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How to keep RV pipes from freezing

When you’re out on a great winter journey in your RV, the last thing you want to worry about is your pipes freezing over. This can present a plethora of problems that can dampen, if not ruin, your camping experience. Many people don’t prepare for the possibility of their RV pipes freezing and have major regrets after they're left with the consequences once it's too late.

Why preventing frozen pipes is important

Frozen RV pipes are pretty much as bad as they sound. They can stop your flow of fresh water dead in its tracks, preventing you from using your appliances as they’re meant to be used. 

If your frozen pipes burst, it can cause flooding and major damage to your RV, leading to heavy repair costs that you probably weren’t expecting. While it can cost a little bit to prepare your RV pipes from freezing ahead of time, it’s nothing compared to the much larger costs you’ll incur if they actually do freeze. For that reason, it’s important to take proper precautions before heading out on your cold-weather trip.

Methods to keep RV pipes from freezing

There are several different ways to prepare your RV for winter and protect its pipes from freezing over in the cold. 

Depending on the severity of the cold weather you’ll be experiencing, you might want to employ multiple strategies to maximize effectiveness. The type of RV you have will also impact the effectiveness of these methods, so keep that in mind as you start choosing which ones are best for you. What works for a travel trailer might not be suitable for a motorhome or campervan. With that being said, here are some tips on how to keep RV pipes from freezing.

1. Dump your RV waste if you’re storing it.

A great first step you can take to prepare your RV pipes for winter is to empty out the waste from your black water and grey water tanks. Keeping them clean will remove the possibility of water freezing here as there won’t be any to begin with, and it’ll keep things nice and sanitary too. 


Unfortunately, RVing isn’t all sunshine and blue skies. Sometimes you’ll have to get a little dirty— especially if you have an onboard black tank. Learn how to dump your tank at home in our blog.

2. Insulate your pipes.

While keeping your black and grey water tanks from freezing is important, your fresh water tank is the one you should be most concerned about as it’s usually the biggest culprit. 

Insulating your RV pipes is a great way to combat this issue, and you can have it professionally done or do it yourself. This is no simple task, so a professional’s help may be necessary if you aren’t big on DIY. 

Some experts use closed cell spray foam insulation that does an incredible job keeping the underside of your RV warm by trapping heat in. Not only will this insulate your pipes and help keep them from freezing, it’ll also help keep your floor and RV as a whole warmer in cold months.

If you’re unwilling to shell out for a professional job, there are definitely other ways you can weatherproof your pipes. You can purchase a pipe insulation kit at your local hardware store and take care of it yourself. It’ll require a little skill, but you certainly won’t regret having some form of insulation installed on your pipes. 


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3. Insulate the rest of your RV

Pipe insulation will be a huge help to keep the pipes from freezing, but why stop there? The warmer your RV is, the better your odds of keeping your pipes safe, and insulating the whole RV is one of the best ways to keep it warm. Insulating and identifying any gaps in your RV also has added benefits, like keeping pesky rodents out of your rig.

There are door and window insulation kits available for you to insulate your RV by yourself, and you can find several home methods for window insulation here. Of course, you can always have a professional insulate your RV as well, but this will cost more.

4. Heat the RV’s interior

The warmer your RV is as a whole, the less likely your pipes are to freeze. Adjusting the interior temperature of the RV to keep it consistently warm will help the pipes stay warm as well. This will be especially effective if your pipes are located in the flooring or the body of the RV because they’ll pick up heat from the interior quicker. 


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5. Use a tank heating pad

A practical method to keep your RV’s pipes warm is through the installation of a tank heating pad, which will work to heat up your fresh water tank. You can attach them directly to whichever appliance or tank you want to keep warm, and they’ll prevent water from freezing. 

Many of them include a mechanism that will allow you to directly control the temperature, which is a handy feature when you’re in an area with variable temperatures. Turning it up during cold nights will help against the lower temperatures, and you can turn it back down during the day as it gets a little warmer.

6. Install RV skirting

A lot of heat in an RV is lost through the floors. RV skirting takes care of this problem. An RV skirt wraps around the base of the RV to insulate the underside, trapping heat in and keeping everything warm, including those precious pipes. 

There are several different types of material that you can use for RV skirting, and most of the common materials can be found at any hardware store. It doesn’t take much to install, and its benefits are huge. Furthermore, you can place a propane heater underneath your RV after you’ve installed skirting for additional heating. Of course, be careful to prevent fire hazards and any other safety risks if you do this and give the heater proper ventilation. 

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