Cold Weather RVing
Today’s show is all about Cold Weather RVing. More and more RVers want to extend their RV season to include some cold Weather RVing. Some are into skiing, some Ice Fishing, and others are into snowmobiling. Preventing fresh water lines and holding tanks from freezing, conservation of propane, and proper insulation are all important parts of the cold weather experience.
Preparing the Fresh Water System for Cold Weather Use
You must prepare your RV for winter RVing. If you will be in a campground with a working(and hopefully heated) shower house, you might winterize the water system and not use it at all. I’m not sure I would like to get up and go to the shower house in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. Assuming you will use all the facilities of your rig, we will start with the fresh water system.
A heated water hose to connect to the park water system is essential. You will plug in your heated hose to the regular hose bib. You can insulate the exposed part of the hose bib with bubble wrap wrapped over with duct tape. If you can’t afford a heated hose, you can purchase a length of electric heat tape. Lay the heat tape out along the length of the hose. Secure it at 1 foot intervals with electrical tape. Then cover the hose and heat tape with foam pipe insulation. Secure it with duct tape. It is a good practice to place a drop light with a 50 watt bulb in the wet bay where the water hose is connected. This will keep the bay with all its water plumbing warm and frost free.
If your rig has heating pads installed on the bottom of the fresh water tank and the gray and black water holding tanks, you are good to go! If not, you must run your propane furnace(s) occasionally to keep them from freezing. The other alternative is to buy after market heating pads made for RV holding tank use. They come in 120 volt AC and 13.5 volts DC. Check out the offerings from UltraHeat, Inc. at http://www.ultraheat.com/tank_heaters.html
Insulating Your RV For Winter Camping
Windows and doors are a constant source of air leakage. If your rig has dual pane windows, great! Just remember that the windshield on motorized units is not dual pane nor is the window in the entrance door on side door models. The windshield can be covered with pleated foil available under the Reflectix brand name and available in hardware stores and RV supply shops. Cut it to fit and tape it in place, then pull the curtain closed to add another barrier. An excellent way to insulate single pane windows is with plastic storm window kits also available at hardware stores. This lets you see out of the windows.
Wind is a big reason RV’s get cold in winter. They are up on wheels so the wind blows right under. This is the reason bridge roadways freeze up first. The cure for this is skirting for motorized and towable RV’s. Custom skirts can be purchased made of a vinyl material with snaps. They must be held to the ground with rocks or other weights. You can make your own skirting quite inexpensively with plywood held in place with stakes. Make sure to put skirting all the way around all four sides. Some folks will be tempted to use hay bales. This has several drawbacks. It is an extreme fire hazard around propane fired appliances. Secondly, it will attract mice and other rodents. There has been much material written on protection from mice and other critters. Some folks use moth balls, some essential oils, some commercial dryer sheets. Use whatever works for you, because mice want to be warm too.
Now that you have your rig well buttoned up and as air tight as you can, you need to consider condensation. It will form especially on windows, but also on ceilings as well. It’s part of the price you pay for being warmer than the outside air. A wonderful product called Damp-Rid can help quite a bit as well as providing some small amount of outside ventilation. A dehumidifier can be helpful as well, but must be emptied constantly.
Snow is not Your Friend
You have probably heard that snow is a good insulator, and it is, for igloos. For winter RVing, the snow will melt and refreeze as ice next to the roof or walls of your RV. Show on the roof will quickly exceed the rated roof weight load and should be brushed off after the storm stops. It is especially important to remove it from slide tops and slide top awnings. It’s OK to have it lap up against the skirting, as it will help to insulate that.