old 10-25-2006, 05:52 AM   #6
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Harry, your pipes can freeze in two hours at 32*.

RV anti-freeze costs about $3/gallon. It takes 10 mins to winterize, and you can do it again before you leave a park if necessary. Drain your tanks, winterize the plumbing and then just flush them when you're ready to take the moho out. Drain the tanks, and re-winterize again before you hit the road as your furnace may not be able to keep up with the outside temp around the tanks as you go down the road. Make sure you drain your black water tank first and THEN your gray water 'cause there won't be any fresh water around at dump stations this time of year to wash things down with.

Make sure when you're parked and using the moho that your propane tank is full when you start and your furnace is on all the time so it can vent warm air around the pipes and tanks.

We just got back from a five nighter with 25* temps and had a great time. I had winterized before I left, and re-winterized when we got back. Don't forget to take all freezables out of the moho too... canned foods, dish soap and cleaners, etc etc etc.

Happy camping!

Roger
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Old 10-25-2006, 09:25 AM   #7
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Water pipes don't freeze at 32F but thermometers can lie! ;-)

It takes sub freezing temperatures over time to freeze things. Most of your plumbing is protected to some degree inside your RV. That means mild overnight freezing temperatures won't usually cause harm inside your RV. Look at how long it takes a bowl of water to freeze in your home freezer set to 0F.

Mild overnight freezing temperatures can be when the average of the day's minimum and maximum temperatures stays above 30F. Or when the nighttime minimum stays above 20F to 25F. Below those markers, the risk of freezing rapidly increases.

Most plumbing these days is PEX and that will handle some freezing without damage. Fixtures and fittings may not. The worst damage is when things like water heater tanks or water filters freeze up but it takes quite a freeze to get those.

Running the furnace is one way to help reduce the risk of freeze damage. I just wish RV furnace thermostats had a 'keep alive' setting so they'd hold a 35-40F temperature but most don't. A 1kw or so electric heater with fan and open cabinets will also help reduce freezing risk but take care for all the usual hazards.

It's not until the temperatures get down to the teens and lower that you really need to start worrying about things. See the page on Warmth for some ideas and links.
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Old 10-25-2006, 09:50 AM   #8
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Maybe you saw this thread of the last few days. Although Chaplain Kent isn't available this week he takes the approach of just blowing out the pipes and putting antifreeze in the traps. That could work but I worry about water settling back into low areas and freezing. Still, a lot of us own oil-free compressors to do this job ourself on a moment's notice. I've done recent camping down into the upper 20's like Roger -- it's easy if you are keeping it warm for humans. You won't be happy running the furnace in the driveway for any prolonged period of time but that certainly is an effective solution. Open the lower cabinets as you are reading here.

I'm pretty certain that inside temps would nearly equalize with outside after a long winter night and could freeze up solid in those pre-dawn coldest hours. The negative consequences are so expensive and time consuming that it wouldn't be safe giving you a lowest recommended temperature. I'd definitely worry about 25 degrees.

Only the forced air RV furnace will put duct heat under your cabinets where the pipes are. A space heater will not. Heat rises, etc. I would take a lot more precautions if you observe that you have copper pipes. They are highly subject to freeze damage.
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Old 10-25-2006, 10:35 AM   #9
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Quote:
I worry about water settling back into low areas and freezing.
The biggest concern is water collecting in the fixtures. I have lost mixing valves on the shower due to freezing.

We often get nighttime lows in the 20-25F range that don't cause any freezing in my trailer. Highs are usually 55-60F or more. I only worry when a storm goes through and the lows get into the teens and highs in the low 40's and it stays that way for a few days.

Even the oil-free compressors can introduce contaminants.

See Winterizing the plumbing at the SNUZE weblog for more.
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Old 10-25-2006, 11:28 AM   #10
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The other thought is the amount of propane you will expend to stay warm. We just went through 3 days of some of the coldest weather we have ever camped in. Now we have been overnight where the water hose froze, but in essance it was just overnight.

The last three days we were in cloudy rainy weather with temps dropping as low as thirty and highs just approaching 40 with winds blowing between 10-30 mph over the open Illinois corn fields. While we started out using the heat pump we pretty much stayed on furnace the entire trip with the thermostat set for 72 in the daytime and 70 at night. I left St. Louis with only one propane tank full with the other tank emptying just before we left town (when I tested to make sure the furnace ran). We kept the shades and curtain's closed to conserve heat. While we were warm inside, as soon as the furnace cycled off, you felt the cold coming from the walls. A thermometer on the dinette close to the windows registered a temperature about 2-3 degrees lower than the inside center of the trailer. Bottom line, unless the furnace was running, the outside cold was noticable. The furnace during the coldest times was cycling at least once every 5 minutes and ran at least 2-3 minutes to bring the temp up to setpoint. In those three days we used half a 30 lb. bottle of gas.

So those of you who are cold weather campers, you have my admiration. Personally I find no joy in it and this weekend we winterize and await the warmth of the spring.

Jack
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Old 10-25-2006, 11:49 AM   #11
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Yes Jack, I hear you loud and clear! Two weeks ago we left home in 27-28 degree temps and the furnace running. I can only imagine how much that furnace burned during the 6 hour drive that followed. I stopped once and went inside; driving at 60mph must have been pulling that heat out pretty bad. We started with a half-full LP tank -- finished it completely after Night 2 of the adventure. I was just glad I filled the other tank as a final measure before leaving home. One gets complacent when a half tank lasts a month or more in the summer.
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Old 10-25-2006, 01:37 PM   #12
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In my case with the electric/gas water heater and the heat pump, our usage is pretty minimal. The tank that finally ran out last weekend has been in use for a year and a half. So this 3 day run is really the most that the furnace has run since I bought this trailer.....and obviously I now know why they put twin 30 gallon tanks on this trailer.

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Old 10-25-2006, 01:47 PM   #13
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This advise is very timely. I was going to post this same type of question. I live in the South Metro area of Atlanta. We get upper 20's - low 30's but not much colder for more than a night or two at a time and not that often. I thought blowing out the water lines and draining all the tanks (including hot water) and remove the water filter would be sufficient if I ran the furnace when the temps dropped below the 30 degree mark. Does that sound right or do I need to put in anti-freeze?
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Old 10-25-2006, 01:59 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnie's Mate
This advise is very timely. I was going to post this same type of question. I live in the South Metro area of Atlanta. We get upper 20's - low 30's but not much colder for more than a night or two at a time and not that often. I thought blowing out the water lines and draining all the tanks (including hot water) and remove the water filter would be sufficient if I ran the furnace when the temps dropped below the 30 degree mark. Does that sound right or do I need to put in anti-freeze?
As long as you have access to the trailer to easily turn on the furnace, this should do the trick. Turning on the furnace in April or October is something I do when we are in freezing temps and I have water in the system. If the freeze is especially hard, I also turn on the water heater. In your case since you have already blown out the lines, the running of the furnace should suffice. In my case it's a real stop gap situation, especially if the trailer is in the storage yard where I have no access to 110. In those cases it's usually a one night affair and the batteries can carry me through. In these cases I set the thermostat at 50 and open up the cabinet's to let the air get to the piping. That minimizes run time to conserve battery power.

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Old 10-25-2006, 04:17 PM   #15
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I do appreciate all the pointers and great advice from everyone so far.
Last night, the temp here in my driveway went to a low of 25. Everything in the rig was turned off, no heat at all. I went out to the rig at 6am to test things out and found the temp in the rig to be about 35. I turned on the water pump and tried all faucets, and they all flowed instantly. Water in toilet was still liquid.

If the forcast called for mid 20's for a few days in a row, I think I would winterize as a precaution. So far, so good. I will report if I encounter any problems. BTW, both holding tanks are empty, since I do not like the thought of water in the pipes leading to the drain valve, exposed to outside air and freezing much sooner.

Thanks again for all the great ideas!
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Old 10-26-2006, 09:45 PM   #16
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We just returned this past Sunday from a 4 week trip, Southern CA to Mississippi, up to TN, east to NC, north to OH, west to IN, IL, IA, MO, KS, CO, AZ and back to CA. We had everthing from heat and warm nights near Phoenix to a couple of cold days over CO mountain passes and many cold nights in the 20's. We would turn our furnace on with the thermostat set as low as it would go when day time temps were at or below freezing and at night except when we were in making supper or relaxing. This would keep inside temps near 50 on our 25' CCD. I did notice the contents of the black water tank being a little stiff when I lifted the hose to eliminate any sag when dumping one morning; noticed no freezing of the water or grey water tanks but they are heated by the furnace.

We operated for six days in MO with mostly overcast and rainy skies, four of the nights in the upper 20's without being connected to the truck or shore power. We only slept in the trailer so daytime electrical demands were low, night time demands were only the furnace. The two solar panels on the roof (260 watts nominal rating) brought the batteries up to 12.6 which was enough to keep the furnace working all night. Morning voltages were about 12.2. We were very pleased with how well it worked. We used one 30# bottle of propane from CA to NC but I believe we had a very slight leak past the teflon tape on the pig tail threads into the regulator. With that fixed we only used one bottle from NC back to CA in much colder conditions.
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Old 02-21-2007, 08:07 AM   #17
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I am coming from U.K and buying a 1983 airstream motorhome end of February in Arizona then driving to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas do I need to worry about winterizing.The temp drops at night below freezing but not during the day.I will be living in the van any hints cwould helpful
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Old 02-21-2007, 08:16 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Normin storm
I am coming from U.K and buying a 1983 airstream motorhome end of February in Arizona then driving to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas do I need to worry about winterizing.The temp drops at night below freezing but not during the day.I will be living in the van any hints cwould helpful
WOW, what a great trip! You should be fine. I would imagine you would start freezing before any pipes. As long as you keep the inside temps reasonable for your own comfort everything should be OK. We have had our AS TT out in the snow and what have you and did really well. Use the search function above for some cold weather tips. Have a wonderful trip!
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Old 03-09-2007, 02:40 AM   #19
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freezing

Quote:
Originally Posted by harryp
I'm sure that this subject has been discussed before, but I thought I would start a new thread. I would like to keep my 95 Airstream MH Classic 36 usable for some more cold weather trips. I will probably winterize in 2 to 3 weeks. I live in the Chicago area.

Question is, do you need to do anything for those cold (less than 32 degrees) nights while the MH is parked in the driveway to keep things from freezing?

At what temperature will damage occur? Has anyone had any problems leaving the rig watered at temps of say, 25 degress and up?

Thanks in advance for any advice you may have.
My rig is static, I use it as a guest house all year around. When it gets below freezing I set the furnace to minimun and I also let the water drip a little from the draining valves both hot and cold water.If you keep the water circulating it has less a chance of freezing in the pipes, but then again I have a pump in my well so the water doesn't cost me anything!! Check my site on the link below.
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Old 03-09-2007, 06:26 AM   #20
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Good advice from everyone, BUT I haven't noticed anyone saying anything about the P traps under the shower, the kitchen sink and the bathroom lavatory or any mention of the water filter under the kitchen cabinet, if equiped. If the trap under the shower or tub freezes, it is one very expensive repair as the entire tub/shower must be pulled in order to access the trap to install a new one. So, .... if winterizing, simply blowing out the lines is not good enough. You also need to pour antifreeze into the traps and you need to remove the water filter.
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