OCT 3 2022    
Protect Your RV Plumbing This Winter
Flag as inappropriate

Protect Your RV Plumbing This Winter

Disclosure: Opinions, camping practices, and experiences expressed with articles posted here or otherwise via user-generated content posted elsewhere on this site are solely the authors’ and do not reflect the opinions, beliefs, camping practices, or experiences of this website or Camping Tools, Inc.

How many of us have made our fair share of camping mistakes? It’s common and almost a part of some sort of camping indoctrination to mess up a few times. As long as we learn from them, oftentimes mistakes actually make us better and more responsible campers!

Although common, winter mistakes can be very costly. One of the most costly? Not protecting your RV plumbing during the winter months. If you don’t know how to adapt for colder temperatures, you could pay in more ways than one. 

Freeze-ups are a common challenge for RV camping during the winter season and can lead to plumbing damage. Because water expands when it freezes, in pipes it can increase the chances of a fitting or line failure. In tanks, a freeze could cause cracks. If you don’t take the correct precautions to prevent freezing, your plumbing system might develop leaks.

Some modern RVs are equipped with tank heaters that are supposed to safeguard your holding tanks from freezing up. If you have an older camper or don’t have tank heaters, you can take some precautionary measures to prevent freezing.

We’ve compiled all you need to know about the winter months in regards to RV plumbing in hopes of saving you some pretty costly consequences. 

Winterize RV Plumbing

When the seasons begin to transition, it’s a good idea to go ahead and begin winterizing your RV plumbing. 

The first step is to remove and bypass all in-line water filters inside of your RV. This step is critical as you will be using chemicals, so do not skip this if you want to keep from damaging the filters.

Next you will want to drain your black and gray water tanks. You will probably want to go ahead and clean your black water tank also. After draining and cleaning your black and gray water tanks, drain your hot water tank. Be sure to turn the hot water heater off and allow it to cool down before doing this step! 

The next step is to drain all water from all water lines. Be sure to ensure there is no water remaining in the lines before moving to the next step. 

You are now almost ready to add antifreeze to your system, but before you do you will need to make sure to bypass your water heater and convert your water pump. You may already have a bypass, but if not you can purchase a water heater bypass kit. You can also buy a water pump converter kit to install before adding your antifreeze.

Now you will add the antifreeze to your system. Once this is complete, your RV pipes will be insulated and ready for all of your winter camping adventures! If you would like a more in depth look at what this winterization process looks like, follow the link here to this helpful article. 

Heat Tape

Wrapping pipes in heat tape is another way to protect your plumbing from freezing. Heat tape is a pretty interesting thing, as it’s not like traditional tape. This tape plugs into an electrical outlet, and is to be wrapped around pipes to keep them warm. 

You can also wrap your external water hoses, including your sewer hose, to prevent freezing there. 

Winter Campsite Common Practices

Warm your internal plumbing

The heat inside of your RV can’t circulate through closed doors, which is why you have maybe noticed a temperature difference inside of closed off spaces. Open your bathroom and kitchen cabinets so your heating can keep the internal plumbing warm. 

Use the internal freshwater tank

In the cold months, instead of connecting your RV to external water sources, try filling and utilizing the internal freshwater tank. The more water you have in your tanks, the more water that will be moving through the hose to prevent a freeze. In addition, it’s difficult for full tanks to completely freeze.  

If you’re at a full hook-up site, be sure to close your gray valve. This helps to prevent small amounts of water from entering the sewer hose and dump valves as they can cause issues in the winter.

In addition, it’s suggested to only dump tanks when they are full and to always keep waste valves closed when not in use. 

Heat Bays

Storage bays often contain important pipes, water lines, and electronics that can be affected by freezing temperatures. 

If you have a four-season camper, this one is not a worry for you. Typically four-season campers have a heat duct or two that pump warm air into your storage bays anytime your furnace runs in order to keep it from reaching freezing temperatures. 

If you have an older Rv or an RV that is not a four-season camper, carefully place a space heater in your bay to ensure warmer temperatures. 

We hope this has been helpful in safeguarding your RV’s plumbing this winter season. Take it from us, you will want to take these precautions as frozen plumbing can lead to big issues!

No comments added

Login to comment and join the conversation.