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Old 07-26-2002, 03:45 PM   #1
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Post Winter in an Airstream ?????

I need info from anyone who may use their Airstreams in the winter.. In particular, what do you need to do and look out for during freezing weather ? Any particular problems ? Etc..etc..etc..

Thanks !

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Old 07-26-2002, 04:22 PM   #2
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Hello Boris,
Welcome to the forum
I heard that the Airstream trailers do quite well in the cold seasons. ( Fortunately, I don't have to deal with it in SoCal)
You should get the furnace serviced, because it's use in cold weather helps keep the holding tanks and interior plumbing frost free.
There are additives you can put in the holding tanks to further keep the frost problems in check.
A problem could be the water supply line, I guess. It might be best to fill the fresh water tank and use the water from there instead, which should be fine as long as the trailer is constantly heated. that's what it says in my omwer's manual, anyways.
I am sure that one of the forum members has some cold weather experience.
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Old 07-26-2002, 04:30 PM   #3
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The Airstream can be used or lived in thru winter weather. I would suggest a few things that I did when I lived in WI and did not want to winterize, as I was towing to FL over Xmas.

Be sure all of the window and door gaskets are soft and seal well. Depending on age of the trailer, you may want to get some type of insulation to insert into the roof vents as these are not insulated. If you can find them get the thermo pane window screen replacements. If nothing else use the 3m film over the screens and windows, this would be the kind that you use double sided tape and then shrink with a hair dryer. It you are going to keep it in one place, skirt it with plywood, or even just shovel snow up to the point where wind cannot get under it. Also verify that the tubes that run to the holding tanks are clear, actually move heat and are not plugged. Buy heat tape and foam insulation to wrap the water line to the trailer and the exposed water connection, as well as heat tape for any sewer lines. You will want to be sure that you have a ready supply of propane and that the switching valve on the regulator is working properly. You may want to buy a couple of spare tanks so you can swap them and take the empties to fill without loss of a fuel source. I would also invest in an electric space heater. If you do not run the furnace your tanks will freeze, so do not count on the space heater alone. You may want to make it a nightly habit of opening up doors to cabinets that contian pipes to allow for better circuliation of heat. And lastly buy a CO2 detector. Make it one that is wired in, not battery powered.

I stored my 31 foot 1977 on a neighbors drive for 8 weeks with the heat on low and a space heater. Nighttime temps got into the -20 range and I had no problems. I kept the interior in the 45-50 degree range, but I did go through a 40 lb tank of propane in 3 days during the coldest weeks.

Prior to even attempting this I strongly recommend having a professional go over the furnace and be sure is working properly and safely. Two reasons for the strength of that statement. 1. Malfunctioning furnaces can kill you and any one else in the rig. 2. A furnace failure in the middle of a below zero night can leave you with a very expensive repair. Think burst pipes, damaged tank valves, and destroyed faucets.

For towed useage I reccomend filling the fresh tank and leaving the water connection dry. When you dump pour some rv anitfreeze into each tank to stop the valves from freezing and tow with the heat on.

It can be done as long as you plan and prepare.
Brett G
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Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. -- Plato

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Old 07-26-2002, 04:31 PM   #4
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As part of my 'extreme camping' experience, I have used my 345 motorhome in freezing temps. Black Rock Mountain, GA inthe snow.

#1 - I got a lot of condensation inside the windows since they are single pane. It cleared up once I opened the curtains.

#2 - My waste pipe froze but more because I had a leaky vavle that let gray water in the pipe. Now that the vavle is fixed, I think I'm alright.

Properly maintained furnaces is the key. Don't use a space heater (electric or any other). The factory furnaces in good condition work well and distribute heat in just the right spots. Of course a carbon-monoxide detector is a must with LP furnaces. You don't want to wake up dead!

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Old 07-26-2002, 04:41 PM   #5
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I used mine as well in the winter last year, and experienced some 30 degree nights. Must say it was quite cozy with the furnace on, and the hot water heater and all systems go. I was very new to this stuff last winter, and it was a fun time.
Fred- how was that park in GA? I heard it was up a very steep road....
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Old 07-26-2002, 05:31 PM   #6
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Welcome Boris.
I took a trip to Missouri from California last March and the thermometer hit +7 in Arizona, +13 in New Mexico and zero in Oklahoma. I traveled with the furnace on and the thermostat set at 50 degrees. The only problem I encountered was in OK when I let the fresh water tank get too low. If you keep the tank half full you shouldn't have a problem. I put RV antifreeze in the grey and black tanks.
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Old 07-26-2002, 05:52 PM   #7
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I picked up my '77 Excella 500 in AZ. May 2001. On the way back to TN., I pulled into a truckstop in New Mexico. I woke up the next morning and it was 34 degrees inside the trailer. When I got back to TN. I found that some water had been trapped in a low area of the water supply line elbow coming off my hose reel under the belly of the trailer and had broken. That line has since been insulated. I would look for any compartment openings on the outside of your trailer and if there is a water line, insulate it. I would also think about placing extra sheets of insulation inside any storage compartment not routinely opened just to keep drafts to a minimum.

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Old 08-03-2002, 12:36 PM   #8
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I use mine much more in the winter than the summer. It's fantastic. I've made all the mistakes and made all the repairs caused by them. I've had bad seals and no vent insulation and watched (paid) as I consumed more LP. Now that I'm sealed properly, I'll use 40# every three to four weeks at temeratures averaging 20 degrees. I use an electric radiator syle heater to assit the furnace. That furnace even keeps it in the 60's when it's below zero! If you give me a better idea of your concerns and challenges, I can tell you how I have dealt with them. I'll share this with you... no matter how well I drain those water pipes in the fall, I'm as nervous as can be in the spring when I connect the hose for the first time. Finding and repairing a water leak is a real chore.
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Old 08-04-2002, 07:44 AM   #9
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Rear end

What about the rear end of the coach, where the fresh water and black tank empty? Does the furnace air circulate into those areas? Is extra insulation needed under that door on the rear bumper?
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Old 08-04-2002, 08:58 AM   #10
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I'm not sure if it's necessary but I do add insulation to the rear end and a few other places, like under the sink and around the fresh water tank and water pump fittings. I bought a roll of heat shield insulation from an auto parts store and it was easy to cut to fit. There are places where I used double face tape to hold it in place and places where I did not. I also used it under the beds.
I was told by an Airstream service employee that the entire water system is installed on top of the subfloor so that if the interior were heated, the water lines and tanks were safe. I'm not sure if that includes the waste tanks. As a precaution, I throw a handful of salt into the waste tanks when used.
Charles L
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