When preparing for an upcoming camping trip, it’s essential to plan ahead and do your research. With over 52,000 RV shipments in August 2021 alone (according to RV Reports and Trends), knowing the common issues that may arise is vital.
If you like camping in cooler months and climates, one of the most common things that can go wrong while RVing is freezing pipes.
This blog post is tailored to show you how to keep your RV pipes from freezing while camping so that you can enjoy your time outside without worrying about frozen water lines inside. Let’s explore.
What Causes RV Pipes to Freeze?
There are several reasons that your water lines may freeze while you are camping. They include:
There is a good chance that the weather will cause your pipes to freeze if you’re camping in cold climates. If it’s freezing outside, there is a higher chance of freezing. However, the more efficiently your RV cools down and/or the quicker it cools down, the better your odds are of preventing freezing.
You can prevent this from happening by leaving your faucets open to allow the water inside to warm up. Alternatively, once night falls, turn on your hot water heater. This will allow a continuous flow of hot water within the pipe during the evening hours, especially when you’re sleeping in or not using the water.
Lack of Insulation
If your RV is not insulated well, the air inside of it can condense quickly. As such, if your RV’s pipes are exposed to this air, they will lose heat and may freeze as a result.
You can prevent this from happening by insulating all exposed water lines with insulation or bundles of newspaper wrapped together into a ball. Moreover, if you have copper water pipes, you can use heat tapes to provide extra protection from freezing.
Length of Time Spent Camping
If your camping trip is going to belong, or if you are going somewhere where the weather tends to drop below freezing every night around the same time, there’s a good chance that your pipes will freeze. This is particularly common for RVs at campgrounds that do not offer electricity and rely on propane appliances.
You can save yourself from such problems by planning ahead and researching the level of coldness in the area before deciding whether or not to bring ice melt with you.
Also, knowing the average low temperature during the weekdays will help you decide whether to carry items such as a deicer.
If you have a low spot in your drainpipe, there is a high possibility that water will pool there rather than draining from your RV. This could lead to flooding, which will cause the formation of ice dams within the pipe.
You can tackle this problem by ensuring all drains have a downward slope. This is essential to allow water to drain while not in use. Also, avoid leaving your water on for extended periods while camping because even a slow drip increases over time can cause condensation within the pipes.
Keep in mind water has a lower freezing point when mixed with other substances. Therefore, you should consider using RV antifreeze to help prevent your pipes from freezing.
Bad circulation often occurs in RVs. Furthermore, If you have a massive amount of stagnant water within the pipes, whether hot or cold, it can interfere with the circulation process. Also, if your water lines remain used for long periods, they may have a hard time maintaining the optimal temperature.
To prevent this problem, always keep your heat on when appropriate. Additionally, ensure you capitalize on the benefits of your RV’s heating and cooling mechanism when it is not used to avoid stagnation.
Also, turn off any faucets when camping because even a tiny amount can cause problems with circulation over time.
How You Can Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing While Camping
Here are the common tips for keeping your pipes from freezing while you’re camping.
Use RV Antifreeze to Prepare Your Water Lines
If you do not want to use heat tape or insulation on your pipes, use an antifreeze product such as Propylene glycol-Based. It works by raising the freezing point of water, and it is also widely preferred since the compound is less corrosive, tasteless, non-toxic, and odorless.
Drain The Water By Turning on Low-Flow Faucets During Breaks
If you know that there will be breaks in time where you won’t need running water during the night, turn on any low-flow faucets. This will help eliminate stagnation prevent ice dams from forming inside your pipes while you are sleeping.
Wrap The Heat Tape Directly onto Copper or Other Metal Pipes
If your primary water source comes from copper, aluminum, or other metals pipes, ensure you carry a heat tape. You can wrap these tapes around your water pipes to keep them warm throughout the camping period.
Keep Everything Turned Off When You’re Not Using Them
Just because you’re sleeping in the RV during the night doesn’t mean that your water and other utilities should be running. Ensure you turn these pumps and faucets off before going to bed. Also, keep in mind that even a slow drip from a leaky faucet can add up over time.
Raise Your RV’s Temperature Throughout The Day
If it’s scorching outside, strive to raise your internal temperature inside of your RV by turning on any heat sources throughout the day. This will help prevent stagnation if you are planning on leaving for an extended period.
Drain Small Amounts of Water to Ensure Circulation
Although draining massive amounts of water can help prevent your pipes from freezing, draining smaller quantities of water is also essential. If you plan on leaving your RV for just a few hours, turn off any primary water sources and drain any water along the pipes to ensure that there is always running water running through your drainage system.
Only Use Heat Tapes When Necessary
Avoid using heat tapes if you do not need to. Always remember they are only a precautionary measure and an easy way to prevent your pipes from freezing. Besides, the last thing you want is for them to burst when you’re not expecting them to.
Only Take Necessary Precautions When It is Cold Outside
If you plan on camping in the middle of nowhere and will be gone for less than 4 days, using heat tapes or insulation around your pipes may not be necessary. However, this principle is best applied if the temperature is consistently over 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is because the chances that the pipes will freeze are slim to none. However, if the temperatures go below 25 degrees Fahrenheit, you can turn on your heat sources for extra precaution.
Monitor The Weather Before Leaving
This is probably one of the best ways to prevent your pipes from freezing. Check the weather forecast beforehand to see if there are any temperature changes over the next few days. Furthermore, this information will help you prepare accordingly.
Fill Any Empty Spaces with Towels
If you have any empty space in your RV, fill it with towels. This will help insulate the water already in the lines by slowing down the rate of heat loss. As a result, this prevents them from freezing while you are camping.
What to Do If Your RV Plumbing Has Frozen Already?
If you wake up in the morning to find that your RV plumbing has frozen already, here are the steps to follow to unfreeze it:
- If your lines are only partially or completely frozen, turn on the faucet closest to the pipes. This will allow more hot water to travel through them until all the ice melts away. Additionally, this will help unfreeze the water in the line while preventing it from bursting.
- If your pipes have cracked, you need to fix them as soon as possible. You can use a blow dryer to gently warm up the area around the crack until it can be repaired. Also, you can try wrapping any damaged regions with insulation or heat tape to prevent further damage and future ruptures.
- If your pipes have burst, ensure you drain all of the water to prevent further damage. If the water is not draining out automatically, you can use a plunger or any object that might help push the water through the pipes.
- You can also use antifreeze to help prevent the problem from reoccurring. Just make sure you follow all of the prescribed instructions before getting started.
- Turn on the water closest to your pipes before leaving and drain any excess water before turning them off. This will help prevent freezing while you are away camping.
If you decide to camp in an RV during the winter, just remember that prevention is critical. Therefore, ensure you prepare upfront by having a set of tools ready to use in case of an emergency.
Following the tips mentioned above before leaving for your trip will help prevent any plumbing nightmares from happening while you are away camping. Even though these steps may seem tedious, they are worth taking to avoid any damages and costly repairs in the future.