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So you are living in your RV for the winter and have already taken the necessary measures to keep your pipes from freezing in your unit. You go to turn on your water and nothing comes out. You know that it is not your water hose because you paid big bucks for that heated hose and have wrapped it in a foam pool noodle. You know that it isn’t your water lines within the camper because you have RV skirting on to help keep those insulated. But what about the water spigot? Sure enough, you go outside, unhook your water hose, only to discover that nothing is coming out.
Why You Need to Prevent
A standard exterior faucet has a simple washer just under the valve that serves as the shut-off point for the water. When you shut the faucet off, pressurized water remains in the lower part of the faucet and the connecting pipe, where it can easily freeze, causing the fitting to break. Most homeowners are installing a frost-free faucet but this is typically not possible for those living in an RV.
Living in an RV isn’t a new concept by any means but it is getting more and more popular. Many campgrounds have not caught up to this trend, therefore they have not updated their water pipes to be frost-free.
Maybe you live in an RV but it is on your own property or family member’s land. Having frozen waterlines doesn’t seem so bad until they actually burst. This can cause extensive damage and be quite costly. I would hate for you to have to pay for those repairs out of pocket or potentially ruin a relationship with a family member over it.
Another reason why you would want to take the necessary precautions to prevent your water spigot from freezing would simply be the comfort of having running water. Water is used for everything (washing dishes, bathing, washing clothes, personal hygiene, drinking, etc) and it is difficult to live without it, especially in the winter.
How to Prevent
If you are parked on your own property or someone you know, we recommend getting a frost-free faucet and install it. But for those where this is not a possibility or you are in a campground, here are a few ways to prevent the spigot from freezing:
- Heat tape- Heat tape is a product that wraps around the pipe and then plugs into an electrical outlet. It provides heat through wires whenever the thermostat indicates that the temperature is below a certain threshold. Wrap heat tape around the pipe starting at the inside of the outer wall where the faucet protrudes and secure it with electrical tape.
- Insulation- Preformed pipe insulation is a thick foam tube that fits tightly over pipes, helping keep the cold air from penetrating the pipe. We recommend using this combined with heat tape.
- Insulated Enclosure- If your spigot comes directly up from the ground then we recommend building an enclosure around it. This can be done by making a box with Styrofoam or using a drum barrel. Once you have that enclosure, stuff insulation inside it as well around the water pipe. You can also use a heat lamp or a 60 watt light bulb inside the enclosure when temps drop really low.
These are just a few things we recommend, but the best prevention is to shut off the water completely and just use your tanks when you know temperatures are going to drop.
And if you haven’t already, be sure to purchase RV Skirting and a heated water hose to help keep your water pipes from bursting.