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Old 08-29-2020, 03:13 PM   #1
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Winter RV Use

So how do folks that use there RV in the cold weather deal with water system winterization? Most of these manufactured RVs are not well insulated and have water tanks and pipes that are exposed to the weather. I need to return from Colorado to Vermont in mid November. I can do without drinking water (carry fresh separately), shower, and sink, but would like to be able to use the toilet. My thought was winterize before leaving, partially fill the fresh water tank, and carry RV antifreeze. If/when the temperature drops add the antifreeze (#gals?) to my fresh water tank. Hopefully it would be enough to keep things below from freezing. Any helpful suggestions appreciated.
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Old 08-29-2020, 03:23 PM   #2
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Carry no water in your plumbing and use just RV antifreeze for toilet flushing.
Itís not that expensive.
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Old 08-29-2020, 03:43 PM   #3
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I don't see much of an issues in November it won't stay cold long enough to freeze.

We bought our first TT in Feb and couldn't wait for the warm weather. Took it out late Feb and again in March. We left it fully winterized. Took plenty of bottled water, used a 5 gallon pail to do our business in, used paper plates. The shower house was open if needed. We plan on doing the same this winter.

I assume the black water generates a LITTLE heat when the poo decomposes. Like my septic system.

Bought a pool noodle and cut it to length then cut a slit in it, then put it around the top of the pail. Put the pail in the shower until needed so it didn't get accidentally knocked over.

I am thinking about getting a heater for the black water and maybe the grey tank.
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Old 08-29-2020, 04:17 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackinVT View Post
My thought was winterize before leaving, partially fill the fresh water tank, and carry RV antifreeze. If/when the temperature drops add the antifreeze (#gals?) to my fresh water tank .
DO NOT add rv antifreeze to your fresh water tank. You'll never get rid of the taste. Drain the tank.
Depending on the temperature while traveling.
Empty the tanks, winterize the rv, carry enough water for flushing (although rv antifreeze is an interesting alternative.) Just put enough water in the toilet bowl and 'flush'.
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Old 08-29-2020, 04:28 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by kenandterry View Post
Carry no water in your plumbing and use just RV antifreeze for toilet flushing.
Itís not that expensive.

Thanks! That makes sense.
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Old 08-29-2020, 04:31 PM   #6
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I don't see much of an issues in November it won't stay cold long enough to freeze.

We bought our first TT in Feb and couldn't wait for the warm weather. Took it out late Feb and again in March. We left it fully winterized. Took plenty of bottled water, used a 5 gallon pail to do our business in, used paper plates. The shower house was open if needed. We plan on doing the same this winter.

I assume the black water generates a LITTLE heat when the poo decomposes. Like my septic system.

Bought a pool noodle and cut it to length then cut a slit in it, then put it around the top of the pail. Put the pail in the shower until needed so it didn't get accidentally knocked over.

I am thinking about getting a heater for the black water and maybe the grey tank.

Thanks! Although the pool noodle helped the bucket is a non-starter for my wife.
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Old 08-29-2020, 04:35 PM   #7
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DO NOT add rv antifreeze to your fresh water tank. You'll never get rid of the taste. Drain the tank.
Depending on the temperature while traveling.
Empty the tanks, winterize the rv, carry enough water for flushing (although rv antifreeze is an interesting alternative.) Just put enough water in the toilet bowl and 'flush'.

Thanks! I like your approach but with the antifreeze additive.
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Old 08-29-2020, 05:51 PM   #8
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Cheap vodka can be used instead of pink stuff. It tastes better too. Just need to make sure there is nothing in the plumbing that alcohol will effect.
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Old 08-29-2020, 05:59 PM   #9
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Thanks! Although the pool noodle helped the bucket is a non-starter for my wife.
lol My wife wasn't to thrilled either at first.
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Old 08-29-2020, 06:50 PM   #10
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I've added some insulation to the thin storage compartment doors. Makes a difference in heat loss with less furnace run time during freezing weather.


Also turn on tank heaters which really do work. I have more than enough battery for overnight and with the battleborn's recharging is relatively quick when traveling of boondocking.

I try to avoid the deep freeze areas but an overnight drop to even the teens has not been an issue for my TT. Easier of course if in a full hookup site but having a generator and plenty of fuel allows me to even use portable heaters if needed to heat a specific area. All my water lines are in heated space with the exception of the tank fill and low point drains. All tanks are enclosed and have heat pads, even discharge pipe and valves on Black/Gray tanks.

Winter camping is one of my favorite times. If temps are really too low I just move to a more moderate climate. In this State I can head to the coast and it's a lot warmer than inland. Wet but not frozen.
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Old 08-29-2020, 09:25 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by JackinVT View Post
So how do folks that use there RV in the cold weather deal with water system winterization? Most of these manufactured RVs are not well insulated and have water tanks and pipes that are exposed to the weather. I need to return from Colorado to Vermont in mid November. I can do without drinking water (carry fresh separately), shower, and sink, but would like to be able to use the toilet. My thought was winterize before leaving, partially fill the fresh water tank, and carry RV antifreeze. If/when the temperature drops add the antifreeze (#gals?) to my fresh water tank. Hopefully it would be enough to keep things below from freezing. Any helpful suggestions appreciated.
What kind of RV do you have? The correct answer depends on it.

I would not think that mid-November will pose much of a problem for the tanks. It takes a lot of sub-freezing weather 24x7 to freeze that much water.

The lines may be a bigger problem, depending on your RV. It's not a problem for my motorhome because almost all of the water lines are inside. As long as the heat works I just keep the cabinet doors open to get some warm air closer to the piping.

For the wet bay I put a 250 watt electric heater inside overnight. It's plugged into a Thermo Cube. That looks turns the heater on at 35 degrees and off at 45 degrees. I use it on overnights where it's supposed to get near freezing because of the water filter in the wet bay.

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Old 08-30-2020, 04:30 AM   #12
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Yes, I should have originally added that I have a Sprinter based Winnebago 70X. So my tanks and a lot of my water lines are under it and so very exposed. The van itself is not insulated but does have heat of course. Cold is fine, freezing cold is the issue. We will returning home so just 4-5 days of traveling to get from point A to point B. Thanks all for the advise!!
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Old 09-03-2020, 04:35 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by JackinVT View Post
So how do folks that use there RV in the cold weather deal with water system winterization? Most of these manufactured RVs are not well insulated and have water tanks and pipes that are exposed to the weather. I need to return from Colorado to Vermont in mid November. I can do without drinking water (carry fresh separately), shower, and sink, but would like to be able to use the toilet. My thought was winterize before leaving, partially fill the fresh water tank, and carry RV antifreeze. If/when the temperature drops add the antifreeze (#gals?) to my fresh water tank. Hopefully it would be enough to keep things below from freezing. Any helpful suggestions appreciated.
We live in Colorado Springs, and camp in the winter months whenever there is a warm, snowless opportunity. We don't winterize the A-frame.

Our attached garage - where the A-frame is stored - faces south, and therefore between the heated house and the sun, never actually goes below freezing. We try to avoid camping when highs are below 50, but sometimes end up with highs in 40s and lows in 20s. Under those circumstances, we have never had water lines or water tank freeze.

I do like to use the propane-only water heater in the winter, to both use it (don't use it in the summer) and as another heat source inside the box.

The water lines are actually above the floor in the cabinets except for where they exit the water tank and the low point drains. The water tank is against the vinyl-covered "plywood" floor so gets some heat conduction from the camper.

Being in Colorado, many campgrounds have water shut off for the winter, so we take full water when we camp. In the winter, I'll generally drain the tank when we get home. And I relieve the water pressure with the outside shower whenever we get ready to tow.

We have no gray or black tank; just a cassette potty (cassette is inside and doesn't freeze) and an outside drain for the galley sink. I have had the outside sink drain hose and gray water in the bucket freeze solid - but no damage.

Freezing water just hasn't been a problem.

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camping Colorado and adjacent states one weekend at a time
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Old 09-03-2020, 04:43 PM   #14
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Carry no water in your plumbing and use just RV antifreeze for toilet flushing.
Itís not that expensive.
X2 this is the best suggestion I would hate to see you with a busted, frozen water pipe

Last year (2019) it was below freezing in Cincinnati, OH in mid-Nov... looked up historic record and from Nov 11 to 16 it it dropped below 30 degrees every day...
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