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Old 02-12-2016, 10:44 AM   #1
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Tell me how you RV in early spring - cold temps

As you can see from my name, we are in Minnesota.

I'd like to hear from class A motorhome folks in the northern states who take their unit out for early spring trips south.

We have a 2015 Winnebago Sunstar with a heated water bay. If we were to fill up the water tanks and turn on the heat and keep it on, could we leave in February and make it without freezing the water pipes, for a couple of days, until we hit non-freezing temps?

Have any of you done that?

We'd stay in WalMarts and truck stops overnight until we hit year-round campgrounds.

Looking for people with experience doing this sort of thing, and wondering what your experience was.

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Old 02-12-2016, 11:03 AM   #2
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You're funny...

You're from Minnesota and you call February "early Spring"...

Not sure how far north you are.. but since you have a heated water bay, I would think you should be good to go... I mean, not sure how far you like to drive in a day, but with the heat of the inside of your coach keeping the internal pipes warm and the heat in the bay keeping the tank warm... I would think if you were to drive 6-8 hours south, the temperatures shouldn't be a major issue...

Of course, nothing is 100% sure... you could hit a polar vortex, but again, you'd be running heat in the rig and the bay.. so, not sure what issues (other than burning thru a crap load of propane) you'd have

Good luck... I sure wish I was heading south right now !!

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Old 02-12-2016, 11:46 AM   #3
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Ha. Well, Originally I was going to post about March but changed it when I wrote the post. Yes, I know it seems like it should work, but that's why I asked for people from northern states who have actually done it. Sometimes theory and reality do not line up.
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Old 02-12-2016, 12:16 PM   #4
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FWIW We do it in a C not an A but the principle is the same. Heat from the furnace keeps the pipes and tanks above freezing as long as one keeps the furnace on and set to a reasonable temp. In addition do not over fill the water tank so there is a bit of spare room.

I put the plug back into the HW tank and set the bypass valves to normal then fill the tank part way and flush the system into the holding tanks thus adding some anti freeze to the tank mix. Hold off on showers until the second day. By then you should be out of any really cold weather. We take several gallons of fresh water in jugs for cooking and drinking the first two days then hit a camp ground where I add bleach and sanitize overnight. The tank water is fine for flushing but you might want to dump some and add fresh before a shower.
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Old 02-13-2016, 06:22 AM   #5
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Old 02-13-2016, 07:05 AM   #6
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Put antifreeze in your holding tanks. Fill up two 5 gallon bottles of water and sit them in the shower area for drinking and making coffee. Also can be used for flushing out tollet. Drive a couple days without water in tanks or pipes until you are in warmer weather where you can fill up your tanks. It does not get as cold here in Missouri as it does in Mn, but our temps do get into the single digits and many days are well below freezing. Our home base is Mo and we travel throughout the entire year.
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Old 02-13-2016, 07:06 AM   #7
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If all the plumbing is inside like mine and you always have it above freezing you should be fine. Having a heated wet bay is even better. I've been running all winter using just my fresh water tank and water pump + propane furnace. I don't have a duct going down to the holding tank area (water is in the coach area) but I do have a large hot transformer type converter and a 150 watt bulb that clicks on with a thermo cube to keep those from freezing and it works great.

Add on some heavy wool blankets for sleeping at night and put the propane on at around 55 or 60 at night and you should be good to go RVing in any weather pretty much. (haven't done negative temps yet though I might be a bit worried about that. )

Re-read your post just now.

As far as keeping things OK while on the road vs camping I guess it depends on how your heat works. Do you run propane while driving? or do you have some fancy system like an aqua hot or some other system that uses the engine coolant in some way? In my case all plumbing except for the shower drain and holding tanks are in the coach area. and the holding tanks are the only thing in the basement.

I could probably get by with anti freeze in the shower drain, making sure the holding tanks are empty going out on the trip and using the anti freeze in the holding tank advise in one of the posts above. If I had something more fancy than this old clunker I would imagine I could have full basement heat while driving regardless of if I had the propane valves open or closed.
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Old 02-13-2016, 07:54 AM   #8
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Thanks for the replies. Sounds like we will be fine. Good to hear.
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Old 02-13-2016, 08:28 AM   #9
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As a Wisconsin resident, the past years we have always left for Florida the first week in March. I have installed remote thermometers in the left compartment with the water pump and water lines and right compartment with the fresh water tank showing. I check the weather report and if the day time temps will be +15 or higher I de-winterize the plumbing system in the garage the day before I plan to leave. I start up both furnaces and set the thermostat at 72. My compartments have always registered +35 or more.

Last year we had a cold snap and it was close to 0 and I did not want to take a chance. On our 2nd night out we stayed in a park in Kentucky and we de-winterized there. As previously mentioned we took 2 - 5 gal jugs of water from home and used that for coffee and flushing. We did not use antifreeze to flush the toilet, only water and we had no problem. Good luck with your trip.

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Old 02-13-2016, 11:37 AM   #10
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I have left WI in January with -17* temps with full water and headed south. Never had a pipe freeze. I had the bottom of the coach sprayed with 2" of urethane and added a Back Seat Heater to the wet bay. You would not need the urethane, but for less than $100, the "Back Seat Heater" is a good insurance policy. This is all that Holiday Rambler used to use to heat the wet bay. Wire it into the House batteries and set it at 40*.

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Old 02-13-2016, 01:58 PM   #11
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In the past we have gone to Florida. But this year we are wintering out on the coast of North Carolina. It will be 17 degrees tonight. We have heat strips on our water pipes, spigot and fresh water hose. We put a drop light in the wet bay and we have a full tank of LP. Nice and cozy.

We just have to get through tonight and tomorrow night then the temps return to normal - highs in the 60's and lows in the 40's.
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Old 02-13-2016, 02:53 PM   #12
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Down here in Flordida we only turn on one AC in the spring
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Old 02-13-2016, 03:13 PM   #13
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In the past we took our 5th wheel during the winter. I never put water in it before leaving NY. We are leaving March 30th for a trip to Virginia and I plan to fill my water tank before i leave but not turn my water valves on until we get down south some place. I dont see 100 gallons of water freezing, but am worried a bit about the lines. Our motorhome has inside tanks, but I have yet to find a heater vent in any of the basement compartments.
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Old 02-13-2016, 05:21 PM   #14
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lots of god recommendations. I'd avoid using any water line stuff until you get into warmer weather. Use the gallons to dump into the stool. If you are going to fill your water tanks before leaving (I wouldn't) - I wouldn't fill your water tanks until the minute you leave - unless your coach is in a heated garage. It will take a while for the water to cool down - so you might as wait until the last minute on day of departure - if you can hook up to hot - put in hot as it might give you an extra day before it gets to cool.

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