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Old 12-16-2017, 11:07 AM   #1
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Fleetwood Southwind Basement Heat

We are preparing for our first "Winter" trip from Ontario to Florida in January with our 2014 Fleetwood Southwind 32VS and just want to be sure that we will not have any problems with the water system freezing while travelling during sub zero temps for 2-3 days.
I have read many excellent comments on the subject on this forum, but nothing specific to a Southwind.
Interestingly, I called Fleetwood and they really didn't want to give a definitive answer!
I am hoping to hear from other Southwind owners who can weigh in on the subject.
Experience is priceless.
We have one 4" duct coming out of the furnace and going through the floor, I assume it is blowing into the basement.
At this point, the coach is fully winterized including the pink anti-freeze throughout.
We have travelled during January with our previous Class "C" and had no issues, but this is our first year with the "A" and things are different.

Questions:
1) will the propane furnace keep the fresh water, black and grey tanks in the basement warm enough if we travel with it running?
2) if so, what temperature do you set the furnace at during driving times?
3) we will travel with a full tank of fresh water as it is difficult to find places along the way to fill up with potable water and would like to know if others actually "use" the system, or carry jugs of water for flushing etc.

We will have 2 remote temperature sensors in the bins, 1 beside the fresh water tank and 1 beside the 4" black water drain. I can monitor each one separately while driving.

I may be overthinking this, but would sooner ask the question rather than running into a potential problem.
Thanks in advance for any input.
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Old 12-16-2017, 01:45 PM   #2
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If you really expect sub-zero temps, Id advise traveling winterized and with an empty fresh water tank. Carry jugs of water for drinking, washing, and toilet flushing. Dump a gallon (each) of pink stuff into the black and gray tanks and limit the amount of water you add.

Once you get far enough south for only high teens (fahrenheit) at night, you can de-winterize. If your propane furnace keeps it tolerable in the house, the basement will stay above freezing in those conditions.
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Old 12-16-2017, 02:12 PM   #3
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We have a 16Bounder 33C. In November we ran furnace & I checked lower compartments, only 2 were warm, & neither were close to were water system was. FW does heat lower compartments with gas furnace, you should run your furnace to check which compartments get the heat.
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Old 12-16-2017, 02:44 PM   #4
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Jim;

I understand very well how you feel. I usually leave for Florida from Wisconsin first week in March for a month. I really want to de-winterize it before I leave and have the convenience of a functioning plumbing system. I also have called WGO and they also are vague about how low the outside temperature can be with out freezing the plumbing.

I also have remote thermometers in both side bays. I check the AccuWeather forecasts for my anticipate overnight stops along the way. My rule of thumb is if my traveling temperatures are above 17 degrees F. I have never had a freezing problem. I have already left when it was O F. and we used bottled water for drinking etc. We used W/W fluid for flushing the toilet. When I got to the first night stop that the forecast said I would be ok with the plumbing de-winterized, I would flush out the water system with potable water and make the rest of my trip with water in my plumbing system.

I may have been over cautious on my temperature limits but the thought on my mind once something froze up what will I need to do than. I had a friend from our city that left for southern CA. His route took him east on I-90 to I-35 south by Albert Lee, MN. When he got to Albert Lee his plumbing system froze up. He had to look for a heated shop he could pull in for the night. It thawed out by morning and he was good to go as he was headed south. The cost of the heated shop stall was expensive for him and I vowed to not make that mistake.

Good luck with your trip;

Don
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Old 12-17-2017, 02:29 PM   #5
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Thanks Don.
Just to clarify, you have travelled with a full fresh water tank and water in the lines "if" above 17 F?
I am actually testing the heat (using the remote sensor) in the forward water bay right now, only this time I have placed the sensor against a water line that is close to the outside wall of the bay.
Fresh batteries and 45 minutes with the furnace running and can not get the temperature on the sensor to move!!
Frustrating!
If all else fails we will simply leave home with an empty tank and strictly use water jugs for 2-3 days.
Welcome Centers and Flying J along I-75 either do not have water or say they can not guarantee that it is potable.
Called a Camping World and they were rather vague about supplying water even to a Good Sam Member!
I appreciated your input, Thanks again.
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Old 12-23-2017, 07:59 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim.B1 View Post
Thanks Don.
Just to clarify, you have travelled with a full fresh water tank and water in the lines "if" above 17 F?
I am actually testing the heat (using the remote sensor) in the forward water bay right now, only this time I have placed the sensor against a water line that is close to the outside wall of the bay.
Fresh batteries and 45 minutes with the furnace running and can not get the temperature on the sensor to move!!
Frustrating!
If all else fails we will simply leave home with an empty tank and strictly use water jugs for 2-3 days.
Welcome Centers and Flying J along I-75 either do not have water or say they can not guarantee that it is potable.
Called a Camping World and they were rather vague about supplying water even to a Good Sam Member!
I appreciated your input, Thanks again.
Hello Sir,
I just started reading this blog. I see where you guys are referencing 17. Why is that? Are you saying that you are safe above 17. Freezing is anything <32, right?
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Old 12-23-2017, 08:44 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by BruceNeu View Post
Hello Sir,
I just started reading this blog. I see where you guys are referencing 17. Why is that? Are you saying that you are safe above 17. Freezing is anything <32, right?


Water freezes faster at lower temps. The low temp in a 24 hour period usually only occurs for a limited time at night. Residual heat from the daytime lingers in wet bay compartments into the night. Coach interior heat keeps wet bay temps higher than ambient, either through vents, or conduction.
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Old 12-23-2017, 08:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BruceNeu View Post
Hello Sir,
I just started reading this blog. I see where you guys are referencing 17. Why is that? Are you saying that you are safe above 17. Freezing is anything <32, right?
I have set a boundary of not de-winterizing if the temps will be lower than 15 below freezing. 32 - 15 = 17. I have never had problems and perhaps I could drop my boundary but I don't want to take a chance.

Don
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Old 12-23-2017, 09:11 AM   #9
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You mentioned "sub-zero", but I'm guessing that is Centigrade rather than Fahrenheit? You probably won't encounter sub-zero on the F scale, even in Ontario. At least not daytime.

Quote:
I called Fleetwood and they really didn't want to give a definitive answer!
LOL! You didn't have a definitive question either! There are far too many variables to be anything like definitive. Time and temperature are the main ones, of course, but furnace settings, speed & wind, and your particular floor plan (duct location & length) all play a role too. Cold "soak" time is a major factor - a few hours below freezing isn't going to bother any water tank or line because it takes time for the water to reach the same temperature as the air, and the more water, the longer it takes. But over 2-3 days, with the daytime temps hovering around 32-38, everything is thoroughly chilled and it doesn't take long at sub-freezing to get ice in tanks or lines. The outer ends of the waste dump lines and the city inlet are particularly exposed.


Most Fleetwood RVs just duct some heat flow into the area near the water bay. That bay itself is often just a drafty plastic shell that leaks air. There is probably enough heat in the area to keep it above freezing if it's not too cold and sitting still, but all bets are off when moving. There is no attempt to directly heat the tanks, fresh or waste. They are within the enclosed under-belly and get residual warmth from the interior, but again there will be some practical limit there.

As far as furnace (thermostat) setting, there is heat in the duct below the floor only when the furnace is running. That wet bay area is not well insulated or even tightly enclosed, so any heat is quickly lost once the furnace shuts down. The more often the furnace cycles, the warmer is will get & stay down there, but its never going to be what you could call warm. You are just trying to keep it above freezing.

Another technique is to run an extension cord and an incandescent or infrared light bulb to the water (wet) bay area, and run the generator to power it. That's a more constant source of heat than the furnace cycling on/off.

Be aware that water begins to expand slightly at about 38 degrees but the major expansion (about 9%) happens as it turns to ice at 32 F. It has to shed a lot of heat to transition from water at 32 to ice at 32, so if you can keep just a modest amount of heat around it, it will never actually freeze. That's why you can usually travel at temperatures in the mid-20's without much risk.
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Old 12-24-2017, 10:57 AM   #10
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Quote:
I called Fleetwood and they really didn't want to give a definitive answer!
LOL! You didn't have a definitive question either!


LOL!
I really didn't feel it was necessary to go into all the detail I discussed with Fleetwood when I posted my questions on this forum, hence, the reason for reaching out to Southwind owners!
My comments and questions to Fleetwood were very definitive.
Thank you for your input, it is appreciated.
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