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How To – Keep RV Valves From Freezing

December 18, 2008

It is important to keep RV valves from freezing if you want to prevent the hassle of unfreezing them. Although, unfreezing them is not really difficult if you have the supplies you need…and patience. See a post on unfreezing them here.

The idea is to create a bit of a warm space around the valves. It just has to stay above freezing and is amazingly easy. You can use just about any kind of material, however, I would suggest not using anything flammable! At various times, we have used bits of styrofoam, solid foam insulation, foil covered bubble wrap insulation.

This is the rear corner of our RV, where our valves are. As you can see, it is not tightly protected, yet we thawed our frozen valve out the other day using just this. This is not our typical “permanent” for the winter setup. It is just a quick and dirty temporary fix. Normally, we would have had something better up by now.

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For this picture, I got between the blue sheet and the RV to show the inside of our little “warm” area. As you can see, it is actually pretty open…in fact, it is more open than we would like. Dave will be working on this soon, but first he needs to protect other more critical things…like some exposed water pipes and water hose.

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Inside this little space, we typically use a 150 watt light bulb in one of those clamp on reflector type holders that you can see in the pictures. We find that is typically sufficient to keep it from freezing and to thaw it out if it does get frozen.

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One thing you have to be careful of is the condensation that forms on the underside of the tanks and tubing above the valve. It will drip into the reflector and can build up and hit the light bulb, too, causing the bulb to break. Dave typically tries to make sure there is something to divert condensation away from the bulb and holder, although I see he has not done that yet here.

Dave also typically builds a lean to of sorts out of bales or boards and black plastic. Last year, he put a layer of insulation across the plastic covering that made the roof  of the lean to. This provided a dry, and slightly warmer, place for us to dump the tanks. Unfortunately, it was really not built to last as we were hoping to put something different, and more permanent up. So, when Hurrican Ike blew through, our already leaning lean to blew down.

Another thing he tries to do is to enclose the bottom of the RV. This helps to keep the air around your little “warm” space from being so cold. It is especially helpful in protecting it from the wind. It also helps to keep the floor of the RV warmer, too!

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