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Old 03-14-2015, 08:02 AM   #1
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Location: Western NC Mountains
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Frozen Cascade of Problems - Help?

Full-timing in Cedar Creek Cottage in Western NC. Coldest winter in decades with several days of zero-to-single-digit temps. Had to go out of town for a few days so turned the water supply off, left the furnace on 64, came back to a mess of problems. Thought I'd share and seek some HELP!

Even though I left hte furnace on, I was still worried about freezing lines. As many here have noted, there are several AT RISK areas of these RVs - and we've learned a few of these lessons the hard way. Had the neighbors stop by to check on things while I was away and - sure enough - when reopening the lines to the trailer - no water.

When I got back the sleuthing began. First, shower head was on the floor on the shower with a few small drops of water on the shower floor. Close inspection of the shower head (that everyone here recommends) and hose found that the cheap plastic connectors were cracked. Hummm... how did pressure build up in the shower line in the WARM Cottage to the point of blowing the shower head off the hose - especially when the VALVES WERE CLOSED?!?!?! (We'll come back to this.)

Second, there was a bit of water behind the toilet. You all know what happened there. Pressure build up in the water line cracked the cheap plastic valve in the back of the Dometic Model 310. (Heck, they even show PICTURES of this "known issue" in their literature.) But, again, where is the source of the pressure?

Finally opened the outside panel - you know, the one with simple weatherstripping and no insulation right where your fragile water pump, hydraulic pump and all the water lines run - and found the water filter housing sitting on the floor of the closet - sheared off at the mounting ring.

So this cabinet got SO COLD that the water in the filter housing froze, pressurized the lines to the point where the toilet value froze and blew the shower hear off and cracked the shower line screw connections.

So, working backwards, unscrewed the destroyed water filter housing, had to special order another (2 days and $60 because it is a "special RV size", rather than one readily available at Lowes), installed new filter housing. Hoped that was the only issue.

Turned water on and discovered toilet valve damage.

Ordered 2 (cautious) that arrived Priority Mail in 2 days (still without water). Replaced the toilet valve (patience required working in cramped space, backward, left handed, with plastics, etc.). Turned water on. Toilet worked - no more leak there.

THEN turned my attention to the shower. Feeling hopeful, attached a METAL connector shower hose to the outlet and head. Turned on the shower. Water leaking our around shower base unit. Damn. Can only surmise that pressure was so great that the shower valves blew out too.

SO TO MY QUESTIONS... Help! I know nothing about this shower base unit. Normally I would just start taking things apart (did I mention that I HATE plumbing?) But I am imagining that the hot/cold handled base unit will/may also need replacing. Has anyone done this before? Can you advise me. I am still without water. IF "replacement" is needed can I use a standard residential system from Lowe's? Or is this just ONE MORE THING that I can only get special order? ANY HELP IS APPRECIATED!

Also, in the area of "PLANNING FUTURE PREVENTION" I am thinking about ways to better insulate and seal that cabinet. Perhaps my best solution is to wire in an outlet into the outside cabinet and put a 40 Watt light bulb or heat tape in there... Again, any other ideas? (besides moving to a warmer climate?


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Old 03-14-2015, 08:19 AM   #2
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I would (WAG) that it is possible that you had a (Water Pressure Spike) but my money is on (Freezing)! Replace/Insulate/and Heat areas of damage! Youroo!!

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Old 03-14-2015, 08:28 AM   #3
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My bet is freezing as well
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Old 03-14-2015, 08:39 AM   #4
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Freezing here too.
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Old 03-14-2015, 08:40 AM   #5
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Oh it WAS freezing. No question there. How to fix the problems is the focus now.
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Old 03-14-2015, 08:41 AM   #6
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A fan or two inside the cabin to keep the 64º inside air circulated and to prevent what is known as thermal separation. That is why I think maybe the toilet valve froze, as for the shower problems??? Was the bathroom closed off, was the vent open just a crack? Insulate outside panel and some heat tape may have prevented damage there. As for a spike in pressure with the water supply turned off no way except for the expansion of ice.
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Old 03-14-2015, 06:38 PM   #7
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I would blow out water lines if I were leaving for a couple of days. Five minute job.
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Old 03-16-2015, 07:03 AM   #8
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Thanks for the replies and feedback. UPDATE. Well, I found TWO "at risk" pieces of thin plastic that bit the dust when the water filter froze. The first was the Dometic toilet valve - the pressure in the line cracked it (just like they said it would in their literature... I guess they replaced enough of them to know the issue...) The Second was the diverter in the Dura shower faucet. Found this one after learning how to disassemble the shower unit (not too tough) and turning water on/off. Again the culprit was a thin crack along the mold line. For now I am replacing the plastic diverter ($16 after shipping). But I suspect that a new BRASS fixture is in my future.

When leaving cottage for extended periods of potentially very cold temps:
a. Water off
b. Water lines drained
c. Water filter removed and drained
d. Leave hot and cold water valves open (pressure relief)

I know, I know... should have known this ANYway... but lessons learned.

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