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Old 10-06-2019, 12:37 AM   #1
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Default Tank anti-freeze hack. Maybe?

Hi All

I am new to this forum and this is my first post. I purchased a 2011 Roadtrek Freightliner Sprinter SS Agile a couple of weeks ago. I live in Bend Oregon with Typical winter temps in the -20s. I and my wife are skiers, so we are hoping to take this RV out in the winter cold months. It does not have tank heating or tank/plumbing insulation. I considered installing heating pads but I am not confident that the other under carriage plumbing wont freeze.

The big question, and I apologize if this has been discussed before: Does it work to fashion an insulating "skirt" to close off the undercarriage to keep tanks, etc. from freezing in sub zero temps? Is it reasonable to use a small heater to keep this closed off area from freezing? Anyone tried this? Any advice much appreciated!
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Old 10-06-2019, 01:09 AM   #2
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Does it work to fashion an insulating "skirt" to close off the undercarriage to keep tanks, etc. from freezing in sub zero temps?
I think that would depend on how cold the ground you are parked on is.

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Is it reasonable to use a small heater to keep this closed off area from freezing?
Yes, if you have a heater with enough btu's and fuel to keep it going you can camp comfortably in a tent.

We have camped in our RV in -20F, but we were winterized and didn't use the fresh water system. We used rv antifreeze to flush the toilet and bottled water for drinking. It was cozy and worked well for weekends. No showers obviously.
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Old 10-06-2019, 01:58 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by GaryG View Post
Does it work to fashion an insulating "skirt" to close off the undercarriage to keep tanks, etc. from freezing in sub zero temps? Is it reasonable to use a small heater to keep this closed off area from freezing? Anyone tried this? Any advice much appreciated!
A skirt would certainly help but you will have to make it, carry it, and install it with snaps all around the coach. I wouldn’t bother with a heater within it. The floor will be warm enough.

Bottom line is you need to come up with your own procedures that work for you. I have procedures that work for me. Over time you will learn what you can and cannot get away with. You have a nice winter coming up. In the spring tells us what you did. What you got away with. A day with a high of 50F will be different than a day that doesn’t get above 30F even though both days had a low of 25F.

For example I learned that the propane refrigerator needs to be on to keep the waterline to the sink that passes behind it open.

I have had lines fail to flow, I have had P-traps that failed to drain. I have never split a pipe, yet.

I can tell you a nice comfortable shower at 13F sure does mess up the inside of a windshield. Don’t plan on driving anywhere soon.
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Old 10-06-2019, 02:03 AM   #4
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There would be plenty of heater available by running the van engine, as long as the tailpipe wasn't blocked. The engine fan will blow a lot of heat under the van and the catalytic converters get really hot. Don't know how often it would have to run though with a skirt on.
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Old 10-06-2019, 02:28 AM   #5
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I think that would depend on how cold the ground you are parked on is.



Yes, if you have a heater with enough btu's and fuel to keep it going you can camp comfortably in a tent.

We have camped in our RV in -20F, but we were winterized and didn't use the fresh water system. We used rv antifreeze to flush the toilet and bottled water for drinking. It was cozy and worked well for weekends. No showers obviously.
That really makes sense! Did you dilute the winterization fluid to get more bang for your buck?
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Old 10-06-2019, 02:35 AM   #6
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" I wouldn’t bother with a heater within it. The floor will be warm enough."

That depends how tightly sealed and insulated your floor is and how cold the ground is. We have had ice under the mat on our bathroom floor even with the furnace on.

If the temperature never gets below 25F, then the ground temperature probably doesn't matter. But if it never gets above 25F and is often hovering around 0 that is a different animal. The ground temperature becomes far more important than the air temperature.
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Old 10-06-2019, 03:28 AM   #7
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Did you dilute the winterization fluid to get more bang for your buck?
No, RV anti-freeze is really cheap. Here in Minnesota you can get it this time of year for less than $3 a gallon and "flushing" the rv toilet doesn't take much. You flush it and then fill it with a cup or two for the next use.

I actually spend a little extra to get the -75 degree stuff for flushing because the -50 actually can still freeze when the temperature gets below zero. It just won't expand and break something. But I don't want a chunk of solid antifreeze in my toilet, I want liquid I can flush away.

BTW, are there places you can camp in the Cascades in the winter? Can you stay in your RV at the ski areas or snow parks?
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Old 10-06-2019, 03:27 PM   #8
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You can camp in the Mt. Bachelor ski resort parking lot for a small fee and they have bathrooms and showers available. We live close enough we would never camp there, but there are other yet undiscovered winter places we would like to try out.
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Old 10-13-2019, 03:56 PM   #9
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If your electrical power is 24/7 100% reliable and/or you have a back-up generator. Otherwise, could be risking some expensive repairs.
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Old 10-13-2019, 06:15 PM   #10
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BTW, are there places you can camp in the Cascades in the winter? Can you stay in your RV at the ski areas or snow parks?
Crystal and Stevens Pass have RV parking. Crystal has electric hookups. RV'ing at Crystal has become very popular, so you should make reservations.

It's a good idea to put on chains before you park. Obviously you need chains if it snows. Your van can also sink into the snow/ice over a couple of days.
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Old 10-13-2019, 06:25 PM   #11
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We considered heating pads on the tanks and heat tracing the water lines, or making a skirt, but concluded neither would work reliably for our RT 200. I rigged up an alternate fresh water supply inside our van, pulling water from a 3 gallon jerry can in the closet connected to the pump and the pump connected only to the sink faucet. Running cold water is a huge improvement over pouring water out of jugs. We carry a second jerry can of water for a total of six gallons.
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