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Unexpected Consequences of the Frigid Temps

I woke up at 4am Saturday morning.  It was 56 degrees inside the RV; 12 degrees outside with a 16mph wind out of the north .  I had gone to bed with the Mr Heater Little Buddy turned off,  the Suburban furnace was set at 50 degrees.  Both electric heaters were running.  A trip to the bathroom  — and NO water.  Crap!  So I tried to shake off the fog of sleep and figure out what was going on.  The Old Girl is facing east.  The drivers side was north and getting the full brunt of the north wind.  I had water on the passenger’s side; bathroom vanity and shower and water pump – I was thankful for that. No water at all on the north side where the bathroom, water heater and kitchen sink are located.

I turned on the Little Buddy heater and turned the furnace up to 70 as I sat down at the dinette to puzzle this one out.

Water lines running close to the outer skin of my RV

Water lines running close to the outer skin of my RV are most susceptible to freezing.

I had obviously misjudged the severity of the frigid arctic blast and failed to prepare properly.

My external propane tank that powers the Mr Heater Little Buddy heater is connected via a 12′ hose that enters the recreational vehicle through the bay that houses my dump valves and outside shower. It snakes up through the refrigerator compartment and then enters the living space at one of the lower kitchen cabinets. The hose prevents the compartment door from closing snugly. This compartment is also where the water lines are closest to the outside skin and it just happens to be on the north side. I guessed this was where my problem was.

My thoughts had been the ducting on the furnace ( the gray hose in the picture) would keep the compartment warm. Probably a good plan had I set the thermostat low enough for it to come on. I had not heard the furnace run once during the night. Most motor homes have provisions to heat the lower compartments to some extent using the propane furnace. You gotta run the furnace though! My first thought was to turn the water heater on and get some hot water in the lines. Bad Move! The hot water expanding against the frozen lines would have broken something for sure. I was not going outside in this hellish weather either. I turned off the water pump in case the pipes thawed and broke, left the furnace set on 70 and went back to bed.

I woke up at 7am to a warm RV interior. A quick check showed no water yet on the north side of the motor home. It was 15 degrees outside and I had no intention of braving that weather right off the bat with no coffee. Not no but HELL no. 🙂 I turned on every available heat source, opened every cabinet and made my coffee. By 10am, it was 85 degrees inside the Old Girl and 26 degrees outside. Still no water so I suited up and went outside to look things over.

The cube heater in the outside compartment

I brought along my little electric cube heater. I placed it below the frozen pipes and went back inside to wait for the big thaw.

It took less than 10 minutes for the pipes to thaw. I could have avoided all of these problems easily. I should have recognized the fact that the baggage door facing north and not being properly sealed would put these pipes at risk of freezing. I should have deployed one of my 40 watt drop lights in this compartment — and I would have done that if I had them. I had forgotten both drop lights at the sticks and bricks in Dallas. It briefly crossed my mind to head in to Jasper and pick up 2 more drop lights at Wal Mart. I quickly dismissed that idea. A 2 hour round trip is just not worth it. I left the electric heater in the compartment set on low and I will just deal with its’ absence in the RV’s living compartment tonight as the temperatures again drop in to the low teens. I plan on running the furnace more tonight than I did the previous night. I think that along with the electric heater will do the trick.

I guess we will see. 🙂

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2 comments to Unexpected Consequences of the Frigid Temps

  • Looks like you had a hell of a morning. I’m glad nothing was broken. I woke up to 7 degrees and my main issue is dumping my black water tank today. I hope that the dump valve isn’t frozen shut. Never a dull moment 🙂

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    • admin

      Everything is great now. I am glad I don’t have to deal with the weather up in your neck of the woods!

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