You don’t have to put your RV in storage just because the temperatures drop. Depending on where you live and the rig type, you can use an RV in practically any weather, including freezing temperatures.
However, many RVers worry about how freezing temperatures will impact their RV. So will your RV systems freeze overnight? Let’s see!
How Cold Does It Have to Get to Freeze RV Pipes?
The colder the temperatures, the faster your RV pipes will freeze. Typically, it takes 24 hours of below-freezing temperatures before RVers experience frozen RV pipes. However, many variables greatly impact an RV’s ability to avoid frozen pipes.
If you experience temperatures below 20 degrees or extreme wind chills, there’s a good chance your water lines will freeze in a matter of hours.
Keeping the inside of your RV warm will offer some protection to your water lines from dangerous temperatures.
Will Your RV Systems Freeze Overnight?
If you’re RVing and the temperatures dip into the low 30s or upper 20s for the night, you’re not likely to experience any issues with your RV systems freezing. However, your RV could have freezing issues if the temperatures don’t increase during the day or are dangerously below freezing.
As expected, your plumbing system will be the most susceptible to freezing temperatures. Many of the other systems and components will be unaffected by overnight freezing temperatures. Luckily, there are some things you can do to protect your RV pipes and plumbing system from freezing.
How Do You Keep Your RV Pipes From Freezing?
There are a handful of things you can do if you want to keep your RV pipes from freezing. Typically, doing just one of these isn’t going to make a substantial difference in protecting your rig. However, if you do several of them, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding frozen RV pipes.
Upgrade the Insulation
Manufacturers will often skimp when installing insulation in some areas. Some rigs have outdoor kitchens and other compartments with little to no insulation. As a result, cold air easily passes through, and the temperatures inside the rig drop. This can cause water lines running through these areas to freeze and render them useless.
Install pipe insulation around water lines to help offer them an increased level of protection from the environment. You want to avoid cold air and temperatures from getting to them as much as possible. The more you can protect them, the less likely you will experience frozen water lines.
Heat Bays Under the RV
Many RVs have heat ducts that run under the bays and pump warm air into these compartments. While these may not keep the bays as warm as the interior of your RV, they can provide some protection against the temperatures inside these bays from dipping below freezing. This can help protect your RV’s plumbing system and battery bank if it’s inside the bay.
It’s important to keep in mind that you’ll need to run your RV’s propane furnace to heat these bays. Many find that the electric fireplace in their rig does a great job of keeping them comfortable inside. However, if the temperatures dip below freezing, you’ll also want to ensure you’re using your propane furnace to pump air into the bays under your RV.
Skirt the RV
Skirting your RV is a great way to protect it from freezing temperatures and dangerous wind chills. However, this can require a tremendous amount of work in most circumstances and is typically only ideal if you’re planning to spend a generous amount of time in the same spot.
RV skirting surrounds the bottom of an RV and serves as a wind block. Keeping the cold air out from under your RV can help avoid the temperatures negatively impacting your plumbing and the various systems that may be susceptible to freezing temperatures.
Put Heat Tape on Pipes
Heat tape is a very effective way of avoiding frozen pipes. Wrapping this tape around your water lines will help provide a tremendous amount of protection from freezing temperatures. Using heat tape combined with pipe insulation can almost guarantee that the water line won’t freeze. However, since you likely have water lines running throughout the innards of your RV, you won’t be able to protect every inch of your water lines.
Use a Heated Freshwater Hose
You’ll want to have a heated drinking hose on hand if you’re RVing in freezing temperatures. Many RV parks and campgrounds require RVers to use heated freshwater hoses when the temperatures drop below freezing. This helps protect the water source and your RV.
A heated freshwater hose isn’t cheap, but it’s worth every penny if it protects your RV. The hose plugs into a power source, uses electricity to heat it, and keeps the water temperature safely above freezing. This minimizes the chances that you’ll experience your hose turning into a solid piece of ice as the temperatures fall.
Should I Drip Faucets in RV?
While it may be a good idea to let your faucets drip in a sticks-and-bricks home, that’s not the case in an RV. This is because RVs have finite space to store water, typically the gray water tank. As a result, a dripping faucet will waste space in this tank and possibly fill it full.
Leaving your gray tank open to allow your water to drip is also not a good idea, as the gray tank can quickly freeze if it only has a minimal amount of water in it.
Should I Leave My RV Water Heater on All the Time?
There’s nothing wrong with leaving your RV water heater on, but if you have an RV water heater with a tank, you’ll want to ensure you keep water in it. Leaving your RV water heater on when it’s empty will cause the heating element to burn up, permanently damaging it.
Once the water in the water heater reaches the appropriate temperature, the water heater will shut off while monitoring the temperature. This can help ensure you have plenty of hot water when you shower or wash dishes while RVing.
Can You Live in an RV During the Winter?
There are plenty of people who live full-time during the winter. While it may not offer nearly as much protection, you can stay comfortable if you prepare your rig and take the proper precautions. You’ll want to consider what winter is like where you’re planning to live in your RV.
Between the cost of propane and the equipment needed to prepare your RV, it may not be worth the hassle. Since your RV has wheels, it may be better to choose to pack up your things and head to a warmer climate for the winter.
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