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Old 11-18-2018, 08:52 PM   #1
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Winter use of motor home

I have a 1999 itasca and I have already winterized it but was wondering how do people in cold climates ever use their motor home? Is leaving the heat ion sufficient ? Are supplemental heartens needed etc? I mean how do tour buses work?
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Old 11-18-2018, 09:15 PM   #2
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The location where your MH is parked has a great deal to do with offering advice. I'm in S. Indiana and normally do not winterize our MH(so it may be used in winter months), which is parked in an unheated garage(usually 5-10 above outside temp) with propane furnaces set on 50F. This also heats the basement areas where water lines, pump, and fresh water tank are located.
A general rule I have followed before we built the garage is, if nighttime lows are above 26-27 and daytime highs reach 50 RV water lines will not freeze in an unheated RV parked in sunshine. Residual heat carries over through the nighttime lows, which are only a few hours near daylight.
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Old 11-19-2018, 12:02 AM   #3
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Butchman,




Welcome to the forum!!


As Ray said, part of the equation is Location, Location, Location.


I am getting ready to touch one of the "third rails" upon this forum.

You actually may not have to do much, or you may have to about everything and it is all fact dependent upon you and your situation. Answering the questions will help us provide better answers.

First consideration is your location. Naturally the farther north you are, the more effort it takes.

Second is your coach's construction. How well insulated is it and how well do the doors and windows seal? How exposed are your tanks, valves, fittings and lines? What type lines to you have, PEX or PVC?

Third, what type of heating sources are available for it? Can you install a "stay a while" system, tap into your home's LP system, or run electricity to it?

How long will it be sitting and how much (if any) do you plan to use it until spring?

Lastly, what is your level of acceptable risk?



Let's start with weather exposure. With little to no prep, your coach should reasonably be fine with a few nights where temps are below freezing for a few hours for a few days in a row, and that is dependent on how high the temps get during the day and the exposure your coach gets to the sun. Even below freezing at night the exposed side of the coach will warm in the radiant heat of the sun, however the "wind chill" has no bearing on actual temps.

The more insulation your coach and the better sealed it is, then the more daily heating it will retain. A few simple and inexpensive steps are pull the slides in and check the body seals to make sure that they are sealed well from the outside as a closed slide is better than an open one as far as retaining heat plus you are cutting down on the cubic footage of the interior that needs to be heated. Next is add Reflectix type material to cover the windows in the living part of the coach. I doubt your coach had double pane windows, but even so it is a easy addition. If your situation allows for, the silver sided insulation panels will work better. Next, place a barrier between the cab and living area. That may be a heavy blanket, heavy drapes, or other media that insulates. Again, less cubic feet to heat and that big windshield will bleed off a lot of heat in a hurry and is extremely hard to insulate well. Depending on what is in your bedroom, you may want to close the door or again use insulation so that you aren't heating unused space. How exposed are your tanks and valves? That is the weak spot on ours. Many use a 100 watt shop light (hand held) either turning it on manually or using a "ThermoCube" which will turn it one just above freezing and off at about 45. Be sure that the light isn't touching plastic. Some have room for a small heater and use them if the bay is large enough. You may have an unsealed wet bay and that is impossible to heat. Then you really have no choice than dump the tanks and add RV anti-freeze to them. At least 1/2 gallon to each and that is to protect the gate valves. PEX plumbing will handle lower temps better and is reported to be able to stand freezing but pumps and faucets do not. . You may to vacate the water lines at a minimum or add RV Anti-freeze to the system to protect critical areas. Another option as adding some type of skirting around the coach. Some use hay bales and some have used the foam panels held in place by the hay bales, but attention needs to be paid to resistance to high winds. I won't insult you by telling you to open cabinets, but you may need to remove a few drawers to allow heat to some water lines.

If you have LP gas at home, you can add a "Stay A While fitting to the coach LP line and have that as a heating source, or you can get one and use a 100# LP tank for additional fuel. If you have a shore line or can run a HEAVY drop cord and add a 1500 watt heater.

The more you are planning to use the coach or at least be in it on a more regular basis, the more of a "heat sink" it is and the less to worry about it when it is sitting.


Now is the tough one, your level of your confidence in yourself and coach. If your coach has been well maintained the better it will stand it. Now, your level of risk... I am being chastised and quietly called stupid for simply using a record breaking cold snap to actually find out what actually goes on inside based on real world conditions. Among other "must haves", I have an infrared thermometer and checked on my coach twice a day and found that with a few minor preps and minimal heat, that only my outside shower valve assembly was the only part actually made it to freezing and that was for less than 12 hours. This was during over 140 hours below freezing with low temps between 5 above and below for 3 days. We also went to Indiana 2 weeks after our record breaking cold snap. This year? I am going to upgrade my insulation between the living and cab area and if I leave the slide out, I will use Armaflex to seal the bottom of the slide to the floor. Kelly works from home at least twice a week and her office is the dinette unless I move her stuff into the house. That would be the after Thanksgiving at the earliest, but we have a trip to Florida late second week in January, so I may need to just keep her warm and the plumbing will also be happier also.



Now, for more information on this and other questions, the "Powered by Google" search box in the top right hand corner in the green field will bring you a treasure trove of answers on this and other topics. The same formats for searching Google apply their, just be sure that the "Search IRV2" box is checked.



Again, Welcome!
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Old 11-19-2018, 01:46 AM   #4
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I'm sure others will chime in, but cold weather in an RV is not as bad as one would think.

I full time, and for the last two winters have been where the temps dropped to -10 to -15 for about a week and 0-10 above for about a month. No big deal really. If you have good basement heat, no problem, except...The only extra measures I took was to make sure my basement doors actually sealed. I found one door had almost a quarter inch gap between the door and the rubber seal at the hinge side LOL. Fixed that with a thicker seal since the door hinge was not adjustable. and this door happened to be my water tank bay so yeah, the worst place to have a seal issue.

The only other thing I do is to completely unhook water and sewer, and caterpillar walk the outside hoses to drain them so that they can be used again when it's freezing (eg no ice blockage).

I solo, so I really only need to refill the fresh water once a week (I have 100 gal tank)... I take navy showers when running on the tank, so it could last much longer probably, but one week is my usual refill and laundry routine.

When hooked up to refill, I do all my laundry while hooked up and take a longer shower, then top off the fresh tank before unhooking, and of course dump the sewer if needed. I dub it, "water day".

Other than that and maybe some towels under a couple of the windows to cut down on cold sink draft from the window frames, it's not different (to me) than sticks and bricks living. I sit in a t-shirt comfortably watching sat tv or youtube when it's in the teens outside, and all systems function normally in the coach.

Oh, diesel... I should probably mention this, anti-gel additive and quality fuel. Long as my aqua-hot is working properly, it will keep me and the coach toasty. I think last winter during the coldest stretch I used about 50 gallons in one month. That does mean going for a drive to top off the fuel tank once a month also. For me this is about a 30 mile drive to exercise the main engine good in the process... if I have been sitting awhile anyway.

Boondocking on the other hand in very cold temps might be problematic though due to batteries having cold temp reduced capacity. I have never actually done it, but tested a couple times in frigid weather and the battery life was very short.... lots of generator run times, but if you can afford the fuel, no problem.
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Old 11-19-2018, 06:28 AM   #5
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Tour buses have heated basements, so the tanks and plumbing won't freeze..

If you have heated basements, you should be OK as long as the furnace is running.

If you don't have heated basements, it really depends on your tanks location and how the plumbing is run if you'd be able to provide some type of heat to keep them from freezing..


On my Southwind, the tanks and plumbing are located between the frame rails to form a compartment. The bottom of this compartment is insulated and seal, and the furnace has a duct opening to blow heat down into this area. The water compartment, where the sewer and water connections are made, is also sealed and has a duct blowing down in it.

As long as I run the furnaces, warm air is blown into these areas and the tanks and plumbing won't freeze.
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Old 11-19-2018, 10:29 AM   #6
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Hi ! Welcome to IRV2! We're sure glad you joined the gang!

Have fun and keep her between the ditches!

Good luck, happy trails, and God bless!
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Old 11-19-2018, 11:05 AM   #7
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Caution!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray,IN View Post
The location where your MH is parked has a great deal to do with offering advice. I'm in S. Indiana and normally do not winterize our MH(so it may be used in winter months), which is parked in an unheated garage(usually 5-10 above outside temp) with propane furnaces set on 50F. This also heats the basement areas where water lines, pump, and fresh water tank are located.
A general rule I have followed before we built the garage is, if nighttime lows are above 26-27 and daytime highs reach 50 RV water lines will not freeze in an unheated RV parked in sunshine. Residual heat carries over through the nighttime lows, which are only a few hours near daylight.
Caution!!!!! Ray,IN If you have your coach in an enclosed space and you're are running a propane, gas, or diesel heater to keep your coach warm, ventilate your garage before you enter or get a Carbon Monoxide Detector that runs off batteries to check it. Same with the coach. If you have the garage that's attached to the house you stand a chance of Carbon Monoxide getting in the house. Be smart,Be safe
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Old 11-19-2018, 08:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray,IN View Post
The location where your MH is parked has a great deal to do with offering advice. I'm in S. Indiana and normally do not winterize our MH(so it may be used in winter months), which is parked in an unheated garage(usually 5-10 above outside temp) with propane furnaces set on 50F. This also heats the basement areas where water lines, pump, and fresh water tank are located.
A general rule I have followed before we built the garage is, if nighttime lows are above 26-27 and daytime highs reach 50 RV water lines will not freeze in an unheated RV parked in sunshine. Residual heat carries over through the nighttime lows, which are only a few hours near daylight.


Thanks for the info! I really appreciate! I just got this old 1999 that is in excellent condition but dont want to take a chance on a winter outing until I can see how cold she gets this winter while it is winterized. I dont think my heater heats the tank and water pump bay.
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Old 11-21-2018, 08:00 AM   #9
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Winter Camping

So youre planning some cold camping? All depends where youre coming from and going to,how long and is the DW going? Head South and camp with hookups somewhere
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Old 11-21-2018, 10:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pumper9x9 View Post
Caution!!!!! Ray,IN If you have your coach in an enclosed space and you're are running a propane, gas, or diesel heater to keep your coach warm, ventilate your garage before you enter or get a Carbon Monoxide Detector that runs off batteries to check it. Same with the coach. If you have the garage that's attached to the house you stand a chance of Carbon Monoxide getting in the house. Be smart,Be safe
Diesel exhaust and carbon monoxide
When I run the LP furnace in my 60'x40'x15' garage, the first thing I do after unlocking the entry door is open the 20'x14' sliding door. Thanks for the concern though.
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