Thawing RV Tanks, Line, hose, pipes for black water, grey water, and drinking water…


Frozen RV Pipes, Frozen RV Tanks, Frozen RV Water Lines, Frozen RV Sewer Lines, thaw them and keep them from freezing in cold weather temperature…

Thawing RV pipes, Thawing RV tanks, and RV components require one thing, to bring that area and those components above freezing levels of temperature.  We have experienced extreme wind chills and temperature extremes while camping this 2009 season in Colorado.  Much of the country has been ravaged by cold temperatures, as well as freezing RVs, Travel Trailers, Fifth Wheels, as well as Motor Homes.

To thaw your RV lines, “do what you should have done in the first place, now”.  Warm the underbelly and water and sewer lines to the park source.  It will start working right away upon completion of each step.

The main things that are required to maintain a temperature controlled environment for an RV (Ours is not a 4 season RV travel trailer) to function in cold weather is to:

  • Skirt the RV with Aluminum Foil backed insulation board as described in this linked segment.  This works on all RVs including Motor Homes. We used a 100 watt bulb and faced it towards the tanks and valves after completing the skirting to generate a safe level of heat.  Sewer attachment is inside the skirted area, and sewer hose itself enters the warmed skirted area through the board material to a warmed coupling inside the RV Skirt.  The electric heat tape installed (as described below) on the sewer line is long enough for two or three wraps inside the skirted area to make sure the transition is warm up to and including the RV sewer outlet.
  • Wrap water hose and sewer pipe both, with heat tape that plugs in to 110v electricity as described in this section called prevent RV water and sewer lines from freezing.  This maintains the water and sewer hose at 40 degrees as our heat tape calls for.  With the wrapped insulation added to the heat tape, it maintains a non freezing temperature with a built in thermostat easily.

If you have a freezing situation with the RV exterior water or sewer lines, the only thing we recommend is handling sewer and water hoses with great care and applying the heat tape and insulation to get it thawed.  Frozen pipes can break easily if pulled or twisted.  treat it like it is very fragile.  Wrap the heat tape around the sewer and water lines, then wrap the insulation around them and plug them in.  They will thaw the outside lines pretty quickly, probably within an hour or so, even if  “temporarily taped or “tucked in” to insulation openings are done that first night just to get you thawed.  The better the insulation is sealed, the less it will run electricity, and the more effective the heat tape will be.

If you have a freezing situation with the RV underbelly or interior water or sewer lines or tanks, and the ability to get your RV in a warm situation is impossible, we highly recommend going to the building supply and getting the rigid board to skirt the RV, hopefully with the foil back as mentioned in the article above.  This will allow you to have a way to seal off the bottom of the RV.  With just a few sheets cut to width, (we only split ours in two and was very easy!), and held up to nails used then taped in to place, it went up pretty quickly.  With a bit of extra time in sealing little holes, setting our outside stakes for our windy conditions, then installing our 100 watt drop light lamp (bell shaped style) in the right place to radiate light and heat towards the water inlet, sewer outlet, and tank necks, we have since sustained very cold temperatures with very reliable running water and sewer.  Again we do not let water drip!  Water dripping in any RV can spell disaster with any blockage and tub and toilet over spill.  It is better to warm lines and underbelly properly as described.

This is not a cheap answer as this entire skirting and plumbing heat and insulation system probably cost 300 dollars, and items were available from local building supplies and hardware stores. This should allow you to endure most any deep freezing temperatures with your RV heater warming the inside of your unit.  We have endured below zero temperature for long periods, with high winds and wind chills in the 20 to 30 below range, even heavy snow.  The bottom of our RV skirting is as tight as can be for leaks, and snow was used to help seal the bottom from drafts.

We are not responsible for damage due to freezing, rather share what we are able to accomplish with easily available materials.  We also choose to keep it as affordable as possible.  There are fancy systems that we could have been prepared with, but not us!

We also note, we would like to use our system over and over, to prevent a high level of trash.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Right?  The insulation board does create foam balls so a wrapper will be needed to put in the rv or truck and take it with us.  Right now, it is sustaining life for us.  Ours…

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