Sunday, October 15, 2017

Living In Your RV In The Winter Tips

We have talked about staying warm in your RV during the cold winter months. First by moving South to warmer weather but, for many that is not an option. If you have to say in the cold for whatever reason what should you do to help your RV not to freeze. Let's look at the different areas of the RV and what can be done to keep that area from freezing.






First the outside perimeter.  Ok, let's get it on the table, do not use bales of hay to surround the rig.

Why, they're are cheap and easy to stack?
Because of  FIRE, rodents, and bugs. If for some unknown reason the hay should catch fire there would be little chance of survival.  And don't forget that many outdoor creatures would love to come inside your RV and spend the cold winter months.

What can be used?  You can use skirting for your specific RV. Which is shown below;
While this is expensive it is a good solution to the problem of cold air getting under your RV.  There is another solution for the DIYer and that is 

Foil-Faced Foam Sheathing board is rigid polyisocyanurate foam sheathing that provides exceptional heat, moisture, and air control.
  • 4'x8' sheet (9' and 10' available via special order)
  • 3/4" thick
  • R-4.4
  • One side has a reflective foil face typically installed toward the warm air surface to reflect energy back toward the dwelling and the other side has a white non-reflective foil face typically installed toward the exterior.
  • Can be used in residential construction as insulated sheathing in above grade exterior walls, above and below grade interior walls crawl spaces attic, sand cathedral ceilings as well as Type I-V commercial applications
  • Highest R-value per inch of any rigid board insulation.
  • Does not melt when exposed to flame versus other types of rigid foam board (ASTM E84)
  • Reflective aluminum foil face blocks radiant heat and prevents penetration of air and intrusion of moisture

Dimensions: 3/4" x 4ft x 8ft Cost as little as $9.25 per sheet

This type of foil backed foam board can be cut to fit and close-in around the RV to protect the underbelly of the RV from freezing. This type of insulation is available at Home Depot, Lowes, Menards, etc.
You would secure the foam to the RV and to itself by using aluminum heating duct tape.
The area under the RV that you create by enclosing the area needs to be heated with a low heat generator such as this mini heater.

This heater uses about 200 watts of AC power and I would use two of them for a 40ft trailer.  The heater should be placed off the ground several inches in case of water flow.

Second is the water and control compartment.
Yours may look different,  but the issue is that it needs heat.  This area should be kept warm by a Mini Heater or 60 watt light bulb.  The concern is the water hookup to the trailer and the ability to release the black and grey water tanks valves. One problem you can encounter with a light bulb as a heat source is light.  In many articles that I have read on winter camping one solution to heating, a small area is using a 60 watt light bulb.  But at no time does anyone offer a solution to the light pollution that is given off by the bulb.  Here is one solution you might consider,  a
60 Watt Non-Lighting Heat Source
 This non-lighting heat source can be used by screwing into a clamp on-light fixture or using just a bulb socket and cord.

Following is a sample of a clamp on a lamp base.


For the fresh water lines, you will need to use the shortest hose you can to go between your rig and the fresh water source. 
  • Provides constant source of water in freezing temperatures
  • Thermostatically controlled
  • Turns on when temperatures are below 45 degrees
  • Turns off when temperatures are above 50 degrees
  • Made from drink-safe PVC
  • Keeps water from freezing down to minus 42-Degrees Fahrenheit
  • Tougher thermostat
Do not let the hose lay on the ground.  You can do this by wrapping the water hose in pipe insulation. You can get some from Home Depot, Lowes Menards etc.
Use some of the Aluminum Tape to seal the pipe insulation and do not forget to wrap the water source with pipe insulation to help keep it flowing.  Some people even build a box out of the foil foam board to cover the water source to further insulate.
Next the sewer and sewer hose. "DO NOT LEAVE THE DRAIN VALVES OPEN" Open as needed to dump the gray or black tank.  Use the shortest sewer pipe you can and you need to support it off the ground.  Wrap the sewer hose with heat tape first.
Next wrap the sewer hose and heat tape in a blanket made from a Hot Water Heater Insulation blanket
You want to wrap it tight and then tape it very well to hold it together.  Leave an overlap at both ends to go over the sewer connection and the sewer pipe that comes out of the ground and be sure the heater tape is wrapped around the end of the pipe that is attached to the RV as well as the water heater insulation blanket.
To keep the sewer hose off the ground and well supported you can use rain gutter pipe or you can use,
Some RVers even put a gallon of RV antifreeze down the black tank after dumping the tank to help ensure that nothing gets frozen between dumps.
I have not tried this myself, but there is no reason it would not be a good idea.  It is an added expense that would need to be considered.

I believe that covers the outside of the rig now let's move inside and see what can be done to keep out the cold and keep in the warm.
You need to check all doors that you go in and out of the rig with.  If you can see daylight around the edge of the door with the door closed. You will have cold air coming into the rig.  You need to put door weather seal around the door to seal the door better.
What about the windows you say.  You are right if your rig windows are single pane, as most of them are, you will need to winterize them as well.  The easiest way is to us the small bubble pack wrapping material that you can find almost anywhere.

    Installation
    • Cut the bubble wrap to the size of the window pane with scissors.
    • Spray a film of water on the window using a spray bottle.
    • Spray a film of water on the bubble side of the bubble wrap using a spray bottle.
    • Apply the bubble wrap while the window is still wet and press it into place.
    • The bubble side goes toward the glass.
    • To remove the bubble wrap, just pull it off starting from a corner.
Next let's look at the vents in the rig. All of the vents through the roof allow warm air to rise into a cold space and chill the air.  We need to block the upward movement of the air but still be able to use the vent when needed.  A vent pillow is just the thing.  You can make them if you are handy or buy some cheap pillows you can stuff into the vent opening or you can get these.

Fits standard 14" RV vents

Reflective surface blocks the sun's damaging rays
Full 2.75" of foam to help stop heat transfer
Durable and easy to store
Keep your RV cooler in the Summer and warmer in the Winter


Now that we have sealed the rig against the cold air we have now trapped water vapor from cooking, propane heating, showers, and human breathing inside the rig.  You will begin to see water or moisture on the walls of the rig and anything that is colder than the inside air.  This is not good and can cause mold.  To get rid of the moisture and reduce the humidity we need a dehumidifier.  Several ideas come to mind.
First,


Quiet Small-Size Dehumidifier with No Moving Parts

Removable 16-oz. Water Tank & Washable Air Filter

Features 'Tank Full' Indicator Light

Auto-Shuts When Water Reservoir is Full

Measures Just 5.75" x 5.32" x 8.78" in


You might need two of these in a large 40ft rig.  They do work and keep the air drier but not completely dry.

Next is the Goldenrod Heaters.  You also will need several of these in larger rigs but they are smaller and you do not need to dump them, like the one above.




This unit comes in different sizes up to 36 inches in length.  It consumes about 1 watt per inch and is mounted along the wall at the floor level.  You will need several in a large rig as they can dehumidify approximately 200 cube feet of air. So if you have a bunkhouse then that room would have its own unit. The main living area would have one and the master bedroom would have one.

Something I have used is DampRid in closets and drawers where moisture is not wanted and maybe harmful to the contents of the surrounding area.

That should do it.  You have done your best to get the rig ready for winter and now the daily grind begins.  In a separate blog post, we cover how to keep you and the kids warm when it is cold outside.





Until next time.



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