How To Keep RV Pipes From Freezing While Camping: 8 Foolproof Tips

We are all at the mercy of Mother Nature whenever we venture into the wild. At one point, you’re going to encounter a terrible snowstorm that’ll freeze everything in sight. Even though winter camping is a thrilling pastime, you’ll need to know how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping at last to preserve your freshwater.

The most important thing you can have with you on a camping trip is plenty of drinking water, even if temperatures drop below freezing point. You’ll also need it for cooking and a host of other chores. However, frozen pipes will deny you this precious commodity. Furthermore, your pipeline could rupture in frigid conditions because water expands as it solidifies.

Why You Need to Know How to Keep RV Pipes From Freezing While Camping

How to Keep RV Pipes From Freezing While Camping

Camping with an RV is leagues ahead of using regular tents. A recreational vehicle is mobile and comfortable in comparison. It’s like traveling with your home. The weather is a genuine threat, and you’ll need to know how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping.

For starters, sub-zero conditions deny you fresh drinking water. If you expose water to frigid conditions, the liquid instantly solidifies. It’s going to take some time and significant energy to melt this water. Sometimes, you’ll have to use up your propane tank to warm your pipes in an attempt to free up water from the frozen pipes.

Secondly, water expands as it turns to ice. It will fill up all available space inside the RV pipeline, fresh and wastewater tanks. Once that is exhausted, the ice will push against the pipe walls and can potentially cause a breach to form cracks. These fissures compromise your RV pipes, and you’ll need to overhaul the system as temperatures rise.

Your RV pipes aren’t only at risk while camping. During the winter months, you’ll still need to know how to keep your RV pipes from freezing for future camping trips.

Steps to Keep RV Pipes From Freezing

When heading out in your RV, you’re better off with electrified camping sites. Even if you don’t know how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping, you will have plenty of power to burn while you heat your tiny abode. Most of this energy will reach your pipes and stabilize the pipeline’s temperature.

However, most people prefer the wild outdoors for the ultimate camping experience. Luckily, even if you don’t have access to an unlimited power supply, there are plenty of steps to keep your RV pipes in stable condition.

Insulate the Pipes Against Cold Weather

Insulate the Pipes Against Cold Weather

The simplest way to keep RV pipes from frost is to insulate them against the cold. Just like you need plenty of clothes to stay warm, the water pipes need a decent insulating sheath.

Your RV’s water pipes face the highest risk of freezing following a snowstorm. This is because most RV pipelines pass on the vehicle’s underbelly. Cold air has easy access to the system. First, water inside the pipeline solidifies, then the reservoir tanks follow.

Fortunately, you can easily use foam and heat tape to insulate your water lines from the cold. And as long as the pipes maintain a stable temperature, the water inside won’t freeze and burst your pipeline. Additionally, try to target the lines with a high risk of freezing, like those running below your vehicle.

Warm the RV Pipes

There are two significant ways to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping. Using heat tape is the best way because it detects temperature drops and works to remedy the problem. Heat tape is an excellent way to insulate your water pipes in frigid conditions.

Alternatively, if you aren’t packing any heat tape, you can also directly heat your pipes. There are plenty of appliances at your disposal to raise the temperature.

A flame thrower is an obvious solution. Every camper has a propane tank or another flammable fuel stored in an RV. Hook up your flame gun to the propane and fire away. Fire is the best source of heat when you’re out in the wild. It is also a foolproof means of eliminating the cold that threatens to overrun your RV’s plumbing system.

You can still use electricity if you don’t have a flame thrower nearby or a gas tank. Turn on a hairdryer and slowly blow hot air onto the pipes that are exposed to the cold.

Use a Heater to Warm Your Vehicle

Use a Heater to Warm Your Vehicle

Do you want to know how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping? The solution is easier than you expected. As long as your RV is as warm as it can be, then your pipeline is going to stay intact.

Keeping your vehicle warm is necessary, not just to keep the water flowing. If it gets too cold, you’ll find it hard to survive the bitter cold. Luckily, you can raise the temperatures quite quickly.

Portable electric heaters are standard equipment on any camping trip. These gadgets generate a reasonable amount of heat to keep you warm even as temperatures drop below zero. Make sure you have one inside your campervan to keep your RV pipes from freezing.

Propane heaters are equally important if your campsite doesn’t have access to electricity. You can use the heater inside the camper to raise the internal temperature.

Additionally, you can also place the propane heater below your RV.

Once situated underneath your camper, heat generated by the burner slowly permeates your vehicle and warms your living quarters. But for this method to work, you must have skirts placed all around the RV.

The skirting will prevent the blistering cold from robbing precious heat. If the underside of your RV is well insulated, then the heat from the propane burner will only go up.

Some propane burners burn inefficiently.

Therefore, ensure that no gas buildup will seep into your camper van. Also, take care not to have flammable skirting close to the burner and make routine checks throughout the night to make sure everything is working well.

Attach Skirts Around Your RV

You need to keep your RV as warm as possible if you want to enjoy the outdoors. One way to do this is using side skirts. You can insulate the internal space. But heat can also escape from the underside of your RV. That’s why you should consider barring this bottom section to keep as much heat inside your RV as possible.

Side skirts are a standard feature on race cars. They are used to prevent turbulent air from filling the vehicle’s underside, distorting airflow and further downplaying the downforce effect. Your RV is no race car, but the skirts will block unwanted airflow below your RV.

Wind blowing freely under your RV sucks the heat from inside. Also, the freezing air will damage various vehicle components like your water pipes and reservoirs besides chilling the interior.

There are a lot of items you can use as skirts. Foam boards are commonplace on RV floors as insulative material. You can grab a couple and neatly arrange them side-by-side around your RV. The aim is to block airflow running under the RV.

Additionally, you can use bales of grass or straw. Like the boards, place the bales around your vehicle to keep the freezing wind from accessing the bottom section of your RV.You must park your RV on a flat spot before applying any skirting. It should allow you to tightly pack any insulating boards around your vehicle.

Drain Your Storage Tank

Suppose you want to quickly find out how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping, drain the storage and wastewater tanks. That’s right, if the tanks and pipes are empty, nothing’s going to freeze inside.

A tank that’s full of water can potentially get damaged once it freezes. Water expands as it solidifies. Your tank could burst or develop cracks when exposed to sub-zero temperatures.

If you don’t want this to happen, take out any water in your waste tanks.

Any reservoir exposed to freezing conditions runs the risk of getting damaged. So you should drain all the external tanks and the connecting lines.

Your tanks and pipes won’t just freeze and crack when the temperature drops. After a blizzard, the ice will slowly start to melt as air temperature returns to normal. This gradual thaw can cause your RV to flood because the pipeline is still partly blocked with ice.

Every time you are camping in the snow, make sure you empty the wastewater tanks. You certainly don’t want your RV flooded with filth. So once they are at least half-full, channel the fluids outside to keep it from freezing and ruining your camping experience. Remember, once the tanks are frozen, you’re going to have a waste disposal problem.

Since still water will freeze faster, make sure your pipes are sloped. The gradient employs gravity as any water still stuck in the pipeline will automatically move down and work to empty the system. You can also split the lines at some points to ensure they are well and truly empty.

Keep the Water Running

Still water will freeze more quickly than running water. That’s why rivers and some streams will still run in winter. If you want to know how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping, your taps must remain open.

Likewise, you are better off keeping your taps running where possible. However, this is a stop-gap measure and can only work in the short term. Once temperatures plummet, you cannot escape frozen pipes.

Also, since your RV has only a limited water supply, you don’t have to empty your reservoirs just yet. But desperate times call for desperate measures.

On the flip side, there are RV parks with an adequate water supply. If you are staying at such a campsite, you’ll have a ready supply of fresh water. And then, you can keep the water in your RV pipes moving to stop the frost.

Insulate the RV Against the Cold

Insulate the RV Against the Cold

As temperatures drop, you have to keep as warm as possible. Your body needs warmth as well as your RV’s water pipes. Besides insulating the pipeline from the cold, you should also cut off any cold air seeping into your living quarters.

Granted, insulating your RV will raise the temperature. But you’re better off sleeping in a toasty room than risking frozen water clogging your plumbing system. This way, you’ll effectively learn how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping.

There are several measures you can implement to insulate your RV. For starters, shut off all the windows and any opening leading into your RV.

Additionally, cover the windows with heavy drapes. The fabric works to keep the heat locked inside the RV. Reflective foil is an excellent insulating material that reflects heat inward.

A lot of campers often overlook the RV floor. Heat tends to escape through this point in case of minimal insulation. Some vehicles routinely have fragile floorings in an attempt to save some weight. You can use foam-lined floorboards on your RV. If you don’t have access to these, a heavy rug or carpet is a fantastic replacement.

Lastly, open all internal partitions so that heat spreads to all points inside the recreational vehicle. Also, open the cabinet doors so that thermal energy gets access to your water pipes.

Use Antifreeze

Antifreeze is a chemical added to cars to prevent various fluids from freezing. You can similarly add it to your plumbing system if you want to know how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping.

Run antifreeze through all your water pipes and then drain the chemical. Additionally, pour some of the liquid into the toilet bowl and other drains. Make sure any vessel holding water has had a bit of antifreeze treatment to prevent freezing.

What if You Know How to Keep RV Pipes From Freezing, but They Still Freeze

In frigid conditions, water is usually the first thing to freeze regardless of where it is. If you are heading into the wild during the winter, there is a real risk of all your water solidifying.

Under extreme conditions, your RV may not withstand the cold. Your pipeline will ultimately freeze over even if you know how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping. However, all may not be lost because you can still thaw some of that ice and prevent the system from flooding your camping van.

Here’s what you should do:

Use a Heater on Your Water Pump

The water heater is the most critical component in your RV plumbing system. You can easily replace the pipeline. So you’ll need to address any freezing at the pump quickly.

Move your heater, electric or gas-powered, towards the water pump to keep the water inside from freezing.

Use Heat Tape or Heat Gun Around Frozen Pipes

Heat tape is an ingenious component that insulates water pipes. Wrap some of it around your frozen water pipes. The tape transmits a bit of heat to the metal lines and can also wrap around plastic hoses.

You can also use a flamethrower, hairdryer, or similar hot air gun to heat the ice around the pipeline joints.Once sufficiently heated, the ice will begin to melt, and you must be ready in case of leaking pipes. Before that, drain the pipeline.

After draining, check the pipeline. Since water expands as it solidifies, you need to ascertain that your pipes are not cracked or broken because of the growing ice.

The Takeaway

Camping is a satisfying activity, and spending time in the wild outdoors frees your mind from the chaos of city life. However, if you’re planning to spend some time outside in winter, then you will need to know how to keep RV pipes from freezing.

Freezing water can damage your RV’s pipeline and even its water pump. To avoid the huge repair bill after a weekend out in the wild, consider the steps in this article to prevent your pipes from freezing over.

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