With the weather getting chilly in some parts of the states you might be thinking. Will my current RV setup be OK if temperatures drop below freezing. Is there anything I should be doing to prepare for winter?
Yep, there sure is. Depending on where you are at and how cold it gets, there are some handy things you can do before the temperature drops. If you are looking for free solutions and you happen to be parked somewhere that it RARELY drops below freezing. Just keep an eye on your favorite weather service and when you see those numbers are going to dip, it’s time to disconnect your city water connection. This will prevent the water from freezing in your hose and you wont waste any water. Another option for just below freezing is running your water on a trickle until the temperature rises again. This is only a viable option if it isn’t going to get too cold and you aren’t somewhere that you need to be conserving water.
In just below freezing temps you usually don’t have to worry about anything inside the trailer freezing, because you’ll be keeping it nice and warm with you heater running.
If your temps drop below freezing with more frequency you might not want to have to disconnect your city water every night, and hook everything back up in the morning. If your dealing with below freezing temps during the day, disconnecting your water really isn’t practical. We let our pipes freeze during that big storm that went through the U.S. this season and let me tell you. Not having water until 3 in the afternoon was a pain! Think, dirty dishes piling up, not being able to wash sticky hand and faces. Wiping my kids booty after he uses the bathroom and omg we don’t have water…ew. We had done a ton of research on what we wanted to do about the cold weather and our water. We even ordered a heated hose…but incredibly unfortunately we did not insulate the connection. So our pipes froze at the elbow! Nooo! If that happens to you, a hair blow dryer can be used to warm up the pipes. Once everything is thawed and running again you want to get some pipe insulation. Our pipes have a curve in them so we bought insulating tape instead of the foam tubing.
The really cool thing about the heated hose is it has a built in thermostat, YAY! No more watching the weather, and fiddling with your connections. The only thing we didn’t love about getting this new hose connected was that the brass ends are really sharp, and when your hands are freezing you don’t notice until they warm up that you cut your fingers tightening the hose. Both my husband and I have small cuts on our hands from tightening the hose. Also you might not be able to get the connection tight enough to prevent leaking with your bare hands anyway. We didn’t, and ended up finishing the job with pliers! I would recommend using pliers from start to finish. Some of the features we love about this hose are, it’s drinking water safe. It comes in a few different lengths, we bought the 100ft version so we aren’t dealing with extra connections. The best feature is the built in thermostat. This hose heats whenever the temperature is low enough to freeze your water and shuts itself back off when the temps rise. The manufacturer claims the hose will keep your water running until -42 Fahrenheit. We haven’t tested it to that extent but it is working great here in the Pacific North West. We have had many frosty nights, and haven’t had to do anything about them with this new setup. Oh how I love running water!
You might be wondering if the hose heats up enough that you need to worry about what it’s touching. Basically, is this thing going to be a fire hazard. As far as we can tell it only gets a little warm on the outside. The hose is not hot to the touch. A question I had before we had it all hooked up was…”how warm is my water going to be?”. It’s not going to be warm at all. Your cold water will be cold, and your hot water heater will still have it’s regular job to do.
Some other options for keeping your heat in and the cold air out are insulating your windows, and putting skirting around the bottom of the trailer. The same as you would expect to see on a mobile home. If your trailer is an all season trailer you may not feel compelled to do any extra insulating.
If you are planning to be somewhere that you’ll have freezing temps everyday or are dealing with below zero temps and your trailer is not all season you may want to give your holding tanks some attention. You can purchase 12volt heating pads that adhere to your tanks to prevent them from freezing. I don’t even want to imagine the horrible mess you could end up with if your black tank froze. We have not been in a position where we have needed to purchase one of these. For the majority of RVers I believe a tank heater would be unnecessary. In mildly cold weather your decaying sewage generates its own heat and wont need this sort of thing. A lot of the newer RVS have built in tank heaters and most of us who don’t have all season trailers or heated tanks don’t intend to stay anywhere that cold! Wouldn’t be a bad idea to have it as a backup in case of a bad storm however. If you are interested in getting one. This water holding tank heater has decent reviews on Amazon. Again, I don’t have one of these so I can’t attest to the quality here.
Some other issues may arise that are related to heating your RV. If you are worried about your propane usage or running out of propane during a cold night investing in an electric space heater is an excellent idea. You can find some great space heaters online. We use the space heater that we had in our house. It’s a little bigger then most be we like it so we have made room for it.
The other issue with using propane is moisture and humidity in your trailer. They say electric heat is better if you don’t want condensation and wet windows all winter. You can either run just a space heater, and skip the propane. Or you can invest in a small dehumidifier. For humidity in closets we love the hanging dry bags. They pack a super strong scent so make sure you like the scent you buy. I prefer the fresh scent over the lavender but this is really down to personal taste. My husband likes the lavender but isn’t bothered by the fresh scent, so we have put the lavender dry bag in his closet. 😉 Another option for humidity is Dri Z air pots. We have purchased one and have it next to our kitchen sink. I do not like it. The pot is open so if its somewhere it can tip over then you will have a huge wet mess. Exactly what we are trying to prevent by having it in the first place.
If humidity is a really big issue in your trailer some other things to remember are your overhead vents and fans. These pull air out of the trailer and take the moisture with it. Your vent fans may not be very large, if you feel like they aren’t doing enough they can be upgraded. A bigger fan will be more effective at removing the moisture from inside. If you are going to boil water, or make soup make sure your vents are open and your fans are running. Some trailer owners have even suggested only boiling water at your outside kitchen. I feel this is a little extreme, but again it depends on how big of an issue you are having with humidity. I use a closed teapot to heat up my water every morning, on my propane stove. It is what it is.
I think that about covers my experience with cold weather trailer issues. If you have additional questions I am happy to do more research on the topic and am more then willing to help troubleshoot from one RV owner to another. I would like to hear about your RV cold weather solutions in the comments below.