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Old 11-12-2018, 11:13 AM   #1
Jefster
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Enclosed underbelly but exposed grey line and valve

I waited too long to winterize, temps got down to about 30F one night, not a big deal but it wasn't warming up the next day. So I ran the furnace for a couple hours to make sure everything was good and thawed and then tried to dump the tanks that still had a little in then from our last trip home. Black was no problem, the valve handle sticks up into the enclosed underbelly, but the grey was frozen and I notice the last couple feet of the line is completely exposed.

So if camping in cold weather and it gets below freezing, how so you deal with grey tank? I had envisioned using it a bit in November, but I want to use the tanks and just keep it heated while we're using it until we can dump. But if the grey valve is going to freeze regardless, it seems the grey system is unusable.

How do those of you who camp in the cold deal with an exposed grey valve?
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Old 11-12-2018, 04:51 PM   #2
Tbos
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You could put some heat tape on that pipe. Some hot water in the tank may free up that valve.
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Old 11-12-2018, 07:58 PM   #3
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If you are able, you might install a cable operated valve in that grey drain line up inside the belly area where there is some heat, and either do away with the outside valve or at least leave that one open with the new one closed. Our rig, fortunately, has all the drain valves inside the belly area and we have never had a valve freeze.
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Old 11-15-2018, 11:52 AM   #4
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Ok so what about heat tape and boondocking... Do you run it off an inverter? How much does it draw? I've never used heat tape before at all, so I have no experience with it
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Old 11-15-2018, 01:00 PM   #5
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My two cents on heat tapes: Given that any electric heating element is basically a controlled direct short through resistance wire, they draw quite a bit of power, and would be unsuitable for boondocking. Being AC, they would have to run from an inverter, and they would probably draw your battery(ies) down quite quickly. One could run them off a generator, but the generator would have to run pretty much the entire time the temps are below freezing for them to be effective. They don't have much mass, so cannot "store" heat. As soon as they lose power, they're effectiveness is over.

My thoughts are, since you do have a heated underbelly, once there there is some water in the tank and it's exposed to the heat in the underbelly for a long time, the mass of water will gain and hold some heat and your valve probably won't be sticky. Particularly after some hot water goes down there.

Since I didn't want to winterized yet, as we still have nice weather in the 50's and low 60's this time of year..with nights below freezing....I've been keeping the thermostat in the Passport set on 55-60 and that is keeping everything unfrozen despite nights as low as about 12 degrees. I have not experienced any freezing valves yet, but both rods do go to valves that are up in the underbelly.

If you are truly "boondocking" in the backcountry, check into your local laws concerning draining gray water directly onto the ground. In my state, New Mexico, if the amount of gray water is less than 250 gallons per day, it can go directly onto the ground. I've camped in BLM campgrounds in our old RV, that has no holding tank for the shower, and just left the shower drain valve open. Of course, this applies to gray water only. If legal in your area, if the valve freezing becomes a continuous issue, I would likely just leave the valve open at a remote site.
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Old 11-15-2018, 07:46 PM   #6
Ken / Claudia
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I just got back from dry camping, 8 nights, temps 33f to 23f. Day up to 43F.
My 3 valves are inside the corplastic bottom. I kept furnace on around 65 degrees all night. Turned off all day. No freeze problems. I do like the boiling or hot water poured into the tank to unfreeze a valve. Even splash some on the valve from the outside right before opening it.
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Old 11-16-2018, 04:48 AM   #7
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My problem is the grey line extends maybe 2 feet out of the enclosed underbelly before the grey valve, so there is a lot to unfreeze. Thia seems like a bad design that defeats the purpose of enclosing the tanks, since the bottomn 2' of the line is going to freeze right up anyway. It's going to take more than a little hot water in the tank to get through that.

When I talk about boondocking in this weather, in thinking more of Walmart and less remote wilderness, so leaving the valve open probably won't be appreciated. I suppose if it's a short trip I could just let it freeze and then unthaw it when I get home, but I'm not crazy about that idea.

I don't suppose there is any way to keep the last 2' of line full of antifreeze, since it will just dilute with whatever we put in the tank
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Old 11-16-2018, 05:47 AM   #8
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Heated underbelly, take a close look at how its heated. Mine has the enclosed and heated underbelly too, a 2017 Laredo. If you open up where you furnace is and look at the connections you will likely find 1 2in. duct stuck not too far into that underbelly. My furnace is mid coach and my city water/tank fill hook-up is at the rear of the coach but most of the water piping is mid coach too so it seems to stay thawed. The gray/black tanks need tank heater pads on them, that is the only way the contents will stay liquid. They are high draw items so not really suitable for boondocking unless you have a good genny and want to feed it and listen to it run all the time.
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Old 11-16-2018, 05:58 AM   #9
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Just thinking out loud here, so this may not even be close to the issue:

I wonder if the factory built your trailer with the valves in the correct location and either before it left the factory or at the dealership, testing showed the gray tank valve to be leaking. Rather than open up the belly to do a valve repair, the technician simply cut the exposed plumbing, installed a second valve and signed off on the gray tank as functional ?????

Stranger things have happened. If I were you, I'd first take down 3 or 4 screws from the coroplast near where the gray plumbing exits the underbelly and actually look at the plumbing where it exits the gray tank and verify that there is not a valve "inside the underbelly"....

I'm "sort of hoping" that you won't find a hidden valve, but I also know that these things are built by more than one person and while it is upside down on the assembly line, when the team is "fitting the underbelly plumbing" it's hard to omit one part and that not be noticed by one of the 6 or 8 people doing the work.

As I said, stranger things have happened and finding a "easy to install" valve under the trailer is definitely a possibility. It's a short cut to getting a problem fixed fast, not right...... YMMV
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Old 11-16-2018, 06:21 AM   #10
C.LeeNick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jefster View Post
My problem is the grey line extends maybe 2 feet out of the enclosed underbelly before the grey valve, so there is a lot to unfreeze. Thia seems like a bad design that defeats the purpose of enclosing the tanks, since the bottomn 2' of the line is going to freeze right up anyway. It's going to take more than a little hot water in the tank to get through that.

When I talk about boondocking in this weather, in thinking more of Walmart and less remote wilderness, so leaving the valve open probably won't be appreciated. I suppose if it's a short trip I could just let it freeze and then unthaw it when I get home, but I'm not crazy about that idea.

I don't suppose there is any way to keep the last 2' of line full of antifreeze, since it will just dilute with whatever we put in the tank
Yeah, gray water in walmart's parking lot is probably out. But here in the state of New Mexico, there is no restriction on dumping gray water on soil/dirt regardless of location, other than the soil must be able to accept the water..that is, it must be able to soak in. But obviously that would preclude dumping on other people's private soil without permission. I drain my washing machine onto the front lawn here at home since I learned that the fibers from washing clothes plug up septic tank drain fields.

But something popped into my head while reading your post..what about dumping a gallon or two of RV antifreeze down the grey water tank prior to the trip? According to the bottle, it will keep pipes bursting down over 50 below. Or course it will dilute as water is added so the effectiveness will drop..might have to research it a bit and add as needed. I know it's added cost, but it might work for you.

What you describe does seem to be a design issue with a rig that is supposed to have a heated underbelly. Have you checked with the manufacturer to see if they have an answer/solution?


I just did a quick search, because I was curious myself, and it does seem putting non-toxic RV antifreeze in the holding tank is an accepted practice to keep them from freezing while being used, though in one thread a fellow did his own tests and found in some cases the liquid turned to "slush" rather than staying completely liquid. In the same thread, others said they use salt in the holding tanks to keep them from freezing in winter. I hadn't thought of that, and I have no idea how salt would affect sewage treatment wherever you dump the gray water. http://www.rvforum.net/SMF_forum/ind...?topic=60955.0
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