RVing

How to Keep Your RV Working Right in Freezing Temperatures

Motor home in the winter, camping with a caravan

Winter camping in an RV might sound like a daunting task. How do you stay warm? How do you keep the water in your RV from freezing? Well, it’s actually not that bad, and if you like snow sports or want to experience certain areas of the contry, you’ll need to be able to camp when the temperature drops.

Here are some things you’ll need to address if you want to keep camping in your RV well into the winter months when temperatures drop below freezing.

Insulate Water Lines

Water lines are probably the most important thing to think about. If you’re water lines freeze, you won’t be able to do dishes, go to the bathroom, take a shower, or do pretty much anything else in your rig.

Frozen water lines can also cause damage to your plumbing and damage to the water system overall. When the ice in your lines thaws, it will cause leaks and that means you’ll have a huge problem. This means you need to make sure your water lines stay above freezing.

How do you do that? Insulation and heat tape are the most common ways. Both things can be picked up at a local hardware store. You want to run both the length of the RV’s water and sewer lines to keep them from freezing.

You can put the heat tape on first, then put the insulation around that and then tape the insulation where needed. Another thing to do is to look specifically at the spigot where you attach your hose and the inlet for the water on your RV. Both of these places are metal and are common spots that freeze up. Make sure to wrap them well.

Put Skirting Around Your RV

RV skirting
Image from Gander

 

Skirting around your RV will help keep the area under the RV from getting super cold. This can help keep your RV’s plumbing safe from freezing temperatures.

Skirting is temporary and pretty easy to add. You can also add a small space heater or even just a utility light with a bulb that gets hot under the rig to keep the temperature under the RV just warm enough to keep things from freezing.

Add Heating Pads to Holding Tanks if Needed

The last thing you want is for the holding tanks of your RV to freeze. Many RVs come with heating pads for the tanks. If your RV doesn’t have these, consider adding heating pads to your tanks.

The pad heats the tanks and their contents up so that they don’t freeze when temperatures get really low. Keep an eye on your tanks and make sure that your heating pads are providing enough heat. If the temperature really drops low, you may need to add additional insulation or another heating element or a space heater to your rig to keep them warm enough.

Use Space Heaters

Female warms her cold hands near an electric heater at home. Selective focus, part of body.
Image by Getty

Your RV’s furnace is an important part of your rig, but you shouldn’t only rely on it. Space heaters can be one of the best additions to your RV.

Make sure to use them strategically in your RV. Don’t place them too close to the thermostat or you might find that your furnace isn’t kicking on at all. This can make your whole RV cold and cause other areas of your RV (possible ones with important equipment or appliances) to freeze up.

Insulate Windows, Vents, and More

Most RVs are designed for warm weather camping and this means they’re designed for ample airflow. This works great in the warm months, but when temperatures drop and you want to stay warm, the last thing you want is the cold air coming in.

Consider insulating windows, covering vents, and laying down rugs to keep warm and comfortable. Windows can be fitted with clear plastic sheeting that allows you to still be able to see out of them and allows light to come in, vents can be covered with similar material to block out cold air.

Rugs and mats will help keep your toes from getting too cold on the floor. Anywhere you feel cold air coming in, you can think about adding some insulation to stay warm.


Do you have any tips or tricks to share when it comes to RVing in the winter? Leave a comment below.

How to keep your RV working right in freezing temperatures

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2 comments

  1. Avatar

    Avoid using space heaters, and use the RV Furnace when the outside temperature is going to be below freezing. RVs are designed with heat ducts from the furnace running beside the water lines, so that when it’s cold outside and the furnace is in use, the warm air being forced through the heat ducts will prevent your waterlines from freezing. The use of space heaters to save on propane, (or diesel fuel in larger Motorhomes, may raise the interior temperature of your RV high enough to satisfy the thermostat, and prevent the furnace from turning on, thus preventing warm air from moving through the heat ducts and warming the water lines underneath the RV, exposing them to sub freezing temperatures and possibly allowing them to freeze.

    Also, if you are not familiar with the newer heat pumps on some RVs, adjusting raising the temperature on the thermostat by more than 2 or 3° will cause the furnace to turn on, in order to satisfy the thermostat. Heat pumps are normally effective when the outside temperature is above approximately 38°, (+/- a few degrees). If during the night the temperature falls below the heat pump’s effective operating temperature, the RV furnace will turn on in order to satisfy the thermostat. So do not get alarmed if soon after you turn your heat pump on you hear the furnace engage, or if you wake up in the morning and hear the furnace running after you turned on the heat pump before going to bed. Stay safe

    1. Wade Thiel

      Robert, proper use of a space heater in an RV can be a good addition. It depends on the unit and how you use it. Newer RVs will have furnaces are much better than old, and you’ll have less of a need for a space heater.

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