Thursday, February 2, 2023


Where do I find fresh water in cold temperatures?

Hey, Dave,
Where can I find fresh water fill stations in the winter? Thanks! —Michelle, 2022 Coachmen Cross Trail 23XG

Dear Michelle,
Great question, so I thought I would post it and see what some of our not-so-fair-weathered readers have found. Most of the Pilot and Flying J stations that have RV lanes do provide a potable water station and I believe they are open in cold weather. One thing I would recommend is getting a heated supply hose like the Pirit brand. You can get it at Amazon.

A less expensive alternative is to get the Pirit heat cable and wrap it around your existing hose.

Most state park campgrounds close during the winter as well as some privately owned campgrounds. However, more people are using an RV year-round as a home while working, especially construction workers and others that move around like wind farm technicians and medical workers. So it is possible to find a few open campgrounds and pay for an overnight spot and fill your tank. Some even allow you to fill without paying for a spot for a small fee.

Use jugs of water

While working at Winnebago, I spent 5 years on the road training dealers in new prototypes with several trips into below freezing temperatures in the upper Midwest. Some nights were even below zero degrees! Back then I carried two 5-gallon water jugs and two 2.5-gallon water jugs and would stop at the larger grocery stores that had refillable water stations.

I used the 5-gallon jugs to top off the fresh water tank that I would keep just enough water in to shower if needed. One of the 2.5-gallon jugs would go in the refrigerator for drinking and cooking, and the other was in the bathroom to flush the toilet if I did not have water in the fresh water tank.

When it got brutally cold, I would blow out all the water from the lines and just use the jugs of water to flush the toilet. I would find a truck stop and pay for a shower there. A little RV antifreeze in the black and gray water tanks was much easier than trying to keep lines from freezing, especially with some not-too-well-engineered heating systems back then.

Let’s see what our readers have found for water supplies during the cold weather travels.

 You might also enjoy this from Dave 

Can I bypass my never-used fresh water tank when winterizing RV?

Dear Dave,
I have never used my fresh water tank. How do I winterize my RV without doing anything to the fresh water tank? If I turn the pump on, can I bypass the fresh water tank? —Steve, 2021 Forest River 178BH

Read Dave’s answer.

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”

Read more from Dave here


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1 month ago

We also use rv antifreeze or windshield wiper fluid to flush the toilet. Last winter on way to Arizona the temps were so low our rv antifreeze gelled and water jugs in bathroom froze. Should have kept them in the truck

Jim Johnson
1 month ago

Many northern campgrounds shut down their to the site water systems – if they are open at all – in the cold season. Some keep their water systems on with frost-proof taps and a caveat that they will charge you big bucks if their tap is damaged because you used it in hard freeze conditions. You need more than the heated hose suggested by Dave if you are going to hook to house-water in such conditions. You need to insulate and heat everything above the ground. I carry rugs and insulated frozen food transport bags (most grocers have them) and make sure a loop of my heated line is inside my tap cover.
If your fresh water storage tank won’t freeze, you really don’t need a heated hose. Fill your tank to about 2/3 (leave expansion space), then disconnect, drain and store your fill hose.
If no water at the site, most campgrounds will (at least temporarily) open a tap at the office. You’ll either have to move and do a temporary hose hookup, or transport by jugs.

Jim Johnson
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Johnson

Filling from jugs is a pain. I finally found a larger mouth plastic funnel with a 45 degree exit tube. I can at least insert that into the RV intake tube and pour from the jug. Another alternative is one of the inexpensive all-plastic hand-pumps for fluid transfer.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Johnson

I got pretty cool pump from Harbor Freight (whooda thunk?) that I use to transfer water from a couple white plastic containers. Works like a charm.

Scott Velie
1 month ago

FYI flying J shuts off the water to the island in the winter

1 month ago

You can check with your local fire department about getting fresh water from them.

Suka’s Mom
1 month ago

Use the free iOverlander app, and filter the display for water. It is a very basic app (you get what you pay for) but it is crowd-sourced data by and for van-lifers and has lots of listings that you won’t find elsewhere.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago

The RV Park we’re currently in has told guests the water in the entire park will be shut off for three days with the upcoming freeze warning. We’ve filled our fresh water tank in preparation but I’m concerned about our portable soft water filter and the other two filters. I’m thinking of disconnecting both ends of our hose system and blowing out the system until no water comes out. Not like winterizing but reducing the amount of water in the outside part. Does anyone think this will be OK? It’s only going to be freezing overnight, not during the day.

Jim Johnson
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Will your filters hold water within the filtering media? If so you may not get enough out even with a compressed air, and a hard freeze may still damage them. Can you disconnect and move them to a place that will remain above 32F? Or add sufficient insulation around them to slow the cold penetration long enough for the ambient temp to return to at least 32F?

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Johnson

I don’t care about the first filter in the line (cheapo blue one). The second filter is see-through and takes a white replacement unit. We took occasion to replace IT. Third one is the water softener which I’m most concerned about. I hooked the air pump directly TO it and blew until only air came out of the hose. I know there is SOME water left in it but not enough to cause concern – I hope. The unit itself is big and bulky so it should be fine.

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