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Old 10-25-2020, 09:28 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Santa Fe, NM
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Winter Storm coming...

Good morning y'all.

Rookie RV'er here- we got our TT in June.

A winter storm system is on its way and will arrive this evening. Our fresh water and grey/black tanks have all been emptied from the prior trip but not the water in our water heater (have to check the manual how to do that). We dont want to winterize yet as we dont usually go below freezing until well into December, and we have a trip planned in November. Temps will be at about 31-35 in the day M, T, W but around 15-20 during the nights.

I read that we could run a space heater to keep anything from freezing. I was wondering if we should do that during the nights and turn the heater off during the daytime.

Our trailer is 50 amp but we dont have anything set up for a connection at our home. I wonder if a standard outdoor extension cord run from our garage to the TT, with the 15-50 adapter, would be alright to run the space heater-- nothing else would be on. I keep reading that standard outdoor extension cords wont stand up to the job (they melt?!) but 50a extension cords are super expensive AND there's no length long enough to run to the garage outlet.

We do have a furnace but I dont know that a 15-50 connection would be enough to run the furnace.

Would greatly appreciate your words of wisdom for this situation. Thank you!
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Old 10-25-2020, 09:36 AM   #2
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A good large gauge outdoor extension cord should work fine. A 20 amp outlet without other things running on it should easily power your furnace or one 1500 watt space heater. Do you have basements and are they heated by anything? On many motorhomes (I don't know TTs) the furnace heats the water basements, in a way that a space heater won't. Either way, leave the cabinet doors with water pipes inside open overnight.
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Old 10-25-2020, 09:41 AM   #3
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For temporary cold storage, I would blow out the water lines, drain the hot water heater, fresh water tank and put a 100W light bulb near the water pump/fresh tank. You should not need to add any antifreeze until temps get into the teens. A space heater is a good idea, but if the water is blown out, not necessary.

A temp cold storage process should take about 15 min to perform after your first couple of trials. I added a permanent light bulb above my fresh water tank/pump and just plug it in when needed with a plug stuck through the phone connection we never used.
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Old 10-25-2020, 09:48 AM   #4
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Read your water heater manual, but mine says that just removing the plug is sufficient--the remaining water in the tank won't harm anything. I would suggest having plumbing tape on hand for reinstalling it.

As to the heater you don't say what size your trailer is, but we use a oil filled radiator type heater at night in our 21' trailer so as to avoid the noise of the furnace running. The 600 watt setting is sufficient to maintain trailer heat over an 8 hour period. From memory I think it also has an 800 watt setting or you can turn on both circuits for 1,400 watts. Anyway, with your limited power capacity I'd look for a heater that does have lower wattage settings.
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Old 10-25-2020, 09:54 AM   #5
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We could blow out the lines (did see a YT video about that) but I dont know if we could find the adapter for our air compressor today- Santa Fe doesnt have any RV dedicated supply stores, would need to see if Walmart carries that.

I checked and our furnace is 30000 BTU- certainly seems like we could run it from our garage outlet. Nothing else would be on that outlet, but we do have a second refrigerator in the garage, on a different outlet. I assume it would be alright?

Looking into heavy duty outdoor extension cords- seems can find them at HF or HD.

Ohh... PROPANE. Our heater would be able to run off our propane tanks?? For three nights, two propane tanks should be enough? Would it drain our batteries though?

Please continue sharing your advice!
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Old 10-25-2020, 10:26 AM   #6
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Day time, you should be fine.

Keep your furnace on lowest setting and it will prevent stuff from freezing, open all the lower cabinet doors so the warm air circulates. The batteries will charge if plugged into house and you should be able to run just the Furnace plugged into house as well.

Drain the lines using the low point drains.

The hot water heater will not freeze at those temps, remember, the hot water heater is Insulated to keep water hot.... That insulation will keep it from freezing as well for a short cold snap. If you were in a cold place like me and putting it up for winter it would be a different story..

If you choose to use an electric heater of some sort, keep this in mind. A lot of companies build their rigs with "heated basements' what this means, is that warm air will get circulated thru the areas where the holding tanks are... How does it do this? When the onboard furnace runs it push's or pulls air thru the basement..... So...... In order for that air to get to the basement, the on board furnace needs to run unless you modified your rig to do otherwise.

On mine I put a couple of 12volt computer fans that run independent of the furnace to keep the air circulating....
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Old 10-25-2020, 10:34 AM   #7
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15 degrees at night is a hard freeze, the last time I winterized it took 15 minutes and $8 of antifreeze.

I think I would do a full winterization because who knows what will happen if you don't. If you don't winterize it will weigh heavy on your brain...that is not good. So just do a full winterization and relax.
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Old 10-25-2020, 10:36 AM   #8
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You don't need much of an adaptor, this is mine - a piece of garden hose with an air hose nipple clamped in one end.

Two more simple solutions (the yellow cap cracked when I screwed the nipple in, hence the hose clamp and you probably need a male hose end, not female like here).

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Old 10-25-2020, 10:43 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by tuffr2 View Post
15 degrees at night is a hard freeze, the last time I winterized it took 15 minutes and $8 of antifreeze.

I think I would do a full winterization because who knows what will happen if you don't. If you don't winterize it will weigh heavy on your brain...that is not good. So just do a full winterization and relax.
I would agree. Also you don't know that the weather forecast will be accurate.

I just winterized between trips two weeks apart because they were predicting two nights of barely below freezing (30-31 degrees). The first night didn't come close to freezing, but when I woke up this morning it was 27 degrees at my house and the place where I store the RV is usually a couple of degrees colder. If I had not winterized I'd have been running out this morning with battery, an air compressor and antifreeze in tow. (And yeah I realize 25 degrees for a few hours might still be okay, but I tend to worry).
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Old 10-25-2020, 06:15 PM   #10
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You can use a "contractor" grade extension cord for 110 volt use... made with heavy gauge wire (usually 12 ga) and will handle one heater without meltdown... good for outdoors and comes in long lengths depending on your needs. Try to find a black one so it doesn't get stolen... they are very hot items in winter areas. Much less expensive than 30 amp or higher cords... Water heaters are easy to turn off, bypass and drain... it's a DIY 5 minute task on most units with exterior access.
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Old 10-26-2020, 12:51 PM   #11
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Lots of good advice and lots of alternatives posted above!

The safest thing to do is to blow out, or suck in RV antifreeze. For a temporary fix, use the propane furnace to prevent water tanks and plumbing in the basement or belly from freezing. Drain the water heater or keep it “on”. It is easier to re-wet if you blow out. Big tanks that are full take a long time to freeze. Water heater will take a while to freeze. Water lines, valves, and fittings will freeze at moderate temperatures in 4 hours or less.

Draining my water heater requires a 1 ¼ “ socket, a 6” extension, and a ratchet. It uses a plastic plug and so does not require sealing tape.

Not all “4 season” TT’s will keep pipes from freezing when the furnace is “on”. My Kodiak Cub as delivered was advertised as “All Season” with “Heated and Enclosed Underbelly”. Water pipes froze in 4 hours with temps at 29 deg F when furnace was set to 60 deg F. Full fresh water tank began freezing after 4 days of 20 deg. nights. A one sentence line in the 30 page generic manual said to winterize for temperatures below 32 deg.

Opening low point drains and inside faucets is also an emergency measure that may save most vulnerable devices. Run the pump dry. Release the check valve pressure at the “City Water” connector. This reduces pressure build up as pockets of water freeze. This method is not highly reliable. Hopefully you do not have washer, dryer, or ice maker.

A 15 amp cord will work to power your 12 power system only. A 20 amp power cord (12 gauge), 50 feet max will run your 12 volt system and one high power device. At 100 feet, it depends on the shore power voltage. 120 volts will probably still work. 110 volts may not. 100 foot, 10 gage cords are often available at bigger hardware stores and farm/tractor stores. Cheap heavy looking cords may be mostly plastic and fiber cord. If advertising does not specify 12 or 10 gauge, it is probably 14 gauge.

Get a cheap digital voltmeter and measure line voltage inside your TT. 108 volts minimum when under load is usually good for A/C motors and electronic control boards. Other things may or may not run at lower voltages. See individual appliance specs.

Multiple plugs and sockets to make up 100 feet will decrease end of line voltage. Use your hand to find hot overloaded plugs and sockets while maximum power is flowing. Some cheap cords have poor plug and socket connections. Some cheap cords have been found to have hot spots along the cord where wire was poorly spliced inside the plastic sheathing.

I wish you good luck and happy trails ahead!
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Old 10-26-2020, 12:59 PM   #12
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The storm heading your way ; and honest we Canadians are not to blame on this one ; has broken 100 year old records in MT . After doing similar things for cold and snow in BC & AB.

Winterize completely .
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Old 10-26-2020, 02:35 PM   #13
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We are in Pagoso Springs, CO and tonight are going down to 12f deg. I got the fresh water tank full, tank warming light on and reflex going in the windows later. We can keep our camper warm with just 1 space heater (maybe 2 going tonight). We don't need to run the gas wasting propane furnace here! Infact, I haven't turned the furnace on in over 4 years.
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Old 10-26-2020, 02:44 PM   #14
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Looks like it is cold all over.
Anyone in Arizona?
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