RVers who love camping to the extreme don’t give a damn what outside the weather is. They don’t want to limit themselves to wait for perfect weather to take their beloved RV out. Winter camping also means you are going to enjoy sparkling snow, quiet campgrounds, and peaceful woods while keeping yourself warm and toasty inside your RV.
Winter camping is also an affordable way to explore your favorite ski destinations or enjoy other outdoor winter activities. However, before planning a winter camping trip, you have to take some critical factors into consideration.
The biggest of all of them is none other than your RV plumbing system. Cold toes and noses aside, low temperature is also capable of freezing your RV’s plumbing system. The reason why RVs are popular among camper is they come equipped with an onboard water system, toilet, and shower that you can carry with you no matter where you go.
Just imagine you are camping at a campsite and your RV plumbing system gets freeze. What will you do? Instead of a winter retreat, your whole winter camping trip will become a nightmare for you. Not only your RV’s freshwater but wastewater system will also be in danger.
So, how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping?
Luckily, there are various methods you can apply to keep RV pipes from freezing even in extremely bitter weather conditions. Using these ways, you will be able to enjoy sparkling snow and your winter camping without a hitch.
Below, I have outlined how you can winterize your RV plumbing system and how to insulate your RV pipes for extended travels in bitter conditions. These methods are also useful for keeping warm air circulating and hot water flowing.
So, let’s get started!
RV Camping in Freezing Temperatures
Traveling for the first time in freezing temperatures, I highly recommend you pick a campground or RV park with full electric hookups. The full hookup campsite will deliver you full power that you can use to keep your furnace running and your batteries charged.
However, when on the road, you can turn on the propane to keep your furnace running while keeping it low. Besides your RV plumbing system, winterized camping is all about comfortable, peaceful, and of course, cost-efficient. You will be able to enjoy snowy National Parks, ski resorts, and noise and crowd-free campsites.
So, how to winterize your RV to keep pipes from freezing?
Winterizing Your RV
Winterizing your RV can be explained as preparing your RV to withstand even extreme weather conditions. The best time to winterizing your RV is to do it before storing the RV for winters. Although winterizing is mostly involved in preparing RV’s plumbing system, but this also includes preparing the exterior, interior, chassis, etc.
However, since plumbing is the most crucial part, it would best to starting from there. It is a method that requires you not to overlook even the smallest parts of the plumbing system. Before winterizing, you should take necessary precautions to protect your RV’s plumbing system—otherwise, any remaining water in the RV pipes or water storage tanks will freeze. As a result, the water lines of the RV will freeze, expand, and break at the end, making things even worse.
How to Winterize RV Water System
- 2 to 3 gallons of non-toxic antifreeze (Depending on your RV size).
- Water heater bypass kit (If you don’t have one).
- A water pump converter or tubing.
- A tank cleaner to flush black water.
- Hand tools for removing/installing plugs.
Follow the below guidelines to start winterizing your RV’s water system;
- Step One: Firstly, remove all the inline water filters, and if there is one at the sink faucet, you should install a bypass hose. Once done, find a dump station and drain all the water storage tanks, including the water heater tank.
- Step Two: Now, after opening all the faucets, flush the toilet. Make sure to take the last bits of water out of your RV water system. This includes a shower as well, regardless of whether it is inside or outside. Now, find both the open and low point water drains. It would be great to use a 12V pump to make sure you take all the water out, i. Once you think there is no water left inside, don’t forget to turn off the system. Do the same for all the drains and then close the faucets.
- Step Three: If your RV is equipped with a bypass water heater system, use it to bypass the water heater. But if it doesn’t, install one by DIY or go to a local dealer who can install it for you. Remember that failing to do so means the water heater will fill with antifreeze; as a result, you will waste 6 to 8 gallons.
- Step Four: Now you have to install the water pump converter, which will be used to throw antifreeze into the water system.
- Step Five: Once you have installed the water pump, turn it on to pressurize and pump the antifreeze. Start from the faucet to the pump until it comes out from the other end. Repeat this very same process on all the faucets, including the outside shower, if your RV has one
- Step Six: Now, it’s time to flush the toilet. Keep flushing until you see the antifreeze coming out. Pour a cup in each drain and toilet and then flush again. It will make sure that the remaining water won’t freeze out.
That’s it. Now your RV’s water system is winterized, and it is all set for winter, allowing you to travel in extremely cold weather conditions without worrying much about your RV water system. You can keep your RV winterized until you reach your favorite campsite. Once you reach there, you should flush out all the antifreeze before refiling your water system.
How to Flush Out All The Antifreeze?
Well, for flushing out all the antifreeze, you have to attach a hose to your RV’s water hookup and then open all the faucets. Now you will see the water will run through the system, flushing out all the antifreeze. Keep it flushing until you see the clear water running.
How to Insulate Your RV Water Valves?
The best way to keep your RV warm and bitterly cold weather out is to use skirting around your RV. However, it doesn’t mean it is the only option you have got. Some RVers also use hay bales, but the problem with them is they are easily affected by mold and vermin. That is why it is suggested you use skirting to keep RV pipes from freezing.
Here is how you can insulate your RV water valves,
1. Skirting the RV
Wrap skirting around your RV to keep RV pipes from freezing. This helps to absorb the heat while keeping the cold weather at bay. Using skirts as a shield to keep your RV also protects the underneath as of your recreational vehicle from external elements to protect outdoor RV water pipelines and valves.
This means it also means it protects the RV from the wind blowing beneath it that can suck the heat and freeze water holding tanks. This is why skirting is the best solution to insulate your RV.
2. Using the Heat Lamp
Having a heat lamp with you means you can easily melt any ice build-up. Since the water valves are can be found in an exterior compartment, making them more sensitive to freeze out. Having a small lamp heater can help to keep these compartments warm, eventually eliminating the risk of any damage. However, while using a heat lamp, you should never forget to turn them off when they are unused.
3. Avoid emptying Water Tanks Until They Are Full
Another common thing that you should always keep in mind is never empty tanks until they are near to full. This is because empty storage tanks can freeze instantly, which, as a result, form ice inside the valves. Moreover, when emptying the water tanks, make sure to keep at least ¼ of water inside, which will help against freezing.
4. Usage of Holding Tank Heater
If you are concerned about extremely cold temperatures, a holding tank heater could be useful to have. They act like an electric blanket keeping the tank safe from freezing. You can turn them off when the temperature gets normal.
5. Wrapping Exposed Water Lines
Yet another way to keep exposed RV water lines from freezing is to wrap them up. It will act as an added layer of insulation to all the exposed water lines of RV. To do that, you can use a tap, which is not only cheap but also easy to use. Or you can also use foam insulation to keep RV water lines from freezing.
How to Insulate Your RV in Cold Weather?
Insulating your RV means you are going to add an extra layer of insulation to your RV. It will not only keep RV pipes from freezing while camping but also keeps you warm and comfortable during your trip in cold weather conditions.
1. Sealing Around Doors and Windows
Although during summers, you don’t necessarily check gaps around your RV doors and windows, during winters, these tiny gaps play a critical role. Seal those little gaps around doors and windows to prevent both air and moisture from breaking in.
2. Window Film and Reflective Foil
Another best way to insulate your RV and keep RV water lines from freezing is the use of window film and reflective foil coverings. They are not only budget-friendly but also one of the most effective ways to insulate your RV windows. You can custom cut them to make them fit your RV windows. Moreover, they are also useful for absorbing heat and then keeping it inside the RV.
Although winter camping trips are fun and offer a lot of benefits and adventures, you have to face some challenges as well. Before hitting the road for winter camping, you have to consider your RV pipelines, plumbing system, and overall insulation of your recreational vehicle. However, taking all the precautions into consideration can help you to keep your RV water lines from freezing to get smooth hot water flow. Above I have discussed how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping in cold temperatures. Moreover, I have also outlined the ways that you can use to insulate your RV. If you have further queries or suggestions, you are welcome to post a comment below.
What temperature is considered too cold for an RV?
Anything below 20 Fahrenheit is too cold for an RV and can freeze RV water lines and plumbing systems. It is strongly recommended to take necessary precautions to insulate your RV and winterize your RV plumbing system before hitting the road in cold temperatures.
How to keep RV water lines from freezing while camping?
To keep RV water pipelines from freezing, you have to winterize the water storage system. In this regard, you should empty all the water storage tanks and make sure to take the last bits of water out. Then pump antifreeze inside the water holding tanks, water pipelines, toilets, etc.
Is it necessary to keep some water in tanks to prevent them from freezing?
Yes, having at least ¼ water could help RV water tanks from freezing. Moreover, you should never dump tanks until they are nearly full.