heater in our rv blew up

How we handle cold weather in an RV ❄️

This post may contain affiliate links. See our affiliate disclaimer here.

Every once in a while, a cold snap hits the country and we’re all forced indoors and under the blankets for a few days.

In case you hadn’t guessed it yet, I’m not a winter person. Heath and I try to winter in warm areas, but weather is unpredictable and no matter how well you plan, you’ll likely find your RV in freezing weather someday.

Here’s how we handle cold weather in the RV.

1. We do NOT winterize our tanks.

I know. It only seems logical to pour that pink stuff down your drains to protect your pipes while it’s cold. And if you are storing your RV for winter, then you 100% must do this!

Living in your RV is a different story. There’s no need to winterize because if you’re in it, the inside of your rig should stay above freezing. (If you’re in your rig and it is below freezing inside, you are crazy.)

Winterizing your rig may seem like a logical step, but this is not required for wintering in cold temps. (Shout out to all the people who laughed at us when we did this two years ago assuming this is how you handle snow in your RV!)

2. We fill up on propane and utilize that furnace!

Your furnace will keep your RV warm and keep your pipes from freezing (I’ll talk about keeping your tanks from freezing in a second). If you’re in really cold temps and think your pipes might freeze overnight, open up your cabinet doors under your sink to let that warm air in.

We have never dripped water from our faucets, like you might do in a house. Keeping the furnace on and the indoor temperature above freezing will do the trick. We usually set our furnace to 55 degrees when we go to bed so that it doesn’t get too cold or too hot overnight.

3. Tank heaters save the day!!!

Our Winnebago has a magical red button next to the fridge: TANK HEATERS, it says.

This a life-saver. Other than adding insulation or skirting around your RV, it’s hard to protect your tanks from the elements. Tank heaters were explained to us as “little electric blankets for your tanks” and will keep them from freezing. They aren’t standard on all rigs (especially older rigs) but they are on our 2016 Winnebago, so I think this is a feature we’ll see more often in the future. If you want to winter in your RV all the time, I’d look for a rig that has this option.

Without tank heaters, keep a light on in your bay where you can access the tanks. A small bulb is often enough to keep the tanks from freezing!

4. We don’t keep our water on overnight.

You’re asleep! Turn off your water, and if possible, drain all the water from your hoses. When hoses freeze and thaw over and over, they will crack and leak. You don’t want cracks in any of your hoses, like your sewer hose for example. Yuck.

If we need water during the middle of the night, we use water from our fresh water tank with the water pump.

However, if you’re planning on staying in below freezing temps for an extended season, you MUST buy a heated water hose. They are pricy, but a winter necessity. You can use a regular drinking water hose if the temperatures are only getting below freezing for a night or two on a trip, but if you’re heading somewhere wintry, you’ll need a heater water hose.

5. Space heaters!

Propane is expensive and I’m all about saving money on the road. In October of 2014, Heath and I bought a $15 space heater for our RV. The little thing has no problem heating up our entire home…although Heath and I do fight over who gets to put their feet in front of it.

Our first one lasted three years almost to the day, so I recently went back to Walmart and bought the same one again. It’s small enough to fit into a cabinet and powerful enough to warm our 250 sq. ft. house.

That’s how we survive winter in the RV…okay a lot of coffee is also consumed.

5 Responses

  • Thanks, Alyssa! We’re moving into our RV at the end of February – in Seattle. We hope it won’t get that cold, but it’s great to have your tips.

  • Thanks for this article! My wife, daughter and soon to be baby 2 are really interested in living in an RV full time, mostly staying put in the Nashville area and then traveling occasionally especially in the winter… how do we get started…?

    • That’s awesome John! We LOVED Safe Harbor RV Park in Nashville. It’s been one of our favorite spots in the country. There’s a lot to consider when you’re getting started RVing. I wrote A Beginner’s Guide to Living in an R which will answer a bunch of your questions! You can check it out on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2nkUcmx

Comments are closed.