We have a 2017 Jayco 30X class C RV. We love our rig and keep it extremely well-maintained as we travel 8-9 months out of the year. We are occasionally caught in cold weather, but we try our best to avoid temperatures from 25 degrees F or lower. Our rig has heating elements in the holding tanks but we do have some exposed water lines underneath the RV. When temperatures are cold, we open cabinets at night. I have mounted a light fixture in the plumbing bay that I wired directly to our panel box. During cold weather, I turn the light on and I have a remote temperature monitor so I can see the temperature in the plumbing bay.
Question: What are typical low temperatures a rig like ours can handle without freezing damage to lines? In addition, would it be reasonable to insulate the water lines under our rig to make our RV more of a four-season RV? Many thanks for your advice. We love your forums. —Greg
I have not done any specific research on freezing temps, but have camped many times in below-freezing weather and even once in Fargo, ND, where it was -20 F. Yes, I did freeze some of the water lines, even with a basement model that supposedly had a heated basement and service compartment for year-round use. When I got back to Winnebago the product engineer stated: “We heat the basement, but not to keep it from freezing.” Wow! He later became the President and CEO.
Even though I don’t know specific temperatures, I would suggest taking precautions any time temperatures get to or below the freezing mark as a slight wind could enhance the freezing effect, especially with exposed water lines underneath the RV.
Every year here in Clear Lake, IA, there is a winter dance party celebrating the music of the ’50s. Since there are no “green rooms” for performers in the building, we use RVs parked outside. In February the temperatures can get brutally cold! All systems, including the plumbing, need to be functional for the performers. So we take extra precautions to keep everything from freezing. Any exposed water lines get wrapped with heat tape. I recently came across one from Pirit, which also makes a heated freshwater supply hose. You can find the pipe heating cable on Amazon.
These come in lengths up to 30’ and with Pex lines are easy to wrap. In your case, I would suggest wrapping the lines and then also installing an insulating pipe foam such as this.
You can use the foam tubes or “noodles” like these, or a roll of wrap-around insulation. One of the owners that loaned us their RV liked the setup so well he had us permanently install the tape with the insulation. We then covered it all with a corrugated plastic tube used for sump pumps to protect everything. That was nice, as we did not have to go through the work every winter during the event.
Other protective measures for water lines
Other protective measures we use are heating pads in the service center, as it is typically exposed to some harsh, cold winds. We also found that skirting the underside was a big help, as well. Since we are from Iowa, of course, we use straw bales, but there are several methods from skirting to products like AirSkirts™, which help to block wind from getting underneath the rig.
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.
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