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Old 09-06-2012, 06:58 AM   #1
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How to Weather early autumn cold snaps

We are new RV (2011 Sunseeker 2300) owners preparing to enjoy the explosion of autumn colors in Colorado. We bought or Sunseeker in April, so this will be our first autumn of ownership. We have lots of questions about preparing for this new season of RV adventures. We intend to enjoy a few weeks of autumn colors here before heading south to warmer climates next month.
As evening temperatures begin to dip, we want to enjoy staying in our RV, but wonder what precautions are necessary to avoid cold weather damage to plumbing or other systems. We may be dry camping some nights in national parks or national forest campgrounds, or may have options to find electric plug ins nearby. At what nighttime temperature do we need to take precautions? If we set our thermostat to turn on the heater at a particular inside temperature, will that prevent frozen pipes? Can we do this without being hooked to shore power?
We were told that Sunseeker water tanks are more interval and "protected" from the cold...but, at what temperature must we take additional precautions?... And what precautions are warranted? How cold could we weather before it would be necessary to winterize our unit, even though we are using it? Are there particular pipes that are more at risk? Could/should we set up a space heater near them to help? What if we parked it for a few days ... How does that change the risk of overnight frost?
We were told about how to winterize our motorhome when first given a walk through, but are anxious to have someone walk us through it when the time comes... Or to find a manual with step by step instructions and photos.... Any suggestions? What tools, fluids (amount?), etc should we have on hand in case winterization is necessary? Is it an option to use an air compressor to blow out lines? How many psi is needed, if so?
I will continue hunting through previous postings on this topic, but appreciate anything that might give us a better sense of what we need to do before it becomes critical. Thanks!
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Old 09-06-2012, 08:32 AM   #2
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There are plenty of "winterization" threads on here that cover specifics of what to do. That said, here's my two cents with my limited experience. If you're staying in the camper and have the heat on, you should be warm enough to avoid any plumbing damage (anyone else, feel free to correct me if you disagree here.) If you're leaving the unit for several days, I would assume that you'd be turning the heat off? That's when you'll have to worry about plumbing damage, that's when the use of compressed air to blow out the lines will be your friend. Not hard to do, and easily reversible for using the unit again. I would think you would only need antifreeze fluid for your final winterizing (and if you're going south to a warmer climate, than probably not at all.) Check some of the other threads for specific procedure and PSI numbers. Good luck!
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Old 09-06-2012, 01:18 PM   #3
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There are no hard and fast rules of "when its this temp, do this". Some of that depends on exposure (to wind and sun) and what the t-stat is set to. I know of a few Sunseeker owners that take their units skiiing. They store it in a heated barn (never winterize it). They take it up the mountain for a day or two. They take many precautions...leaving cabinet doors cracked open so that heated air gets to the plumbing runs in those areas. They put a little fan forced heater down into the plumbing area as an added precaution to make sure the supply lines stay warm. You can always put antifreeze in the black/gray tanks (even though they are heated by the furnace). To freeze 40 gallons of fresh water takes a ton of energy. The weak link will always be the fresh water lines and the water filter. On the newer models we have tried to locate the heating duct as close to the water filter as possible. We have also enclosed this area further (used to be open all the way through both sides of that compartment) to reduce the area that is being heated.
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Old 09-06-2012, 04:06 PM   #4
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Most water regulators are set to about 40psi so that is what I set my air compressor to when blowing out the lines.

FR has done a great job of directing heat ducts to the vital areas. As long as the furnace is running enough to keep you warm, your pipes should be fine. Note that if you use a space heater to reduce or eliminate furnace run time, you may not be getting enough heat to places like the water filter or dump valves.

The arctic package adds heat pads to the bottoms of the tanks for even more cold weather protection.
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Old 09-06-2012, 04:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RvBill3 View Post
Most water regulators are set to about 40psi so that is what I set my air compressor to when blowing out the lines.

FR has done a great job of directing heat ducts to the vital areas. As long as the furnace is running enough to keep you warm, your pipes should be fine. Note that if you use a space heater to reduce or eliminate furnace run time, you may not be getting enough heat to places like the water filter or dump valves.

The arctic package adds heat pads to the bottoms of the tanks for even more cold weather protection.
Solved that problem by putting a remote switch on the furnace fan so we run the space heater and the furnace fan only without running the furnace itself.
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Old 09-07-2012, 12:01 AM   #6
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The temperature is going to have to get in the mid 20s before you need to,worry about anything. You probably won't see that until November in the Colorado Rockies, at least where you can take a trailer. I've been out with nightly temperatures in the mid 20s with only problem being the hose outside the trailer froze. No damage, just no showers on those mornings.
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Old 09-07-2012, 08:28 AM   #7
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We were tent campers before becoming rv owners, so we are used to staying warm under the covers at night and turning on the heater in the morning...didn't even realize that our furnace would function without shore power or generator running until it came on one morning while we were dry camped in YNP last month... Woke us up with a start!.

It sounds like our heater should be set to a more comfortable level overnight if it is to protect the plumbing? How warm do you recommend? Can the batteries support furnace use overnight for more than one night if we run the generator for awhile during the day?

The bugling elk and golden aspen are calling to us!
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Old 09-07-2012, 04:34 PM   #8
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We keep our thermostat at 68 or so at night. Furnace will draw down the batteries if it runs much. As long as you run generator some during the day you should be fine.
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Old 09-22-2012, 09:16 AM   #9
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Well, it got down into the mid 20s a few nights and all was well. The first night we ran the furnace and between the noise and worry, i was awake hourly checking the clock, the thermometer, and turning on water. The next night we ran the furnace before we went to bed then woke up a couple times to run it again and turn on water occasionally.
Finally we settled in to heating the coach before bed and again about 4 am when it was coldest, running water a bit then, too. We also left the hot water heater on as someone recommended that to heat the storage area around the pump and filter a bit.
Feeling a bit more comfortable about chilly autumn nights in the mountains... Had one shop mechanic tell me it would have to stay below freezing all day to be an issue...not sure i trust that level of confidence.
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2011 Sunseeker 2300
Life is an adventure!
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2012- 100+ days camping + Panama cruise
2013- 60 nights in our RV so far (as of Aug 1)
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Old 09-23-2012, 01:42 PM   #10
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We carry an indoor/outdoor thermometer when traveling. I put the "outdoor" module in the water filter compartment (used to be in the dumping compartment, but changed the location after reading that the water filter was more vulnerable). When I wake up in the middle of the night I check the thermometer and if it gets in the low 30's turn on the heat (if it hasn't already gone off). My only problem is when hooked up to shore power I use an electric space heater in order to save on propane. That doesn't get any heat to the water filter area, so I have to monitor the temp in that area more carefully and switch to the propane heater if necessary.
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