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Old 10-01-2019, 03:30 AM   #1
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Default Camping in a Class B when it gets cold...

So, we are planning a fly fishing trip for mid October in Colorado. Where we are going, the daytime temps will be 57-62 degrees F. Night temps will be 20-30 degrees F. Do I have to worry about my tanks freezing? I have a 2000 Pleasure Way Excel TD.
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Old 10-01-2019, 03:33 AM   #2
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I should have said tanks/lines freezing...
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Old 10-01-2019, 03:34 AM   #3
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Nope. Keep the interior above 55F. Don’t try and dump in the early morning.
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Old 10-01-2019, 04:26 PM   #4
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Yes, you need to worry. How likely a pipe is to freeze will depend on how exposed it is, the wind, the starting temperature of the water and how long it is below freezing. The water in your tanks has a lot of thermal mass and will stay warm. So running water through all the pipes when the temperature drops below freezing will help prevent a pipe freezing later. But if its very cold with high winds, you are likely going to have problems no matter what you do. If you get up on a cold morning and drive off at 60mph, you are asking for problems.
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Old 10-01-2019, 05:36 PM   #5
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Yes, you need to worry. How likely a pipe is to freeze will depend on how exposed it is, the wind, the starting temperature of the water and how long it is below freezing. The water in your tanks has a lot of thermal mass and will stay warm. So running water through all the pipes when the temperature drops below freezing will help prevent a pipe freezing later. But if its very cold with high winds, you are likely going to have problems no matter what you do. If you get up on a cold morning and drive off at 60mph, you are asking for problems.
Theory BS. I’ve spent nights in the teens (12F) in a Roadtrek. No problem. You could put some antifreeze in the P-trap. The furnace has to work, of course.

Was even able to wash up in the morning. Water heater was off overnight but I have a thermometer on it so I knew it was OK.
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Old 10-01-2019, 05:57 PM   #6
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"I've spent nights in the teens (12F) in a Roadtrek."

Which model was that? How windy was it? How many nights was it that cold? I've had an the same exposed pipe not freeze in the teens and freeze solid in the 20's. Once the temperature is below freezing there are a lot of other things besides temperature that determine how long it will take to freeze. That's why we have wind chill warnings in our part of the country.

And the furnace isn't likely going to make any difference for an exposed pipe underneath the chassis in the best of conditions. In a wind, it is meaningless.
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Old 10-01-2019, 07:39 PM   #7
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What I did when it dropped down to 22* one overnight was to run the RT engine for about an hour a couple of times to fill the bottom with heat from the exhaust. This only works with virtually no wind unless you get creative with blocking off the wind.
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Old 10-01-2019, 10:03 PM   #8
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Let us know how the fly fishing trip goes and what you did for freeze protection, if anything, and how it worked. What temperatures did you deal with.
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Old 10-04-2019, 05:00 AM   #9
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Antero June 8.jpg
Decided not to chance it. I plan to winterize next week and call it good until next spring. Thank you all for your advice.
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Old 10-04-2019, 09:17 AM   #10
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It sucks SO VERY BAD when all your preparation and careful activities in keeping the tanks from freezing doesn't. It SUCKS SO VERY BAD to have to now, in the winter or cold early spring, start replacing plumbing. No thank you. I can drink out of a bottle.
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Old 10-04-2019, 11:40 AM   #11
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OTOH, some of my very most memorable trips were in frigid weather with all systems operable. Coziest feeling there is. Stepping out of the rig and into your XC skis is amazing. But then, I did a full four-season upgrade to our van. A bit of work for sure, but not at all impossible.
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Old 10-04-2019, 03:16 PM   #12
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I plan to winterize next week and call it good until next spring.
You can winterize and still use your RV. We have camped in -20F fully winterized. The only real issue is not having running water assuming your heater will keep you warm. Disposing of dish water etc can be a pain. You need to add enough RV antifreeze to prevent your gray water freezing even when diluted. Same with toilet. We have never tried to dump our tanks while winterized, largely because its hard to find a dump station open when its that cold. But without running water that hasn't been an issue.
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Old 10-06-2019, 05:46 PM   #13
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Theory BS. I’ve spent nights in the teens (12F) in a Roadtrek. No problem. You could put some antifreeze in the P-trap. The furnace has to work, of course.

Was even able to wash up in the morning. Water heater was off overnight but I have a thermometer on it so I knew it was OK.
Agree w/ you...been in Iowa in January/February...have a 2004 PW...no issues...
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Old 10-06-2019, 07:11 PM   #14
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PW owner. I keep heater on 50 when sleeping. If really cold I will open the faucets when I go to bed, just don't turn on pump in middle of night. Biggest problem I had was when the fresh water tank started to thaw while I was driving and the ice was banging around. Thought the whole van was falling apart. Then I realized it was the ice, whew. Sometimes if I'm only going for a few days in very cold areas I use water jugs and not the onboard system. I always keep one gallon jug in bathroom for flushing. I dump when I get to warmer climate. I wouldn't be afraid of a little cold weather, that's half the fun of having heat and indoor plumbing. No more tents for me.
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Old 10-06-2019, 08:47 PM   #15
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YES!
I have a Winnebago Era. I added heater blankets both 12 v D.C. And 120 v AC to my three holding tanks and to the pipes. A cross country trip last winter was cozy and warm. The only problem that zi had was not leaving the cabinet door open where the water pump was located one night. The 12 v heaters draw a lot of juice but they are for use while driving and the
alternator is keeping batteries charged. The 120v are for use while hooked up to pedestal, wouldn't recommend using a generator for this application.
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Old 10-07-2019, 01:51 AM   #16
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There are a lot of things that go into whether you freeze a pipe and break it. Outside air temperature at night is only one of them.

Things that might freeze:

1) Your tanks. These are the least likely to freeze. Because of their mass they will require extended cold. It is also up close to the floor with a lot of surface area exposed to heat it. If it freezes, its likely going to be the bottom, not the top.

2) Your macerator and your water pump. On most rigs the water pump is inside. Assuming the space it is in gets some heat, you are probably safe. I would be careful using the macerator in really cold weather. Aside from the water freezing and damaging something, I don't think it would handle a small chunk of ice or solidly frozen poop very well

3) Your internal pipes. Again, if they are getting some heat they are unlikely to freeze. But if they are in a wall behind the kitchen cabinet they may well be insulated from your furnace heat and fully exposed to the outside temperature.

4) Pipes that are exposed on the outside of the vehicle. These are the most vulnerable. How vulnerable will depend on the design of your vehicle, the temperature of the water to start with, the air temperature, the ground temperature, how long they are exposed to that temperatures and to the wind. You can get away with a very low temperature numerous times and then park at a higher temperature where the pipe is in a breeze and it will freeze very quickly. Of course, freezing and bursting are not the same. That will depend on the pipe and how much room for expansion there is.

5) Your drainage system. These pipes work the same as fresh water pipes. But they are usually larger with more water but not under pressure so that they are full, leaving more room for expansion.

Be clear, you don't have to winterize just because the nighttime temperature might get to 20 degrees for one night. If its fall and the ground is still warm, its unlikely you will have any problem at all. If its spring and the ground is still close to 0, you might want to think about how to protect your pipes. Especially if you have a 30 mph wind and the daytime temperature never got above freezing

There are plenty of people who drive drunk or while talking on the phone and get away with it. That doesn't make it safe.
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Old 10-07-2019, 04:09 AM   #17
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Most RVs these days use PEX pipes. They will freeze, of course, but they are very unlikely to be damaged by it. The real risk is plastic fittings, valves, fixtures, and the macerator.
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Old 10-09-2019, 12:27 AM   #18
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Default 20º not same in AZ and MN?

Could the difference of opinion between respondents in Arizona and Minnesota be due to differences in climate? In the dry and sunny desert, the temperature can quickly fluctuate 40-50 degrees between night and day, so the time spent at 20º is minimal, which also minimizes the risk. Though admittedly there might still be a risk of freezing. But in climes like Minnesota, it turns cold, stays cold, with little warming even *if* the sun comes out. Big risk of freezing. Not sure that supposition is valid, but it might explain the radically different responses to this question.
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Old 10-09-2019, 12:41 AM   #19
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Could the difference of opinion between respondents in Arizona and Minnesota be due to differences in climate? In the dry and sunny desert, the temperature can quickly fluctuate 40-50 degrees between night and day, so the time spent at 20º is minimal, which also minimizes the risk. Though admittedly there might still be a risk of freezing. But in climes like Minnesota, it turns cold, stays cold, with little warming even *if* the sun comes out. Big risk of freezing. Not sure that supposition is valid, but it might explain the radically different responses to this question.
Could be, but my worst experiences were on gloomy, never above freezing, days. I have not tried at 0F and -20F is out of the question. Getting up to 50F during the day makes it easy.

The differences are due to equipment, technique, and willingness to try.

Leave the cabinet doors open to the water heater and water pump. No problem with the toilet and internal water tank with the furnace running. External water tank is empty.

I have a thermometer on the water heater for other reasons and it never comes close to freezing even with being off.

A macerator puts a different slant on things. I don’t have one and if I did I’d make sure it had antifreeze in it.
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Old 10-09-2019, 01:50 AM   #20
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"Could the difference of opinion between respondents in Arizona and Minnesota be due to differences in climate?"

Probably, I doubt it gets cold long enough to freeze the ground solid very often in most places in Arizona. I have camped (in a tent) below 0 at the south rim of the Grand Canyon, but the ground wasn't frozen.

But it may have to do with the variety of actual experience. I managed some condominiums in Minnesota under construction by an Arizona based developer when we got a cold snap (i.e -20F or less) at Christmas. They had several finished developments that had no problems. But people in several units in the new development woke up Christmas moning to flooded units from burst pipes in the units above them. The difference? They had changed from slightly leaky metal duct work used in previous development to perfectly sealed energy efficient plastic. Apparently the only heat between the floors was from that metal duct work. The units above and below were both warm, but some small gaps and high winds allowed frigid cold air to run along the joists between the floors.

The moral of the story - there are a lot of factors that come into play in determining whether a pipe freezes. A pipe can survive one day, and freeze a week later at a higher temperature when the wind is blowing or the ground has gotten colder or it has gotten colder.

So I suspect the difference between me having water freeze on my floor and someone else not having the pipe freeze may be that we started out with a unit that had been stored in -20F and hadn't been above freezing for months except when we used it. It may be that it was windy out. It may be that we had been traveling in below freezing weather. It may be that the ground was frozen. It may be the foam pads we put on the floor for insulation.

The point is, its a VERY individual thing. You might be able to get away with it, you might not.
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