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  1. #1
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    Freezing in TX -> what damage to look for?

    Like a bunch of others, I'm stuck in West Texas in single-digit temps. We're running the furnace at about 70F and a small space heater, but it's still pretty cold and will remain below freezing until Tuesday afternoon. Starting last night, there's no hot water at any sink nor any water flow in the toilet. Both the kitchen and bathroom sink have cold water. The water heater is on electric and the element feels warm-ish, so I believe it's just the piping frozen towards the back of the trailer somewhere. As of this morning, there's ice on the door frame and also on the bedroom walls where the aluminum framing is along the bottom edge and running vertically a couple feet.

    When things start to thaw out, where should I start looking for damage? I'd like to catch leaks early. Anything I can or should do about the ice on the walls? I considered trying to melt it with a hair dryer, but I suspect it'll just refreeze tonight and I'm better off leaving it alone until temps warm enough for it to stay thawed so it doesn't soak into anything before refreezing.

    As an aside for anyone else, I taped plastic sheeting of the kind you use for covering drafty windows over all our windows and it helped quite a bit. It feels warmer closer to the windows, and the frames have less frost on them.


    2021 Imagine 2400BH
    2021 Chevrolet Tahoe
    Last edited by chrisandtara; 02-15-2021 at 08:33 AM.

  2. #2
    Site Team D2Reid's Avatar
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    ChrisandTara, welcome to the forum. I am not an Imagine owner so some specifics I cannot address. However I am a long time winter camper so can cover some basics.

    First off, Ice or Frost? Ice being thicker and a result of water freezing. Frost is more course, white, easily scraped off. The reason I ask is ice would be from water intrusion, that's a very bad thing. Frost comes from the moisture in the air being frozen by touching a colder surface. I am betting it's just frost. Being in TX you will have a bit of humidity, moisture in the air. The problem with thawing it with a hair dryer is releases the moisture back into the air, as you suggested, to refreeze again. Folks that have a chronic problem with this purchase a dehumidifier. But yours is a temporary problem. There is a product you can pick up at most store called DampRid. It does a fair job of removing excess water in the air.

    Hopefully the Imagine owners will correct me if I am wrong here, but from what I have read about others that have frozen up the trailers hold up pretty well to this. Minor temporary freezes don't always result in water leaks. A couple of steps to take, be sure to run the propane furnace, then use electrical heat to warm small zones for comfort. The propane heater is the only thing that will keep the trailer from freezing up.

    Open all of the cabinet and drawers at night. This helps circulate the air and keeps pipes warmer. The old fashioned method of keeping you pipes from freezing by letting the water drip works, but has some inherent dangers in RV's. Overflowing a holding tank is the most obvious. If on full hookup with sewer, folks will say just leave the tanks open and they won't overflow, but that also has some danger, you must make sure that your sewer hose has an even flow to the ground. Any kinks or low spots at all will freeze causing blockage and eventual tank overflow. It can be done, just be careful.

    As things warm up and you start to look for leaks they become apparent pretty quick. Ice stalagmites under the RV are pretty clear indication of a leak. Then drips and obvious water. Takes your shoes and socks off, your feet can find wet spots, feet don't like wet spots, they'll let you know pretty quick if they find one.

    An easy and not completely accurate way to tell if you have a water leak. Put your system into boondocking mode were it uses the water pump. Turn it on then turn off all water taps. Wait for the system to pressurize, usually less than 30 seconds. The pump turns off, it has a pressure regulator built in that turns the pump on when there is a pressure drop in the lines. If it just runs and runs you have a bad leak. If it turns off then back on for a few seconds after 5-10 minutes you may have a minor leak. There are more variances where this will not hold true, but it's a start.

    Lastly good job with the window insulation, it does make a huge difference. If you have a candle you go around your doors and slides and look for air movement. If you find some you put painters tape over the area, easily removed, but it stops the air flow.

    While it's disturbing to have a freeze most are minor and thaw out without issues, I am hoping this is your case. Good luck, stay warm!
    Last edited by D2Reid; 02-15-2021 at 09:37 AM.
    Dallas
    2017 Momentum 376TH, 2019 Ford F450, Dual Rear Wheel, 4x4, diesel.
    2015 Harley-Davidson Street, XG750

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the input!

    You're right, mostly it's frost. As the night and morning wore on there was enough accumulation that it started to turn into more-solid ice in a few spots, but I believe even those were still caused by moisture coming out of the air. It's now in the 20s there and everything has melted/evaporated again. I wiped up the water, and nothing seems much worse for the wear. Still no hot water though. We picked up a dehumidifier at the local hardware store, although I'm debating if we open it or return it. As you noted, this is a mostly temporary problem and it might be a waste of money & storage space after a couple of days.

    I'll try your method for checking for leaks, that's a great suggestion. We're currently disconnected because the campsite water isn't running and I didn't want the sewer hose to freeze full. The campsite bathrooms are actually closed because the toilet is frozen solid and the (formerly dripping) tap is just an icicle!
    Chris, Tara, our two daughters, and our dog Slate full-timing
    2021 Imagine 2400BH
    2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

  4. #4
    Site Team Ynot4me2's Avatar
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    You got bang on advice from @D2Reid . On top of our 22mle, I also have a much older tt for hunting an we often fall well below freezing. The frost that you are seeing is condensation from the humidity in the tt mostly created by our breath. When it melts, simply wipe down. As for the electric heating, I would stop that and rely simply on the furnace if possible. Its the furnace that heats the underbelly. As for frozen pipes leaking. It's all PEX which is pretty resistant from breaking when frozen. Not guaranteed against bursting but pretty solid. Chances, you'll be fine but by running on the fresh water pump when thawed out, you'll know something is wrong when it keeps running and unable to create a pressure. Welcome to Canadian like winters

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    Steph & Lise
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  5. #5
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    Cool.

    Generally, I've been pleasantly surprised by how well things are going in the trailer. With plastic over the windows, the condensation has been pretty minimal as long as it's about 15-20F, and we've gone through less than a tank of propane in 36 hours despite the single-digit temps driving the furnace regularly. It probably helps that we have one of the smaller trailers in the GD lineup.

    I did peek under the cloroplast yesterday and noticed the piping from the water heater drops down into the underbelly and is otherwise completely uninsulated. I'm not surprised it's frozen. If it doesn't thaw during the day today I'll unscrew enough to get a hair dryer in there and hopefully melt everything.
    Chris, Tara, our two daughters, and our dog Slate full-timing
    2021 Imagine 2400BH
    2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

  6. #6
    Site Team D2Reid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisandtara View Post
    I did peek under the cloroplast yesterday and noticed the piping from the water heater drops down into the underbelly and is otherwise completely uninsulated. I'm not surprised it's frozen. If it doesn't thaw during the day today I'll unscrew enough to get a hair dryer in there and hopefully melt everything.
    I started on the GD forum about 4 years ago and there was quite a lot of discussion about a water line being uninsulated; I really thought they got that corrected.

    Another option to the hair dryer is to buy and old fashioned (non-led) utility light. Put a 100 watt bulb in it and shove it under the chloroplast. Produces just enough heat to help and saves the wife's hair dryer. My DW was none to happy with me when I ruined her hair dryer.
    Dallas
    2017 Momentum 376TH, 2019 Ford F450, Dual Rear Wheel, 4x4, diesel.
    2015 Harley-Davidson Street, XG750

  7. #7
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    Thankfully, everything seems to have thawed out just fine. We have hot water, no leaks, and the toilet flushes!

    As a reminder of why you should disconnect and drain your water line, today I turned off a neighboring 5th-wheels water feed because there was water pouring out of the compartment with nobody home. They must have left town for a bit with the water hooked up.
    Chris, Tara, our two daughters, and our dog Slate full-timing
    2021 Imagine 2400BH
    2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

  8. #8
    Site Sponsor GeoffnCheri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisandtara View Post
    Thankfully, everything seems to have thawed out just fine. We have hot water, no leaks, and the toilet flushes!

    As a reminder of why you should disconnect and drain your water line, today I turned off a neighboring 5th-wheels water feed because there was water pouring out of the compartment with nobody home. They must have left town for a bit with the water hooked up.
    Glad you all came through without issue
    Geoff and Cheri
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  9. #9
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    They really should put insulation on all pex in the underbelly. Likely $50 for them to do, but costs us hundreds to redo in time and materials.

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