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Old 12-28-2009, 09:32 PM   #1
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Help - pipes freezing

We are in Belen, NM (near Albuquerque) and are having problems with the water pipes freezing up in the Wildcat at night. We keep the thermostat for the furnace set at 70 degrees at night, but we are losing the water somewhere between 1 am and 6 am. The salesman told us the pipes would not freeze, because the lines were along the floor ducts, but they are freezing, apparently between the storage tank and the pump. The pump goes off in the middle of the night, straining to pump. When we get up and try the faucets, there is no water anywhere in the trailer, and we turn teh pump off to keep from burning it up. Whereever it is freezing, it does not thaw out until around noon to 2 pm. The pump itself and the lines leaving the pump and going to the sinks seem warm when we check them. The lows are getting down in to the teens outside at night. The storage tank and the lines leading from it to the pump seem to be in sealed compartments that we can't get to. We are living in the Wildcat year round, and do not have a water hookup, but fill the storage tank by hand with a gravity flow hose from a windmill every day or two. So far the only thing we found that prevented it was last night to get up every hour from 1 am to 6 am and run all the faucets and flush the toilet. The pump would strain for a few seconds with no water, and then the ice would apparently break lose, and water would get into the pump, and come out the faucets. We won't get much sleep this way. Anybody have any solutions?

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Old 12-28-2009, 10:34 PM   #2
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Windsong, if the pipes are in an inaccessible area then you are going to have a hard time. Most of the pipes should be run inside the rig but there will be the few that aren't and in most cases you should be able to find them behind blank off panels meant to hide them. Forest River is really good at screwing panels in compartments to hide wiring and pipes. I hope you have shore power. If so, run to the local hardware store and pick up a regular set of the rope lights. They are water proof and put off some heat. Wrap the string of lights around your exposed pipes and plug in to an extension cord. A cheap and easy way of keeping your pipes heated.

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Old 12-29-2009, 04:10 AM   #3
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One other thing you can do is open your grey or galley tanks and open the cold water side of your faucet just a little and let the water run down the drain in the sink. Moving water will help keep it from freezing.
By the way......Welcome to FRF......
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Old 12-29-2009, 04:57 AM   #4
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NWJeeper has a great Idea or you can buy this .....Heat Tape.
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Old 12-29-2009, 08:38 AM   #5
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I've read your description several times to better understand what's going on and it does seem like the pump suction line from the tank to the pump is what's freezing. The only way to combat that is to get some heat in there. The heat tape shown above is the best solution but requires you to access the piping. I'd try and remove a panel and apply the tape but barring that I'd place a small light bulb or small electric heater near the location in the basement to provide some heat in that area. If you could provide photo's of the area of the FW tank we might be able to provide better help.
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Old 12-29-2009, 08:15 PM   #6
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This is a 27 foot 2009 Wildcat. I guess what I was hoping was that someone else might have some experience to know what part might be freezing, and where it might be located, or if/where there was a way to get to it with out taking apart the trailer piece by piece. We used heat tape and a space heater on a previous 5th wheel of a different brand that was not enclosed, and we could find the frozen parts. There does not seem to be a diagram of the plumbing in the owners manual materials that we got with the trailer, and we are reluctant to just start trying to undo the siding or bottom. That was why I was searching the internet for info, and found this sight.
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Old 12-29-2009, 08:16 PM   #7
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PS The dealer has not been real helpful
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Old 12-29-2009, 10:40 PM   #8
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Start by elimination. When the water freezes, do you have water at any faucet or the toilet? If not, then the freeze is between the pump and the first faucet in line. See if you can logically figure out the water flow through the whole trailer, from the pump to the last fixture in line. If one fixture works, and others don't, the freeze is between the two. For a nights sleep. turn the pump off, and also for safety sake. Don't take a chance burning it up. Understand you don't want to leave water running when dry camping. If you think you are close to the freeze, use a 120 volt hair dryer to heat pipe and thaw. This will tell you if you're close. As for sleep. may have to take naps during the day when things are thawed. Good Luck.
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Old 12-30-2009, 07:05 AM   #9
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Pretty sure it is the feed line from the tank to the pump.

That is the only line that is below floor level. The easiest thing to do would be to drop the corrugated belly material to get at the feed line, then add your heat tape.

All the other lines are enclosed in either the storage area in the front, or cabinets and flooring.
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Old 12-30-2009, 09:05 PM   #10
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Thanks Steve & Vicki. That is the kind of direction I was hoping for

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