Avoid Freezing in Your RV

Ingrid FeaginRV Tech Tips

Welcome to another Todd’s Two Minute Tech Tip Tuesday, brought to you by the National RV Training Academy. The largest hands-on RV training academy in America. 

Now since we’re going into winter there has been a lot of questions coming in such as, “How to survive in your RV during freezing weather” which we have covered in another video that you can check out here. But there are some great questions that go along with that. In this tech tip we will cover space heater safety and how to keep your plumbing from freezing. Let’s go ahead and get into this.

So first off, when we’re talking about surviving in your RV during freezing weather, there’s a couple of things we can do. 

  1. Have sufficient propane in your RV and make sure your furnace is clean so it is operable whenever you are using it. 
  2. Do whatever you can to prevent air from getting up underneath the RV which is really the biggest thing you can do. 
  3. Then my all time favorite, move South, but I understand a lot of you can’t.

 Let’s dive into the first topic… Space heaters. 

Now I will tell you that if you use it properly, a space heater is absolutely safe to use, the problem that we have with most people is they plug them into power strips. The power strip itself is not rated to handle the wattage that is being consumed by the space heater. The problem that you typically see is the power strip melted. Now in order to safely use your space heater you need to first understand the consumption. Most space heaters will pull anywhere from 1500 to 1700 watts and your outlet, as well as that whole circuit, is on a 15 amp breaker. 15 amps times 120 volts equals right around 1800 watts. Here’s the problem, you have 6 or 7 outlets that are actually going to that one 15 amp breaker, so what you need to do is make sure there’s nothing else on so you have to go ahead and check that. You can get yourself a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) tester, plug it into the circuit, turn off that breaker whenever that light goes out find out what other outlets are actually connected to it and then whenever you use your space heater, make sure you don’t have anything else on while you’re using the it. Here’s the key, take that space heater and plug it directly into the wall. Do not use an extension cord or a power strip (that’s where the weakness is) and plug that directly into the outlet. It’s 15amp rated which means it can handle that space heater. Now the space heater is good for that specific place, typically what you’ll see is if you use the space heater, you’ll begin to turn it down as it warms up the room. I think space heaters are great until we get to freezing temperatures outside. When we reach those temps there’s a consideration we must have and that is our water lines. The space heater will do nothing to protect our water lines, so if we are in freezing weather, it is best for us to use our RV furnace. You have to check your RV to make sure that yours is 3 season, 4 season, or what they call winter rated, they all give different names. What you want to find out is when you turn on the furnace is it also ducted to where your water lines are and if it is then the best thing to do to prevent your water lines from freezing is to turn on your furnace. Now in order for that to actually operate right of course you’ve got to have the proper amount of propane, make sure your furnace is nice and clean so you need to test that before we get into the really cold weather that’s coming up. In order to protect your lines I always recommend taking your water hose from outside, stop using the city water pressure and fill up your holding tank. If you have tank heaters turn those on because you want to keep those warm. If you fill up your holding tank it takes a lot of cold weather in order to freeze the 50 gallons of water you have. We want to get that about 3 quarters full and of course you want to use the water inside but keep that 3 quarters full if you can. Disconnect your water hose, let your water hose have no pressure in it, protect that water hose as well right so empty it out, pick up the hose, and get all the loose water that’s sitting in the hose out, turn on your tank heaters but also turn on your furnace. Now the furnace only has to be upwards of 60 degrees fahrenheit so make sure that it is on and do not use the space heater and your furnace because the space heater may be in the same room as your thermostat. Your thermostat is working for your furnace and if it’s nice and satisfied then it’ll never turn on the furnace. 

Another thing you can do and this is Todd’s method. Take a heated blanket and put it underneath your fitted sheets. You’re going to thank me later because now you never have to mess with the cords of that heated blanket again. 

So there are your tips on surviving freezing weather. Turn on that furnace, make sure you get plenty of propane, keep those water lines nice and warm and also, fill up your holding tank.

And there’s your tech tip.

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