My original video about Spending a Winter in the Rocky Mountains was made about 8 months ago, just as I was coming out of the coldest part of my first winter in the mountains. Now with one season “under my belt”, I find myself better prepared for what IS coming!
In fact, in my few days here in Steamboat in early November, already we have had in excess of a foot of snow (here in the valley!) and temperatures have dipped as low as 5F! As often happens in November, the weather has rebounded, it feels like nearly 60 in the sun today – but – one has to always remember where you are and the fact that the weather can “turn on a dime.”
Preparation for Winter 2013 in an RV (5th Wheel)
While my winter preparation is not yet complete, I do have a fairly complete game plan. As you study the photos below, you’ll note some changes from my previous year – particularly in how I set up my water hose and sewer hose (photos are not yet complete on this strategy, but I’m about to describe it.) Before I begin, if you wish to see my thoughts and feelings about returning to Steamboat and my experiences in the first few days of November this year, you can read my article on my alansills.com site.
Ok, now to the technical stuff…
Last winter I ran heat tape (coil) around the water hose and then “wrapped” it with styrofoam tubes that enclosed the hose and the wrap. This year, upon advice from the local Ace Hardware guy, I purchased thin fiberglass insulation (see the pics – and I have a pic of the stuff I purchased) and wrapped the hose (after wrapping the heat tape first.) You can see progress in my “project” by studying the photos. I then took the entire “mess” and wrapped it in plastic bags (which to the best of my “skill” were taped to be water-tight.) So far, this strategy has paid off, though I have not “fully tested” it yet. On the nights where the temperature sank below 10F, I kept the water trickling inside all night to insure it would not freeze. More recently, the nights have been closer to 20F, I “dared” to close the water faucets inside and at sunrise I still had flowing water! So far, so good!
As you study the photos, note there is a small stretch along the hose (approx. 25 ft) that the heat tape did not reach (I used two 15 ft coils). For that small stretch, I applied thicker “traditional” fiberglass insulation – and figure it will get buried in the snow soon enough! Note also the end of the heat tape where the plug is must be exposed as that has a thermostat in it and the heat tape shuts off when temperatures exceed freezing. The heat tape is wrapped around the hose right up to the water connection inside the bay door of my RV. I will see if that is sufficient to keep things liquid inside that bay door as we settle into real winter. If not, I have a drop light I can place in there. Note also the RV is oriented so all this is on the southside of the RV and despite how cold it gets all winter, it will get sun during the day! Last winter, the most critical time period was the month of January. By the first week of February, the days were long enough and the sun high enough to begin to thaw any freezing that occurred overnight. (Remember – Steamboat is a fairly sunny region.
This may not work as well in areas of the Pacific NW where clouds dominate all winter.) The area near the campground spigot has a copper heating element mounted on the spigot to keep the water flowing out of the spigot, and a giant trashbag filled with insulation. Note that my hose has wrap and heat tape up into that area (under the trash bag and inside the campgrounds fiberglass insulation.) Now as to the sewer line – the big change this year is to run the line inside the blueboard insulation. Only about six inches of sewer line is exposed to the outside world this way and I will close the gap around the blueboard where it comes out. Further, I plan to lay 1 stretch of 15 ft. heat tape under the sewer line (which is resting on a camco support from the RV to the sewer connection.) Lastly, I will be adding two lamps underneath – one near the sewer line (not too close!) to keep that area somewhat warmer, and a 2nd one under the levers that release grey and black water (last winter they froze as the chains were too cold).
I believe a well applied heat lamp under there will alleviate the need to run heat in my RV to uncomfortably warm levels (resulting in the burning of tons of propane!) Last winter I ran heat to 67 in January to heat the underbelly – an expensive choice that burned through 100 gallons of propane in 3 weeks! (That was the fastest I burned through a tank of propane all winter, typically I got 5 – 6 weeks out of a tank.) So… thats it for now, check the photos, and I welcome your thoughts and feedback via the comments section below.