Our first cold winter in the fifth wheel

Our outside thermometer hasn’t hit a high above freezing for over a week now. We’ve been having plumbing problems in the RV, but I’m not sure they’re all related to the cold. One definitely is – my arduously heat-taped water intake hose finally froze, and I’m afraid I broke it while feeling it to see if it was frozen. So we’ve been living off of the water in our 40-gallon fresh water tank. The connections to our hot water heater started leaking, and it took me a few tries to get them both replaced and water-tight. That didn’t seem to have anything to do with the cold, but not having hot water made it all feel colder. When we ran out of water in the tank we nearly gave up, but Ann thought of trying to fill it from the neighboring spigot with a garden hose. That worked! And as soon as we turned the pump back on, it kept coming on when there was no water running. Well, there was water running – from a leaky valve down below. That was at the start of this last cold snap. It took me three bike rides our local plumbing supplier, R-N-R, to fix it. They patiently explained my options to me starting from ground zero. “I have a leaking valve.” “What kind of valve?” “Um.” “Where is it?” “In my RV.” “Ok. What kind of line is it on?” “Um…” And so forth. When I couldn’t answer a question, I’d come back and study it again, fill up some more water bottles, and go another day without a shower. At last I learned the relevant specs. We have half-inch pex water lines with crimped valves that require a $150 tool to install. Omega valves are a much cheaper alternative, but no one stocks them this time of year. The final solution was a threaded brass ball valve connected to the pex with shark bites. Really. Shark bites are cool, like chinese finger cuffs, you stick the pipe in and it won’t come out again (without a tricky little tool). Once I understood the solution, it took about fifteen minutes to install. Afterwards, our home felt twice as homey, even if we are still living out of the tank. Here’s to chillin’ in the RV!

5 responses to “Our first cold winter in the fifth wheel”

  1. I guess not everything is chillin’ – now our refrigerator seems to have stopped working. Luckily we have a giant freezer right out the front door…

  2. Dylan, you have amazing tenacity for figuring this stuff out! I’m so grateful to you! And just for the record, we’ve also gone through about 100 gallons of propane in five weeks. And that’s keeping our r.v. home at an average temperature of 40 degrees at night and when we’re out. One morning I got up and the sponge on the kitchen sink was frozen. It was 31 in our living room. This was too cold. We turned up the heat a tad. When we’re home and awake (which isn’t much, both working full time etc.) we keep it a toasty 60. So the heat works great, which is awesome, but since the rv isn’t well insulated, when we’re heating the home, it’s running a lot. As long as the electricity is on, we’re in good shape. As soon as it goes off, we’ll be moving in with our friends! YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! YOU ARE WARNED! By the way, the best gadget ever when you don’t have a hot water heater or running water is KRUPS HOT POT. They’re the bomb. Whiskey is good, too.

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