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Author Topic: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?  (Read 1533 times)

WolfgangStiller

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Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« on: January 27, 2018, 12:34:46 PM »
I just purchased a 2018 Winnebago Minnie Drop 1780. (Really impressed by the quality, design, and technology).  We live in Colorado and a lot of our camping will be boondocking at high elevations. What that means is that even with warm forecast we may get hit with temps below freezing (even in the summer).  Worst case would be temps as low as 20 degrees overnight.  The dealer said the tank heaters should be sufficient but the Minnie Drop has exposed tanks and pipes on the underside (they are not in an enclosed bay).  I am thinking I need to wrap insulation and add  12v heat tape to protect the expose gray/black tank drain pipes and the short hoses exposed to the freshwater tank.  Can I really avoid doing this?   I am not looking to camp in prolonged below freezing temps but I do need to be able handle occasion freezing nights. Any thoughts?
2018 Winnebago Minnie Drop 1780

SeilerBird

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2018, 12:39:40 PM »
If you don't wrap your pipes and one bursts you will be in a world of hurt. It is not that hard or expensive to wrap them so what is your excuse for not wrapping them?
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Memtb

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2018, 12:45:21 PM »
 I would certainly try to insulate/ heat any exposed piping, sewer lines/ dump valves, and tanks. Though you may have water lines hidden that won’t be heated with the forced air furnace. They could present a problem.

  I believe that many people who “fled” the north country to Florida, Texas, etc. found out that it can get cool anywhere....even in Colorado!  ;)
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RGP

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2018, 12:52:39 PM »
If you do a lot of cold camping the odds will catch up with you. I have used my TT for a night or two of 20 degree weather with days sunny and upper 40's to warm things up. However, usually if we are camping in the cold, we dry camp and use the heated washhouse in the winter.

Cold weather seem to have a way of sneaking up on you and creeping into odd TT locations. Adding extra insulation etc. is like chicken soup, it cannot hurt.

Be safe.


WolfgangStiller

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2018, 01:14:35 PM »
If you don't wrap your pipes and one bursts you will be in a world of hurt. It is not that hard or expensive to wrap them so what is your excuse for not wrapping them?

My only excuse is that the warm liquid from the tanks truly makes it unnecessary. I was thinking I need to both insulate and heat the pipes. You think just insulating is sufficient?

Thanks!

-Wolfgang
2018 Winnebago Minnie Drop 1780

WolfgangStiller

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2018, 01:15:28 PM »
If you do a lot of cold camping the odds will catch up with you. I have used my TT for a night or two of 20 degree weather with days sunny and upper 40's to warm things up. However, usually if we are camping in the cold, we dry camp and use the heated washhouse in the winter.

Cold weather seem to have a way of sneaking up on you and creeping into odd TT locations. Adding extra insulation etc. is like chicken soup, it cannot hurt.

Be safe.

Thanks.  Are your tanks exposed to the outside (as mine are)?
2018 Winnebago Minnie Drop 1780

Frank B

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2018, 06:24:33 PM »
In our area of Canada, there are third-party insulators that will spray foam urethane insulation on the bottom of a trailer. It makes accessing plumbing and what not a little bit difficult afterwards, but it sure does stop it from freezing. I have had that done on two of our three trailers with no ill effects. Both of the units that had the bottom spray foamed stayed much warmer, and had no problems with freeze ups. The one we have now is supposed to be a 4 season coach. I have not spray foamed it, and it freezes up pretty easily. However, we are older now, so we go south in the winter where it isn't that cold.
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WolfgangStiller

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2018, 09:26:06 PM »
In our area of Canada, there are third-party insulators that will spray foam urethane insulation on the bottom of a trailer. It makes accessing plumbing and what not a little bit difficult afterwards, but it sure does stop it from freezing. I have had that done on two of our three trailers with no ill effects. Both of the units that had the bottom spray foamed stayed much warmer, and had no problems with freeze ups. The one we have now is supposed to be a 4 season coach. I have not spray foamed it, and it freezes up pretty easily. However, we are older now, so we go south in the winter where it isn't that cold.
That sounds pretty good. How much weight does that add to the trailer? How would I locate a business like that locally? What do you they call themselves?
2018 Winnebago Minnie Drop 1780

Frank B

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2018, 10:18:44 PM »
It is heavy like styrofoam. Very little weight.


They usually insulate metal buildings and other industrial structures. I don't remember how I found the guy that did ours.


Try looking up polyurethane foam applicators in your area. You should find someone in the business that can give you a referral from there.
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jubileee

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2018, 11:36:55 PM »
A friend of mine did his own foam insulation on his trailer pipes.  Bought a case of spray cans from Home Depot. Said he only used half the case (6). Case was under $100. He fastened some 20 or 22 gauge metal up underneath, drilled some holes in it then filled it with foam.

WolfgangStiller

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2018, 08:01:16 AM »
A friend of mine did his own foam insulation on his trailer pipes.  Bought a case of spray cans from Home Depot. Said he only used half the case (6). Case was under $100. He fastened some 20 or 22 gauge metal up underneath, drilled some holes in it then filled it with foam.

Thanks!  Right now I have metal tape covered fiberglass pipe wrap that I have seen others use for this application.  I am afraid the spray would be hard to apply since I need to go up from the ground to the pipes.
2018 Winnebago Minnie Drop 1780

WolfgangStiller

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2018, 08:02:39 AM »
It is heavy like styrofoam. Very little weight.


They usually insulate metal buildings and other industrial structures. I don't remember how I found the guy that did ours.


Try looking up polyurethane foam applicators in your area. You should find someone in the business that can give you a referral from there.

I am going to check that out.  It seems like that will give me benefits beyond just avoiding frozen pipes.  I'll have to consider the cost and added weight once I find someone.
2018 Winnebago Minnie Drop 1780

Frank B

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2018, 11:33:59 AM »
Wolfgang:


Like I mentioned, weight is a non-issue.  This stuff is VERY light.


We found that both our previous two trailers were MUCH more comfortable with the spray foam, as it keeps the floor much warmer.  Just be aware that if ever a pipe does freeze, splits, and has to be replaced, this may complicate things.  If the plumbing runs through the floor (as some of it does on our Arctic Fox), then access may need to be done from the bottom up through the plastic membrane covering the bottom of most units.  If you spray foam over that, then it is one more layer that you have to go through first to gain access.  Not that hard to do, as the foam can be gouged out easily enough.  But it does create more work, and it is a bit messy (dusty) to remove. 


On our first unit I didn't care, as it was 25 years old when we bought it, and it was a 'throwaway' unit.  The 23' 5th we had was a 'cheapie', but quite a bit newer.  We never had any issues with either unit, keeping the first one for 5 years, and the second one for 10.


Frank.
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ALLOY

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2018, 11:49:20 AM »

Urethane spray foam is great insulation but it is not 100% close cell. I've sprayed it and I know people that spray it. I would only spray it on the bottom of a trailer if it can be isolated from the environment.  They used to spay the 2lb/cuft foam on the underside of a roof but it act as a sponge if the roof leaked.  The code here has been changed to only allow 1/2lb in a roof. The 1/2lb has more open cells so water (in time) will pass through.

EXP...expanded polystyrene is not 100% close cell

If your thinking about using Reflexite you can save some $$ and use vapor barrier plastic. Both have the same R value.  Foil faced products are best inside the roof or a south facing wall to reflect IR in hot climates.

Here are some "100% close cell" suggestions

Referred to as extruded polystyrene (XPS).....used this on the bottom of my trailer. It is painted on 5 sides with a latex truck bed liner.
http://www.foamular.com/foam/products/foamular-150.aspx

EPDM is $$ but is similar to sponge easy to wrap/stretch.    Insulated my fridge with this.
https://www.aeroflexusa.com/products/aerocel-epdm-sheet-for-duct-and-large-surfaces/

http://www.kflexusa.com/HomePages/ProductLineHome.aspx?ID=35&prod=24&line=1

Polyethylene pipe insulation can be built up in layers to achieve 2"-3" of insulation......insulated the hot water lines and some 4" heat ducts with it.
https://www.amazon.com/THERMACEL/b/ref=w_bl_hsx_s_hi_web_9226763011?ie=UTF8&node=9226763011&field-lbr_brands_browse-bin=THERMACEL

This is the same as packaging foam
http://www.foamforyou.com/polyethylene_foam.htm
35' 5th

Frank B

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2018, 12:11:58 PM »
ALLOY:


Quote
They used to spay the 2lb/cuft foam on the underside of a roof but it act as a sponge if the roof leaked. 

You have way more knowledge of this than I, but we ran into zero problems with about a 1" coating on the bottom of our trailers - exposed to the elements.

If I understand you correctly, water coming from above would leak down under the influence of gravity and fill the foam. This would make it heavy. However, would the same be true if the water were only sprayed on the bottom? Would water flow uphill against gravity?

Frank.

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Memtb

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2018, 12:15:06 PM »
 Just a guess here.... possible thru a capillary effect!
Todd and Marianne
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WolfgangStiller

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2018, 07:41:04 PM »
Wow, thanks for the specific references, Alloy!

-Wolfgang
2018 Winnebago Minnie Drop 1780

ALLOY

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #17 on: January 28, 2018, 11:47:08 PM »
ALLOY:


You have way more knowledge of this than I, but we ran into zero problems with about a 1" coating on the bottom of our trailers - exposed to the elements.

If I understand you correctly, water coming from above would leak down under the influence of gravity and fill the foam. This would make it heavy. However, would the same be true if the water were only sprayed on the bottom? Would water flow uphill against gravity?

Frank.

The foam is 5%-15% (depending on quality and how it is applied ) open cell.  Like a sponge it will draw water up.


Edit: Braking the surface skin is how I've see water enter the foam most often. On the bottom of a trailer it is not hard to do. That is why I think it should be protected from the environment.
 With all the surfaces on the bottom of a RV and with so much moisture moving around I couldn't see how I was going to be able to seal the bottom 100% up so water did not get in so I chose products that will allow the water to drain.

 
« Last Edit: January 29, 2018, 09:02:33 AM by ALLOY »
35' 5th

Frank B

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2018, 11:11:27 AM »
ALLOY:


Quote
Referred to as extruded polystyrene (XPS).....used this on the bottom of my trailer. It is painted on 5 sides with a latex truck bed liner.


So, you paneled the bottom of your unit with this product?  I've thought of doing that as well, but it appears to be a BIG job to cut and fit it all.  How did you attach it?


Frank.
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ALLOY

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2018, 08:48:47 PM »
ALLOY:



So, you paneled the bottom of your unit with this product?  I've thought of doing that as well, but it appears to be a BIG job to cut and fit it all.  How did you attach it?


Frank.

Big would be an understatement.

Flatbar was welded to the frame. Best way to describe it is the foam is clamped in place so it can be removed to access slide motors and wiring.


The frame is spit into 4 sections.

1st (front) is 2" XPS as you describe is paneled. The panels are protected by .040" aluminum

2nd are the B&G tanks. The tanks sit in a compartment that is insulated on 6 sides with 2" XPS

3rd above the axles are the water tanks that sit in a compartment that is insulated on 6 sides with 2" XPS

4th behind the axles is 2" XPS. These panels are protected by "large" mud flaps and coated with latex truck liner.



35' 5th

RGP

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #20 on: January 30, 2018, 03:13:04 PM »
A lot depend on how much you want to do. There was an article a while back about a guy who wanted to try to winter over on Alaska. The had a small TT.

He skirted it with foam board insulation. Shoveled snow, when it fell, up to the windows so it looked like a tin topped igloo. He burned a huge amount of propane, proved it could be done, wrote an article about it for a magazine and was never very far from family help if he needed it.

It can be done if you have the time, money and luck.

Be safe.     

Frank B

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #21 on: February 03, 2018, 04:44:47 PM »
ALLOY:


With the amount of time and effort that you have invested in your unit, I hope you are never planning on selling it!  ;D
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namumac1

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #22 on: February 06, 2018, 10:34:13 PM »
My only excuse is that the warm liquid from the tanks truly makes it unnecessary. I was thinking I need to both insulate and heat the pipes. You think just insulating is sufficient?

Thanks!

-Wolfgang

If you're boondocking won't the 12v heat tape be a big load on your batteries?

ALLOY

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #23 on: February 06, 2018, 10:37:28 PM »
ALLOY:


With the amount of time and effort that you have invested in your unit, I hope you are never planning on selling it!  ;D

Who would want to buy a 35' 5th with a 16"deep frame, 8k air ride axles, 240gal FW, 120g Grey, 120gal Black, 100lb propane tank, 1.3Kw fixed + 1.3kw portable solar, and a pile of other useless junk ;)   
35' 5th

Frank B

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #24 on: February 07, 2018, 09:13:34 AM »
If you tow that at all, I assume that you're using a commercial highway tractor?   ;D
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keymastr

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #25 on: February 07, 2018, 06:23:41 PM »
I would check that all your tanks have heaters. Most often the fresh tank is the only one with a heater unless added by an owner. I would add heat pads and tape to the drains and waste tanks and insulate them. Spray foam is great but can be pricey to replace if you need to get at the plumbing.

winslow

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #26 on: February 08, 2018, 09:41:41 AM »
Our Outdoors RV came stock with foam sprayed around the tanks and lines, with coroplast ( http://www.coroplast.com/ ) used to both hold it up while it cures and protect it from physical damage from below. Never had a freeze up issue (except the hose running to the rig!) with nights in the teens and days in the 30s in North Idaho.
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ALLOY

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #27 on: February 08, 2018, 08:38:59 PM »
Our Outdoors RV came stock with foam sprayed around the tanks and lines, with coroplast ( http://www.coroplast.com/ ) used to both hold it up while it cures and protect it from physical damage from below. Never had a freeze up issue (except the hose running to the rig!) with nights in the teens and days in the 30s in North Idaho.

Our previous trailer had coroplast on the bottom. The seal at the front and around the front stab jacks and slide arms was open.  When I dropped one side to access the basement I found that the coroplast had water both on top of it and inside it.
35' 5th

captaindomon

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #28 on: February 09, 2018, 09:21:45 AM »
One thing to be careful with the expanding spray foam if you do it yourself: It’s more than strong enough to break things as it expands. Be careful if you are spraying it into enclosed areas, as it slowly continues to expand over the course of several hours, it can break things apart and distort things. Might be good to have a professional do it if you have one available.

WolfgangStiller

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Re: Survive freezing night with just tank heaters?
« Reply #29 on: February 09, 2018, 09:40:39 AM »
If you're boondocking won't the 12v heat tape be a big load on your batteries?

It's max 3 times 4.8 at peak but they will cycle on and off.  Even if they are on 100% I have dual batteries and calculated the load so I well above 50% at expected usage. Plus I have a Honda EU2000IC if I need it.
2018 Winnebago Minnie Drop 1780

 

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