The Great RV Freeze

I’m seriously considering changing our tag line to the following…

We make all the mistakes so you don’t have to.


We’ve not made the best decisions in this whole RVing adventure.  Meh.  I chose to chalk most of it up to the fact that we are inexperienced.  There are probably other reasons, (lack of research, laziness, impulsiveness).  I just chose to not publicize them.

Regardless, we sure do get to share a whole chunk of information because we screw up. Frequently.

Our Latest Misadventure

We had planned on sticking around the local area for Christmas.  4 days before, we finally gave up our resolve and decided on a last minute trip up to North Dakota to see my side of the family.

Preparations and packing for the trip was pretty standard.

As far as the camper, we have a 24 gallon propane tank and it was fairly full.  So we decided to set our thermostat to 60 degrees and keep everything heated rather than mess with winterizing.

Psch…winterizing is for sissies.

We planned to be gone 3 nights.  A quick trip.  Winterizing would have been overkill.

Little did we know, we’d get below zero nights here.  Remember how I talked about the Banana Belt?  The weather gives you a false sense of how cold it can get because it fluctuates and is generally so mild.

My family up in Canada North Dakota had -20 degree weather.  Yes.  That is a negative number.  Below zero.  It got COLD up there.  And by golly gee, it got COLD here!  It was actually below zero here in South Dakota.

We arrived back at our camper the day after Christmas to find that our camper was frozen solid.  Solid.  Inside, the thermometer registered 17 degrees!!!  Oh what’s the big deal you may be asking.

Well we had water IN our pipes, intake filter, & faucet lines.   Our black water had not been flushed clean and our grey water was frozen open.  Our sewer line was plugged and frozen solid as well.

Completely NOT winterized.

You know what happens to water or liquids when they freeze. Uh huh.


It took several hours to get the camper up to 50 degrees.  No water and lots of uncertainty followed for the next day.

Two days of thawing the underbelly with space heaters.  Replacing p-traps, faucets, sewer hose, and the water filter.

Today, we’re counting our blessings.  This “experience” cost us just over $200.  But I’m so thankful that we didn’t fill our water tank (like we said we would).  I’m also thrilled that we had our water heater running off electric or else we’d be looking to replace that too when the propane ran out.  This whole deal could have cost us a whole lot more!

Also this caused us to figure out our camper.  We now know that the underbelly is NOT insulated, at all.  It is enclosed – yes.  And our floor IS insulated.  But the only thing between our underbelly and the pavement is a thin sheet of heavy duty plastic.  Oh and we’ve got ideas on how to improve on our insulation for the summer or even next winter.

We also found out where our shower’s p-trap was.  It was a complete mystery and we couldn’t find it.  At one point we gave up and figured it must not exist.  Mark ended up talking to the RV supplier we were buying all our replacements parts from.  Come to find out that you have to remove the storage compartment wall.  3 screws removed the wood panel.  P-trap….whaaa laa.

Our main water supply has to pass through this fancy filter.

RV-water-filterOh the amazing features of our spiffy camper.  Well the filter company will not sell a private owner a replacement filter.  You have to go through a Forest River dealer and wouldn’t you know, there is not one in the area.

We searched all over online to find who could get us the filter.  And fast.  Ours was smashed from the expansion and looked like someone had used it for target practice. That supplier that Mark found locally, happened to have JUST started stocking the filter and housing.  Music to our ears.

So that is the latest and greatest.  We have one more minor leak in the kitchen that we’re stumped about but we’re getting to be veterans.

Our conclusion?  We made some stupid mistakes.  Friends could have checked on the camper for us to make sure the propane hadn’t run out.  We could have very easily winterized.  Or we could have stayed home.

But all’s well that ends well.

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  1. […] and protected (minus the one line that froze of course!).  I would probably change my mind if I lived in -30F weather because I could see things turning bad real fast.   I will say note for the record, that for a […]

  2. […] 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 […]

  3. […] multiple times.  Oh and when you go see family for Christmas, winterize the camper.  You should never leave your camper during sub-zero temps for more than a day silly […]

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