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Author Topic: Can the water pump freeze?  (Read 6255 times)

Lori M.

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Can the water pump freeze?
« on: December 16, 2008, 06:46:26 PM »
We have a 40' 2003 Newmar Dutch Star.

The area we live in got hit with a major cold front this past weekend and there is prediction of more snow tonight with even colder temps.

My husband and I were not able to get the RV winterized before the cold snap hit as we were both sick.   

Today, we are feeling better, but....

This morning, we find ice in our toilet bowl and no running water.  We turned on the furnace and the basement heater blower.

A couple of hours later, the panel that shows you if your fresh/grey/black water is full, etc. - we find it is not lighting up when the buttons are
pushed.   We find the water pump will not turn on so we can attempt to flush out the water we still had in our fresh/grey/black/hot water tanks, etc.
and winterize the system.  There is no way to run water from the faucets, etc.

Is it probable that water froze up the water pump?   

We are at a loss as to the next step.  Most of the dealers in the area are on very limited staff or have closed due to the economy.

So, we turn to our fellow RV'ers for ideas of what we can do.

Any response is very appreciated.

Thank you....

Lori
2003 40' Newmar Dutch Star
Followed by a Jeep Liberty

bross

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Re: Can the water pump freeze?
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2008, 07:03:31 PM »
Yes, the water pump can freeze. You need to get some heat in the RV right away. Turn on the furnace and let it heat the coach until the pump thaws and you can get some antifreeze into the system.
Bill & Doris

Rex

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Re: Can the water pump freeze?
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2008, 07:21:47 PM »
If you have a automotive type trouble light with a shield around it, put a 60 watt bulb in it and place it in your service compartment where the water pump is located.  Turn off power to the pump and if you are connected to shore water, turn it off also.  Once you thaw the water lines out, you may have a leak.  The 60 watt bulb should keep the service bay warm enough to not freeze and if above freezing it should thaw the lines out in that area.  If the toilet water froze you may also have some water lines elsewhere in the coach frozen as well. 

Rex
2001 Monaco 40' Diplomat being pushed by an 08 Honda CRV

Gary RV Roamer

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Re: Can the water pump freeze?
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2008, 08:15:05 PM »
Since the toilet froze, my guess is that most of your water lines and the pump froze solid. You need some warm weather or a lot of heat to defrost everything.  Do everything the others suggested to warm up the wtaer lines, wet bay, etc.. And odds are you will have a leak somewhere from a cracked pipe or fitting.

Good luck!
Gary
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Gary Brinck
2004 American Tradition
2007 GMC Acadia
Homebase: Ocala National Forest, FL

Ron

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Re: Can the water pump freeze?
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2008, 08:44:12 PM »
Yep the water pump is likely froze up and the inlet filter on the water pump may be broken.  Unfortunately it is likely there will be other leaks.  Turn the heat on and let it warm up inside for awhile.
Ron & Sam-home is where we park it. Currently located   HERE

Lori M.

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Re: Can the water pump freeze?
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2008, 10:27:11 PM »
Thanks to Everyone for the advice.

We've had the furnace on all day, the basement heater blower and a portable oil heater.   It's nice and toasty in there now.   The chunk of ice that was in the toilet bowl loosened up and we got that out no problem.   The ring looks look, the valve is moving smoothly and my husband put a bit of RV anti-freeze in the bowl.   

We are not connected to shore water.  Our coach is sitting on the side of our home.   

Hopefully, the water pump will unthaw and we can get some anti-freeze into the system.   

Any thoughts on why the panel lights are not lighting up?  These are the lights that give you feedback on the levels of your LP, battery, fresh/grey/black water.

Coach batteries are fine.   Bulk charging as we have the coach plugged into the 30 amp service we had put in on the side of our house.

Thank you once again to everyone for your quick responses!

Lori and Tom
2003 40' Newmar Dutch Star
Followed by a Jeep Liberty

geodrake

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Re: Can the water pump freeze?
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2008, 04:46:11 AM »
Lori:
It appears that you are new to the form, welcome aboard. 

As you are experiencing; there is a great group of folks here willing and able to offer sound advice.  I hope that you find the freezing problems to be minimal.
George Drake

FrontrangeRVer

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Re: Can the water pump freeze?
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2008, 08:21:07 AM »
Looks like you received your answer from all the posters above.

Just FYI.  We winterize and de-winterize our motorhome several times every Winter, depending on when we need to use the unit.  It only takes 10 minutes to winterize, and I do it in early October.  Better safe than sorry, as those frozen pipes are hard to find.  Also, keep in mind that if you have an icemaker, you want to winterize it also, as that small piping will freeze in a heartbeat.
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John From Detroit

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Re: Can the water pump freeze?
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2008, 08:52:38 AM »
The next step is something you should have done already, Trace all your plumbing,  Starting with the fresh water tank outlet and ending with the faucets and drains, find out where your pipes go.  Thus you will locate the water pump

Now, crank up the heat, leave the water pump OFF, there will be some kind of access panel, (might be a cabinet door or a drawer) you can open or pull out to get to the water pump.. Using a flashlight (do a visual inspection, if it does not appear broken (and it likely won't) add more heat, perhaps a small electric "Cube" heater at least 1-3 feet away pointed at the pump.  Leave the compartment open, also open all cabinets and/or remove all drawers that have pipes in/behind them.

I'd give the heater at least an hour.  Then try the pump again, Now this is a 2 person job.. One watching the pump with the flashlght and one operating the switch.. If it leaks, or sucks air, you still have a problem

If it works, but water still does not flow.. Well... If the supply line is frozen or if the lines out are frozen then more time is indicated

You can move that electric heater.. Try to get water first to the nearest faucet to the pump

And inspect for leaks all over the place

PEX pipe may survive. the assorted fittings, elbows, T's joints and such... May not
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

Lori M.

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Re: Can the water pump freeze?
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2008, 10:10:07 AM »
Thanks for the tips everyone.   We too would have had this task done before the unexpected hard cold front hit.   Unfortunatey, my husband and I were unable to even get out of bed for 3-4 days, let alone watch the news for weather reports.   We were in our rig over the Thanksgiving weekend and had planned on being gone now for the Christmas Holiday and New Years until we both fell ill and this happened.   

The heat is cranked up in the RV.   We have a small cube style heater and will follow your tips John.   We are expecting more snow from the North today and tonight.  It's snowing and cold now.   Love the Northwest.

Still wondering what could have happened to the panel indicator lights.

We are new to the forum and thank you for the warm welcome. 

We'll introduce ourselves formally once this issue is under control. :o

Lori

2003 40' Newmar Dutch Star
Followed by a Jeep Liberty

bross

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Re: Can the water pump freeze?
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2008, 10:14:43 AM »
Check your breakers. You might have blown a breaker trying to run the pump when it was frozen. That might explain the tank lights not working.
Bill & Doris

Gary RV Roamer

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Re: Can the water pump freeze?
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2008, 10:28:18 AM »
Quote
Any thoughts on why the panel lights are not lighting up?  These are the lights that give you feedback on the levels of your LP, battery, fresh/grey/black water.

They should light if the gauge panel has a power source. May not light correctly, but should display something.  What brand of gauge system is it, do you know?  I'm not familiar with what a 2003 Dutch Stars uses for tank gauges.  Garnet SeeLevel is one common brand in high line coaches.
Gary
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2004 American Tradition
2007 GMC Acadia
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glen54737

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Re: Can the water pump freeze?
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2008, 11:09:25 AM »
Most likely it was a 12v fuse not a breaker.
Unless the use breakers on high end coaches.

The most likely place for a leak will be the toilet valve it's small and the water is trapped in it.
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2012 Crusader 290RLT

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Mickey & Jayco (yorkies)

Lori M.

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Re: Can the water pump freeze?
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2008, 11:35:08 AM »
John in Detroit....

Men and from Mars - Women are from Venus

I located the water pump, it's a Sureflow and is located in the water system compartment on the outside of the coach.  The furnace basement blower duct is pointed directly at it.  We put a small cube heater in the compartment and pointed it towards the pump.   Closed the compartment.   We are "discussing" here what you meant exactly about keeping the "compartment" open.

RV Roamer....

As for the gauge system, I checked the breaker supplying the 30 amp service and it's fine.  I checked the breakers in the coach, they are fine.  Even shut the main off and back on to be certain.   I pulled the fuse that supplies the panel power, it appears fine.   As for the brand of gauge system we have, I'm not certain.  I did check the LP tank itself and the gauge there shows 1/4.   Hubby said we had 3/4 fresh when we left our last stop, and he dumped the grey and black before we left so they should be empty.   We did not use any water at all since it's been parked and it's not hooked up to an outside water source either.

We might be SOL on the ice maker.  I'm going to pull it now and see if I can get it to drain. 

Thanks Again,

Lori and Tom
aka Venus and Mars  :D
2003 40' Newmar Dutch Star
Followed by a Jeep Liberty

John From Detroit

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Re: Can the water pump freeze?
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2008, 12:01:27 PM »
Regarding the panel lights

They work by getting the sensors wet.  it is very slightly possible that the tanks have frozen and though water does expand AS IT FREEZES, both ice and the metal of the probe contract as they continue to grow colder...They may have simply lost contact.. You will know when the temps come back up and things are flowing once again.

NOTE: I do not think this is what happened... But you can test easily enough if you can see the sensor terminals.  You should have 4 or 5 sesnors, these will be screws with wires on them on the side of the tank.  The bottom most one is ground the rest go to a epoxy chip, may be wrapped with tape, but they all go there save the ground.

Run a jumper from the ground screw to any of the other screws, push the button, the panel should show the screw you clipped to.   If not, you have a more serious problem.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2008, 12:03:18 PM by John In Detroit »
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

Jim Godward

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Re: Can the water pump freeze?
« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2008, 12:35:56 PM »
John, they do not have the screw type sensors as theirs are tape capacitance type.  I suspect the tape may have become loose especially if it is the "ground" one. 
Jim
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Just Lou

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Re: Can the water pump freeze?
« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2008, 01:01:37 PM »
The pump could very well be thawed and still not run if the pressure in the lines is still present.  (frozen pipes in and out)?

Also my pump has an in-line fuse located very close to the actual pump.  May be standard installation practice, who knows?.

I wouldn't worry about the tank indicators until I was satisfied that I had the water pipe freezing corrected and protected.
'97 Bounder 34V (F53 w/tag), '99 Honda Accord EX

Weewun

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Re: Can the water pump freeze?
« Reply #17 on: December 17, 2008, 04:33:11 PM »
The water pump and indicator panel are 12v DC which are not generally protected by Circuit Breakers.  They are protected by fuses, generally automotive type fuses, so check for that,


Make sure that your Battery Disconnect Switch is not activated.

John From Detroit

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Re: Can the water pump freeze?
« Reply #18 on: December 17, 2008, 05:03:36 PM »
WeeWun has a thought too.. IF the sensor panel uses the water pump fuse, and if the pump is frozen, the may have popped it's fuse. check for proper power on the strip.

Ah well... Tis fun weather.. My daughter is on the phone with wife.. She is wishing she was here instead of Las Vegas more than normal.. You see. here we have about 2" on the ground and perhaps 2 more over night...... Las Vegas is expecting 10" tonight.
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

glen54737

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Re: Can the water pump freeze?
« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2008, 05:16:50 PM »
Las Vegas yesterday
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2012 Crusader 290RLT

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Howard R

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Re: Can the water pump freeze?
« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2008, 08:40:34 PM »
Lori M.,

I would offer the following based on very recent experience    ;D   ::)     and suggest you don't get too wrapped up in troubleshooting until everything thaws out.

We are currently in Pueblo, CO. and it got cold quickly and went down to about -4 a couple of nights ago, only something like 16 for a high yesterday. 

I got caught ... water system froze up, first shower lines and then water to kitchen and blue room.  Shower lines have frozen before (last year) but first time everything froze.  Pump didn't run either, gray and black tank indicators indicated empty although I know there was some since we dumped a couple of days before.  Waste tank heaters have been on since before it got cold.

Pump and water tank are inside, under the bed so wasn't too worried about that, remote thermometer confirmed it is staying in the 50's in there. 

Put a cube heater in pass through compartment by the water panel and brought temp up into 50's.  After about 12 hours lines to everything but shower opened up, pump operated normally, even though it was still well below freezing outside. (Pump didn't operate while line was frozen because there was pressure in the line already.) 

Today it warmed up into the 40's or more ... shower lines thawed out, tank indicators are indicating normally again.

Haven't been able to figure out where the shower lines are freezing or I would put some heat there.  For now plan on keeping the cube heater in the back compartment now that I know that is a problem area.  Don't have a drop light to try at the moment but may get one to try and monitor with the remote thermometer.

So while I understand your concern get the system thawed before you get too concerned about tank indicators or pump operation.

Hopefully neither of us will have any leaks.

And yes Ron, I do know the preferred winterizing method ... just can't leave quite yet!   :) :)

Howard

2001 Fleetwood Southwind 35R
V10   F53
Colorado

Lori M.

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Re: Can the water pump freeze?
« Reply #21 on: December 18, 2008, 03:18:32 PM »
Update....

I was finally able to speak with our RV tech at the dealer.  He suggested switching the 10 amp fuse out for the monitor/water pump to a 15 amp.  I did that and.....

The monitor panel lights up, the pump now works!    We (I) pulled the Aeneid out the water heater and water gushed out.   We had the low point drains open already, but I had no idea there was a 3rd valve.   So, per the tech's instruction, I stuck my head into the compartment and opened it up and the fresh water tank gushed water.    Now, my husband and I will force air through the lines with our air compressor and get things dried out completely, leave the inside faucets open and keep the heat on.

My husband recently had major shoulder surgery and is still very much in the recovery stage.  Due to other health issues, let alone just having had surgery, some things are very complicated for him.   And, as I mentioned in my 1st post, I was sick the earlier part of this week. 

We are just keeping our fingers crossed that we got enough heat into the coach before any freeze damage could set in.   We'll find out when we de-winterize for certain.  This is something my husband has always done, the winterizing of the coach....well, this lady now knows what to do too!

Thank you to each and everyone one of you that replied to my desperation....my husband thanks you as well.   

This is one site I would recommend to any RV'er.

Lori and Tom

P.S.

The reason I was not able to reach the tech was because of the depressed economy, they have downsized to the bare bones just to keep the doors open.   No one answered the phones when I called, until
this morning.  I have the tech's cell phone number now ;D

2003 40' Newmar Dutch Star
Followed by a Jeep Liberty