How to Keep RV Pipes from Freezing While Camping with 4 Tips

how to keep rv pipes from freezing while camping

During winter, most rig owners would leave their RVs stored. However, over the past few years, winter RV camping has become a trend. But there are some concerns to be noted, such as ‘will my RV pipes freeze due to the cold?’

Cold weather RV camping is an experience that you should not miss. However, there are many things to consider, like how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping. There are many ways to keep RV water lines from freezing, like using antifreeze and keeping the temperature at a safe limit.

What You Will Need

Before we go on to prepare your RV for the cold season, you need to first prepare a few things that you will need in the process. See the list down below for these things. You can also check your RV’s manual because there are some RV models with a specific set of instructions on how to winterize them.

  • 2-3 gallons of non-toxic antifreeze for RV
  • Water pump converter kit
  • Water heater bypass kit
  • Black holding tank cleaner

Prepare Your RV Pipes for Winter

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Once you have all the necessary things that you will need, it is now time to prepare your RV water line for winter. Note that the following steps are the basic ways to winterize your RV, so consult your RV manual for a more specific procedure. Without further ado, here are the steps to prepare your camper for the harsh cold of winter.

Bypass Water Filter

To start, you need to remove all of the water filters in your water line and bypass them. If the water filters aren’t removed, chances are that they will be damaged by the chemicals that you will use later on.

This also allows you to check if your water filters need replacements, especially if they have been contaminated or have not been replaced after more than three months.

Drain your Black and Grey Holding Tanks

Whether you’re storing or using your RV for camping, you need to remove all the contents of both the grey and black holding tanks. Not only will you prevent your pipes from freezing, but this step will also help prevent the presence of molds or bacteria in your water tanks.

Make sure to drain the black tank first and use a black holding tank cleaner to ensure that the tank is all clean. Once you’re done, drain your grey holding tank.

Drain your Water Heater and All Lines

After draining your water holding tanks, it’s now time to drain all of the lines of your water heater. Before you drain it, make sure to turn it off first and let it cool down for a couple of minutes. To drain your water heater, all you need to do is to unplug the drain and open the pressure relief valve.

Once finished, locate and open the cold and hot water drain lines to drain all water lines in your RV. Turn on all the faucets and flush down the toilet to make sure that all the water is drained from all your lines.

Bypass the Water Heater

The next step in the process is to bypass your water heater. Doing this will keep antifreeze out of it. Most RVs are equipped with a built-in bypass, but if yours doesn’t have one, you can have it installed at any service facility near you.

Pour in Antifreeze

The last thing you need to do is to pour in the antifreeze to your water lines to make sure that they don’t freeze. To do this, you would need the water pump converter kit. Disconnect the pump inlet and place it in the antifreeze bottle.

Once this is done, turn off all faucets and turn on the pump to inject the chemical into your water line. After the antifreeze all pumped into the RV’s system, you need to turn on all faucets and let them flow until you see the antifreeze coming out.

Make sure to pour antifreeze into your drains and toilet to prevent any residual water from freezing. After you finish all these steps, your RV is ready to be stored or used for camping during the winter.

Tips to Prevent Your RV Pipes from Freezing

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In addition to the given steps above on how to winterize your RV, here are some helpful tips on how to keep RV pipes from freezing when camping.

1. Empty Your Tanks Regularly

The best way to make sure that your holding tanks don’t freeze is by emptying their contents regularly. If your tanks freeze during camping, it will cause big damage to your plumbing system and cause it to malfunction. Don’t wait for your RV holding tanks to be full before emptying them.

2. Install a Space Heater

If you are targeting more than one area in your RV that is susceptible to the harsh cold, you can opt to have a space heater installed. There are many kinds of space heaters that you can use, like a portable one, to make sure that your RV’s water system stays warm even during winter.

3. Monitor Your RV’s Temperature

When winter camping, you need to make sure that your RV’s temperature does not drop lower than zero. An extremely low temperature can cause damage not only to your RV pipes but to the RV itself. Make sure to keep it warm as it can affect your health as well.

4. Apply Heat Tapes to Your Pipes

If you are looking for a straightforward solution to prevent your RV pipes from freezing, the answer is using heat tapes to directly apply heat and keep your pipes warm.

Do not worry, this is an inexpensive solution that you can find in local hardware stores. Heat tapes detect temperature change and increase the temperature when it gets too cold for your pipes.

For better function, secure the heat tapes on your pipes with the use of electrical tape. Use electrical tape for each foot of your pipes and make sure to cover the length of them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you know how to prepare your RV for the harsh cold of winter and have read all of the additional tips to prevent freezing pipes, here are some of the frequently asked questions by rig owners.

At What Temperature Do RV Water Lines Freeze?

Many factors can affect the temperature at which RV water lines freeze. Some of these factors are the type of pipes, insulation, temperature change rate, and the use of heat cables. In general, if the temperature in your RV drops below 32°F for more than 24 hours, then your pipes will freeze.

Can the RV Holding Tanks Freeze Too?

Just like your RV pipes, the contents of your holding tanks may freeze too, which can cause heavy damage that would need a costly repair. Take preventive measures to make sure that your RV holding tanks don’t freeze.

Should I Invest in RV Covers?

An RV cover is a good investment for rig owners who let their rigs sit out in the open during the cold season. A durable cover can help save your RV from external damage for a long period. If you plan to buy one even though you store your RV indoors, it can help prevent dust accumulation.

Conclusion

Knowing how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping is a huge help for any rig owner. You can safely enjoy winter camping without any worries that something might go wrong with the pipes, as long as you prepare them for the harsh cold of the season. No more unwanted damage, all that’s left is a great time to enjoy.

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