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How To — Unfreeze RV Valves

December 18, 2008

Obviously, the best course of action is to keep them from freezing in the first place. I will write about that in another post.

When ours have frozen…ugh…this is what has helped us. First, we surround the valve as best we can with anything we can find that will help to keep heat in. It could be bales, foam insulation sheets, foil covered bubble wrap insulation, thick cardboard. The foil covered bubble wrap insulation is more malleable for getting it to fit around the undercarriage of the RV.  We try not to use flammable material if we can help it as there is always a risk of fire if our heat source gets too close to it. We want to leave plenty of room for our heat source while still keeping the space as small as possible so that it will warm up the fastest.

Once we get the area “insulated” as best we can, we put inside a small plug in heater, like this one:

rv-valve-winter-thaw-heater-20081216-002

or we put in one of those reflector clamp lights, like this one in the picture.

rv-valve-winter-protection-20081216-007

We use an extension cord to plug it in. It can take awhile to thaw, depending on how frozen it is and how much heat you are generating. A light bulb will obviously take more time, but it will eventually warm it up enough to get it open.

We don’t put it right up against the valve. We just aim the heater in the direction of the valve and the fan on it gets the hot air around it. With the light bulb, we just place it as close as we can beneath it. You have to be careful about condensation dripping from the tank onto the bulb, though, as it will break the bulb. Since the enclosed space is pretty small, it does not really take that much heat to thaw it out. The valve does not have to reach room temperature. It only has to be above freezing.

We can also use a hair dryer, but that is harder to aim, unless we want to stand there and hold it. But then, if we do that, we won’t have an enclosed space to hold the heat in. It could actually take longer to do it that way. The key is patience. Once a valve is frozen, it can take awhile to get it thawed.

This is a picture of part of the setup we used to thaw our valve out the other night:

rv-valve-winter-protection-20081216-006

We are also temporarily using it to keep it from freezing again. For more pictures go here.

Once thawed, we try really hard to not let it freeze again!

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