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Old 10-27-2020, 05:04 AM   #1
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Floridians wintering in Ft. Collins, CO 😳

I have been scouring the forum for great advice on how to winterize our 38í 2015 Wildcat for living in this winter. Iíve found some great advice - heat tape, heated water line, smooth pipe instead of stink slinky - but I have more questions!
Somewhere it was mentioned that if the tanks were heated there would be no problem ... how would we know if our tanks are heated? I donít see anything indicating they are, so Iím assuming ours are not.
Should we put a small heater in the basement on particularly cold or windy nights?
We looked into skirting ... that is quite pricey and there is a fairly long wait time. The hay bale solution is not recommended due to the Ďcritterí issues - what do you think of plywood cut to fit? Any other ideas?
We have our cozy little electric fireplace that throws off heat, a great heater and an electric mattress pad ... what else do we need to think about? Itís been a very long time since these Floridians have experienced the kind of cold they have had these past few days!
And finally ... we are leaving the Atlanta area in a day or two and heading west. Watching the weather to decide which route we will take - any comments or suggestions?
Thanks in advance! Always appreciate the thoughtful assistance!
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Old 10-27-2020, 09:14 AM   #2
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The good news is typically Colorado is not as cold as the east coast and the northern US because the humidity is so low and sun shines most of the winter. For this reason make sure you wear plenty of layers so you can only take off what you need when it warms up.

I've seen a lot of people use plywood to block the wind from going under the trailer, probably the biggest loss of heat. I would use your freshwater tank when you know the temps are going to be low and keep the heated water line disconnected and also only leave your sewer lines out when you dump when the weather is below freezing. You also want to get a larger propane tank, maybe 100 gallon, otherwise you will be swapping tanks every couple of days.

We love our fireplace too, but it takes away from the furnace heating the underbelly and all your tanks and water lines. I would only use to take off a chill or for warmer nights when it is above freezing, use the furnace to keep everything thawed underneath. On super cold days and nights keep cabinet doors open to your sinks. A space heater in your main storage compartment can help too. We also put a small on in the bedroom since it is the coldest part of the camper.

Get a small snow shovel, a squeegee and a large broom to clean off your roof and slides if it snows a lot. Try to find some none slip boots when on the roof, it is like ice when it is wet!

Good luck, the winter is supposed to be mild this year in Colorado but we are also due for a large snow storm!
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Old 10-27-2020, 10:25 AM   #3
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"Not as cold as the East Coast."
It was -38 degrees F in my driveway in Golden, CO.
At Frazier Park on a ski trip it was -43 degrees F.
I used to live in Laramie right up the road from the Fort.
You are on the right track.
It helps a lot to insulate the area underneath your trailer.
Ask around when you get there. Local people know all kinds of tricks.
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Old 10-27-2020, 11:17 AM   #4
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Floridians wintering in Ft. Collins, CO

We store our trailer at a park in Indiana that is open year round. Most of those that live in their trailer use rigid foam board insulation as skirting and tape the seams. Not sure what thickness but Iíve seen every color including the cheaper foil backed white styrofoam.

They also use double bubble wrap in windows.
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Old 10-27-2020, 11:37 AM   #5
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I lived in a 27' Terry TT for 6 months while waiting for house to be built.

First and foremost if you are not moving around contact a local Propane Distributor and rent a large tank from them. I had a 250 gallon tank dropped off in my space and connected to my Trailer. Cost was for the custom hose and I paid a small monthly rent. They kept the tank full and the driver just left the bill at my door (I was at work during the day).

Next, I would consider adding some skirting. A few sheets of "Foam Board Insulation cut to stop the wind from blowing under the trailer will go a long way towards keeping heat in the trailer. If you can't drive stakes in the ground to keep in place then lay some 4x4's (or heavier) along the ground/pavement and secure foam board to it with drywall screws and fender washers. For extra wind resistance cinder blocks can be used to keep the timbers from moving. Place at right angles to the lumber with one end on top, other on ground. The top can be secured to the side of the trailer with Duct or Gorilla tape. When removing the tape have a spray bottle of Goof Off (Citrus formula) handy for any adhesive that remains.

Make a removable section near the dump valves for obvious reasons. Also, make sure the dump hose is sloped to the dump so no water accumulates in it which will freeze and block it when you really NEED to dump the black tank. I left my Gray tank valve open with no issues.

Keep water in Fresh Water tank as you never know if or when the campground water may itself freeze (happened to me once).

Get a good space heater designed for use in a "Milk House" or even construction site. Stanley makes one that's more durable than most. Place this heater under the trailer on a piece of concrete paver square to make sure any "melt" doesn't contact it. Set at the low or "Antifreeze" setting. Low enough it doesn't run when temps are above 40 but runs when below freezing.

Also something often overlooked when living in trailers during winter months. Humidity can be a problem so consider a dehumidifier. Normal window or vent opening is not practical when the temp outside is Zero and humans give off all kinds of water vapor, not to mention cooking and showering. A dehumidifier will go a long ways to preventing "sweat" from forming in all kinds of places you don't notice and eventually lead to mold or dry rot.

Last item. Might be necessary to purchase a length of heat cable to keep the hose bib/hydrant from freezing, even if you have a heated hose. I ended up building an enclosure around the park's site hydrant with hinged lid so I could get to shutoff in a hurry if necessary. Same foam board around inside as used for skirting.

May seem a little excessive but not so when you wake up one morning and outside temps are in the "Minuses" and you can still take a shower using City Water. Also have prevented expensive damage that could occur.

Lastly, this may seem like overkill by many but consider obtaining a spare motor for your furnace. They seem to last forever but also seem to fail when needed most. Having a spare means same day repair. Not having a spare can often mean lots of days with no heat other than small space heaters.
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Old 10-27-2020, 12:27 PM   #6
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dont see why colorado for winter in a rv. work keeping warm, water frozen ,Missery. rent a condo.
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Old 10-27-2020, 01:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeachBumJan View Post
I have been scouring the forum for great advice on how to winterize our 38í 2015 Wildcat for living in this winter. Iíve found some great advice - heat tape, heated water line, smooth pipe instead of stink slinky - but I have more questions!
Somewhere it was mentioned that if the tanks were heated there would be no problem ... how would we know if our tanks are heated? I donít see anything indicating they are, so Iím assuming ours are not.
Should we put a small heater in the basement on particularly cold or windy nights?
We looked into skirting ... that is quite pricey and there is a fairly long wait time. The hay bale solution is not recommended due to the Ďcritterí issues - what do you think of plywood cut to fit? Any other ideas?
We have our cozy little electric fireplace that throws off heat, a great heater and an electric mattress pad ... what else do we need to think about? Itís been a very long time since these Floridians have experienced the kind of cold they have had these past few days!
And finally ... we are leaving the Atlanta area in a day or two and heading west. Watching the weather to decide which route we will take - any comments or suggestions?
Thanks in advance! Always appreciate the thoughtful assistance!
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Homemade skirting. There are other sites. Poke around.
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Old 10-27-2020, 02:10 PM   #8
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TitanMike nailed it
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Old 10-27-2020, 02:13 PM   #9
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Not Bad Advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas ho View Post
dont see why colorado for winter in a rv. work keeping warm, water frozen ,Missery. rent a condo.
Tried to winter in Craig Colorado one year in older (copper plumbing) TT.
Propane guy missed us while we were away...
So much damage we sold the TT for a huge loss and rented a house.

Fort Collins historical weather:

December avg high 44 avg low 19 rec low -22
January 45 20 -19
February 47 21 -18

The cost of the propane you burn trying to stay warm will probably shock you.

In any event good luck.
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Old 10-27-2020, 04:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TitanMike View Post
I lived in a 27' Terry TT for 6 months while waiting for house to be built.

First and foremost if you are not moving around contact a local Propane Distributor and rent a large tank from them. I had a 250 gallon tank dropped off in my space and connected to my Trailer. Cost was for the custom hose and I paid a small monthly rent. They kept the tank full and the driver just left the bill at my door (I was at work during the day).

Next, I would consider adding some skirting. A few sheets of "Foam Board Insulation cut to stop the wind from blowing under the trailer will go a long way towards keeping heat in the trailer. If you can't drive stakes in the ground to keep in place then lay some 4x4's (or heavier) along the ground/pavement and secure foam board to it with drywall screws and fender washers. For extra wind resistance cinder blocks can be used to keep the timbers from moving. Place at right angles to the lumber with one end on top, other on ground. The top can be secured to the side of the trailer with Duct or Gorilla tape. When removing the tape have a spray bottle of Goof Off (Citrus formula) handy for any adhesive that remains.

Make a removable section near the dump valves for obvious reasons. Also, make sure the dump hose is sloped to the dump so no water accumulates in it which will freeze and block it when you really NEED to dump the black tank. I left my Gray tank valve open with no issues.

Keep water in Fresh Water tank as you never know if or when the campground water may itself freeze (happened to me once).

Get a good space heater designed for use in a "Milk House" or even construction site. Stanley makes one that's more durable than most. Place this heater under the trailer on a piece of concrete paver square to make sure any "melt" doesn't contact it. Set at the low or "Antifreeze" setting. Low enough it doesn't run when temps are above 40 but runs when below freezing.

Also something often overlooked when living in trailers during winter months. Humidity can be a problem so consider a dehumidifier. Normal window or vent opening is not practical when the temp outside is Zero and humans give off all kinds of water vapor, not to mention cooking and showering. A dehumidifier will go a long ways to preventing "sweat" from forming in all kinds of places you don't notice and eventually lead to mold or dry rot.

Last item. Might be necessary to purchase a length of heat cable to keep the hose bib/hydrant from freezing, even if you have a heated hose. I ended up building an enclosure around the park's site hydrant with hinged lid so I could get to shutoff in a hurry if necessary. Same foam board around inside as used for skirting.

May seem a little excessive but not so when you wake up one morning and outside temps are in the "Minuses" and you can still take a shower using City Water. Also have prevented expensive damage that could occur.

Lastly, this may seem like overkill by many but consider obtaining a spare motor for your furnace. They seem to last forever but also seem to fail when needed most. Having a spare means same day repair. Not having a spare can often mean lots of days with no heat other than small space heaters.

X2 What he said. Especially skirting. My 2 cents in addition.

Do a really good job of skirting, including banking soil around the base of the skirt to form a seal against drafts. If you get snow, add R value to the skirt by mounding snow against the skirt.

Get your tires off the ground or pavement and onto something like a 2"x6" PT plank.

Rather than stab jacks and tires, support your rig on stacked concrete block piers (using 2"x4" blocks and similar wood, along with cedar shingles as shims)... at minimum 4 of these and take far more of the load off the suspension than your stab jacks will. The piers will also make the skirting work far better. A trailer that's moving around as they do when setup on the tongue and stab jacks will destroy the skirting where it attaches to your rig.

Build a couple doors or hatches in the skirting to enable you to go in and out easily to service and check things. Be sure to install a good extension cord under or through the skirting to enable you to run lights, heaters, etc. Keep a heat gun or hair dryer handy to thaw pipe.

IF POSSIBLE, your water supply line and sewer connection should be UNDER THE TRAILER AND INSIDE THE SKIRTING...as is how it's done in mobile home parks. The only connection outside the skirting should be shore power and propane. Ditto on heat tapes AND LOTS of insulation around the heat tapes so they don't have to work so hard.

Agreed on the electric heater when temps are set to drop well below zero overnight. But understand that a 1500 watt milk house heater will eat about $100/month or more if running more or less continuously.

Soft copper for water supply is far better than hose...or even PEX...for your main water connection. You can heat soft copper with a torch if need be....say a heat tape fails. Soft copper works well with compression or flare fittings, so you don't need to sweat copper joints. Soft copper will also withstand the heat of a "runaway" heat tape if the thermostat fails "on."

Something to remember about propane. It hates it when it's really cold. https://www.hunker.com/13418816/how-...-propane-tanks We don't see much of that in CO, but really cold weather is not ideal for propane...which you're stuck with. https://www.hunker.com/13418816/how-...-propane-tanks

As for heating pads on your fresh, black, and grey tanks, there should be breakers or fuses for these very high loads. If no breakers or fuses, you probably don't have heaters. IF YOU DON'T HAVE TANK HEATERS, you might rethink your plans, because that omission from cold weather gear on your RV suggests that it's not really cut out for serious cold. You could spend a VERY miserable winter with lots of problems.

P.S. You are running out of time in a hurry. The last two days, we've had temps hovering around 0 degrees F overnight and close to a foot of snow. It WILL warm up again, but your time is running out.
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Old 10-27-2020, 04:04 PM   #11
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PS. I don't know what kind of fridge you have, but if it's a conventional two-way absorption fridge instead of a "residential" (compressor) fridge, they don't particularly like really cold weather.
https://thenorcoldguy.com/norcold-rv...in-the-winter/
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Old 10-27-2020, 04:59 PM   #12
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On routes from Atlanta.
I grew up in upstate NY and moved here in 2001. Driving is VERY different out here.

Monitor the weather forecasts and believe them.

The west is not like the east. They routinely CLOSE Interstate 70 using gate barriers when it's snowing hard with blowing and drifting snow...especially across the plains. For the safety of highway crews and police, they stop working. If a storm is coming, GET OFF THE ROAD and setup camp at a Flying J or similar truck stop that can help with fuel, food, propane, showers, and so on. BRING A 100' or longer 12/3 or 10/3 extension cord so you can beg off and plug in to shore power (just 15 amps, but enough to keep you rig going). Have a generator and enough fuel to run it overnight at least.

On the road, have LOTS of safety gear...lots of flashlights and/or lanterns, flares, reflective triangles, food, water, warm clothes, blankets etc. All of this must be in the TV with you...not in the rig. By "hat" I mean something that covers your ears. Warm clothes include nylon shell wind pants or ski pants.
People get stranded on the highways, get buried in snow, and die out here. You could easily run out of fuel to keep your TV warm before help comes.

Have self-rescue gear: shovel(s), tow strap, jumper cables, traction mats and/or sand, snow brush, ice scraper, etc. I carry all of this and much more in each of my cars essentially year around. Only the shovels and snow brushes come out in the summer.

Use fuel treatment - dry-gas for a gasser and diesel fuel conditioner for a diesel to be 100% sure you have no water in your fuel that could freeze in the fuel lines, and in the case of a diesel, cause serious damage to the engine. Coming from FL, you haven't had to worry about condensation in your fuel tanks, but you do here. Keep your tanks topped off when possible, because this limits condensation in the tank(s). Condensation happens when a tank with low fuel...lots of air...cools dramatically when temps drop. "Dry-gas" is a form of alcohol that bonds with the water and keeps it from freezing and that can burn in the engine harmlessly. Depending on the product, diesel fuel conditioners do much the same thing with different chemistry.

As much as possible, choose a southern route...come through TX and NM and then head north on I-25. It's longer, but it's far safer. While you can get winter weather in TX and NM, it's not as severe, and, in many cases, the terrain...trees and hills...does wonders to prevent the terrifying ground blizzard conditions that are common on the great plains.

Expect to climb and descend. If you came through Kansas on I-70, there isn't much terrain. But coming North on I-25, there is. Mind your temp on the TV and let it cool off if you start to overheat. Climbing a "hill" out here might be a 15 to 20 mile climb up several thousand vertical feet. Also, at altitude, only turbocharged engines make full power. A normally aspirated engine, gas or diesel, will be down on power noticeably.

Be aware of traction laws. Out here, if you don't chain up or have REAL snow tires, you can be ticketed and towed. And by towed, I mean a $300 to $500 tow for something the size of your rig. If you're off the road, you may be left there for days. All-season tires are NOT snow tires. The cops and highway crews get really upset if you are stuck blocking traffic, or if you've run into the ditch and need rescue because you don't obey traction laws. In your case, bring tire chains and be prepared to use them. Practice installing and removing them. Many roads out here have pull-off areas to chain up safely, but you, personally, must be equipped to and capable of kneeling in slushy snow and installing the chains when the wind is howling and the snow is blowing sideways. Several pairs of warm gloves are essential. A nice foam garden knee pad would be a blessing.

Mind your fuel...especially on the plains, you can go 50 miles or more between gas stations...and it is desolate...as in NOTHING. There's nowhere to walk to. In many cases, it's so desolate that cell service is spotty even on the interstates.

On the comfort side...bring your own music. I don't know your tastes, but out here, you may be stuck listening to AM talk, weak C&W FM stations, and classical or jazz on public radio. Be sure you have lots of your favorites in whatever medium works for you, from iPod to CDs, because, without a cell signal, you ain't listening to Spotify!

Lastly, trucks are different out here. Most have monster engines and climb a 20 mile grade to the top of the continental divide at or above the speed limit. They haul! If you are on the interstate, where the speed limit is often 75 mph, their bow wave will set your rig to wiggling. Be aware and get the feel of what this does to your rig and TV. It may be fine, but some of these Peterbilts will blow your doors off. Until I came west, I'd never seen trucks perform like many do out here. You may be climbing a long grade in your sedan, see a semi ahead of you and anticipate passing, but you never catch up to the thing! Of course, there are MANY trucks in the slow lane with their 4-ways on, too, but the first time a cab-over Pete passes you on a 7% grade at 80 MPH, your eyeballs will bulge. And there are many guys driving diesel duallies hauling triple axle toy haulers that do the same thing. I once saw one coming up a steep uphill onramp. Under "normal" conditions, I'd have to move left or slow considerably to let him in. He left me in the dust.

So a very long diatribe about the simple fact that it's really "different" out here. If you've been in FL very long, you haven't experienced weather like what can happen at 5000 feet up (great plains) and in the mountains. Take your time, stay south (this time of year) and expect "different."
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Old 10-27-2020, 05:32 PM   #13
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The one thing I always had available when I lived in Golden CO was WD40. During the cold/wet/frozen snaps I used it frequently to unstick frozen doors and locks. And I got really good at putting on and removing tire chains......
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Old 10-27-2020, 06:19 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmoore13 View Post

Something to remember about propane. It hates it when it's really cold.
This is why the Propane Distributor placed a horizontal tank at my site. They explained that this type of tank provides more evaporation surface for Propane that helps during cold weather. LPG still evaporates, just slower in cold.


As for tank heaters, my tank heaters draw only 65 watts of power for up to 50 gallon tank size and the elbow heaters are only 7 watts. If all three tank heaters and two elbow heaters on my trailer are running that's a total of 16-17 amps. The heaters are on a 12 volt 30 amp fuse in my panel.

A lot of draw for boondocking but in a park with 120 v, no big deal.
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Old 10-27-2020, 06:23 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by NMWildcat View Post
The one thing I always had available when I lived in Golden CO was WD40. During the cold/wet/frozen snaps I used it frequently to unstick frozen doors and locks. And I got really good at putting on and removing tire chains......
I always kept a butane torch handy too. Several times after an ice storm I had to heat up the key with the torch then quickly stick it in the lock to thaw it out.
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