Tips on How to Keep RV Pipes from Freezing While Camping

Knowing how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping is crucial. It is to avoid spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the future.

It is no secret that a hard freeze can result in a big damage to your campervan in no time. Hence, good precautions to protect your water system from cold weather are necessary.

Keep reading this article and you will be able to find anything required to protect your RV pipes from freezing. 

Read Also: The best RV Bike Rack for Camper


Frozen RV Pipes While Camping: How It Happens?

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Before being informed on how to keep RV pipes freezing while camping, you should know how it happens and whether this condition may result in other issues.

The way how your pipes will end up freezing may vary. It Depends on the location’s weather and the speed of the temperature switch in your campground.

Generally, your RV pipes will freeze once the surrounding temperature falls below freezing for around 24 hours. 

However, if you have good insulation, heated and enclosed underbelly, or other preventive measures, it is less likely for your RV pipes to freeze easily. 

How Fast Your RV Pipes Get Frozen

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Thanks to the thermal mass of your RV, the freezing process typically does not occur so fast. 

In other words, you can take your time between the danger of frozen pipes and the moment the temperature hits freezing.

You will not face any issue if there is a sudden overnight frost that only lasts for several hours.

Nevertheless, if the freezing temperatures happen in numerous hours or the temperature hits below freezing, you need to be prepared for the worst.

Common RV Freeze Damage That You Should Know

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Your plumbing system is a part of your RV that will get affected when the pipes are frozen. Water typically spreads out as it freezes. 

Although your RV pipes may be capable of withstanding some expansion, this does not stop the chances of a line or fitting failure. 

At this point, you should expect leaking from your plumbing system shortly.

Since these leaks may happen behind your wall without displaying any apparent clue, their damaging level is sometimes unpredictable. 

You may start noticing the signs weeks or even months after the damage get worse.

Without practicing any method on how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping, there is no doubt that the issue will lead you to a headache and turn your road trip into a mess.

In addition to the serious long-term issue of leaking and bursting of pipes, you should have tank replacements or repairs that are typically costly.

Top Tips on How to Keep RV Pipes from Freezing While Camping

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You already know what happens if RV pipes freeze from the above explanation. Now, it is time to learn some tips on how to prevent this issue from occurring during your road trip.

Heading somewhere warmer always makes a good idea if you do not want to deal with frozen pipes. 

This simplest trick may give you enormous freedom on where or when to stay.

Pick a location where you rarely hear that the people there are dealing with freezing temperatures in a typical winter. 

This area commonly experiences a short period of cold temperatures that will not freeze your RV like others.

If heading to a warmer area is not an option, you should try the following tips.

Keep your storage bays warm

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Your storage bays are prone to freezing temperatures since they contain crucial electronics, water lines, and pipes. 

A heating duct is typically available in four-season campervans. Some also come with two of these supplies.

They can pump warm air into the storage bays when the furnace operates. 

Unless you ride a four-season RV, you may need to consider incorporating a space heater in your storage bay. 

This will help you feel at ease since the storage bay will not easily reach freezing temperatures and cause pipes or items to crack.

However, since a space heater comes with a risk, you have to watch out for this device when running it inside your RV. 

Don’t close your cabinet doors

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Another trick on how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping is by opening cabinet doors to let the heat go in.

The source of your camper’s heat cannot circulate through shut doors. 

If you do not open your cabinets, there will be a noticeable dissimilarity between the temperature of the inside and outside the cabinets.

You should particularly take note of the exterior walls. These parts will be the one that displays the most significant difference in temperature. 

In this view, keeping your cabinet doors open can allow warmth to enter your cabinets. As a result, any pipe installed in the cabinet or behind the wall will not freeze easily.

Don’t open the gray valve

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Any method will not complete without closing the gray valve to avoid little amounts of water from going into the dump pipes and sewer hose.

Keep in mind that any water running inside cold pipes may result in clogs or even broken valves. 

Instead, you may utilize a freshwater container to prevent a frozen hose and let your wastewater tank to full.

Having more water in the tanks will make it harder for the fluid to freeze. This practice is particularly perfect if the cold temperatures are temporary and they tend to rise above freezing shortly.

Utilize heat tape for RV pipes

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If you wonder how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping, you should wrap critical pipes in heat tape. 

This equipment is ideal to protect the valves against frigid temperatures.

You can simply plug the heat tape into an electrical outlet. After that, wrap it around the RV pipes so that they can stay warm.

Consider enclosing the heat tape with pipe insulation for additional protection. 

This way your RV pipes will have an extra layer of security and make sure you receive the maximum advantage of using this essential resource.

Insulate the RV bays

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Additional insulation is one of the most perfect methods to defend your RV pipes and bays. Pay attention to cracks and holes that may let cold air enter as you add this.

You can simply caulk the cracks and holes as a way on how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping. 

Always keep your storage bays closed as well to maintain warm air in and cold ones out.

In case particular locations do not have much insulation, go to a nearby home improvement store to get some sheets of insulated board. 

Then, cut the insulation board to the shape and size of the locations that become the issue in your RV.

Take advantage of RV skirting

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Your RV naturally stands on the ground and lets cold air flow beneath it. For this reason, installing specially-designed skirts can help prevent this from happening.

It is not impossible to buy RV skirting in the local store or create one by yourself. 

This equipment is not only ideal for keeping water pipes from freezing, but also is a great winter supply in general.

Any trick on how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping will suggest installing skirting before the temperatures drop so much. 

Aside from protecting your RV pipes from cold air, this skirting will defend your vehicle against ice and snow too.

Keeping Water Tanks from Freezing in the Winter

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Your water supply as well as the RV holding tanks may freeze during the cold seasons. When this occurs, you should expect the liquid enlargement to break the containers.

Luckily, some of today’s RVs have featured tank heaters that work as an electric blanket for your water containers. 

If you plan on riding your campervan in cooler areas, make sure to pay attention to the weather. It will not be exciting to face freezing temperatures by surprise.

To make sure your water tanks and pipes are not freezing, pack propane and other important items that can protect you from any damage as well.

Then, it is also necessary to never let your water tank levels be nearly empty. 

You can also consider installing a small lamp or light bulb between the water pump and the holding tank to prevent freezing.

don’t forget to practice the methods on how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping too so that it will not lead to frozen tanks.

What to Do When the RV Pipes Already Frozen

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Then, what if your RV pipes have already been frozen before taking any preventive measures? No need to panic since there are several tricks to help unfreeze them shortly.

The first thing to do when encountering frozen pipes is to verify if there are any broken pipes. Several campervans use metal or copper piping while the rest utilize plastic. 

Unfortunately, both piping materials are prone to crack when frozen. 

Hence, you should check the exterior water lines carefully to see if there are any cracks before proceeding with the following tricks on how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping.

Use a heat gun or hair dryer

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Using a hair dryer or heat gun is one of the safe methods to thaw your pipes. Just make sure not to keep heating one location for too long since it may harm or melt the piping.

Instead, you should move the device back and forth over the frozen pipes. Do it slowly to avoid any damage to the piping system.

A hair dryer is ideal for either metal, PVC, or copper pipes. When using this device  in wet circumstances like ice and snow, you should particularly be careful. 

Meanwhile, a heat gun is more suitable to thaw copper or metal pipes.

Utilize a good RV water line heater

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When it comes to how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping, you should be familiar with a water line heater too as it can be helpful for thawing frozen piping.

A water line heater or portable propane one that comes with an extension cord is good for thawing your frozen pipes.

If you are interested in trying this technique, make sure to stay outside and take a look closer to the heater as it works.

After a long period of time, it is not impossible for the heater to catch parts of the undercarriage on fire if not monitored carefully.

In case your RV comes with PVC or plastic piping on its exterior, you should not place the heater too close as well.

Call a professional plumber

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Calling a professional plumber can be the most dependable choice if your attempts have failed or the idea of thawing the frozen pipes yourself feels overwhelming.

Since the above methods are not as easy as the tips on how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping, calling in an expert to deal with the issue will not hurt.

Besides, a plumber will be able to examine your pipe conditions safely and determine the most ideal techniques for thawing these.

Before calling a plumber, you may opt for using heat tape as well since it can be the safest and most efficient method to thaw your frozen pipes. 

Just make sure that your pipes are not yet broken before utilizing heat tape to unfreeze. As this product is widely available out there, it will not be hard for you to get this for taking care of frozen piping.

The Bottom Line of Keeping RV Pipes from Freezing

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Instead of allowing the RV pipes to freeze, the best practice is always to do your best to prevent them from freezing while camping.

Some methods on how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping are not that hard compared to the complicated unfreezing techniques. 

The preventive measures only involve a few steps that require some extra purchases and examination. 

However, you can feel assured after doing so since the damaging risks of frozen pipes are no longer there.

Consequently, practice any trick on how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping. This way you do not need to deal with frozen damage that requires more effort and cost.

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