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Old 01-06-2018, 09:08 AM   #1
Retire 2022
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FROZEN Fresh Water Tank

A stay in temperatures from 14-30 degrees and we had tank heaters turned on and furnace running...and our fresh water tank froze up. What exactly does Zero Degree tested mean? Any suggestions from those of you that have experienced this or anything like it? Your help is greatly appreciated! We full time year round. Thank you in advance for your replies.
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Old 01-06-2018, 10:15 AM   #2
dieselguy
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Since we pretty much wind down our camping jaunts in November and just wait till Spring to resume ... I don't have any personal testimonials. The Zero Degree marketing as to Montana's is just that ... marketing. Perhaps your fresh water tank heater isn't hooked up or faulty. Since it's been considerably colder this year around my neck of the woods, acquaintances at local RV parks that winter over here have had freeze up issues not experienced in recent years. (-3 a couple of nights) Even with onboard belly insulation, tank heaters, and heat flowing into the belly via the propane furnace ... they've had water lines riding against the frame freeze, dump valves freeze open or shut, and of course the fresh water supply issues. All these have remedies ... there will be tips to come from other MOCer's on how to go about it.
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Old 01-06-2018, 10:39 AM   #3
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can`t make this stuff up

Went camping locally last weekend in temps at 9 to 15 degrees. Water tank didn`t freeze but gray and black did kitchen gray did not. Pulled switch panel to check amperage draw of each heat pad while on. Fresh water was running 9 amps so it has 2 heating pads and works to keep it from freezing, but the drain hose was frozen so a hair drier was used to thaw it out to drain the fresh just before we left. The black was at 4 amps but would not drain so it was frozen it needs at least 2 heat pads and a heat tape on the 3 inch drain pipe. Gray water tank was at 3.4 amps so it has just 1 heat pad too and just a trickle came out even though I had at least 40 gals. of shower water in it. Kitchen tank drained as normal and has no heat pad on it (go figure) but the furnace duct runs right by it and the furnace was used ALL weekend so it probably kept it from freezing.
They boast O degree camping which is bull. They don`t put enough heat pads on the tanks to keep them from freezing. I`m sure it because the inverter would be over loaded with the lights and appliances running, the furnace draws a bunch of amps alone.
The only way to tell if your pads are operating is to check and see if their drawing any power. They have thermostats on them but if your in real cold temps they never turn off, mine didn`t the whole 3 days. I`ll bet you have a broken wire or loose connection on the fresh water tank pads. If they all are drawing amps then you need to add more and seal up the holes. The little 1 heat hose they run to the under belly is a joke, but sounds good in the brochure.
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Old 01-06-2018, 11:15 AM   #4
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Howdy bshgto!

I have a dumb question (we are newbies). Where do I check the amps?

Thanks in Advance
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Old 01-06-2018, 11:38 AM   #5
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just a thought

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Originally Posted by awheeler View Post
Howdy bshgto!

I have a dumb question (we are newbies). Where do I check the amps?

Thanks in Advance
If you don`t have the right tools or are no comfortable doing this just leave it to the dealer. You need a clamp on multi meter that can measure DC amps. Just take down the panel that has your tank heaters switches in it (you should have 3 switches that controls the heaters) then just clamp the meter on the load side of each switch and record the readings. Each tank heater is rated for about 4 amps each. Mine has 2 pads on the fresh water tank connected in parallel and draws about 9 amps. The other tanks have one and draws about 4 amps each but isn`t enough hence my freeze up this past weekend. I guess they figure the small heater hose they run to the basement by the front tanks is enough to keep it from freezing with one tank heater pad each. Like I said before I`m sure they are trying to keep the inverter happy with all the other stuff that draws low voltage amps. I`ll bet your pads aren`t working or you don`t have any.
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Old 01-06-2018, 01:10 PM   #6
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Isn't that area also suppose to be heated by the furnace, I would place a probe thermometer through the belly wrap and check the ambient temp just to make sure the heat is getting in to that area.
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Old 01-06-2018, 01:54 PM   #7
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winter in a Montana

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Isn't that area also suppose to be heated by the furnace, I would place a probe thermometer through the belly wrap and check the ambient temp just to make sure the heat is getting in to that area.
I think you have fallen victim to the word "heated" in the sales advertising which conjures up comfortable temps. Ain`t going to happen in a 41` camper with an 1 1/2 uninsulated hose, that has more holes in the chloroplast for air to migrate into the bottom than you might think, just have to realize what you have and deal with it. Winter camping is kinda fun and a new adventure around every single digit day. today it is 13 where I am changed out the propane early so it won`t catch us by surprise in the middle of the night. Ask me how I know this is a good idea.
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Old 01-06-2018, 03:47 PM   #8
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Also, some people have found that the furnace duct into the belly of the beast is not connected very well at the furnace, sometimes not at all. I think that mine had one screw with some aluminum tape and was more disconnected than it was connected. I added some sheet metal screws to all of the ducting flanges that were attached to the furnace.

Pull the basement wall, and have a look at your furnace, just in case. Don't be too surprised at the rats nest of wiring that you will undoubtedly find behind the wall.
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Old 01-06-2018, 07:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bshgto View Post
I think you have fallen victim to the word "heated" in the sales advertising which conjures up comfortable temps. Ain`t going to happen in a 41` camper with an 1 1/2 uninsulated hose, that has more holes in the chloroplast for air to migrate into the bottom than you might think, just have to realize what you have and deal with it. Winter camping is kinda fun and a new adventure around every single digit day. today it is 13 where I am changed out the propane early so it won`t catch us by surprise in the middle of the night. Ask me how I know this is a good idea.
LOL, agree about winter camping and propane management. I was out looking to fill a tank on New Year's Day and zero degrees - five hours to find an open fill center that wasn't out of propane - thank you Tractor Supply
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Old 01-06-2018, 09:24 PM   #10
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Frozen Fresh Water Tank

To all of you that have already replied...Thank you! We are back at our Full Time Camp Site and everything is working. I will be getting someone to check the amps at each switch for our heat strips for each holding tank. Service said that the heat strips and heater vent were all working properly...I believe they are working properly and we are grateful that there were no waterlines or other tanks that froze. Escaped the FREEZE this time; BUT I will prepare better for the next big freeze. Probably winterizing the 5'er and using the facilities at the park until the freeze is over. For future winters: I will be checking into getting some skirting for our 5'er and then putting a ceramic space heater (or two) inside the skirting to assist the holding tank heat strips and also allow the furnace to run more efficiently and less often. We're looking forward to more of your replies in order to better understand the BEST ways to SURVIVE freezing temperatures during the rest of this winter and all the future winters. We Love Full Timing and are making adjustments as we go and learn! Happy New Year to you all.
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Old 01-07-2018, 06:33 AM   #11
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[QUOTE=bshgto;1084100 Winter camping is kinda fun and a new adventure around every single digit day. today it is 13 where I am changed out the propane early so it won`t catch us by surprise in the middle of the night. Ask me how I know this is a good idea.[/QUOTE]

Will you please explain why you do this instead of allowing the regulator to do the auto switch and then fill empty tank?
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Old 01-07-2018, 06:50 AM   #12
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I can't help but ask another obvious question. If you are retired and a full timer, then why would you stay in an area where it is that cold in the first place every winter?
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Old 01-07-2018, 08:12 AM   #13
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winter in a Montana

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Originally Posted by WeBeFulltime View Post
Will you please explain why you do this instead of allowing the regulator to do the auto switch and then fill empty tank?
the other tank is already empty and who knows how full the second tank really is after you use it a while. I got caught one time in the middle of a really cold night with 2 empty tanks boon docking, not fun, wife cranky, kids asking why, propane not always available, poor propane management, to lazy to check, fishing to late store closed, after 6 beers don`t care, fall asleep after chasing the wife around the kitchen, many other excuses results the same.
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Old 01-07-2018, 08:29 AM   #14
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We would normally be in FL by now but DW has bronchitis and I have a sinus infection. Its what happens when you visit the petri dishes called grandkids for the Holidays. I have the rig winterized and while traveling south will use bottled water for drinking and pink anti-freeze for the toilet and drains. Once we reach a site where we can hook up to water and sewer, I'll drain the grey and black tanks. The way the weather is going this year, that may not be until we reach FL. Happy New Year to all.
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Old 01-07-2018, 10:56 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JandC View Post
I can't help but ask another obvious question. If you are retired and a full timer, then why would you stay in an area where it is that cold in the first place every winter?
I like the Ozarks in the winter - good fishing and hunting, less people and campers, rivers and hills more to myself, etc; and enjoy the different challenges that go with it. Just a choice.
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Old 01-07-2018, 12:35 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bshgto View Post
the other tank is already empty and who knows how full the second tank really is after you use it a while. I got caught one time in the middle of a really cold night with 2 empty tanks boon docking, not fun, wife cranky, kids asking why, propane not always available, poor propane management, to lazy to check, fishing to late store closed, after 6 beers don`t care, fall asleep after chasing the wife around the kitchen, many other excuses results the same.
Oh, I see!
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Old 01-07-2018, 09:14 PM   #17
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Old 01-08-2018, 04:57 PM   #18
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Amen brother! Our 6 weeks of winter is killing me. I actually went 4 weeks without playing golf. Unheard of in our neck of the woods.
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Old 01-08-2018, 05:55 PM   #19
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Retire 2022; We had a similar experience with the cold/freezing issues: We were caught in an Ice Strom in Odessa, TX for 4 nights. The supply and return lines to the fresh water tank froze. The Campground's in ground water lines were also frozen due to the extreme cold. The furnace did not keep the underbelly warm enough even with dripping taps. We used bottled water and got by, but I learned by observation that our lines to and from fresh tank were exposed to cold steel along the frame and very far away form the furnace duck-work that drops warm air into the under belly area. We could have fixed this issue (had we known) and still could do so by wrapping the lines in insulation and/or heat-tape for the occasional cold weather need. Hopefully you will not have the issue again. We like warm weather during the winter, hopefully your future will allow you to find warmer weather after you retire.
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Old 01-08-2018, 06:51 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WeBeFulltime View Post
Will you please explain why you do this instead of allowing the regulator to do the auto switch and then fill empty tank?
Done that and ran out of propane.....ONE TIME! dis not bother to check to see if it was running on the other tank. Now I just on one tank till empty....then switch it manually......then pull the empty and get it filled.
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