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Thread: Newbie winter fulltiming questions

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    Fulltimer Matthias's Avatar
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    Newbie winter fulltiming questions

    Hi everyone,

    now that it's getting colder even here in Phoenix and my first winter full-timing experience lies ahead, I was wondering where I can find advice as to what to look out for.

    Some questions that come to mind are:

    What about the hose that connects my trailer to city water when temperatures go below freezing overnight? Won't that thing freeze and how do I prevent that?

    Should I leave the heater on permanently set to a certain temperature to prevent the plumbing in the trailer from freezing even while I'm not at home?

    Do I even have to be concerned about that while staying in an area with mild winters?

    How cold does it have to get for this to really become a concern?



    What's the full-timer's "standard procedure" to avoid waking up to no running water or even blown pipes?

    Thanks for any links or info,
    Matthias

  2. Print this Post   #2

    Matthias,

    Others will post their own solutions to the questions you have... but here is what I have done...

    I am parked near Atlanta Georgia till the first of the Year... so to get ready for those cold snaps that pop up from time to time...

    I bought a heat tape to run along my water hose... I just ran it along side of the hose... using black tape every so often... I have two filters in line so I made several wraps around each hose... using tape again to keep it in place... I continued running the heat tape up into the docking station... Was luck because I ran out of heat tape at the end of the hose...

    After the heat tape was secure... I then used foam pipe insulation over top the hose and heat tape ( I think it comes in 8 foot lengths ) ... I bought the type that would be used for one inch pipe... so I knew it would hold the heat tape and hose... Once I had that covering the hose I then secured the foam insulation with black tape.

    I don't have it always plugged into the electric... that's just me being extra careful... I know some heat tapes have a thermostat to turn them on... when the temps drop to freezing. I hold my two filters inside a plastic crate... sort of keeps them up-right... those filters which are wrapped with heat tape are covered with some insulation to keep the heat close to the filters... where I HOPE it will do it's job.

    Now, as for the question of a freeze up. Two years ago we were parked in this same location... temps dropped to 17 Degrees each night... for 4 nights... with a good stiff breeze blowing steady. I froze up our plumbing... well, to thaw out the frozen pipes... I used a small electric heater in the basement... directing the blowing heat... through the hole that I have in the basement wall... to get to the rear of the docking station... I opened that hole... and blew the warm air into the hole... in fact I left that heater inside there for those next 3 days... until the temps came back up. It thawed out the frozen plumbing.

    The only way the basement gets heat... is from the furnace running... or by some other heating source placed down there. I have also read some folks use those electric tube lights... ?Rope lights?... and they ran that inside the foam insulation... to help keep the water hose from freezing.... guess that would work as well, and the lights could be used as decoration... in the warm months as well!!

    Hope this is some help... Good Luck !!

    Marv & Karen Osborne
    09 Chevy 3500-HD - Duramax & Allison
    Escapees # 82038 - Passport America

  3. Print this Post   #3

    Ditto on the heat tape on the incoming water hose. But be sure to read the directions - some say run it straight down the hose, others say wrap. We didn't wrap our filter with heat tape but we did wrap several inches of insulation around it and the exposed water pipe from the park. We really didn't have any major problems until the temps dropped below 20 at night. Then I would suggest leaving cabinet doors open inside the rig to let your inside pipes get some heat.
    Joe and Dakota the wacko cat, fulltiming again
    Malabar FL
    '06 BH 3600RL #4144
    '06 Dodge RAM 3500 CTD 6 spd SRW
    Website: http://happykayakers.com

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    Original Owners Club Member jmgratz's Avatar
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    If the temperature goes below 32 degrees F and you don't have your furnace on you run the risk of your pipes freezing. We get a few nights below freezing each year when home (north of Houston) and when our rig is parked and we are not using it I set the thermostat for the furnace on about 45 and leave it. I did that with our previous rig also. So far so good. We have not have any problems even when staying in New Jersey in early March with sub-freezing temps. I would recommend a Palonis electric heater (about $90 from Camping World) to supplement the furnace. That way you don't use as much Propane.

    On other thing I noticed that was not mentioned. Close all of the gate valves to the gray and black water tanks and get all of the water out of the flexible sewer hose you attach from the rig to the sewer opening. If you don't you will have a frozen sewer hose. I have seen some put the sewer hose in a PVC pipe to help keep it from freezing if they will be put for awhile. To me it is just easier to open the valves to drain the tanks then close the valves and get the water out of the hose and you should be okay. Hope this helps too.
    Jim & Sheila Gratz - owners club #1018 Workamping as Sales Associate with SE Publications Certified RV Walk-through Technician [/I] 2013 Landmark San Antonio - full body paint - Fulltimer pkg, Yetti pkg etc., Mor-Ryde IS with never lube bearings and disc brakes. --previous 5er - 2007 "Classic" Landmark "Golden Gate" Replaced 9/20/13 2012 Ford F350 King Ranch Crew Cab fx4 dually, 6.7 L Husky Trailer Saver TS2 hitch "visit TEXAS - it's like a whole 'nuther country" Rally Site 414

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    Fulltimer Matthias's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for all the informative responses, they are really helpful.

    I've been wondering about heat tape and if they have those with a thermostat. I will be looking for that, so I don't have to worry about plugging it in when it's about to get really cold.

    I'm currently paying for my electricity separately, it's not part of the campground rent. That made me wonder if it is cheaper to use the electric versus the gas hot water heater? Currently I leave the electric one on at all times.

    Same goes with an additional electric heater as was suggested. Is it cheaper to heat with propane only or to supplement it with the electric heater? I guess the electric heater has the advantage of being able to direct the heat better where needed.

    I probably won't have temperatures below 20. I read the lowest temperature here ever was 16F in 1913, the average lowest is 41. I'll be sure to leave the furnace on when it stays low.

    Thanks again for all the great advice.

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    Fulltimer Matthias's Avatar
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    I have one more question about the heat tapes. It looks like they are for metal and plastic piping but not supposed to be used for flexible hoses. Can anyone point me to a product that is ok to use on a water hose?

  7. Print this Post   #7

    I bought the type for metal & Plastic Pipe... Yes I understand they are not recommended for plastic/rubber supply hoses...

    I feel if I am careful... which is why I said in my earlier post... I only plug in the heat tape when the temp's are going to drop to freezing. ( Note, I a can do this because we full time in the BigHorn ) I feel there is no risk doing this... as long as the hose is full of water... and the temps are falling below 30 Degrees.

    This is one more reason I ran the heat tape length wise... the heat build up would be far less than if it was spiral wrapped.

    A supply hose that has been Spiral wrapped... might end up having the heat tape cross over it self... which in my opinon... if it crossed over... it would really risk putting too much heat in one spot... and perhaps causing the hose and possibly the heat tape it self to melt or burn which would lead to a failure.

    I know this didn't help make the decision on which heat tape to purchase... sorry.

    Good Luck !

    Marv

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    Fulltimer Matthias's Avatar
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    Thanks Marv. I just wanted to make sure I'm not missing a product that is for hoses. I did find plenty of options online for piping heat tape.

    I guess I'll just cross my fingers that the rig won't burn up.

  9. Print this Post   #9
    Senior Member
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    Do any of you have trouble with the gate valves freezing up, that they can't be pulled to flush the tanks? If you do have problems, any idea on resolving them?
    Thanks, Don

  10. Print this Post   #10

    DFK,

    When we had that cold front push through the Atlanta area, temps dropped to 17 F over night for each of those 4 nights. I had freeze ups in the plumbing... but I was not running the propane furnace much during that time... since electric is included... we used a few electric heaters to keep our BigHorn toasty warm. I also have 2 low point drains... which is a real quick way to freeze the pipes where they are connected inside the belly.

    I did not attempt to drain the holding tanks during this time... I tend to practice dumping only when the black water tank is full... I also keep a close eye on the weather for the prediction of cold snaps.

    So I can't tell you if there was a problem... but my better judgment would be to dump before I was going to deal with those cold nights... and if I needed to dump during a lengthy cold stay... I'd try for a warm day...

    If possible I'd have the RV road side facing the south.... meaning the warm sun (hopefully it would shine) could help warm the RV during the day... and by running the propane furnace... enough heat would get down there as well... to allow the tanks to drain.

    This might be wishful thinking... But then there are wheels on these RV's... so if the weather is going to stay cold... I'm moving South !

    Marv & Karen Osborne
    09 Chevy 3500-HD - Duramax & Allison
    Escapees # 82038 - Passport America

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