Winter Water

Winter Water

I previously wrote about water here… Water in the winter is a whole new ballgame.

At the end of the summer, I made an appointment to have heating pads installed on each of my water tanks, based on a suggestion from the Service Department I was taking Sylvia to. I had been going to Lazy Days, which is where I purchased her.

I generally know that it’s best to find a local “mechanic” for those general maintenance items for typical vehicles, but I had no idea where to turn to with an RV, still relatively new to this game.

So in she went over the Thanksgiving break, dropping her off on Monday morning, then dropping the furry kids off at Camp, and making a mad dash to DIA, while also trying to get 6 orders in the mail. I made it, thank goodness.

I was/am scared of the frozen expansion of water.

You may have guessed – it gets cold in Colorado. I am sticking around for this winter, because I still have a steady income that provides those wonderful benefits. Otherwise, I would have headed south with all the other full-timers.

So, as I understood it, the pads would be an added layer of protection from the deep freeze. Heating pads for the RV look pretty darn similar to a pad you’d put on your back if you strained something. I had mine hooked into the electric so that the solar would power them if there was a outage.

I picked up the camper the Monday after Thanksgiving and rolled into Cherry Creek State Park.

You may have noticed that my updates have been few and far between of late. My delay had been due to picking up a second class in the fall, coinciding with the fall/holiday sales season. Since the beginning of the semester, I experienced a new camping set up, one where I can breath a sigh of relief as I have been able to stay at a spot for a full 2 weeks! The summer had a lot of moving around from spot-to-spot, campground-to-campground. Staying in one place has been glorious! Most of the campgrounds allow 14 day stays; and CO State Parks allow you to stay 2 weeks in a 45 day period. My little favorite campground close to Denver in Lakewood actually closes at the end of October, so I hopped around from St. Vrain, Chatfield, and Cherry Creek SP.

When I got to Cherry Creek after Thanksgiving we started to have a few cold nights. Colorado was relatively mild in November, (which postpones the water expansion fear). But alas there were a few nights when the mercury dipped. Flipping the switches on my new heating pads I thought I was good to go.

Heat. You might be thinking about heat. The camper has a LP fueled system. It works. I am warm… it’s just not cozy, so to speak. As you can imagine, the windows are a bit leaky, and I’m working with a few (I believe 3) inches of insulation. My Heartland North Trail IS a four season camper, so that’s an inch more than others, but it’s not the same as your new toasty stationary home.

I thought that I could supplement my heating needs (and cut down on fuel consumption) by using a space heater. Being quite careful that it was in the middle of the room, and nothing was around it, my space was indeed toasty.

Icicles on the bottom of Sylvia.

A few days later is when I noticed the icicles hanging from my underbelly, close to where I believed my freshwater tank was located.

I kept my eye on it, it wasn’t a lot of water. I waited a few days… ignore it and it will go away, right?

Time to make a decision. It just so happened when I dropped off my trailer for service over Thanksgiving, there was a pen for a mobile RV Doctor. The dude even has an old ambulance for his mobile shop, cute. But as I am learning with anything RV related, read the reviews. Read the reviews, read the reviews, read the reviews.

Ambulance guy was bad news bears. At this point, I was tired of dealing with service at the dealer. It was time to go searching for a new place. And boy did I! I stumbled over a few reviews for DM RV repair. When I called to make an appointment, I was on the phone with Marianne for 15 minutes, not only was I put on the schedule for the time I needed, she gave me so many tips and tricks, and some tough love (in a good way!).

Have I mentioned I have no idea what I am doing?

You know that space heater? That was bad new bears too.

So, the heating system in an RV, she explained, is designed to heat the entire coach, including the underbelly, which houses the water lines and tanks. With the space heater, I was only heating the living area, leaving the tanks out in the cold. The space heater kept inside toasty, where the thermostat was, therefore not triggering the heat to go to the belly.

Basically, I caused my own issues. There’s no manual for this, and other blogs on the internet I’ve perused never put two and two together like that.


So back to the shop goes Sylvia. I was lucky enough to be able to drop her off for the Christmas break. My plan was to drive east with the furry kids, to save on airfare, no kennel fees and take a few boxes and furniture out of my storage unit, and store them in my parents basement. I am so lucky with working at a University to have the week of Christmas off, and that I was able to take off 2 more weeks, giving me the best long vacation, and time to relax after a wild end to 2017.

Dropping her off on Monday, Dec. 18th, Don met me to go over the repairs. And go over her he did! This had been what I was looking for. Someone to really assess what I was working with, my goals for living, and answer my questions. He looked at how she was manufactured, made recommendations for maintenance, what we’ll keep an eye on for the future, and popped up on the roof for a critical look.

The water issues were going to be researched, and while they were down there, they’d check out my insulation needs (if any?)

Over the past few weeks I’ve chatted with Don while at home in Delaware, and I pick up Sylvia today. She had issues with her hot water heater (thank god I didn’t crack the fresh water tank, which was my fear); there was a leak on the city water intake – which is what I will be using in my next stay; they fixed a few issues on the roof; and are caulking a section on the front of the rig to abate any wood rot issues: this front section, he explained, was how they did it at the factory, just making it better. And I’m getting more insulation in the belly!

One one of those cold nights, I did see a fellow camper, with what I assume to have been frozen tanks, it was an utter wet mess under her camper. I felt horrible for her. I am so lucky and thankful that I came away from my issues with only a few icicles, and further armed with a boat load of information.

Not only do I now have more insulation, I will be getting insulation board from Home Depot to line the bottom of the camper (here’s an example of what I mean). I’ll be stationery for a few months! I also have a delivery of a 100# LP tank coming Monday morning. As Marianne explained, the larger the tank, the better it converts to gas in the colder months; and it will last longer – less trips to Ace for a refill. Finally, I have a handy heated water hose that I’ll use for water-in.

I am sure that I will insulate a few more things to help control any expanding water.

Recently I said to my mom that this will be my last Colorado winter. She questioned me… in reality, it will be my last Colorado winter in the RV. I love winter here. I love the snow, and being at peace in the middle of the white expanse, pine trees holding powder. There is no grey cold here, it’s blue sky cold; the grey being bone-chilling east coast humid wet snow. I wouldn’t mind though not having to worry about expanding water. Perhaps a winter amongst the saguaros would do nicely next year.

I am pretty excited about my next stay. I was able to get a Resident Volunteer position with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. After picking up Sylvia this morning, I am rolling into my permanent spot for the next 3 months. I will be close to a lightrail stop for easy commuting, and I’ll be checking in campers in the much reduced camping area. The local Denver campgrounds operate much smaller sections in the winter.

So excited for this opportunity!

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