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Old 02-15-2021, 01:18 AM   #1
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Frozen water line

I am currently in the DFW area and have been full time since Sept. The temps are way cold (9’ with wind) right now, the coldest we’ve ever been in a trailer. I am unhooked from city water due to the temps and have been using only the fresh tank. Even with my heat pad on I believe either fresh tank froze or the lines from it have frozen. I’ve kept the furnace at 65-70 which I was told when I purchased would keep things flowing, I guess not.
Is this something that happens even in a 4 season trailer when temps get this low?
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Old 02-15-2021, 03:30 AM   #2
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There's a Facebook boondocking forum I read sometimes. Tonight, there seems to be hundreds of people all across Texas with frozen RV water systems on the forum. I've never seen this so bad before.

4-season trailers aren't necessarily Alaska four season trailers. They will freeze at these temps without special prep. It just so rarely gets this cold where people are RVing that it's not normally an issue.

Turn your heat to max. Open all your cabinets in which water runs through. Fans to blow in warm air at the water lines will help. Hair driers are great. Open all your faucets.

Speed is your friend now.


(ETA: open your low-point drains if you have any.)


(ETA again to add: If you have an air compressor and the little fitting that connects the compressor hose to the city water inlet, this would be a great time to try to blow out your lines.)
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Old 02-15-2021, 04:39 AM   #3
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Bobby F- I understand what your saying. I’ve had heat running pretty much most of the night at 70’, all cabinets are open. The lines inside are fine I believe it’s probably the line from the fresh tank to the pump that’s the issue. The tank has a heat pad but it probably isn’t doing much at these temps. Not much I can do since I’d have to open up the sealed underbelly to even mess with the tanks, plus it’s 8’ outside and the wind is gusting so I’m staying inside. I’m in a park with probably 100 others here and I know many of those aren’t as insulted as ours. I’m guessing many if not all will have problems as well.
Thanks for responding
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Old 02-15-2021, 09:23 AM   #4
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There's been some post on the fresh water line freezing where it's exposed between the FW tank and where it enters the bottom floor of the trailer.

I just went through this when I DE winterized this past Friday to go camping. (we've had -25c wind chill for the past 4-5 days) I had inadvertently left a couple inches of water left in my fresh tank that froze, and froze my pick up. I had too open knife valve and chip the ice out, drain the fresh water I had just put in, dump 10 gallons of hot water in, couple minutes I was good to go.

Not saying your pick-up tube is froze, more than likely what I mentioned earlier, where it comes into the trailer. Don't know if this is worth trying or not? If it's froze up at the top of the tank, might not work, you would need to get the hot water to the blockage..
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Old 02-15-2021, 09:59 AM   #5
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I wonder how much real world testing goes into "4 season" RV's. Seems there'd be a standard or certification for that, say some temperature it can operate at indefinitely. Even +20F would be useful.

Best case would be to identify the points that froze up (as indicated by where the leaks are later...) and possibly improve the insulation or heat input there. Another option would be to keep an "emergency" jug of antifreeze and do a quick winterization when there's a dire forecast before it locks up. Means a system flush later but at least nothing's busted.

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Old 02-15-2021, 10:58 AM   #6
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I recommend you submit the same question to ORV. ORV has a better than average reputation and may be able to provide good advice.

Here is their contact e-mail: https://outdoorsrvmfg.com/contact-us/
Please post the answer here.

I skimmed the owner's manual. It implied as you stated, keeping the heat on and the optional fresh tank heating pad should keep plumbing working.

I could not find a recommended low temperature. However, there must be one. Perhaps 9 degrees F is too low. I know Airstream promises everything will work down to 17 degrees F.

A few people over winter in Airstreams in Wisconsin. They often skirt their trailers and maybe put an electric heater underneath.

Temperatures here are increasing from -20 degrees F.

I wish you good luck and happy trails ahead!
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Old 02-15-2021, 03:56 PM   #7
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Thx Brad & Mark for the feedback I will try your suggestions.
Hopefully it won’t be the big repair bill I’m anticipating.

Persistent- I actually asked (dealer) last week because I’ve had a few other minor issues. I told them the forecast and was told this- “run heat pad, run heater at about 70, open cabinets under sinks and all would be fine”...
I’m not a seasoned cold weather RV’r so I asked a few others on here and followed their advice and added anti freeze to both black and gray tanks.
I followed dealer advice and didn’t touch fresh tank. So now my worry is the fresh tank, the pump, and maybe the water heater.
I consider myself a tad above novice at repairs and such so I really wonder how a complete newbie could even consider buying an RV. My trailer is 7 months old and I’ve had to fix several items that I know many would have no idea what to do.
We just went full time in Nov to look for our future homebase in retirement but now I may not get wife back in trailer. She has sev medical issue so it took a lot to get her onboard. For tonight she’s jumped ship and is staying at friends condo. Last night with the water issue then the state shutting off the power for 8 hrs instead of the half hr rolling outages they said they were gonna do she’s had it.
Temp is at 12’ now and low is supposed to be 2’ at 3am tonight should be interesting. Last night the trailer was actually comfortable even with the -14 wind chill.
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Old 02-15-2021, 04:22 PM   #8
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The ORV service department may have different advice from what the dealer said or more information. I still recommend you call or email them.
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Old 02-15-2021, 04:35 PM   #9
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I know this might sound odd, but bear with me......reverse the pump.

As in spin it around and use the winterize valve. Now a hot jug of water is your fresh water tank and your fresh water tank is going to the "trailer". Draw from the hot jug like you are winterizing, might take a bit depending on how bad it froze, you'd just be pumping hot water back into FW tank when it releases, as long as nothing actually cracked....just a thought.
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Old 02-15-2021, 05:08 PM   #10
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Why does everyone worry so much about the water heater... It insulated to keep the water hot... Which means... DRUM ROLL.... ITS INSULATED TO Help Prevent freezing.........Not designed that way but the insulation works both ways........Just saying.......... Do drain water heater if freeze conditions and your not operating for more than a couple days. In your situation you will be fine.

Curious as to why you froze up. Others have been in worse with no issues..
Try taking a hair dryer and blowing hot air down where the water line comes into the trailer from the fresh water tank....
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Old 02-15-2021, 05:21 PM   #11
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For OPs reference, this is what it looks like under the fresh water tank when the colorplast is dropped on 250RDS. The tank itself is wrapped in Reflectix and the fresh water line is outside of that and then there is a 2nd layer of Reflectix laying on the colorplast which is then pressed up against everything. I don't have a heating pad for the tank but would guess they would install it inside the Reflectix wrapped around the tank. My armchair guess would be that heating pad wouldn't do much for that fresh water line once temperatures are much below the 20's for extended period. If you could verify the location of that tube on your unit (probably in line with drain like mine) you could just duct tape some heat tape on the outside of the color plast to get some extra protection. Running furnace will have minimal benefit to that pipe IMHO.
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Old 02-15-2021, 05:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CNPH View Post
I am currently in the DFW area and have been full time since Sept. The temps are way cold (9’ with wind) right now, the coldest we’ve ever been in a trailer. I am unhooked from city water due to the temps and have been using only the fresh tank. Even with my heat pad on I believe either fresh tank froze or the lines from it have frozen. I’ve kept the furnace at 65-70 which I was told when I purchased would keep things flowing, I guess not.
Is this something that happens even in a 4 season trailer when temps get this low?
If you have low point drains on your unit and did not prepare these, they are frozen. When these freeze it will travel up into the RV, even with a heated underbelly. We went thru this in November 2019 in Chattanooga during Veterans week there. Be careful having the tank pads on, without water in a tank you can damage the tanks by melting a hole in it. You may have what Heartland calls a Yeti package, not sure if you do with your unit, which is the water line from the fresh tank to the water pump has heat tape on it.
Is this something that happens in a 4 season unit, yes. You also have to prepare it for these extremely cold temps, such as the low point drains if installed.
Good luck hopefully when you thaw out you will not any damage
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Old 02-16-2021, 07:38 AM   #13
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hamm2018- thx for the info. , each tank is about 1/3 full. I can’t do anything until we get some more reasonable temps. Was -1 earlier with wind chill -15, won’t be above freezing until Saturday. Just living on bottled water for now, thankfully I bought a couple extra cases prior so all good. Can’t depend on shore power with it continually going off so just praying my heater hangs in there...
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Old 02-16-2021, 07:44 AM   #14
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...
Is this something that happens even in a 4 season trailer when temps get this low?
That's something that happens even in some houses when it gets that cold.

I'd expect it to be a water line, not one of the tanks that's frozen. If you haven't already, open cabinet doors under all the sinks and let some heat get to those lines. Especially if it's windy and the wind is hitting the side of the trailer where there are water lines running in the outside wall to go to the a sink or shower.
A space heater in the wet bay probably wouldn't be a bad idea either.
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