Winter RVing & Waterlines

Since we are officially into Spring, I figured I’d post some thoughts about winter RVing and our issues with the waterline freezing.

Waterline-Issues-and-winter-rving

This past winter, we made it through some bitterly cold days and nights in the camper.  I have to say, it was not all that bad.  One thing we ran into multiple times was freezing waterlines.

You know how we put out the heat hose and insulated the line?  In theory, that works GREAT, just as long as the outlet on your breaker doesn’t trip.  Yes, we had a couple of nights where the heat hose wasn’t even getting juice.  Honestly, we can’t figure out why it tripped, but it did.

tripped-outlet-breaker--heat-hose-winter-rving

Another night it got around zero and the line froze again.  Not through the entire hose, just where the line attaches to the spigot.  This was in the 2013 Forest River Sandpiper.  Obviously it wouldn’t have mattered what RV it was.  The spigot gets mighty cold and it freezes.

So The Man insulated that portion of the hose with a Rubbermaid tub and placed a sandtube on top to hold it down during the 300 mph South Dakota gusts of wind.  Problem diverted.  (I’ve seen other campers put a 5 gallon bucket over the spigot)

tub-to-stop-freeze-at-spigot-point

But I will say that at the time, the freezing water was annoying.  Since we hadn’t filled up our water tank we had zero water.  It really is a trade-off…

  • We had our entire 5th wheel freeze over when we went on vacation over Christmas.  If our tank had been filled we would have likely had to replace it because it probably would have cracked.
  • But when our line froze and we had no reserve water in the tank, we got thirsty.  I’ll take thirsty any day of the week and twice on Sunday over replacing our water tank. We simply had to go get water while we waited for the line to thaw.

It’s a good thing we don’t like to be prepared.  🙂

So now we’ve weathered the storm and we feel sorta like pioneers.  This statement is likely laughable since we weathered the storm in a very comfy and heated RV.  Regardless, we like to focus on perceived positives rather than reality.

But all these waterline freezes were in the 5th Wheel.  It really wasn’t so bad looking back.

We had high hopes of no waterline freezes once we moved into the Winnie. In a slightly insane way, I’m comforted in telling you that we also dealt with frozen water in the Winnie.  We are seasoned vets at this water freezing deal.

So the problem at our Winnie was due to the fact that there is a little piece of a pipe fitting that connects through the outdoor shower hookup.

point-prone-to-freeze-in-96-winnebago-adventurer

It is not insulated and we are certain it was the culprit.  We tried wrapping the excess heat hose around that area, but it just couldn’t keep up to the freezing temps.

We wised up and bought a shop light.  $5 bought us a thawed waterline and peace of mind.  No more problems since that $5 shop light.

mechanics-light-for-winter-rving

All this to say, keeping the water flowing is NOT completely impossible.  You just have to be prepared to roll with the punches.  It’s best to save your energy and sanity and not get all worked up or upset about the problems that come with the cold weather.

Could we do another winter in the RV?  Absolutely.  Am I happy we don’t have to?  Absolutely!

Vinyl RV Skirting Issues at Our Windy Location

There are developments in the vinyl skirting that we put up.  Not good either.

Our order just came in for replacement snaps and pipe clams.  Sounds like bad news and it sorta is.

We’ve had some wind since we’ve had the skirting up.  Some of our snaps have broken or popped off and caused the skirting to fall.  Our 5th wheel enclosure seems intent on coming down.

Ah….the joys of figuring this all out.

The 5th Wheel Enclosure

We were pretty adamant about having the 5th wheel portion skirted.

We could make it work still, I’m sure.  But of the 20-some RVs that are parked here for the winter, only a few are fully skirted.  So we’re going to admit defeat as far as that portion goes.

We could have saved $200 by NOT ordering the enclosure and we’re regretting that money spent.  We’re keeping the enclosure vinyl and may put it up again depending on how cold it gets in our room and what our heating costs are this next month.

The Problems

From what we can figure, this is what we’ve come up with…

  • The 5th wheel end takes the brunt of the wind force.
  • Snaps were placed at 10 inches but needed to be spaced even closer because of the wind.
  • Our skirting was weighted down with sandbags but that may have been too tightly wedged, causing extra pull on the snaps.
  • Because of the tightness, there is even more pressure on the skirting when the wind gets to blowing.  So much pressure, in fact, that the skirting ended up looking like this.

  • It is highly possible we rushed putting the skirting up.  Um, actually we did for sure and ignored the recommended wait time.  After attaching the 3M base, it’s important to wait on putting the vinyl up, which ensures the maximum bond strength of the 3m snap base.
  • We needed to distribute the pressure evenly on the snaps, which would have been possible with a pipe clamp system rather than sandbags.

Lots of lessons learned on this one!

I contacted EZ Snap Direct to see their thoughts on where we went wrong or if there was some sort of faulty materials involved.  They were very helpful and quick to respond to our questions and suggested some of the fixes below

Our Fixes

  • More snaps, quite a few more.  Since we are in a high-wind area the snaps need to be closer than 10 inches.  From EZ Snap,

For extra windy locations, we recommend placing the studs more like every 8″ to 6″ apart. If you use this spacing you will need to order extra fastener sets with your order.

  • The snaps need to be allowed to cure.  We are leaving them on for a week, even though that length of time isn’t necessary.  Call us paranoid but we want to make sure they are really stuck on this time.
  • We put the new snaps on when we had a warm day and it was near 60 degrees. We’re hoping it’s close enough to the recommended temperature to be effective.
  • We are going to move the sandbags back and use them to stop the skirting from moving too much.  This will allow some movement though, rather than wedging them allowing pressure to build up.
  • PVC pipe clamps were ordered with the extra snaps.  We’ll use them to clamp the skirting down to PVC pipes and more evenly distribute the weight and pressure.  The sandbags will stop any flapping.
  • Our contact at EZ Snap Direct recommended we superglue any snaps that separated (leaving the adhesive back on the camper)

Conclusion

Oh, to do this again!  We didn’t do our homework as well as we had thought.  Most certainly, we made mistakes.  Overall, I think we would have been better off skirting our RV with Option #1.

As far as the vinyl skirting is concerned, here are our conclusions.

Pipe Clamp System.  We should have read about and used the pipe clamp system especially given our windy location.

Snap Spacing.  If we had paid attention to the windy area tips, it would not have cost us so much in the long run in added shipping.

Snap Curing Time.  We rushed it.  Plain and simple, we didn’t wait the recommended time.

5th Wheel Enclosure.  As it looks right now, it’s not necessary and is really an added cost.  We have our electric and propane costs for November.  Of course, weather changes and fluctuates but we’ll see how our bill changes for the month of December without the 5th wheel enclosed.

EZ Snap was great to work with and their product does seem to be high quality.  I just wonder if this type of skirting is not the best for windy locations.

We’ll update on how our modifications work after the next blustery day.

Keeping the Precious H2O Flowing During Winter

The other day, we moved into our semi-perminent site.  Semi- because we’ll be there for 6 1/2 months.  The winter months and off season at Hart Ranch allow for less moving.  Come summer, we’ll be moving twice a month.

We already had our water hose freeze when it got real cold.  It’s been warm lately, but we figured now was as good a time as any to protect our precious H20.

So Mark spent about an hour making sure our water won’t freeze again.

It’s pretty self explanatory but the pictures are below.

But first, we’ve been discussing heat tape for a few months . . .

“We have to get heat tape so our water doesn’t freeze.”

“We need to order some heat tape.”  

“How long do you think we need the heat tape be?”  

“Did you order the heat tape?”

Well did you notice that each quote had the word “tape” in it??

Ummmm yeah, me too.  But heat tape is NOT tape.  Tape implies something that bonds or has an adhesive side to it.  Heat tape is NOT tape.

One of life’s mysteries I suppose.

Heat HOSE would be more appropriate…or heat STRIP.

Heat hose tape is plugged into an outlet and it becomes a heated strip that lays against the water hose.  Whoever came up with the name “Heat Tape,” I’d like to talk to you.  But really, I suppose I have more important things to concern myself with so….I’m sorry.

Back to the task at hand.

First Mark wrapped the water hose with tin foil…something about conducting heat.

Next he wrapped both the water hose and the heat tape in 1-inch foam insulation.

Here is another view. . .

How’s that for over-explaining something??

Pretty simple really.  Lastly, he duct-taped the foam to secure it even further.  Easy peasy.

But don’t forget to plug in your heat hose tape.