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Old 02-26-2012, 06:16 PM   #1
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Question A few general questions - generator, furnace, heater, & water tanks... advice?

I'm a single woman, age 36, with 11 cats and 1 bird, in a 1975 Dodge F40 Class C. I've been homeless since the hurrican/flood of 2006, and bought the motorhome as a way to have a roof over my head again, after 6 long years of living in a tent and a car. In otherwords this is my very first RV, I've had her less than a week and I have no idea what I am doing.

I have a few questions first off:

For starters the motorhome did not come with a generator, it did come with a furnace but at some point that blew up and so needs to be replaced, and the water tanks are all full of anti-freeze seeing as it's the dead of winter in Maine, and I just bought her this week, from a family who only used her a couple of weeks out of the year. So on to the questions:

#1) What size/brand generator do you recommend I get, if I plan to run a computer, TV, and a couple of kitchen appliances (Magic Bullet, toaster oven, and waffle iron)?

#2) A new furnace is going to cost $800 to $1,000, which I don't have. Do I really need a furnace (I live in a region that gets 5-7 months of snow, has 3 months in a row of -20F temps, and rarely goes above 60F in the summer, so I need heat of some sort) or can I buy a Mr Heater Big Buddy (or a similar portable LP heater) and put that in the compartment where the furnace is instead? (which costs about $100). Is this a good heater to use, have you used it in place of a furnace, or is there another brand you recommend instead?

#3) How the heck do I flush the water tanks and put water in them again? I have no access to hose hook ups or a septic tank, and the only dump station I know of in the area doesn't open until April. Does this mean I'm stuck with out use of my sinks, shower, and toilet until April when the dump station opens? Or do I have other options I'm over looking?
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Old 02-26-2012, 06:24 PM   #2
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EelKat, I can't help you with your questions, but want to wish you the best . Hopefully some of the folks on this forum will be able to give you answers. Take care and blessings to you.
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Old 02-26-2012, 08:16 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EelKat View Post
I have a few questions first off:

#1) What size/brand generator do you recommend I get, if I plan to run a computer, TV, and a couple of kitchen appliances (Magic Bullet, toaster oven, and waffle iron)?

#2) A new furnace is going to cost $800 to $1,000, which I don't have. Do I really need a furnace (I live in a region that gets 5-7 months of snow, has 3 months in a row of -20F temps, and rarely goes above 60F in the summer, so I need heat of some sort) or can I buy a Mr Heater Big Buddy (or a similar portable LP heater) and put that in the compartment where the furnace is instead? (which costs about $100). Is this a good heater to use, have you used it in place of a furnace, or is there another brand you recommend instead?

#3) flush the water tanks and put water in them again? ... dump station
1. To determine the size generator you need, you first have to determine the amount of electricity you need. To do that add up the wattage of each item you need to power. Generators tend to be rated in Kilowatts (1000 watts). You need to have a generator a bit bigger than the amount you figured out.

2. This one I am not sure about.

3. Water - Do you have any friends in the nearby area that might have an outdoor water source that they would share? Possibly there might be some church or agencies that normally work with folks experiencing tough times that might be able to help you out with flushing/filling your water tanks.

Dump station - I looked up RV dumps in your area. The internet listed the Cabela's at 100 Cabelas Blvd. Scarborough ME as having a free dump. They are also listed as having a water source, but it is closed in winter. I would recommend contacting them before visiting though just in case the listing is wrong. Another option is to find out if anyone you know has a septic tank with an accessible clean out that they would allow you to use as a dump.
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Old 02-26-2012, 08:32 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EelKat View Post

#1) What size/brand generator do you recommend I get, if I plan to run a computer, TV, and a couple of kitchen appliances (Magic Bullet, toaster oven, and waffle iron)?

#2) A new furnace is going to cost $800 to $1,000, which I don't have. Do I really need a furnace (I live in a region that gets 5-7 months of snow, has 3 months in a row of -20F temps, and rarely goes above 60F in the summer, so I need heat of some sort) or can I buy a Mr Heater Big Buddy (or a similar portable LP heater) and put that in the compartment where the furnace is instead? (which costs about $100). Is this a good heater to use, have you used it in place of a furnace, or is there another brand you recommend instead?

#3) How the heck do I flush the water tanks and put water in them again? I have no access to hose hook ups or a septic tank, and the only dump station I know of in the area doesn't open until April. Does this mean I'm stuck with out use of my sinks, shower, and toilet until April when the dump station opens? Or do I have other options I'm over looking?
Hi, in regards to your questions, here goes.

1) In general, most of the kitchen appliances can be run ONE AT A TIME on a small 2,000 (2 Kw) generator, while having a little power spare to run the computer or TV. You can possibly find someone that has a portable 2Kw generator for cheap.

2) In regards to the furnace, try to have download a manual for it, and try to troubleshoot it, as the furnaces are often easily fixed (and cheaply fixed). Running the furnace does require 12v battery power, so a Mr Buddy heater maybe a cheaper alternative, yet they require some fresh air ventilation to run.

3) I may be mistaken, but generally each city has a free dump station, and often they have a potable water source. This maybe a good starting point for you.

I send you good wishes, and don't forget, that for every problem, there is always a solution. Just try and tackle each one slowly, and one day at a time
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Old 02-27-2012, 01:12 AM   #5
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Congratulations in putting a roof over your head
To answer a few of your questions
Without an operating furnace you probably cannot replace the anti freeze with water because it will freeze and burst pipes etc
You cannot dump because you have no water to flush and it will freeze in the tanks as will any water you use in the sink.
You should not use a portable propane heater inside the rv as you will most definitely go to sleep and not wake up. If its cold enough for the heat it's too cold to have the windows open
Rv's are expensive to heat in freezing weather, unless you can use the park's power. Using generator power for heat would be your most expensive option.
If the motor home is registered and running I would be moving south at the earliest convenience.
Electricity sewer and water can be found at parks that are open all year.
I'm not trying to put obstacles in your way but please take on board the above. Particularly about open flames in the enclosed rv
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Old 02-27-2012, 08:29 AM   #6
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Water pipes in an RV are not heated in many cases. They will freeze in the temperatures that you listed. So will the holding tanks. You would not be able to drain any full tanks because they would be frozen solid and could very well break the tanks.

An RV furnace will not keep an RV comfortably warm in -20 degree temperatures. You might need to have 2 electric heaters of 1500 watts each to keep warm. A generator would need to be 3000 watts just to run these two heaters and will use a lot of gasoline. Many portable generators will not run over 6 - 8 hours without refilling the gas.

I agree with a prior poster that the best solution for you is to drive to a southern state where it is warmer and more practical to live in an RV. Otherwise you need to find a shelter or cheap apartment in order to stay warm. Your bird will not survive in an RV in Maine in the winter.
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Old 02-27-2012, 10:33 AM   #7
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People do what they must to stay alive and having ones own home over your head is a preference. However, an RV in -20 is still without a home. These things are not built to withstand that kind of weather. People do stay in cardboard boxes in all kinds of weather but they need to go to great extremes to get the job done. You will find the same is needed to make the MH weatherproof as well. Do not attempt to use the LP heater in place of the furnace. I suggest that you first have someone with experience evaluate the furnace to see if it can be fixed. Using the water tank during below 0 weather is nearly immposible without it or the water lines freezing. My brother lived in a 5th wheel during the winter in Iowa and he hauled water in a 200gal tank and showered at another location all winter. He also wrapped the trailer with bales of hay and plastic so the cold wind would not blow underneath. It made the floors warmer and cheaper to heat. I am presently in South Texas where the temp is quite often in the 80's, yet when the temp dives to near freezing at night there are plenty of fires reported because of faulty electric heaters. Heaters that are not designed into the campers are quite often nothing but fire hazards.
Keeping yourself warm in that car all winter must have been fun! It would seem that you have the ability to improvise! My guess is that you wrapped the 11 cats around you each night for warmth!
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Old 02-27-2012, 05:30 PM   #8
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A Mr. Buddy heater in an enclosed Rv is a sure way of not waking up the next morning. Your water system will be totally unusable in the winter temps you have indicated.
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Old 02-27-2012, 06:18 PM   #9
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I can't stress enough what several posts have said No Propane heaters. The problem is your unit even mine was never designed for that kind of temps they are just not air tight. A generator running a couple a space heaters tv and what ever may not be feasible either. My opinion you need someplace to plug in for power that has facilities.
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:26 PM   #10
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Again, the RV you have was never designed for that kind of temperatures. And forget the non -ented propane heater. My suggestion is to move farther south.

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Old 02-27-2012, 07:34 PM   #11
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Drive South
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:38 PM   #12
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There's a good reason most of us "follow the sun". It's not because we are fans of skin cancer. You'll soon find out when everything freezes up when you get rid of the antifreeze and refill your tanks with water.
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