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Ice Dams Again & Whoa, Nelly, It’s COLD Outside!

December 13, 2010

Winter has arrived. I know…it is not officially winter…but it might as well be. We have gone below freezing at night almost every night for about a month now. During the day, it varies, but we are having pretty consistent periods of below freezing days, too.

This makes a big difference in the RV. The focus has been on the house, so the RV has not really been “winterized”. We can no longer wait to do that as it appears that we will not be in the house until January some time.

We have had ice inside the windows. For more on what that is all about, you can read here: Long Term RV Living — Inside Insulation, Condensation & Icy Windows

While you read there, you will also see blue stuff on the floor. Our floor is not totally covered, but we have started to put it down. We really did not want to spend the money on the RV, preferring instead to spend it on the house; but we no longer have a choice.

We even have the A/C still in the window…another thing that must be done.  The guys will be putting plastic up on the outside of the two main windows. That will cut way down on the ice inside, if not eliminate it completely.

Insulating the outside is another story. We are doing minimal because…again…we don’t want to spend any money on the RV that we don’t absolutely have to. If you look here, you can see what we have done in the past: Long Term RV Living — Outside Insulation This time, we are mainly just putting plastic sheeting along the bottom of the RV to help keep the wind from blowing through.

Another battle we face is being able to dump the black water in the freezing weather. You can find info about that and other odds and ends here: Long Term RV Living — Odds & Ends The other day it froze on us. It took us a long time to get it thawed and dumped. These are things we must stay on top of.

Our washer completely froze. Thankfully, we did get it thawed out and it actually works! To keep it from freezing we usually surround it with foam and sheets of insulation…like the stuff we put on our floor. We also dangle a light inside of it to keep it warm. We did not stay on top of that, unfortunately, so it froze.

In the winter…because our water to the washer comes through a hose, we are not always able to do laundry here. The temps need to be above freezing to make sure the hose and faucet do not freeze while washing. That means we get to go to the laundromat. Fun!

Work continues on the house as we can…given the weather. I hope to get more photos up soon showing last Saturday’s work. Tomorrow, a father and daughter are coming out to help with the gables. I pray that it warms up. Right now, it is supposed to get up to 26 degrees. That is not very warm. Today is the same.

As in all things, we continue to trust in Yahweh the Creator. He will take us through this 6th winter here…whether we spend it all in the RV or get into the house for part of it.

Here is a view of the RV from a location below the house.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Joelle permalink
    December 13, 2010 3:03 PM

    I didn’t get all my winterizing done when I should have, either. I’m so thankful to my mom for skirting it for me while I worked on finishing up the semester. She’s an amazing handy-woman! 🙂 I did get foam in the ceiling vents and we sealed up some outside areas on the side (stuffing insulation inside the openings), but it has still been cold. Now that I’m done with the semester I can work on doing more winterizing. Unfortunately insulation in the walls is next to nil, so it leaks heat pretty badly.

    Do you use an electric heater, or propane? What have you found that works to keep you warm? Right now I’m at my mom’s because it was just too cold inside the trailer – low 50’s – even with electric radiator heaters going (it’s 16 out right now).

    • December 13, 2010 4:18 PM

      Joelle, I hope you have your water dripping so your lines won’t freeze!

      Low 50’s…wow! OK, I talked to Dave about this. Way to go for your mom! However, skirting alone will not keep you warm. You have to insulate it.

      Here are our suggestions.

      1. Get 4 x 8 sheets of 2 inch thick foam insulation (about $25 each at Lowe’s) and put them from the ground up along the sides of your trailer. Butt them against each other as much as possible and cut openings for your heater vent in the side. You don’t want foam against your heater vent. You can use boards or anything you can find to anchor them in place.

      At this point, you may want to even cover the windows. If you want the windows exposed, tape clear plastic…the thicker the better (from Walmart)…to the outside of your windows using the special all weather tape…not the regular packing tape. That acts like a storm window and really helps. Cut out foil covered bubble wrap insulation to put in the windows on the inside for night and really cold days. Yes, there are days when I have left the foil in the windows all day long just to keep it warmer. I use a lot of lights, but then, hey…lights give off heat, too. 🙂

      2. Get rolls of insulation like they use in houses and cover your roof with it. Put plastic over your vents first so no fiberglass gets into your vents. Shape it to cover everything. Then cover the whole trailer with a big tarp to keep it in place. Anchor the tarp so the wind cannot blow it away. That made a HUGE difference for us…especially since we also discovered that the ceiling A/C unit had an opening right to the outside. *duh*

      If your refrigerator gives you the option of running it on A/C, do that. That way you won’t have to worry about the roof vent for your refrigerator. If you cover your toilet vent, it can be tougher to keep the smell down, but it is a whole lot easier to just cover the whole roof with the tarp…unless you want to cut a hole in the tarp. In that case, tape the edges of the tarp down around the vent. Our roof leaks, so we did not want to take that chance. If yours does not leak, I suggest leaving the vent exposed. It is a lot more aesthetic.

      3. Get the blue or pink foam insulation sheets (3/4″ thick) to put down on your floor. Believe it or not…that, too, makes a HUGE difference. Don’t get anything thinner than 3/4″ as it does break down. The thicker stuff will last longer.

      4. If you can get more of the foam insulation sheets…thinner will work for this…cover every inner wall that you can. Every little bit you do makes a difference.

      I wish there was some way we could help you. If you want to talk to us, you can comment using the “anonymous” option (so it won’t post due to being held for moderation) and send me your phone number. I have unlimited long distance and don’t mind calling you even if just to encourage you and pray with you. You can also use the “Contact” option at the top of the blog to send it to me.

      Thank you for your prayers, Joelle. We are praying for you and your children, too!

    • December 13, 2010 4:39 PM

      Oh…another thing about the windows. I do not put plastic over the my little kitchen window which is on the opposite side of the RV as my door. That way…on those warmer days when I just need to get a cross ventilation of fresh air going, I still can.

      Also, I don’t know about your windows, but ours have aluminum frames. That metal acts like a heatsink. I get rolls of the foam strips and stick strips it to every bit of metal I can find. They come in various widths, so I just shove it all together as best I can. It doesn’t look great, but it IS functional. 🙂

      I hope that helps. I know it costs money and takes a lot of work, especially when the metal has condensation, but every thing you do makes a difference.

    • December 13, 2010 5:40 PM

      The plastic sheeting for the windows at Walmart is called Multi-Purpose Vinyl Sheeting by Duck. It is 4 mils thick and not very expensive.

    • December 14, 2010 10:32 AM

      Joelle, I realized that I forgot to answer your question about what we use for heat.

      When we first started out, we used the forced air propane heat. After a while, we did supplement that with a small electric heater. Part of the reason for that was because our propane heater would blow cold air for about five minutes or so after heating the RV up. We think it was to cool down the heater itself seeing as how it is in such a compact space…probably a fire protection? We are not sure, but it was definitely annoying.

      The forced air developed problems. At that point, we switched to different kinds of electric heat. We like the oil ones that look like radiators, but we have to have a fan behind it to gently blow the hot air through the RV. Otherwise, it becomes hot around the heater, but cold elsewhere. One problem with the oil heaters is that, if they get too hot, they take a LONG time to cool down.

      Right now what we use is one of those column heaters. It fits in a much smaller space and moves back and forth blowing the hot air around. It also has a remote that I can control from our bed. In the bathroom, we have a small boxlike heater. Between the two of them, we keep warm, although the floor is still pretty cold in the places where the foam is not down yet.

      Hope that helps.

    • December 14, 2010 10:34 AM

      Oh, the solid foam sheets I wrote about are put out by Dow. Not every place has them, but Lowe’s, Home Depot and places like those should have them or be able to get them for you. There are some that look like styrofoam covered with aluminum foil. They can be handy for outside, but inside you need the denser foam sheets.

  2. Joelle permalink
    December 13, 2010 3:04 PM

    Forgot to mention I’m praying you get into the house SOON. 🙂

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