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Winter RV camping

DianneOK
Explorer
Explorer
Winter RV camping:

This information on winter RVing is provided courtesy of Tiger Run Resort, Breckenridge, CO.

DianneOK, moderator

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Skiing and cold weather RVing can make for a fun vacation but, if you don’t set up properly, a fun vacation can become a nightmare. Over the years I’ve watched a number of people forget some simple steps. The following guide may save you some grief.

1) The first thing is to follow that old IBM motto“THINK”. Not every motor home is constructed the same. What may work perfectly fine on one RV may need to be modified to work on yours. THINK about what you are doing. THINK about what can go wrong.

2) SEWER: If you let your sewer line permanently connected make sure it has a continuous slope. This may be accomplished with a four inch plastic pipe or a half round pipe. If water has a place to collect it will freeze and when you flex the sewer line it will break. Wrapping the hose with insulation will slow the rate of freezing.

Many people keep the sewer line in a warm compartment and only hook it up when they want to dump the tanks. If you do this, return the hose to the compartment immediately after use.

Some RV’s and especially fifth wheels have exposed holding tanks and/or dump valves or the holding tank compartments are not heated. Adding antifreeze to holding tanks can help. If the compartment is insulated, but not heated, adding a small space heater to the compartment may be enough.

Some people skirt or bank snow around the base of their RV. If you do this you will need to run breather tubes for the generator and heaters. Think carefully when you skirt, no two RV’s are constructed the same. Many people believe that skirting traps moisture under the RV and accelerates corrosion.

Heat will escape anywhere it can. Placing refrigerator thermometers in compartments can give you an indication of potential problems. Using remotely read thermometers can make the job easier.

3) Water Hose: An unprotected water hose will rapidly freeze, even on relatively warm nights. There are two common ways of protecting your water line.

A) Fill your fresh water holding tank. Then disconnect the hose from at least the dog house, and drain it. Disconnecting at the dog house is important because the water must drain from the dog house faucet. Refill the fresh water tank when ever necessary.

B) At the office you can purchase an insulated, heated hose. Connect the male end of the hose to your inlet water connection. If your connection is on the outside of the coach, wrap the tail of the heater tape around the connection and cover with insulation.

Connect the female end of the heated hose to the dog house faucet. After you verify that there are no leaks in the connections, wrap the tail of the heater tape around the hose and the faucet and cover with insulation. Plug the heater tape into the GFCI protected duplex outlet in the electrical connection panel.

NOTE: Do not turn off or trip the GFCI circuit. This circuit is used to heat the potable water riser. If the GFCI is turned off freezing and expensive damage can result.


4) Jacks: Put blocks of wood under the leveling jacks. Jacks can and frequently do freeze to the concrete. They are almost impossible to free up when this happens. If you use wood, you can raise the jacks, drive forward, and then free up the wood with ice melt, hammer and chisels.

5) Gas Refrigerator: The refrigerant in a propane/electric refrigerator is a mixture of distilled water, ammonia, sodium carbonate and hydrogen gas, all at 200 psi pressure. When the temperature drops below 20 degrees this liquid can turn to a gel and may permanently plug the coils of the refrigeration system.

To help prevent this from happening, remove the outside refrigerator access cover and use duct tape to cover the top two (out of three) vent slots. Applying the tape to the inside of the cover will prevent leaving marks when removing the tape. Alternately, and easier to do, is to use round half inch pipe insulation to plug the top two slots from the outside.

It is also necessary to put a 100 watt light bulb behind the access cover near the base of the coils. Don’t lean the bulb on any flammable material.

These tricks have helped me avoid the $1000+ repair bill required to replace the heat exchanger.

Many manufacturers do not insulate or heat the ice maker water supply. If your coach is one if these, either drain the water line or insulate and wrap it with heater tape on all exposed copper feed pipes.

6) Heat:

Hydro-Hot: Many new RV’s are equipped with Hydro-Hot diesel fuel heating systems. At 10,000 ft there is 30% less oxygen and the fuel burns rich. The resulting soot can clog the combustion chamber and the fuel nozzle. If you are going to be here for more than a short period (a couple of days) it is necessary to adjust the air inlet port. On many RV’s this is not a simple job, and unless you have previously performed a cleaning maintenance and/or nozzle replacement I don’t recommend making your first attempt in the cold.

Contrary to popular believe Hydor-Hots are fuel guzzlers. The amount of diesel fuel used can be greatly reduced by turning on the Hydro-Hot 1650 watt electric heating element in addition to the diesel burner, and using a couple of small space heaters in the RV.

Propane: If you use propane heat, the propane on board your RV will likely only last a few days (less than a week).

Tiger Run has a limited number of 100 pound propane bottles available to rent on a first come basis. Your RV will need an Extend-a-Stay and connecting hose. Extend-a-Stays are available at the Tiger Run office. Install the Extend-a-Stay between the propane shut off valve on your RV and the pressure regulator. Be certain to shut off the RV propane valve when installing the Extend-a-Stay or when using the 100-lb bottle. Be certain to check for leaks with a soapy spray solution. If you are the least bit uncomfortable with this procedure, get a professional to help.

Heat Pumps: Heat pumps are not effective below 40 degrees F.

7) Entry Holes: Make sure that all entry holes around pipes and cables are packed with insulation.

😎 Water Pump: A susceptible component is the water pump. This is often bolted to the basement floor and, because it is usually full of water it may need special attention. If the coach manufacturer does not supply sufficient heat, a small space heater placed in this location is usually sufficient.

9) Cables and Hoses: Keeping all cables and hoses off the ground and out of the snow may prevent damage, particularly when you get ready to leave.

10) Fuel: Use winter blend diesel fuel and/or add anti gel to your fuel before arriving at the RV park.

Preparing to Leave:

You do everything similar to a normal warm weather departure, but there are a few things to watch for:

11) Engine Block Heater: Turn on your engine block heater at least three hours before you start your engine. I generally run the block heater over night.

12) Slides:

Snow and Ice accumulates on the slide awnings. The slide awning generally will not properly roll up with snow or ice on it. Clean the snow, ice and frost off the awning.

Many slide awnings have a small anti-unravel arm attached to them. Even a light frost on the awning can upset the timing of this arm as it rotates. If the arm hits the side of the RV it can do serious damage to the awning or the coach itself. If the timing is affected, it may be necessary to brush the snow or frost from the edge of the awning as it rolls up.

Water and snow can accumulate on slide gaskets. This may prevent the slide from retracting. Sometimes pushing on the slide is just enough to assist the slide drive motor. If you know where the gasket is frozen, spraying RV antifreeze on the affected area may help.

Retracting the slide the night before you leave can save a lot of grief on a cold Colorado morning.

13) Hoses and Cables: Remember that after being in the cold for an extended period of time, hoses and cables are now stiff and some may be brittle. Use caution when removing and coiling hoses and cables.


Caveats:

Remember your situation is unique. THINK! Think about how the guide lines can be applied to your situation. I’ve been setting up in cold weather for ten years, and I still have a problems from time to time. Recently, it was 20 below and the water froze in my new RV. I needed to make a modification

Tiger run employees do not have the time and may not have the expertise to assist you with your set up problems. There are professional RV service personnel who will visit Breckenridge once or twice a week. You can get a list of these people at the office.

If you have a problem or need advice, contacting your coach manufacturer can be beneficial. If nothing else they may consider cold weather in future designs.

If this is your first time setting up in cold weather, observe how your neighbors are set up. This may give you some clues as to what to do, but bear in mind they may not know any more than you do.
Dianne (and Terry) (Fulltimed for 9 years)
Donnelly, ID
HAM WB6N (Terry)
2012 Ford F350, diesel, 4x4 SRW, crew cab, longbed
2009 Lance 971 Truck Camper, loaded


Life Member Good Sam
Geocache..."RVcachers"
RV net Blog

[COLOR=]Camping, nature's way to feed the mosquitoes
191 REPLIES 191

camperpaul
Explorer
Explorer
Yup - on the inside... Leave about a half inch clearance at the top and bottom for the warm air to circulate. Close that gap at night because it will allow cold air to circulate.
Paul
Extra Class Ham Radio operator - K9ERG (since 1956)
Retired Electronics Engineer and Antenna Designer
Was a campground host at IBSP (2006-2010) - now retired.
Single - Full-timer
2005 Four Winds 29Q
2011 2500HD 6.0L GMC Denali (Gasser)

luvstorv
Explorer
Explorer
camperpaul wrote:
That is what the man said...

And he is right...

A crude solar heat system like that can be as much as 75% efficient.


This is going to sound like a really dumb question, but do you put the black cardboard on the inside of the windows?
James & Judy
Full-timing since Aug. 2009.
2012 Cardinal 3625RT Fifth Wheel 39 ft.
2008 Ford F-350 Lariat Super Duty V8 Power Stroke

pianotuna
Nomad II
Nomad II
Hi SunTen,

I'm in a Class C RV.

I've added electrically operated heaters to the waste tank and water pump areas. They are controlled by mechanical thermostats to prevent freezing.

The dealer is correct--it is possible to use too much electric heat, unless alternatives such as the above are carefully used.

Do read the first part of the thread--lots of good information there.

SunTen wrote:
I appreciate the information. How do you use heaters and keep heat going under the 5th wheel to keep things from freezing? My dealer said I should always have the furnace working because it puts heat through the floor area of the 5th wheel where the furnace vents are.
Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, 556 amp-hours of Telcom jars, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.

SunTen
Explorer
Explorer
I appreciate the information. How do you use heaters and keep heat going under the 5th wheel to keep things from freezing? My dealer said I should always have the furnace working because it puts heat through the floor area of the 5th wheel where the furnace vents are.






pianotuna wrote:
Hi SunTen,

It would be better to not let the grey water drain continuously. Over time it may build up a layer of ice inside the hose--eventually it may block it totally.

I strongly advise against a digital thermostat. If the power even flickers it may default to an "off" setting. Use a mechanical thermostat instead.

I suggest a cover that is velcroed in place for the shower sky light.

What you need to be concerned about is dew point and condensation. Adding a humidifier may intensify the problem.

It is not necessary or desirable to leave a window open when running an RV furnace.

I would add some radiant electric heaters to the inside of the RV. This may dramatically cut down on propane usage.

I'm outside a local Church in Lancer Saskatchewan running about 4700 watts of heaters (including my electric anti freeze pump heater). It is -6F and I've not burned any propane yet tonight.

SunTen wrote:


We are going to keep the dumping hose out so there will be no water in our grey tanks and will dump the black tank as needed.

I am going to place a ceramic heater in the large storage area with the inside slide door open going to the pumps and the majority of piping. It will be plugged into a digital plug in thermostat. My RV dealer suggested that on the very cold days I have it go to 55 degrees. Otherwise it will see that the heater comes on to heat to 45 degrees. I will also have an outdoor temp sensor in there so I can monitor the temperature from inside the unit. This sensor is connected to the clock I have inside to also monitor the temp on the inside.

I was not planning on sealing up the skylight over the shower.

I do wonder if I should have a humidifier because of the furnace running so much. I am use to having one on my furnace at home. I was thinking about purchasing a small portable one to sit on the counter.

I have heard we should be concerned with moisture but I am not sure where they are referring to.

Also should there be at least a one window with a little crack in it so that everything is not closed up to tight with the furnace running

pianotuna
Nomad II
Nomad II
Hi SunTen,

It would be better to not let the grey water drain continuously. Over time it may build up a layer of ice inside the hose--eventually it may block it totally.

I strongly advise against a digital thermostat. If the power even flickers it may default to an "off" setting. Use a mechanical thermostat instead.

I suggest a cover that is velcroed in place for the shower sky light.

What you need to be concerned about is dew point and condensation. Adding a humidifier may intensify the problem.

It is not necessary or desirable to leave a window open when running an RV furnace.

I would add some radiant electric heaters to the inside of the RV. This may dramatically cut down on propane usage.

I'm outside a local Church in Lancer Saskatchewan running about 4700 watts of heaters (including my electric anti freeze pump heater). It is -6F and I've not burned any propane yet tonight.

SunTen wrote:


We are going to keep the dumping hose out so there will be no water in our grey tanks and will dump the black tank as needed.

I am going to place a ceramic heater in the large storage area with the inside slide door open going to the pumps and the majority of piping. It will be plugged into a digital plug in thermostat. My RV dealer suggested that on the very cold days I have it go to 55 degrees. Otherwise it will see that the heater comes on to heat to 45 degrees. I will also have an outdoor temp sensor in there so I can monitor the temperature from inside the unit. This sensor is connected to the clock I have inside to also monitor the temp on the inside.

I was not planning on sealing up the skylight over the shower.

I do wonder if I should have a humidifier because of the furnace running so much. I am use to having one on my furnace at home. I was thinking about purchasing a small portable one to sit on the counter.

I have heard we should be concerned with moisture but I am not sure where they are referring to.

Also should there be at least a one window with a little crack in it so that everything is not closed up to tight with the furnace running
Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, 556 amp-hours of Telcom jars, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.

SunTen
Explorer
Explorer
My husband and I are going to stay in our 5th wheel for a winter in Kansas.

I have a 2007 Holiday Rambler Presidential 5th Wheel 35ft. It has three slide outs.

I have purchased the new heated water hose. We turned the female end into a male end and the male end into a female end. We will then connect the heating element to the inside of our water connections.

We are going to keep the dumping hose out so there will be no water in our grey tanks and will dump the black tank as needed.

I am having a heavy vinyl skirt made to snap onto the 5th wheel all the way around it. I will hold it in place with water tubes made to hold down pool covers. They are made to be out in the winter and will take up less space to store than sand bags.

I am going to place a ceramic heater in the large storage area with the inside slide door open going to the pumps and the majority of piping. It will be plugged into a digital plug in thermostat. My RV dealer suggested that on the very cold days I have it go to 55 degrees. Otherwise it will see that the heater comes on to heat to 45 degrees. I will also have an outdoor temp sensor in there so I can monitor the temperature from inside the unit. This sensor is connected to the clock I have inside to also monitor the temp on the inside.

I have the pads to close off the ceiling air vents. I was not planning on sealing up the skylight over the shower.

The RV park is loaning us a 100lb propane tank which they will keep filled for each of us. We have had the hose made so that it goes back to our on board tanks when they disconnect to refill.

I do wonder if I should have a humidifier because of the furnace running so much. I am use to having one on my furnace at home. I was thinking about purchasing a small portable one to sit on the counter.

I have heard we should be concerned with moisture but I am not sure where they are referring to.

Also should there be at least a one window with a little crack in it so that everything is not closed up to tight with the furnace running.

I would appreciate some answers to my question from those of you that have done this and also any things you think I should change on the way I am going to set the unit up. We will be parked from about the middle of Dec. to the end of May.

We are looking forward to using it and I want to make sure that we are doing things right. There does not seem to be anyone place that can really tell you all the ins and outs of your particular unit. this includes the dealer. I have picked up bits and pieces by visiting with some folks that have thought about it but have not done it and I spoke with the service tech at my dealership. They had the heated hose which I think will be very helpful.

I am looking forward to your ideas and suggestions.

camperpaul
Explorer
Explorer
That is what the man said...

And he is right...

A crude solar heat system like that can be as much as 75% efficient.
Paul
Extra Class Ham Radio operator - K9ERG (since 1956)
Retired Electronics Engineer and Antenna Designer
Was a campground host at IBSP (2006-2010) - now retired.
Single - Full-timer
2005 Four Winds 29Q
2011 2500HD 6.0L GMC Denali (Gasser)

hotrod4x5
Explorer
Explorer
Flying dog are you saying you cover the windows with black cardboard and that provides heat from the sun somehow?
Rodney Former Owner of: 2005 Laredo 29GS 2002 F250 V-10 Yamaha EF3000iSEB (and NOT a GS Member)

flyingdog
Explorer
Explorer
Interesting notes on the temp diff/btu pianotuna. Just a side note when thinking about heating - definitely look into solar for daytime use. Simple window collectors can provide as much as 800BTU/sq ft per hour during peak hours, less with lower sun angles, which by your measurements would provide at least a 1*C temp difference throughout the course of a day considering the added differential between outside/inside temp and the spread over both peak and off-peak solar gain.

I currently have some cardboard spray-painted black, apx 4'x2', covering about half of my kitchen window providing up to 12000btu each sunny day here in central NM. With the temp at 45*F outside, I'm getting upwards of 105*F air temp inside, and for the price of running a clip-on fan to distribute the heated air, I can bring the ambient air temp to 73*F throughout my 26' 5er on just that alone. It goes a long way toward cutting the chill without spending much green. Remember also that any excess heating in the day will have carry-over, via thermal mass, into the nighttime heating, cutting costs/energy use there as well.

I had a MUCH more efficient system, fully automatic using a thermostat, set up while wintering in central New Hampshire, so a more similar sun angle to yours, a few years ago:
http://vitali.110mb.com/Solar/

The premise is to monitor the air temp inside the collector using a thermostat designed for use with an air conditioner - when the temp in the collector is above the threshold, the thermostat sends the 7V signal to cool...the 7V is then just routed to the computer fans to blow the hot air into the camper. The one problem experienced there was on partly cloudy days, the system would continuously kick on and off, on and off... Additional thermal mass inside the collector could solve this problem, such as the use of heavier collector plates (I used 1/32" wood sheets).

A little thinking and a lot of experimenting can make for some pretty neat ways to save money and increase comfort levels.

For the skylight, try this: Remove the inside casing and stuff wads of crumpled scrap plastic in the space. Place a plastic sheet covering the inside portion of the vent area and brace it with the replaced casing. Roll up the edges of the sheeting to provide a seal when replacing the casing. This works doubly well - not only are you sealing off the majority of drafts but the wads of sheeting act as primitive insulation.

pianotuna
Nomad II
Nomad II
Hi all.

I'm testing the limits of what temperature differential I could maintain with 9980 btu's (about 2925 watts total between fan based heaters, and one oil filled of 484 watts), between outdoors and inside the RV.

The RV is a Class C 28'5" Kustom Koach with enclosed tanks, and dual pane windows. Three vent cushions are in use but there is a skylight over the shower--and another one in the main living area. I need to rig a covering for the sky lights.

The delta T, with 9980 btu's of electric heaters, between outside and inside the RV appears to be 23.2C. For example the temperature out side is -8.2 and the temperature inside the RV is 15 C.

This suggests about 430 Btu's per 1 degree delta T, or about 126 watts of heating.
Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, 556 amp-hours of Telcom jars, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.

pianotuna
Nomad II
Nomad II
Hi all,

I'm a cold weather RV'er and wanted to test the limits of what temperature differential I could maintain with 8000 btu's (about 2350 watts fan based heaters), between outdoors and inside the RV.

The RV is a Class C 28'5" Kustom Koach with enclosed tanks, and dual pane windows. Three vent cushions are in use but there is a skylight over the shower--and another one in the main living area.

The delta T, with 8000 btu's of electric heaters, between outside and inside the RV appears to be 20C (or 38 F). For example at 7 pm it was -7C outside and the temperature inside the RV was 13C. At midnight it was -8C outside and inside was 12C.
Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, 556 amp-hours of Telcom jars, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.

gbranco
Explorer
Explorer
Hi, I work at Woodall's.
A lot of people get a little confused when they first open the Directory because they don't realize that we have our Eastern and Western sections split. So the Eastern states are in the back of the book. I hope that helps you find Maine!
Thanks,
Genevieve Branco
Woodall's

hitchup
Explorer
Explorer
drumbum1: You must have a defective directory. My Woodall's has pages of Maine CG's. Right after Louisiana and before Maryland. Check at Woodalls.com, too.

Most CG's don't advertise extended sites, unless they attract the Seasonal crowd. CALL a few, if they only do short stays, ask if they know another CG that has monthly rates in the general area.
2014 DRV Mobile Suite Estates 38RSB3....our custom home
2014 Ford F450 KR CC 4x4......his office
2015 Lance 1172 TC.....mobile Motel FOR SALE
Working Fulltimers since 3/2005

"Shoot for the Moon! Even if you miss it, you will land among the Stars."

drumbum1
Explorer
Explorer
Some very gbood pointers! I have a question's for you. First, I am going to living in my motorhome(1997 Coachmen) in Florida for the winter and wanted to travel up to Maine where I used to live in the spring and thru the fall or longer. However I don't seem to find any camp grounds that accet extended stays , let alone possibly staying thru the winter....any suggestions? Woodalls doesn't even have a Maine section in their campground directory!
Any help will be appreciated! Thanks!

W8NONU
Explorer
Explorer
Use the extra outlets on the pedestal for heavy duty extension cords and space heaters. Run the cords through the slides for dedicated power sources for your heaters (ceramic, oil filled, etc.). Most heaters recommend not using extension cords but a properly sized cord can be used. Check your owners manual.

For those that use ceramic heaters, make sure and vacuum out the elements for built up dust. The built up dust can be a fire hazard and can greatly reduce the life of your heaters. Even though most have built-in temp sensors, this is should be added to your routine maintenance. Don't wait until your heater is overheating to do the cleaning.