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Winter in the RV

Article by Jon Davidson

It’s October, and while many RVers are preparing to leave the road, and ride out the cold weather in homes that don’t have wheels, there are still many who choose to remain in their RVs during the winter. Winter RVing, however, has its own special concerns that must be addressed. Here is a brief overview of some of them.

Water

When you’re over-wintering in your RV, you have to be able to keep your water supply from freezing, not just for drinking and bathing, but also for flushing the toilet. If you’re living in your RV, but not actually on the road, consider draining your water tanks, adding antifreeze, and then letting the cold water taps run until the antifreeze is showing up as well. Then turn your pump off, and plug into city / public water outlets. This prevents your water lines from freezing. It’s essential to make sure only the cold taps are used so that you don’t end up with antifreeze in the water heater.

If you’re still mobile during the winter, storing your water in a heated pod is one option that has kept water from freezing in temperatures as low as 23 degrees Fahrenheit (-5 C). Taping a heat strip to the water hose and wrapping it in foam tubing can also help insulate it, letting your water supply withstand temperatures even lower, but you may still risk the entry valve freezing.

If you’re not a full-time RVer, and just using it for winter weekend getaways, carry your drinking water, and a couple of extra gallons for toilet-flushing emergencies, and use public showering facilities. It’s much easier.

Power and Heat

Power, and subsequently heat, are going to come from either electricity or propane, or a combination of the two. If you’re not plugged into external power, and will be using a generator, check to see if you have one with a “winter” setting, which will help balance the fluctuations caused by furnaces cycling on and off. Furnaces draw a lot of battery power, by the way, so a solar panel and choosing campsites with good light or plug-ins, are both essential factors in surviving the winter in your new cars or RV.

If, on the other hand, your heat comes from a propane source, plan for an expensive winter of constant refills if you live someplace with deep cold. Alternatively, park for the winter, and invest in a large propane tank with its own generator. It’s still expensive, but more convenient.

Other Considerations:

Once you’ve solved any heat, power, and water issues you may have, it’s time to be certain that you have the tools to dig your RV out of snow or mud. Make sure that your supplies include a snow shovel, an ice scraper for your windows, and an axe or ice chipper. As well, it’s a good idea to keep Ice Melt, kitty litter, sand, or rock salt on hand, to put around your wheels, and around your RV if you get stuck in snow or ice, or if there’s a freeze overnight.

Whether you’re spending the entire winter in your RV, or just making weekend excursions, you can spend the cold months in cozy comfort, with just a little bit of preparedness.

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