When the subject of winter RVing comes up it’s usually accompanied by questions. Where are you going to winter? How cold is it going to get?Are you talking about real winter or Texas winter? If you are talking about winter cold in the sense that it gets below freezing at night there are a few precautions you should take or at the very least there are some factors you should consider. If it is going to be in the teens at night and warming up to the 30’s or higher in the day time you won’t have many problems with winter RVing if you just remember a few tips.
Water Supply Hose
The simplest solution to prevent a frozen water hose is to just turn off the faucet, detach the water hose, and use your holding tank overnight. A simple mechanic’s trouble light with a 75 – 100 watt bulb placed in the water and sewer compartments will save your water pump quite nicely. Others have told us that the simple light bulb trick will keep everything in the compartment flowing down to near zero degrees, if you make sure the door is closed securely. Then when the temperature warms during the day you can reconnect your water line, refill the holding tank, etc.
If you get tired of connecting and reconnecting the water line over an extended time of freezing temperatures or if the temperature stays below freezing during the day time as well as night, you might invest in a heat tape strip to keep the line from freezing. Opinions vary as to how to use heat tape strips. If the temperature gets down in the single digits at night the heat strip attached to the hose with zip-ties seems to work ok. However, if the temperature stays up in the high teens or twenty’s the heat tape may be too much and can even cause the water in the hose to reach boiling temperatures, which of course creates other problems because of steam. We have had good success in moderate temperature zones by simply wrapping the hose with aluminum foil, then running a single heat strip and securing it to the covered hose with zip ties. The aluminum foil acts as a heat sink to control access heat, and keeps the hose at a more uniform temperature. This technique works pretty well down to the low teens.
If you need a hose that works down to -42 degrees F for extended stays, there is a nice heated hose at Amazon. It has a thermostatically controlled heat strip built right in.
Most RV’s have the tanks placed in compartments that will stay warm enough with the heat from the furnace of the RV. So for the most part, living in your RV and keeping things warm at night with the gas furnace or other form of heat is the first rule of winter RVing. Other things apply to winter storage of your RV where tanks and lines must be drained, antifreeze added, or other winterizing precautions must be taken.
If you schedule your tank dumping during the warmest part of the day you should have no trouble. If temperatures remain below freezing for days or weeks at a time, insulating your sewer lines may be necessary. In very cold climates, we have been told that wrapping the sewer line with weather strips then placing the entire line inside of an oversized section of PVC will work. We have not ventured into this type of cold, so we have no first hand information.
When in doubt, talk with those who have weathered the winter cold. Most RV’s will serve you well in cold weather if you know the precautions to take.