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Old 12-08-2009, 10:05 PM   #1
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Freezing water pipes!

Full-time in the Northwest (as I am experiencing) can have it’s challenges, especially at this time of the year. Last night when I got home I noticed I had no water supply. Zilch, nada, nary a drop, neither hot nor cold! The temperature outside was 14 deg and falling, so a rapid solution was essential. Of course, I had read many of the iRV2 posts related to winterizing… I had my water supply line heat taped and insulated, windows sealed and skirting in place to prevent drafts. It is oh so cozy in my cocoon… except… not now… no water! Ugh, I guess I didn’t pay enough attention to the “Basement Heat” topics. Now, what to do… what to do? Temperature still dropping...

I checked the supply line again to make certain the heat tape was doing its job. Yep! Funny, I kept checking the tap to see if something magical was going to occur just because I wanted it to, kind of like lifting the hood and looking at the engine when the toad won’t start. But, no such luck, not even a drip!

I determined the frozen part must be somewhere downstream in the bowels of the beast. What to do… what to do? Getting colder....

The water connection bay is somewhat of a small space and none of my portable heaters would fit in there. I needed a small heat source. Ah-ha! The hair dryer… haven’t used it since… well, let’s just say, I don’t need it anymore. Just keep it around… just because… Also, I did not know quite why at the time but, fortunately I had purchased a “Thermo Cube” which is a thermostatically controlled outlet (on at 35 deg, off at 45). I used a U-clamp to secure the barrel of the “pistol-grip hair dryer to a short support for stability, connected it to a spare 110v receptacle on the supply post and Wizzzzzzzzzzz…. two hours later… Da-da! H2O right out of the tap. Now that it was defrosted and flowing I put the thermo cube in line and every twenty minutes the hair dryer comes on for 3 minutes and then shuts off again. It got down to 0 last night and the water was still flowing in the morning. I presume the hair dryer can handle the 3-20 minute cycle without overloading and it also has a built in overload at the plug so if it draws too much current it will shut down.

Okay…. Have at it… Does anyone think this is unsafe? Or… Should I go for the “Big Heat” and heat the whole basement? At least this has solved my immediate dilemma.

Looking forward to comment.

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Old 12-08-2009, 10:57 PM   #2
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Your animal instincts kicked in, I mean SURVIVAL @ it's best. You did a great job, you found water again.
I would only suggest to let the futherist faucet from the water supply slowly drip, anything to keep the water moving. As for the hair dryer..........great idea, and if it would have not stood the test, it would have konked out early, Good job & good luck,
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Old 12-09-2009, 09:39 AM   #3
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First: My coach says it's good down to 20 degrees.. Though at that temp I'd long since have drained the outside hose and switched to tanked water for the night.

Now.. TO extend that I did as follows.

There is a gap, 2 or 3 inches, between the bottom of the fresh water tank and the bottom of the compartment it's mounted in..

I "Tossed" (Carefully) a string of C-9 Christmas tree lamps (Clear, not colored) in this space.. These lamps are weather resistant so if they get dripped on on problem (and the comparment has a drain so they won't ever be under water) and they provide about 150 watts of.. Well.. Heat when all is said and converted.

In the other end of the pass through comparment is a 100 watt "Drop Light" For a total of 250 watts of heat.. This gives me about 10 degrees without the furnance running (As measured)

With the furnace running (That's 12 degrees) I should, in theory, be good to 10 degrees.

The problem with a hair dryer is they can get quite hot.

I'd set it on something heatproof.
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Old 12-09-2009, 10:10 AM   #4
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Nothing like success! Since it works, I'd just leave it alone for now. Biggest problem I could see is if you have too many things running and the hair dryer kicks in (probably at least 1500W), you could trip a breaker.
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Old 12-09-2009, 10:43 AM   #5
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Probably just use a light bulb in stead of the hair dryer? Usually, if you don't let anything freeze first, just about any heat in the water bay is enough.
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Old 12-09-2009, 06:09 PM   #6
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Personally, I insulated all of my pipes using that foam pipe wrap, but I think you'll need to either install a muffin fan to move warm air form the living space into this compartment, or add another duct line from your existing furnace system to the compartment.
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Old 12-10-2009, 08:13 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by RedneckExpress View Post
...add another duct line from your existing furnace system to the compartment.
YES! I think that is the proper solution, especially since the furnace is right next to the water bay. I wonder if anyone else has done this. (?) Seems like a simple option for manufacturers to offer, but then again most RV folks are enjoying their time in warmer places.
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Old 12-10-2009, 10:00 AM   #8
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We, at Valencia Travel Village just North of LA in Castaic CA, have experienced some unusually cold temperatures recently, so as a precaution, I purchased 2 cheap hooded drop lights and put 100W bulbs inside. I have one inside my service compartment where there use to be a 12volt cube heater. The drop light has a clamp and it is clamped in a location close to the water supply lines coming into the coach. That cube heater was really useless so it has been long gone. It operated when I turned the tank heaters on as I have a winter package installed on my coach. But it had been disconnected when I purchased the coach and was quite rusty as the service bay gets wet occasionally due to use and other reasons. The other drop light with a 100W bulb is located next to my water filter which is under a black waste basket covered with a towel. The black basket is used to keep the sun off of the filter which would form algae if it wasn't covered. I also have a cheap small ceramic space heater under a cover that keeps the supply valve, pressure regulator, water softener and pressure gauge from freezing. The thermostat on the heater is set fairly low but is adjustable depending on how cold it will be that night. I use a furniture cover over it to try and keep the heat contained.

I have all three hooked up through a 4 receptacle junction box into the 30 amp supply at the power panel which is not being used as I am using the 50 amp receptacle. When needed, I simply turn the switch on at the junction box and Iím safe for the night. As a precaution, I ALWAYS carry onboard water just in case. One time a few years ago before having my freeze protection devices installed, one winter night it did freeze the supply lines, ruined the pressure regulator, pressure gauge, the outside shower valve supply in the service bay, and I had no water for the toilet and shower in the morning. What a mess and inconvenience.

This method has been working for me and itís not like we have to do this every night here in Southern CA.

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Old 12-10-2009, 10:50 AM   #9
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There may be complications by letting water drip overnight. #1. Fill gray holding tank, #2. water freezes in sewer hose/slowly blocking it/water backs up filling hose, resulting in hose destruction.
Most everyone can live self-contained for 3-4 days, requiring only electricity. I've found that is best for us when we can't escape cold weather. Your hair dryer/timer sounds like a good temporary solution.
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Old 12-10-2009, 11:18 AM   #10
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I am still looking for my dog,she has dug deep into the covers and doesn't act like she's coming out for a while . It got down to 12 here in Ar. last night and I was running nothing but a little elec. heater. Well the water froze up and I was surprised by it. It was 17 a couple of nights ago and didn't have anyproblem at all. Anyway I went the drop light way and put one in my pump comp. and one in my service dept. All is flowing now and hopefully that will take care of any further problems. Since it's just the dog and me I closed the big slide in the living room to help keep the place warm and it has really made the difference. Really not using the room right now so it works for us and will save on Lp
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Old 12-10-2009, 07:32 PM   #11
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One thing that works very well to keep a small area warmer is a simple 12 volt incandescent light fixture. Turn it on when it is cold.

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Old 12-10-2009, 07:41 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by fatmanobx View Post
...I closed the big slide in the living room to help keep the place warm and it has really made the difference.
I agree here. It's not a long-term solution, but for the one time we were out in cold/windy weather (WV mountains in late Oct a couple yrs ago - a freak winter storm came through), pulling in the slides sure helped. Not as much surface area outside for the winds to whip around & under.

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Old 12-11-2009, 07:59 AM   #13
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I brought my slide in to dump the snow off the awning. When I went to slide back out it would not go. The fabric froze to itself on the roller and caused the slide to bind cause the top would not go out.Love this winter weather.First year I spent some time in cold I used some electric space heaters to supplement the heat.It tricked the furnace into thinking it was warm so no heat went below to the tanks.

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basement heat, freezing pipes, winterizing

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