5 Tips for RVing in Unexpected Winter Weather

After the incredible winter snap that swept the U.S. over the past few weeks, many RVers found themselves in temperatures far below what they had planned for.  As a full-time RVer, I can personally attest to the difficulties of below-freezing temperatures on RV life.  In this blog, I’ll give you my five best tips for RVing in unexpected winter weather.

RV in Snow

1. Install a Weather App

Most smartphones come with a weather app already installed and displayed on your phone screen, but they aren’t always the most accurate. No matter what time of year you are camping, it’s a good idea to make checking the weather a routine practice. In our RV, we check the weather every morning and most nights before turning in; this helps us prepare for thunderstorms, cold snaps, and heavy winds.

Some good weather apps include:
  • Today Weather
  • 1Weather
  • AccuWeather

Map

2. Make an Emergency Insulation Kit

When we chose to live in an RV full-time, we knew that we’d be spending the winter in southern Kentucky near my family.  When we set up for the winter, we insulated our RV inside and out with temporary solutions like an RV skirt, foam board insulations, window kits, and more.  You can make an emergency insulation kit with just a few simple tools that will help you stay warm if the weather turns suddenly.

Emergency Insulation Kit:
  • Window Insulation Kits –
    • We used an off-brand, but Duct Brand comes in a ten pack from Wal-Mart or Amazon and is easy to store in your pass-through or cabinets until needed.
  • Reflectix R-21 Roll Insulation –
    • Storing this can be a bit of a bear, but it made a HUGE difference for us when temperatures dropped below 30. We used this in our under-bed storage area, the slide-out floors, and the windows between the plastic insulation and the blinds. Additionally, it’s easy to cut this to shape, and because it is relatively flat, once it’s been cut, it’s much easier to store. 
  • RV Skirt –
    • I cannot stress enough how important an RV skirt is to keep yourself and your pipes warm during freezing temperatures.  We chose to use a double-layer, homemade RV skirt, but you can find pre-made ones for sale.  Ask your local RV dealer for their suggestions on this product.
  • Heated Water Hose –
    • Yet another item I can’t imagine making it through this winter without. Our heated water hose keeps the water warm from the hookup to the sink, so we never had to worry about our hookup freezing and losing water.
  • Duct Tape –
    • You can use this for securing just about any of the insulation to the RV.

3. Use Space Heaters

Depending on your RV model, you may have a fireplace and a furnace to use on cold nights. However, these are intended to keep you warm for short periods and with temperatures no lower than about 40 degrees. If you chose to heat with just your furnace or fireplace, you’d get chilly quickly when the temperatures plummet like they did this week. We live in a Forest River Sabre Cobalt 36BHQ fifth wheel that’s about 42 ft in length. This model has a large living room and two bedrooms. We used two oil radiator heaters and our fireplace, and the lowest the interior got during the coldest day was about 66 degrees. We never even turned on our furnace because we didn’t want to run out of propane.

Note: If using space heaters, make sure you take all the precautions to stay safe while they are in use.  We always recommend oil radiators because they are fully enclosed and very low-risk for fires.  Additionally, you can find mini oil radiator heaters on Amazon for smaller RVs. 

heater-157783

4. Leave the Water On

Here’s an area where we learned from our mistakes this year.  If the temperature is going to drop below freezing, make sure you leave your water dripping all night.  We accidentally left our kitchen sink off when the temperatures dropped to -3 one night, and we spent the next day crawling under the RV in the cold try to heat the pipes back up and unfreeze the system.  Thankfully, we caught it before any damage was done, but this could have been a catastrophic mistake.  Now, we both double and triple-check the sinks and shower before heading to bed.

Tap water

5. If All Else Fails – Winterize

Sometimes, you are just not going to have enough time to prepare for the freezing temperatures correctly. If you are getting ready for a very last-minute cold spell, it may be best just to empty all of your RV’s holding tanks, run the water out of the system, and pump antifreeze through the pipes to keep them from freezing. You can quickly winterize your RV in a couple of hours, but adequately insulating and preparing for the cold can take a few days. If you don’t know how to winterize your RV, give your RV dealer a call, and they can help you get set for the cold weather.

You can’t always predict the weather for your camping vacation with 100% accuracy.  Thankfully, these RV tips can help you prepare for RVing in unexpected winter weather.  If you’re looking for an RV to take you to your dream destination, shop the new RVs for sale on RVingPlanet.com.


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