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Author Topic: Newbie Residing in RV...Help with coming winter?  (Read 773 times)

Newbie Residing in RV...Help with coming winter?
« on: August 24, 2017, 12:18:59 AM »
Hello all! My name is Amanda and I have some questions. I'm a newbie about to spend my first winter in a 34' travel trailer I just purchased. It will be hauled to a family members property this Friday where it will stay. I have done a ton of research on what to look for when looking to purchase a used RV and let me tell ya! 12 sellers out of 15 were not truthful what so ever and many thought I was a sucker because I'm a young woman but I walked away from all and thankfully found the one I did. I originally was going to buy a fifth wheel until I began noticing nearly every one I took a look at had delamination and some kind of water or moisture damage varying in different severity. Then I found a trailer accidentally 3 hours away when coming back to my town looking at another failed possible purchase. I abolsutely love this trailer and it's in really good condition aside from a few cosmetic issues I can easily fix. The owner took really good care of it.

So my question is....I've been researching how to winterproof an RV correctly but mainly only finding youtube videos on how to winterize for extreme weather, like Canadian or eastern US winters. I mean obviously it's still great information but since I'm in the Pacific North West, we don't get those kind of winters and I don't want to over insulate where anything begins sweating or I cook myself out of my home. Our winters in the PNW comes with lots and lots of rain, every so often snow can be thrown badly at us and at times can be very cold temps near January or so (we are a little over due for a bad snowy winter). I live up about 700 ft or so which means we get snow more than others in this area and it freezes, leaving iced snow for weeks, when others in town have no snow. It's literally like an icebox up here. Anyways, my question is will I have to worry about freezing with my RV to the extent of insulating interior and exterior hoses/pipes? Obviously I'll still need to do some kind of skirting but should it also be a given to insult floors as well as walls? I'm wondering if a reflective insulation with thick black plastic for skirting will do the trick and without needing a heat lamp under the RV since I'm not in below freezing temps. Would it be a good idea to even put thick black plastic on the ground and tape to bottom of RV with metal tape, similar to weather proofing a crawl space basement on a home?. Are reflective window covers a good idea as well as some sort of insulation for the vents? I am getting mixed opinions about water proof RV covers. Some are telling me they live by their covers while others tell me it's a bad idea because moister builds and can cause issues, especially with large amounts of rain fall (about 15 miles from Seattle area via ferry) so I figured maybe tire covers but what would be the point if there is skirting? Should I just build a port to park the trailer under instead? I'm incredibly paranoid about roof leaks or any kind of water damage. What about other winterizing musts I should do? Any feed back will be greatly appreciated! I want to have all this done before end of October since that's when the cold fall days truly begin around Halloween. Also anything else experienced RV'ers opinions have to give to a newbie RV resider will be so appreciated! I'm so afraid I'll end up not doing something correctly and left with a big disaster. All my money is going into this and normally my father would be the go-to person to ask the questions I would have but he passed away a few years ago. This entire process has been extremely overwhelming but he taught me a lot in my life so at least I didn't settle for a lemon that looked good with unseen damages. I've found a good one finally without any issues thank goodness and I don't want to end up causing damage myself that I've been fearing most when I was searching to purchase one. I must admit, I'm pretty excited!


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Re: Newbie Residing in RV...Help with coming winter?
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2017, 03:41:24 AM »
Welcome Girl. You are having trouble finding information because living in an RV in cold weather is not a very good idea. RVs were not designed for cold weather. Personally if it were me I would be living in an apartment in weather that cold. One thing you will need is a great electric blanket. I never attempt to heat an RV while I am asleep. An electric blanket is all I ever need. Good luck to you.
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Re: Newbie Residing in RV...Help with coming winter?
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2017, 11:16:01 AM »
 I lived in a 5th wheel in Powell River BC and there are a few things to do to make life easier, I had lexan cut to fit the windows ( on the inside ) to cut down on heat loss and condensation. Just make sure the stick tape is put on the lexan and not the window frame, then in summer when you remove them off there is no sign they were there. Leave the window close to the galley uncovered so you can open it when the stove is on, and get fresh air. Have rain covers put on your ceiling vents .    Heat tape is good for the waterlines  and if you want to skirt your unit use solid insulation sheets , can also put them on your slideout end walls to help keep the heat in.
 Lots of folks live in RV's even in the north country, Also suggest you get a large propane tank put  near your unit  and have propane delivered.  Would also suggest you have a small porch with a roof put at your door so you can  hang wet gear  outside the door to drip dry  and keep rain out .
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Re: Newbie Residing in RV...Help with coming winter?
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2017, 11:40:14 AM »
You are right to be concerned about moisture inside. You will actually have to keep a vent open just about all the time to manage moisture from cooking, bathing, and just breathing. We use Maxxair vents, and they are an easy addition to your unit, replacing standard vents. Foxysdad has excellent ideas. It can be done, and is done by thousands of people every winter. Your climate is not super cold, but it will take work. Good luck, and let us know how it goes.
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Re: Newbie Residing in RV...Help with coming winter?
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2017, 06:12:14 PM »
Welcome to the forum.

Telling us a 34' Travel Trailer isn't telling us much to help you...  Make, model and year would help some.
What kind of roof does it have?  Metal, rubber, fiberglass etc.

Did the previous owner keep it in a enclosed building?  And now your going to put it outside permanently?

So this family member has Electric, Water and Sewer hook ups for you?  30amp power is not common unless your setup for camping.
Are you prepared for high energy bills?  Most RV's don't stay more than a few degrees above the outside temperature so even
if it's 50 outside your going to need a heat source.  If you have heat pumps in your AC units they will work to about 45 - any lower
than that and you will be using your furnace which usually runs on propane and gets expensive. 

I'm glad you found "the one" and hope it works out for you.  But like said - TT's and Winter don't go together. 
That's why so many people snowbird.

Just curious - can you tell us what make you decide to live in an TT at a young age?
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Re: Newbie Residing in RV...Help with coming winter?
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2017, 07:52:05 PM »

The first winter might be tough and a huge learning curve, but it can be done. You didn't mention whether you work or not and what kind of skills. It might be easier than you think, to find winter work in a more temperate climate.

I use a mattress warmer, get one, they are heaven on earth. Also get some personal ceramic heaters that are only 200 watts, as they are awesome for keeping the bathroom warm or just keeping one near you for extra heat.

Plan to dress super warm all the time so the heating bills don't terrorize your budget.

As time goes on, some of the "been there, done that" folks (like Foxysdad) will show up and HELP you here rather than discourage you.

Good luck!  ;D

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Re: Newbie Residing in RV...Help with coming winter?
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2017, 08:28:19 PM »
I was near Denver a few years ago in November when they had a cold snap and it got down to 7 degrees a couple nights. I was burning 30 pounds of propane a day @ $27.  I was usually also running an electric heater. I had skirted around my FW with celotex fiber board and on the coldest nights I ran another heater under there with my 3000 Honda genny. I dont know what you weather is like so you may not get a lot of those temps but still be prepared for it to suck a good deal of propane.

Do the standard cleaning and sealing on the roof with Dicor and whatever other products you choose.  If your tank area is heated your furnace should do ok at keeping the tanks from freezing but I'd skirt it with foam panels and monitor the temps under there. Have some rv anti freeze on hand and know ahead of time how to winterize it in case you lose the furnace or have a power outage. That may bring up another point which is if the power does go out at times. If you dont have enough battery to carry you through you may need to fire up a generator. Not a huge noisy one but something like 2000. It may not run the AC in the summer but it will do everything else.

Now that we touched on batteries and keeping them charged you my want to look at you converter. Most standard converters are fine when you are hooked up but there were some that would hold 13.6 volts or more and probably results in more water usage for the battery. 13.6+ is a little hot for floating and poor for charging. You are centered around being hooked up so you dont need to go over board on that but you do want to understand your 12 volt side of surviving winter.  In very cold conditions people will often open up their cabinets so the plumbing and lines get more warm air.   Some people will use a Buddy type heater so they dont need battery power for the furnace but ventless heaters put a lot of moisture into the air. Some of us wont use them while sleeping.   Have a back up plan.

If you let us know what you have for batteries and converter we can tell you more. I'd do a test run on 12 volts so you know what your abilities are. As mentioned RV's are best when they follow mild weather.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 08:29:52 PM by QZ »

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Re: Newbie Residing in RV...Help with coming winter?
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2017, 08:32:08 PM »
Like Howard said, dual-pane windows, whether factory-installed or added later, are an effective form of insulation. Other things you can do inside the trailer are to use electric space-heaters or a catalytic propane heater. An oil heater is an option too. Catalytic propane heaters consume very little propane compared to a typical RV furnace, and they're indoor safe. You do have to leave a window or vent cracked open, because they emit a fair amount of moisture while operating.

Travel trailers often have little or no insulation under the RV itself, leaving water lines, fittings and holding tanks exposed to freezing temps. Holding tanks and Pex waterlines aren't usually a problem unless it's below freezing for an extended period of time, but joints and fittings can freeze and break.

Skirting is a good idea if the trailer will be in one place for an extended period of time, and exposed to sub-zero temps for days at a time. Once skirted, it's also a good idea to place one or two 100 watt light bulbs near exposed fittings and in the wet bay. Another option is to wrap heat-tape around exposed water lines - especially the hose that connects to your water source.

If you decide use electric space-heaters, light bulbs and heat-tape, pay attention to your electrical consumption, because  those things all use electricity, and you might start blowing circuit breakers if you draw too much power.

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Re: Newbie Residing in RV...Help with coming winter?
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2017, 08:47:25 PM »
Dehumidifier, lots of propane, fiberglas panels around the underside, drop light and a bucket over the faucet, heat tape on the water hose. Hope you have access to rent a very large propane tank and arrange for fill service every week.  A couple of electric heaters too.  Plus lots of blankets, sweaters, and warm clothes.
Depending on a lot of things you can expect 25 gallons of propane a week to keep the trwiler above freezing.  Use the fiberglas panels around the underside, insulate too, and a portable heater under will help keep stuff from freezing, hopefully!


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Re: Newbie Residing in RV...Help with coming winter?
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2017, 01:42:55 AM »
Some of my friends who live in their rvs full time (Kitsap County) keep their rigs under a carport type setup. That protects the rig from the rain etc which helps keep the maintenance on roof etc down. They actually made it big enough to keep their car under it with space enough between for a nice cover patio type area with BBQ, tables etc.  While we get some cold days it isn't that often that it gets below freezing and if it does it is only for a few days. As you know sometimes we have a harder winter but by making sure you insulate all your exposed pipes etc and put some insulated boards etc around the skirting area you shouldn't need to put a heater  etc under the rv. My friend who has the carport system puts plastic up on the side that gets the most exposure which in our area is from the south and west for the most part. He built a insulated box type cover for his outside faucet connection and runs the hoses/cords etc through some large pvc tubing and buries a few inches underground from the faucet/outlet up to the rig thus protecting most of the exposed piping/cords etc from the weather.  Because our weather is pretty stable and doesn't swing to the extremes either way like the rest of the country, it makes it easier to winter in an rv. 
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Re: Newbie Residing in RV...Help with coming winter?
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2017, 11:59:29 AM »
What kwajkat said.
On north Whidbey I keep my RV under a carport with open sides and ends and it does
just fine.  Try to protect the side that gets the most wind and cover the top.
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