Winter Traveling In Your RV

We all would like to use our RV’s for skiing trips, snowmobiling and many times to just travel as that may be the time of year when your business is slow. Knowing we like to travel, one has to be prepared as frigid weather can be very dangerous. Some of the things one can do rather easily are as follows:

  • Make certain your RV is in top shape, both the driving portion as well as the coach.
  • Batteries are in good condition and are not about aged out—batteries can quit with no notice when they have reached their normal life span.
  • The coach water system works well, the heating system (furnace) is in excellent operating condition. The Heating system in a test environment will adequately keep the RV livable at 0 degrees.
  • The generator works and will start at 0 degrees in a test environment.

It is critical that these systems operate as being stranded is always a possibility.

  • To avoid water freeze up and other liquids, always maintain 55 degree temperature in the coach. Leave cabinets slightly ajar so heat can get in the area where your piping runs within the coach.
  • Holding tanks should be kept empty if at all possible to avoid serious damage to the system. Fresh water can be kept in the holding tank as long as there is some way to get some heat to it. Most water pumps are near the fresh water system and have an access door, remove the door and allow heat in the tank area. Limit fresh water to no more that 50% of tank capacity.
  • The Black water holding tank will not always be empty and even the gray water tanks may have some waste in them, do not allow them to become full if at all possible, in a hard freeze there could be considerable damage to these tanks. In some of the rigs the tanks are insulated and have heat tape wrapped around them while sometimes the tanks are in the lower cavity of the coach and as such are shielded. Be aware of your situation and keep it in mind as you travel.

I will not say never to use electric space heaters when you are at a place where you have electric shore power, but NEVER leave then unattended and shut them off at bedtime and use your furnace for heat. RV fires from space heaters are well documented. Never use your oven or range as a heater—watch for carbon monoxide. Propane is our source of heat; do not get caught with an out of propane condition. You can expect to use 10 gallons or more per week in cold weather, that has been my experience. When the temperature drops down to 0 degrees, serious freezing will occur and the longer it stays at that level the more severe the problem. If it gets down to 28 degrees one night, the water hose will probably not freeze so long as the daytime temp goes up above freezing. I use some pipe insulation material and slip it over my water hose for some protection on freezing but it will not protect against 0-degree temps. In zero temp conditions, disconnect the hose from outside water source. Another thing one should consider is taking a roll of the padded aluminum window covering for use in extreme cold as window insulation; it will help maintain better temperature control as windows allow a lot of cold to pass on into the coach. The roof vents in the coach can be covered with a sized pillow available at camping/RV stores, this is also a big help in retaining heat in the coach. If you have any concerns on having adequate fresh air, pop a roof vent open one or two inches-it will help keep things fresh and safer. The issue of driving with chains is something I have always avoided and will continue to do so. Chains may get you going forward but they do not help you steer. Most of us have never used chains, we do not know how to put them on or how to drive with them. If you are in a campsite and it snows, stay put until the roads are clear. The only advice missing is use good judgment; do not take risks going somewhere because you think you have to be there, wait until you have an all roads clear report and then travel.