Cruisers Forum

Main Forum => Tips and Tricks => Topic started by: Carol on October 17, 2014, 08:50:22 am

Title: Traveling with Safe Plumbing in Winter
Post by: Carol on October 17, 2014, 08:50:22 am
John & Holly (Frazzled)... and anyone else in-the-know!

I saw your post re traveling to the NW corner of our perty country for the Winter (Wow!  have a great, safe trip!) and tried to private message you, but I can't see that it worked, so rather than hijacking your thread in the travel section, I am posting here.

I may be delayed in cold weather before I can flee south.  Like you, I live in my rig, so I am looking for PC-specific tips on keeping the plumbing safe in freezing weather while living in it.  Most of the tips I find on the web apply to winterizing for storage purposes.  If possible, I would like to be able to have access to my plumbing rather than shutting things down.  I am not talking sub-zero temps, but I would like to be confident to survive the 20s for a spell.

I understand I have heat pads for the Gray and Black tanks, and that the FW tank and most of the plumbing is inside, but I am confused about the things that are outside, how vulnerable they may be, and what action I should take.  Please know (if you don't already), I am a total noob and need layman's explanations.  :)

Re the outside shower, do I simply turn the faucets on, with the water pump off, to drain whatever is in there?

Re the macerator, if I put antifreeze in the gray tank and then don't drain it out all the way when I am done emptying the gray, will that protect the macerator and it's connections by allowing some of the antifreeze to sit in there?

If I keep antifreeze in the black and gray tanks and do not empty them all of the way, will that be enough to protect them, along with the heating pads?

Re the hot water tank, do you leave it on overnight to protect it from freezing?  Does it draw so much electricity that I would be in danger of tripping a fuse when the furnace came on at the same time?

If I am driving in freezing weather for a few hours, do I need to worry about things freezing?  Should I (can I?) have the propane furnace running when driving?

In the outside storage drawer, to the right side, there is a cut out in the wood which gives access to the drains (hot, cold, and ?).  Are those vulnerable to freezing?  Even though they are under the bed, I imagine the fact that they are open to that outside storage bin can make them vulnerable.

Are there any other points where the plumbing comes outside that I need to watch or address?


Title: Re: Traveling with Safe Plumbing in Winter
Post by: Barry-Sue on October 17, 2014, 06:35:09 pm

     We travel to Florida every winter from Michigan so our first two days are usually below freezing.  However, we are fully winterized until we get into Georgia and then once there we dewinterize.  I do use the toilet the first two days.  Since I do not have running water I always carry a jug of water to use when I flush.  I am guessing because we have antifreeze in the black tank we never have had a problem with the toilet or black tank and we have never used the heaters in the tanks.

Make sure all the water is drained from the fresh water hoses  and the fresh water filter, if you use one, before you store them.

Title: Re: Traveling with Safe Plumbing in Winter
Post by: Carol on October 17, 2014, 08:37:23 pm
Thanks, Sue!
Title: Re: Traveling with Safe Plumbing in Winter
Post by: Barry-Sue on October 18, 2014, 07:16:29 am

 A couple of other things I thought about:

1.  You asked about keeping the hot water tank on and running the furnace-we do this all the time with no issues

2.  The outside shower-my thought there would be to winterize the rig and just dewinterize inside plumbing.  Why I say this is that we had to winterize when we came home from FL this past spring since it was still very cold here.  When we went camping for a weekend in June I thought I had dewinterized everything but when we went out in August I realized I never dewinterized the toilet sprayer or kitchen sink sprayer.  When I went to use them they were still filled with antifreeze.  We don't have an outside shower but I am sure if we did that would have still been filled with antifreeze.

3.  I carry a lot of the 8 ounce bottles of water under the passenger bed in the 2551 and we do not keep the furnace on when traveling and they have never frozen.  Our furnace does not run very much at night because we set it very low, our bedding keeps us very warm.

Title: Re: Traveling with Safe Plumbing in Winter
Post by: 2 Frazzled on October 18, 2014, 09:19:02 pm
Carol, I'll answer as best I can but the configuration of the 2350 will be different so I'm not sure if what we do when camping in freezing temps will work for you.

The outside shower- we make sure the taps are turned off, disconnect the hose and stick a baggie full of fiberfill in then lock the bin. Our water lines for the outside shower are in a little space under the driver side bed that can only be accessed by removing the bed board. The space is between the outside wall and the under bed storage. If we ever lift that board again I plan to insulate the inside of the shower box just for added measure. I tried leaving the pink stuff in the outside shower lines only but it just drains back down into the main supply lines since the faucets are above the lines.

Tank heaters - if the temps will be below freezing for more than an hour or two, the tank heaters are on, even if we have no hookups. If we will be camped any extended time with freezing temps, we find hookups.

Macerator - yes on your plan. To clarify, we will drain the tanks, dump in some antifreeze then run it through the Macerator and valves. This has to happen every time we dump if we will remain below freezing.

Hot water tank - we only turn it on when we need it. We've spent days below freezing and it never froze but now you have me thinking. It is well insulated, and the actual water tank is inside the heated space, but I guess it could be vulnerable if it was left off with extended cold weather since it has that big outside panel. I'll have to check the manual on that one and maybe watch the Phoenix build videos.

Driving - we have the truck heater running while driving in freezing temps and that keeps the inside of the rig warm enough. The cat sometimes disagrees but after logging her complaints, she settles down on my lap in the warm zone and all is well. It has never felt like the back of the house was near freezing while we were on the road. We've never run the propane furnace while driving, I'm not sure you would need to, but I don't see why you couldn't. I recommend checking your manual to see if it says anything about it.

Outside drain access - I'm pretty sure we don't have that. We have one small hole to drain our fresh water tank. We haven't worried about it but will stuff insulation around it if we expect extended freezing temps.

At one point we were camping in very cold temps, that didn't get above freezing for about a week, with an inoperable propane furnace and were having trouble keeping things warm so we took the extra step of leaving inside cabinet doors open to allow our wimpy heat to get to the plumbing. We hadn't started the antifreeze through the valves yet and those froze but luckily did not break and we were able to dump after they thawed (three states farther south). We now carry two gallons of the pink stuff and dump it in as needed.

The Phoenix does really well in cold temps. We drape a curtain to block the cold from the cab and make sure the truck vents are all closed. If there is warm sun, we open the blinds. If no passive solar gain, and as soon as the sun starts down, we button her up and cover all the windows. It took us a while but we've learned from our mistakes (and from a lot of knowledgeable and helpful people on this forum) and we don't worry about the weather anymore. We keep track of it so we know when to go into cold defense mode, but it's a few simple steps and you are good to go.

I hope this helps!


Title: Re: Traveling with Safe Plumbing in Winter
Post by: TomHanlon on October 19, 2014, 06:44:35 am
    On the 2350 the outside cabinet has three valves, hot, cold and fresh waster. On the 2551/2552 the fresh water drain is under the passengers side bed and the hot and cold are under the bottom drawer under the kitchen sink. To access them you pull the drawer out until it stops. Then on the right side of the drawer you will see a black plastic arrow shaped thing in the slide. The same thing will be on the left side also. You push down on the right side, push up on the left side and while holding them in this position pull the drawer out just far enough to reach in and turn the valves. DO NOT pull the drawer all the way out as it it a pain in the you know what to get it back in the tracks. This is also where the water heater bypass valves (3 of them) are located for any model with the heater under the kitchen sink.

    To drain the hot and cold and outside shower, open these valves, and open each and every water valve. You will need to drain the water heater tank from outside in the heater compartment. The water heater is expensive to replace if it freezes and burst. If you leave it on while traveling, it will not freeze. We use the electric option while plugged in and it stays warm most of the day. In extreme cold I would turn on the gas option while stopped for lunch to reheat it. You can also turn on the gas furnace at this time. Another option is to run the generator and heat both water heater and the cabin using electric. It is good for the generator to run it anyway and it only uses less than 1/2 gallon of gas per hour. You can run it either while stopped for lunch or while driving.
Title: Re: Traveling with Safe Plumbing in Winter
Post by: Carol on October 19, 2014, 10:00:03 am
Thanks for the helpful replies Holly, Sue, and Tom.  I'll give Phoenix a call this coming week, as well, to get their input.  I am less worried now about getting into trouble with Father Winter!
Title: Re: Traveling with Safe Plumbing in Winter
Post by: bobojay on November 10, 2014, 12:41:57 pm
Another thing to remember Carol is, below freezing temps for extended time periods. If you keep your cabinet doors open to the inside of the coach, even while driving, that'll help out.
We've been in low to mid 20's in our RV's for over 24 hours at a time and never had a problem. We used the RV antifreeze to flush with. That way the antifreeze concentrate in the tank(s) and lines stays high.....

Hope this helps...
Title: Re: Traveling with Safe Plumbing in Winter
Post by: Carol on November 10, 2014, 02:12:33 pm
Thanks Bob & Sharon.  Yup, I spoke to Kermit at PC after getting the forum's input and researching online.  He did state that the water heater is one of the more vulnerable items to freezing, and to leave it on if the temps are below freezing.  It is very expensive to replace.  My other vulnerable spot is that outside shower, but as someone previously noted, on the 2350/2351 there is a cutout for that plumbing under the bathroom sink.  I took the shower head off, drained the water out of the tube, then stuffed washcloths in the outside compartment.  Leaving the bathroom sink door open so it gets heated should prevent problems there.  All the other ideas and suggestions should be followed, as well, and I should be fine.  Thanks again everyone, and I hope this is also helpful to others!
Title: Re: Traveling with Safe Plumbing in Winter
Post by: JOHN on December 30, 2016, 11:58:11 am
Just read this and certainly helpful to me as Texas is getting some expected freezes and may be a good refresher to other PC owners and to newbie's experiencing their first winter.  Thanks