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  1. #1
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    Water Dump Pipes Frozen

    Wife left the bath gray tank cracked just a little. Was solid ice the whole dump pipe, got what I can see thawed with a blow dryer and currently have a blow dryer into the pipe.

    It's only 25deg out and when I go to dump gray tank nothing still comes out. With blow dryer into the outlet pipe water is still dripping out.

    How deep can this ice melt go with tank heaters on? Ay other suggestions what to do?

  2. #2
    Site Team D2Reid's Avatar
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    I am not entirely clear about what is going on. So I am going to ask some questions for clarification.

    Quote Originally Posted by gd369rl View Post
    Wife left the bath gray tank cracked just a little.
    Did you leave a faucet dripping that would drain into the gray tank? Was the gray tank valve partially open, fully open?

    Quote Originally Posted by gd369rl View Post
    Was solid ice the whole dump pipe, got what I can see thawed with a blow dryer and currently have a blow dryer into the pipe.
    Are you referring to the PVC pipe under the trailer or the attachable sewer hose that lays on the ground? If it's the pvc pipe under the trailer how do you know it's ice the whole way up?

    Quote Originally Posted by gd369rl View Post
    It's only 25deg out and when I go to dump gray tank nothing still comes out.
    Can you easily move the dump valve? Is it possible the tank is empty?

    Quote Originally Posted by gd369rl View Post
    With blow dryer into the outlet pipe water is still dripping out.
    Be a little careful with that, if there is blockage, and there is water in the tank, and the valve is open, then it is possible to soak the dryer causing it to short out. Not a given this will happen, just something to be aware of.

    Quote Originally Posted by gd369rl View Post
    How deep can this ice melt go with tank heaters on? Ay other suggestions what to do?
    When you say ice melt are you referring to the warm air from the hair dryer, or the amount of melt (warm water) produced by the tank heaters, or some other form of ice melt?

    Tank heaters are flat pads that are about 12” wide and 20” long. They are placed underneath the tank near the valve. They only warm to about 40f, so not real hot. If water is frozen inside the pvc pipe they will not assist in the melting.

    You say there is dripping. Can you determine if that is from melting caused by the hair dryer? If so you are still plugged. If there is dripping come from the tank and an open valve, that will increase the rate of melt and eventually open the pipe, particularly if you can establish water flow through the system. But if you still completely plugged add more water does not help, just makes more ice.

    If you have a space heater, an old blanket, and an extension cord. You can place the space heater under the exposed pvc pipe, wrap the blanket around it, and let it set for about an hour. Be very careful to leave space between the heater and the blanket, we don't want to catch the blanket on fire and burn the RV down. If in doubt, don't insulate it with a blanket, just let the space heater run near the pipes. Check for hot spots so nothing gets too warm.

    Let us know how it's going....
    Dallas
    2017 Momentum 376TH, 2019 Ford F450, Dual Rear Wheel, 4x4, diesel.
    2015 Harley-Davidson Street, XG750

  3. #3
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    I have blow dryer in the outlet pipe for dumping water. The water dripping is from the ice melting inside the pipe. It was frozen solid - now I can't see any more ice but it must go up a way as when I pulled the grey water nothing comes out (and it's full). I believe the grey valve was left slightly open and that is what caused the ice back up.

    I have had this blow dryer going for 5 hours and still not able to dump the grey water. I will ry another space heater + blanket.

    Any other tips?


    Quote Originally Posted by D2Reid View Post
    I am not entirely clear about what is going on. So I am going to ask some questions for clarification.


    Did you leave a faucet dripping that would drain into the gray tank? Was the gray tank valve partially open, fully open?


    Are you referring to the PVC pipe under the trailer or the attachable sewer hose that lays on the ground? If it's the pvc pipe under the trailer how do you know it's ice the whole way up?


    Can you easily move the dump valve? Is it possible the tank is empty?


    Be a little careful with that, if there is blockage, and there is water in the tank, and the valve is open, then it is possible to soak the dryer causing it to short out. Not a given this will happen, just something to be aware of.


    When you say ice melt are you referring to the warm air from the hair dryer, or the amount of melt (warm water) produced by the tank heaters, or some other form of ice melt?

    Tank heaters are flat pads that are about 12” wide and 20” long. They are placed underneath the tank near the valve. They only warm to about 40f, so not real hot. If water is frozen inside the pvc pipe they will not assist in the melting.

    You say there is dripping. Can you determine if that is from melting caused by the hair dryer? If so you are still plugged. If there is dripping come from the tank and an open valve, that will increase the rate of melt and eventually open the pipe, particularly if you can establish water flow through the system. But if you still completely plugged add more water does not help, just makes more ice.

    If you have a space heater, an old blanket, and an extension cord. You can place the space heater under the exposed pvc pipe, wrap the blanket around it, and let it set for about an hour. Be very careful to leave space between the heater and the blanket, we don't want to catch the blanket on fire and burn the RV down. If in doubt, don't insulate it with a blanket, just let the space heater run near the pipes. Check for hot spots so nothing gets too warm.

    Let us know how it's going....

  4. #4
    Site Sponsor Skiddy's Avatar
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    Did you try dumping some RV antifreeze down the drains? Prolly take about 10% of antifreeze, between 5 and 10% of tank volume. Let it sit for couple of hours or more than try to dump.
    If you can get under the rig, is the drain still frozen? You can tell by the temp of the pipe, specially with a hair dryer blowing into the open end. (IR thermometer is ideal to take the pipe temp)
    If possible wrap the exposed pipe that is still frozen (if it is) with a warm wet towel. It will melt the ice next to the pipe and once it starts to run, it might clear itself, specially if you have antifreeze in the tank.
    Good luck it is scary
    Judy & Larry
    Ty and Ali the St Bernard drool machines
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    2019 Imagine 2150RB - lovingly christened “IM-A-GENE”
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skiddy View Post
    Did you try dumping some RV antifreeze down the drains? Prolly take about 10% of antifreeze, between 5 and 10% of tank volume. Let it sit for couple of hours or more than try to dump.
    If you can get under the rig, is the drain still frozen? You can tell by the temp of the pipe, specially with a hair dryer blowing into the open end. (IR thermometer is ideal to take the pipe temp)
    If possible wrap the exposed pipe that is still frozen (if it is) with a warm wet towel. It will melt the ice next to the pipe and once it starts to run, it might clear itself, specially if you have antifreeze in the tank.
    Good luck it is scary

    The full length of pipe you can see into no longer has ice - but it must be frozen further up. Where exactly are the valves - how far up do I need to defrost? Is it possible the tank heater stopped working (was -15 here at night) and the whole tank is frozen?

  6. #6
    Site Sponsor sande005's Avatar
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    Best you can do is to block the area around the tanks with some kind of material - cardboard, foamboard, or whatever you can find, to wall in the underside of the trailer from the rest of the world. Include the area with the drain pipe. Then get a small electric space heater and put inside the enclosed space. Insulate as well as you can. You can even use snow on the outside of the "walls" as insulation. At -15, you likely have a major ice plug. Yes, even the tanks themselves may have a lot of ice. It will take many, many hours with a space heater to have much effect. Turn up the heat inside the trailer as high as you can stand - some will both be ducted into the underbelly and some will naturally conduct to the area. Again, you will go through lots of propane.
    Having dealt with ice dams, driveway ice, and frozen drain pipes many times over the years in my stick houses in Minn., it is surprising how much heat it takes to melt ice, especially in sub zero weather.
    Imagine 2670MK

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by sande005 View Post
    Best you can do is to block the area around the tanks with some kind of material - cardboard, foamboard, or whatever you can find, to wall in the underside of the trailer from the rest of the world. Include the area with the drain pipe. Then get a small electric space heater and put inside the enclosed space. Insulate as well as you can. You can even use snow on the outside of the "walls" as insulation. At -15, you likely have a major ice plug. Yes, even the tanks themselves may have a lot of ice. It will take many, many hours with a space heater to have much effect. Turn up the heat inside the trailer as high as you can stand - some will both be ducted into the underbelly and some will naturally conduct to the area. Again, you will go through lots of propane.
    Having dealt with ice dams, driveway ice, and frozen drain pipes many times over the years in my stick houses in Minn., it is surprising how much heat it takes to melt ice, especially in sub zero weather.
    Well we're up to 30 next couple days then 50 - just trying to get this thing unplugged asap though.

  8. #8
    Site Sponsor Skiddy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gd369rl View Post
    The full length of pipe you can see into no longer has ice - but it must be frozen further up. Where exactly are the valves - how far up do I need to defrost? Is it possible the tank heater stopped working (was -15 here at night) and the whole tank is frozen?
    Based on the model, they are all different. My rear grey tank has about an 18” run from the dump valve below the underbelly, the front grey tank is about 10’ below the underbelly, would take a long time to thaw out the front one on my rig. The valves are up inside the cavity between the floor and the underbelly cover. If the valve moves, it is either free (hope so) or the cable has pulled off and it is frozen in place (hope not).
    I understand you can see into the pipe you have thawed, but can you see as far as where the pipe enters the underbelly? That’s why I suggested to check the pipe to the point it enters the underbelly and if frozen try to thaw it with a wet towel soaked in hot water wrapped around the pipe.
    Judy & Larry
    Ty and Ali the St Bernard drool machines
    Delta, British Columbia, GWN
    2019 Imagine 2150RB - lovingly christened “IM-A-GENE”
    2018 F150 Lariat - respectfully christened “Dusty”

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skiddy View Post
    Based on the model, they are all different. My rear grey tank has about an 18” run from the dump valve below the underbelly, the front grey tank is about 10’ below the underbelly, would take a long time to thaw out the front one on my rig. The valves are up inside the cavity between the floor and the underbelly cover. If the valve moves, it is either free (hope so) or the cable has pulled off and it is frozen in place (hope not).
    I understand you can see into the pipe you have thawed, but can you see as far as where the pipe enters the underbelly? That’s why I suggested to check the pipe to the point it enters the underbelly and if frozen try to thaw it with a wet towel soaked in hot water wrapped around the pipe.


    2014 369RL. As far as I can see there is no longer ice in the exit, so it must be going up into the belly more? Both grey tanks I can pull the lever but nothing comes out.

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