How to Prevent Travel Trailer or RV Pipes from Freezing?


Going camping in the winter is much more comfortable in a travel trailer than a tent. You can utilize the heater, there is little to set up, and you are up and off of the cold ground. However, there are steps that you need to take, which will help you to winterize your travel trailer and keep it from being damaged while being parked in freezing conditions.

How to prevent travel trailer or RV pipes from freezing? The best methods for how to prevent your travel trailer or RV pipes from freezing include:

  1. Wrap the pipes in heating tape and foam
  2. Protect the water source
  3. Use the travel trailer water tank
  4. Use RV antifreeze in your tanks
  5. Keep the plumbing warm internally
  6. Dump tanks when full

The pipes that run from the water tank or external water source of your travel trailer to the sink and shower inside can freeze when parked in cold temperatures. There are several ways to winterize your travel trailer and ensure that the pipes will not freeze. Let’s dig a little deeper to help you learn them quick.

Do Travel Trailer or RV Pipes Freeze?

When camping in the cold with a travel trailer, you need to take precautions against possible freezing and damage to the pipes that work with the plumbing and water system of the trailer.

The pipes of a travel trailer can freeze and be at risk of bursting if you are no careful when using a travel trailer in freezing conditions. The water source can be a point of concern for freezing. The internal pipes of the travel trailer can freeze in extreme conditions and should also be protected.

The areas most at risk of bursting and damage from freezing in your piping system of the travel trailer are the connection points and the garden hose that goes from the water source to the trailer itself.

If you think your trailer is at risk of having pipes that freeze and burst, you should take steps to protect them. The damage to your plumbing could be extensive and take a lot of time and money to fix. Don’t let the damage get that far and use the following methods to ensure that you prevent your travel trailer pipes from freezing.

Related reading: Do Travel Trailers Need Snow Chains? – Best Advice

1.  Wrap The Pipes In Heating Tape and Foam

One of the best ways to make sure that the pipes of your travel trailer do not freeze is to insulate them. There are several ways to cover the pipes of your travel trailer. Let’s take a look at the top three.

Wrap the Pipes in a Heating Tape Product

You can damage and freeze the pipes of your travel trailer or rv if you do not insulate them.  One of the best ways to insulate pipes on the travel trailer is with a heating tape product. The heating tape has a metal wire within it that keeps the pipe a relatively higher temperature than the air temperature, which protects your pipes from freezing.

Make sure to wrap the heating tape in close, quarter-inch circles around the pipe to ensure that the heating element of the wire is totally effective in protecting the exposed pipes from freezing. Also, the tape tends to be water-resistant, but you need to replace it after a season or two in harsh outdoor conditions. Full-exposure pipes with heating tape should be re-taped every season.

Some of the best heating tape products are listed below:

EasyHeat 2102 Freeze Free Heating Cable – 100’  Using insulated plastic or rubber-coated tape with this heating cable is a great way to keep pipes from freezing in sub-zero wind and weather conditions. Simply wrap the wire around the pipe and then seal with the tape for an insulated pipe that can hold up to cold weather. Self-regulating and able to be used on plastic or metal pipes.  
Heat Tape for Water Pipes Premium Pipe Freeze Protection CableThis heated cable can be taped to the pipes of your travel trailer and deliver high-temperature protection from 120 volts of electricity. This line is a heavy-duty and self-regulating wire that only turns on when the conditions are cold. The kit comes with tape that is weather resistant and can help to hold the wire onto the pipes.
BriskHeat BWH051020L XtremeFLEX BWH High-Temperature Heavy Insulated Heating TapeThis insulation tape is built with braided metal wires that help to keep the pipe above freezing temperatures. You are also given tie-downs in this kit, which make installations and tightening to pipes easier.  

Wrap the Pipe Connections With Heating Tape Product

The pipe connections are vulnerable places where freezing and damage can occur. The most susceptible links would be where the water source and hose connect and the hose the travel trailer plumbing connect. The connections are usually kept in place and not undone while you are living in the travel trailer, so they can be more easily tapped over.

However, if you are camping for only a few days, you may want to have a roll of the heating tape product handy so that you can wrap the connections for the nights you will be at the campsite and then remove the tape on the links when you are ready to leave.

Use Spray Foam on Your Pipe Connections

The pipe connections that are vulnerable to freezing are the ones that are exposed to the elements of cold. These include where the water source connected to the hose and where the hose connects to the travel trailer plumbing.

Spray foam insulation is a semi-permanent application and should only be used when you are using your travel trailer in a place for an extended period of time. It is possible to remove spray foam insulation from the pipe connections, but it is messier than heating tape and takes more effort to remove.

Some of the best spray foam insulation products for your pip connections can be found listed below:

Loctite TITE FOAM Insulating Foam Sealant, Gaps & Cracks, 12-Ounce Can Locktite Tite Foam is a great product to use for insulation on the pipe and hose connections of the water supply to your travel trailer because it is flexible. The product is especially helpful for the flexible hose connection. This foam is UV resistant and will last a long time when it hardens, which is suitable for permanent insulation to your water supply line.
GREAT STUFF Gaps & Cracks 20 oz Insulating Foam Sealant Great stuff is an excellent option for the insulation of the pipe and hose connections of your travel trailer plumbing. This product adheres to virtually all surfaces, is UV resistant, flexible, and expands as it dries for full coverage of the connection joints.
DAP 7565000043 Touch ‘n Foam 4001031212 MaxFill Maximum Expanding Sealant DAP’s Touch ‘n Foam expanding sealant is a water-resistant foam that can be used to insulate pipes and pipe connections. The foam will grow to over three times its application size, so use sparingly.

How to Protect RV Water Lines in Cold Weather >> Check out the video below

2.  Protect the Water Source

If you plan on living in your travel trailer or will be camped in one place for a long time, like the entire winter season, you may want to consider protecting the water source from freezing. There are several methods for preserving the source of the water which are detailed below:

Bury the Water Source Underground

The water source that feeds water through a hose to your travel trailer may be above ground. The metal or PVC pipes that are exposed are subject to the harsh temperatures outside. In order to keep these pipes from freezing and bursting while you are pumping water through them, you can bury them underground.

Bury the water source pipes about twenty-four inches underground for cold temperatures that could reach freezing and thirty-six inches underground for extremely cold conditions that are consistently below freezing.

The method of burying the water source varies; however, you will want to use well-packed dirt and not gravel. Gravel allows more air-chill to permeate towards the pipes. Wrapping the water source’s pipes in the weather-resistant tape is a good idea since the pipeline will still be exposed a little bit where it attaches to the hose bringing water to your travel trailer.

Create a Shelter For the Water Source

A simple shelter with walls and a roof will help to protect your eater source from freezing. The steps below detail how to create a wooden structure which can help to keep the frost off of the water source pipes and prevent them from freezing:

  1. You will need plywood sheets for the walls and roof. Make sure to measure the height and length of the wood needed to cover the water source piping.
  2. The base of the structure should be made with two-by-fours in a square design where the plywood walls will attach. Attach the two-by-fours in the rectangular design with wood screws so that it is stable.
  3. Cut the plywood to size and attach the walls will no gaps to the two-by-four base.
  4. Create the roof from two pitched pieces of plywood. The roof can be covered with shingles for more protection or simply coated with protective waterproof paint. 
  5. Paint the roof, base, and walls with a coat of waterproof paint. Some of the best waterproof paint products are listed below:
Flex Seal Liquid Rubber in a Can, 16-oz, White This product is waterproof and allows you to paint a layer of rubber over a surface. When dried, the flexible cover is excellent for keeping the integrity of wood when left in harsh conditions.
Liquid Rubber Color Waterproof Sealant This product is a liquid rubber coating that remains waterproof for a long time. You can also pick the color of the paint you wish to use.
Thompsons TH.010100-18 Clear Multi-Surface Aerosol Waterproofer Using a waterproof aerosol coating will also help to keep wood from becoming damaged in harsh outdoor conditions. This clear waterproof coating spray is not as effective as rubber coatings, but it can work as another option for waterproofing your water source shelter.
  • Make sure that you cut an opening for the water source to be attached to the hose that will feed water to the travel trailer plumbing.

3.  Use the Travel Trailer Water Tank

The biggest threat to the pipes of your travel trailer or rv becoming frozen is from the water line and water source outside of the trailer. If you simply fill the water tanks of the travel trailer, you limit exposure to the cold conditions outside and can keep your pipes from freezing.

Keep in mind that merely using the travel trailer water tank will not guarantee that the pipes stay unfrozen. In harsh cold weather conditions and sub-zero wind conditions, the tank and pipes can freeze. Keeping the tank filled and not allowing it to get low is an excellent method of fighting against the tank, possibly freezing.

Frozen containers can cause significant problems because you will no longer have access to water, and you will not be able to dump a filled waste tank. Thawing your containers can take a long time, so prepare now before you let the freeze take over!

4.  Use RV Antifreeze in Your Tanks

RV fresh water, grey, and black waste tanks can have specially designed RV antifreeze added to them so that they don’t freeze. Some of the antifreeze used in RV freshwater tanks are non-toxic and are okay to drink and use from a sink. Other antifreeze is biodegradable and can be used in the black and grey tanks for wastewater.

No matter which type of RV antifreeze you use, make sure it is biodegradable to protect the environment you will be dumping it into. However, any type of antifreeze will help to keep the waste tank from freezing and is recommended in extremely cold conditions.

Some of the best RV Antifreeze products are listed below:

Splash AntifreezeAlthough this product cannot be used in the drinking water, it is biodegradable and helps to keep the black tank wastewater in your travel trailer from freezing before you dump the tank. The conditioner also helps to condition and freshen the smell of your waste tank and toilet.
Camco Mfg. 30757 RV And Marine Antifreeze (Pack of 6)   Adding this heavy-duty antifreeze to your waste tank will guarantee that it does not freeze quickly. However, this product is not biodegradable, and you should only use it for the most intense cold weather conditions.  
Camco Winter Ban-100 Rv & Marine Antifreeze -100 Deg. Propylene Glycol:  Add this product to the water system or black tank waste tank to keep the tank liquids and pipes connected to the tanks from freezing.  

5.  Keep the Plumbing Warm Internally

One of the simple methods you can use to keep your pipes from freezing in your travel trailer is to open up all of the cupboard doors and drawers while running the heater. Since the exposed pipes are within the cupboards’ walls, the heating will help to heat the pipes and keep them above freezing.

Related reading: Does Your Travel Trailer Have an Inverter? Here’s How to Check

6.  Dump the Tanks When Full

Keeping the grey and black tanks full in your travel trailer will ensure that they can better withstand the freezing temperatures. Only dump your tanks when they are full. When you only empty the tanks of your travel trailer if they are complete, it ensures that there is less time that the tank is less full, which freezes much easier.

Caring For Your Pipes

The pipes, pipe connections, and water lines or hoses of your travel trailer can all freeze and possibly cause bursting or other damage. Replacing the pipes for water and waste in your travel trailer is costly and takes a lot of effort and time.

It is a better idea to plan for extremely cold weather conditions than to risk damage from frozen pipes. Some of the best methods require protecting the pipes with tape, heated wires, or shelters. However, any technique that protects the pipes from the water source into the trailer is useful.



The Simple Life

Recommended reading

Travel Trailer Snow Chains – The Ultimate Guide You Need To Know

Does Your Travel Trailer Have an Inverter? Here’s How to Check

Do Travel Trailers Need Alignments? What You Must Know

Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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