An RV or recreational vehicle allows you to enjoy the outdoors while providing many creature comforts typically associated with home. There is a growing community of RV users and owners, and they enjoy their vehicles almost any time of the year.
Whether it is a modern fully equipped model or a vintage VW Westphalia, RVs are no doubt gaining in popularity.
Winter RV living is a very comfortable way to camp. The vehicle affords you many amenities that tents do not have. Staying in an RV in cold weather means you are in an insulated enclosure, often equipped with heating. Most models will have running water, a cooking area, a warm bed, and even an entertainment console.
RV living in winter, however, will also present some concerns. Just like any vehicle, pipes that have some form of liquid in them could freeze. Your water reservoir and running system could easily turn to solid ice and you certainly do not want your winter camper to turn into an igloo.
Here are some expert tips I have learned from fellow RV owners and users on how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping.
How to Keep Recreational Vehicle Pipes from Freezing
Winter proofing your RV is all about preventive strategies. I also realized that you have to prepare your RV even if it is just sitting in the garage. Freezing pipes, are after all a fact of life, not just in your vehicle, but anywhere the temperatures drop. (Read A Parent’s Guide to Camping with Kids)
Anything can happen on a camping site in the middle of winter. For instance, during power interruptions, a full holding tank can make your vacation go south in no time. Due to freezing temperatures, your tank can crack.
This is a disastrous situation! A cracked holding tank will affect the pipes in the kitchen and toilet, leading to wastewater flooding inside your RV. There are preventive measures you can do, one of which is to empty the waste tank until half-full.
For a freshwater tank, do the opposite. Keep the tank full because it is almost impossible to freeze a large amount of water. Likewise, under any circumstances never leave your hose attached to the city’s water source, as this will definitely freeze your hose and water.
The best preventive measure is to own a heated water hose. Different online platforms can alert you if temperature drops, so you can keep your hose inside and the tank full.
The Right Temperature
Speaking of freezing, make sure that the temperature inside your RV does not fall below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
To avoid this from happening, crank up your heater to 45 degrees or higher. Warm air can keep the pipes of the kitchen sink and toilet from freezing.
Employ the use of foil-lined insulation for windows and doors. This is a good way of reflecting heat back into the cabin. Install heavy drapes to keep the warm air in during freezing nights. Carpets and rugs for the floor will aid condensation, blocking cold air from coming in.
A simple trick to naturally bring up the temperature inside your RV is to park in the sun. It will naturally melt any ice on the roof and keep the pipes from freezing.
Electric and Portable Heaters
Electric heaters are great to have especially if the campsite can provide electric lines. As it is with all electrical devices, always make sure to operate them in cognizance of safety measures. Keep flammable combustible substances away from them.
If you are with children, keep them away from it.
Portable heaters are just as effective to use. Be mindful of the risk since it uses gasoline. Make sure the RV is well- ventilated to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
Antifreeze for RVs
Antifreeze products are always essential to bring on trips. Be mindful to purchase one meant for RVs. The color has to be pink and non-toxic.
Before you use the product, read the instructions carefully, especially the amount of antifreeze you have to use for the size of your holding tank. Empty tanks that have black water and gray water. Once you have done this, fill them with antifreeze (referencing the manufacture’s guideline for amount).
Keep Valves Closed
I was told by some people that leaving the valves open prevent the pipes from freezing. From my experience that will cause more problems, like leaks or even flooding inside the RV. When the temperature drops, water in the holding tank could come out.
Leaving the valves open will only allow water to escape and possible flooding could occur. So If I were you, leave the valves closed.
Heat Tape and Foam Insulation
Another practical way to keep your pipes working during extreme conditions is to buy heat tape. It is available in any hardware store. Heat tape is made to detect the temperature changes and will adjust when it gets too cold.
For extra protection, use foam insulation over the heat tape.
Keep Your RV Camping Worry Free
These are just some tips and tricks that can keep your RV pipes from freezing. Whenever you decide to go camping in freezing conditions, make sure you know what to do and are equipped with the necessary gear. (Read 10 Tips for Camping in the Rain)
Most effective strategies used at home will also apply when in an RV vehicle under freezing conditions. As in most cases, common sense goes a long way, together with ample preparation.