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Old 12-05-2005, 04:46 PM   #1
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I have always enjoyed this forum, for the wisdom so many members posess. I thought I'd share some wisdom that this member just discovered.

The fall around here was much warmer than typical, and my usual routine of winterizing the camper got thrown off completely. Then, a hard freeze hit our area just when I was on a week long business trip. So, when I returned, you can just imagine my state of mind when I checked the camper and found it frozen solid.

This was further compounded by the fact that the temps are not expected to go above freezing for at least a week around here, so I knew I had to act fast.

The fresh tank had about 20 gallons, now a giant ice cube. The water lines ALL had ice in them. The pump would not cycle on, and I truly feared the worst--that I had done irreparable damage to not only the water lines but the holding tank and water pump.

I tried to think of ways to "thaw" the beast. My ideas, in the order they came to me:
1.) Take it on a road trip to the south for a week or so. (Too costly, plus I can't afford the time off)
2.) Take it to a garage that has space for a tall vehicle, such as our local RV dealership. My plan was to take it there, say, late on Saturday afternoon, and pull it in just as the service area was closing, thereby not getting in the way of their operation. Then I could pick it up on Monday morning and winterize it. (Good idea except that I was unable to get the unit to their place of business in time due to other commitments)
3.) Put a very large tarp over the entire camper and run every heater I own inside and under the "basement". This is what I ended up doing and IT WORKED! Despite temperatures in the teens overnight, the inside stayed a very comfy 70F, and the heaters I placed in the basement and under the kitchen sink really did the trick. I was able to thaw the fresh tank by pouring 3 gal of RV antifreeze in there and letting it "sit" overnight. The warm antifreeze plus the warm cabin was enough to bring the water to just above freezing long enough for me to get all the fresh water out and pump several gal of antifreeze through the lines.

I suppose there may be some small leaks that I won't find til next summer, but I thought someone may benefit from these ideas.

Regards,

Rip V.
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Old 12-05-2005, 04:46 PM   #2
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I have always enjoyed this forum, for the wisdom so many members posess. I thought I'd share some wisdom that this member just discovered.

The fall around here was much warmer than typical, and my usual routine of winterizing the camper got thrown off completely. Then, a hard freeze hit our area just when I was on a week long business trip. So, when I returned, you can just imagine my state of mind when I checked the camper and found it frozen solid.

This was further compounded by the fact that the temps are not expected to go above freezing for at least a week around here, so I knew I had to act fast.

The fresh tank had about 20 gallons, now a giant ice cube. The water lines ALL had ice in them. The pump would not cycle on, and I truly feared the worst--that I had done irreparable damage to not only the water lines but the holding tank and water pump.

I tried to think of ways to "thaw" the beast. My ideas, in the order they came to me:
1.) Take it on a road trip to the south for a week or so. (Too costly, plus I can't afford the time off)
2.) Take it to a garage that has space for a tall vehicle, such as our local RV dealership. My plan was to take it there, say, late on Saturday afternoon, and pull it in just as the service area was closing, thereby not getting in the way of their operation. Then I could pick it up on Monday morning and winterize it. (Good idea except that I was unable to get the unit to their place of business in time due to other commitments)
3.) Put a very large tarp over the entire camper and run every heater I own inside and under the "basement". This is what I ended up doing and IT WORKED! Despite temperatures in the teens overnight, the inside stayed a very comfy 70F, and the heaters I placed in the basement and under the kitchen sink really did the trick. I was able to thaw the fresh tank by pouring 3 gal of RV antifreeze in there and letting it "sit" overnight. The warm antifreeze plus the warm cabin was enough to bring the water to just above freezing long enough for me to get all the fresh water out and pump several gal of antifreeze through the lines.

I suppose there may be some small leaks that I won't find til next summer, but I thought someone may benefit from these ideas.

Regards,

Rip V.
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Old 12-05-2005, 07:37 PM   #3
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Hopefully you dodged the bullet this time. It's usually the second freeze that really busts up the lines, the first stretches them to the limit usually. Now if I can just remember your "de-freezing" procedure.
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Old 12-06-2005, 05:15 AM   #4
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A few years ago, I had a similar situation. Returned home from a Thanksgiving camping trip, was very sick and could not get the RV winterized. It froze that night. After getting it thawed out enough to winterize, found out all the lines were fine, but damaged the faucets in the kitchen and bathroom. One freeze may not damage the water lines, but in my experiance, there are more susceptable parts in your water system to be concerned about. Just a suggeation, but in the spring, check all your faucets very well to make sure they are not damaged and leaking. Fortunately the valves for these faucets are fairly inexpensive.
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Old 12-06-2005, 05:42 AM   #5
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You're right about the faucets being susceptible to damage. When I first tried to turn on the kitchen faucet, which is a "delta" single lever type, it was almost impossible to move and actually "crunched" when it did move. Once thawed it worked fine.

I will be checking everything come springtime. Boy, that sure seems like it's a long ways off right now, huh?

Thanks for the comment!

Rip.
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Old 12-06-2005, 06:36 PM   #6
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I work for a large Midwest dealership and this season I had 3 that were hard frozen. In one case, the customer tried to winterize the coach, but couldn't get the pump to take the bottle (he had the syphon tube on the wrong side of the pump) and it froze overnight. I informed the customer that the unit would need to be thawed out and he would have to leave it. If I found any damage, I would let him know before I continued. About 6 hours later, the pump was working and I was able to get the unit winterized.
RVs are really durable machines, but the faucets and water pump diaphram are the weak points in the water system. I agree with Rick A. Keep a close eye on the kitchen and bathroom faucet. Don't forget the toilet.
DNR
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Old 12-06-2005, 07:23 PM   #7
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Thanks for your post. Just out of curiosity, how much do you charge to "thaw" a camper for somebody?
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Old 12-06-2005, 10:02 PM   #8
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by RipVanWinkle:
You're right about the faucets being susceptible to damage. When I first tried to turn on the kitchen faucet, which is a "delta" single lever type, it was almost impossible to move and actually "crunched" when it did move. Once thawed it worked fine.

I will be checking everything come springtime. Boy, that sure seems like it's a long ways off right now, huh?

Thanks for the comment!

Rip. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
Just curious if the water pump is working? ...and if so, wouldn't that indicate if you had any leaking lines? My water pump makes enough noise to know when the water is flowing, even a small leak would activate the pump every so often. Isn't the pump normally very near the water tank? ...and with that in mind, wouldn't it be easy to see if there was a leak inbetween those two?

Good luck ...and keep us posted with the results.

Rich
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Old 12-07-2005, 04:32 AM   #9
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Yes, the water pump is now working. And when all faucets are turned off, the pump does not cycle on at all, indicating that there is likely no leak. I think I really dodged a bullet this time.

One other thing I noticed: When I was purging the fresh water holding tank of the water, that water was VERY cold, probably at or below 32F, because it had mixed with the RV antifreeze. I would think that the pink stuff lowers the freezing point, so I was actually pumping what would otherwise have been ice. And, my camper has a fresh tank drain valve that extends outside the insulation, and that line was and is completely frozen.

I don't know why, but I am very worried right now because the temps are now in the single digits here and if I was not able to get all of the water out of the lines before adding the pink, I am certain it will be damaged.
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Old 12-07-2005, 03:34 PM   #10
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Thanks for your post. Just out of curiosity, how much do you charge to "thaw" a camper for somebody? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

First, it will need to be brought in for a winterize which is about $105 for a basic winterize including antifreeze. If it is frozen, then it'll just sit in a bay until it is unthawed. The tech will have dollar signs in his eyes while going over the coach 'hoping' there is a leak that can be charged in addition to the winterize.

I know it sounds pretty strange, but most shops are flat rate and this time of year in Michigan, we take all the work we can get. I'm honest and will let the customer know in advance of any issues such as a busted line, broken faucet or dead pump. Where ever you take the unit, let them know up front that it is frozen and will need to be put in a bay. Obviously, this isn't a customer wait.
DNR
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Old 12-07-2005, 06:06 PM   #11
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The residy=ual water in the fresh tank drain is probably frozen because it was only diluted with the antifreeze. When you pump antifreeze thru your water lines, it pushes the water out and leaves only antifreeze in the lines. As long as you opened all the faucets until antifreeze was coming out, you should be fine. If none of the faucets are leaking under pressure now, and the pump doesn't cycle, you should be good to go in the spring. Sounds like you dodge the frozen bullet.
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