5 Practical Ways To Unfreeze Water Lines In RVs (That Actually Work)


unfreeze-water-lines-in-rv

There are ways to unfreeze the water lines in your RV that have actually been shown to work. Most of the methods discussed here include the use of equipment that you probably already have on hand in your RV.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you never use an open flame in an attempt to quickly thaw frozen water lines or pipes. Open flames, such as blowtorches, represent a significant fire hazard. There are safer methods that are much more effective.

1. Can I Use A Heat Cable/Heat Tape To Thaw Frozen RV Water Lines?

One of the most effective ways to unfreeze water lines in an RV is to use a heat cable such as the Frost King Electric Heat Cable.

This cable is specifically designed to be wrapped around metal and plastic water pipes. The Frost King Electric Heat Cable can keep water flowing down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Electric heat cables are suitable as precautionary tools, in addition to being suitable to get you out of tight situations in which water lines have become frozen overnight. 

The cable heats pipes quite easily as long you are able to access a reliable shore power source, as to avoid overusing a battery or otherwise limited-capacity power source.

As for safety measures, always use heat tapes or cables that are certified by the Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL). Cables not carrying this certification are subject to fires.

You are also strongly encouraged to check the manufacturer’s instructions prior to installation. It may be specified on the instructions that you should not double wrap the cord along the piping.

Related reading: Does RV Antifreeze Go Bad? Shelf Life of Antifreeze

2. Is It Safe To Use A Space Heater To Unfreeze Water Lines?

RV owners may wonder if it is safe for them to use a space heater to unfreeze the water lines in their RV. Space heaters are indeed effective at unfreezing water lines in RVs, as long as caution is used, and the space heater is not left unattended.

You need to be cautious about where you decide to place the space heater inside or near the RV. The interior of the RV contains insulation that could become a fire hazard.

Place the space heater away from walls and ensure that the space heater is away from materials that may overheat and catch fire.

 Also, be sure to keep a watchful eye. Feel for excess warmth in both water line materials and materials nearby, such as walls. Use your best judgment to remove the space heater when you feel that excess warmth has been reached.

3. Can I Use A Hairdryer/Blow Dryer To Unfreeze My RV Water Lines?

A hairdryer or blow dryer is another practical way to unfreeze the water lines in your RV, provided that you have easy access to at least the majority of the length of the water line.

Using a blow dryer is perhaps one of the more labor-intensive ways to thaw frozen water lines.

Still, it is an attractive option for many RV owners because it allows them to make use of a piece of equipment that they have in their RV anyways.

If you find yourself in a pickle with frozen water lines in your RV, this may be the best option you have without visiting the local hardware store.

You may find that the hairdryer is more effective if you use a cookie sheet while you are thawing the water lines.

The purpose of the cookie sheet is to reflect the heat from the dryer to all sides of the pipe while you are trying to thaw it.

This makes the hairdryer one of the best options for unfreezing water lines in an RV because most people won’t have the other tools discussed in this article on hand at the time of the event.

4. Can I Use A Blowtorch To Unfreeze The Water Lines in my RV?

Some people may instinctively go to an open flame to thaw frozen water lines. However, it is unsafe to use an open flame in an attempt to quickly thaw frozen water lines. A blow torch represents a major fire hazard.

Homeowners are strongly discouraged from using a blowtorch to thaw frozen pipes within their homes. The same guidelines can be applied to the act of dealing with frozen water lines in an RV. 

Using a blow torch to thaw a water line can damage a pipe by melting it.

It is more difficult to control the heat that is coming off of a blow torch than it is to control the heat that is coming off of a heat cable or space heater. Blowtorches also represent a significant fire hazard under these circumstances.

Blowtorches should be avoided when it comes to unfreezing pipes located within the interior of the RV. An RV contains materials that are easily flammable.

Flammable materials within an RV include insulation, upholstery, and panels. Though it may seem like a good tool to thaw the frozen water lines quickly, a blow torch can be a major fire hazard, and it is more labor-intensive to use than some of the other methods discussed here.

Related reading: What Size Air Compressor Do You Need to Winterize an RV?

5. Can A Handheld Heat Gun Be Used To Unfreeze Frozen Water Lines?

A handheld heat gun can be much more effective at unfreezing frozen water lines than a blow dryer/hairdryer, and it does not come with the safety concerns of a blow torch, thanks to the lack of an open flame.

Portable heat guns such as the Seekone 1800W Heavy Duty Heat Gun are practical tools for thawing frozen water lines within an RV.

They are also recommended for use within the home. Be sure to take caution when using a heat gun.

A simple portable heat gun such as the one listed above can reach temperatures slightly above 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

These tools aren’t quite the fire hazard that a blow torch can be, but they can definitely melt piping and fittings if they are not used carefully.

What Is The Safest Way To Thaw Frozen Water Lines In An RV?

The safest way to unfreeze water lines in an RV is to use warm rags. This technique will certainly not be the fastest, but it can be effective as long as you replace the rags when they begin to cool down.

There are no specific recommendations as far as materials, as this technique allows you to make use of the materials that you do have on hand.

The biggest challenge may be finding access to a reliable source of hot water. You will need to be able to dump the rags in water that is quite hot in order for this to work.

Begin by filling a bucket with hot water and dump a bunch of rags into the water.

Then wrap the rags around the frozen section of piping. You will likely need to replace the rags quite frequently in order for this to eventually work, but it might be your best option with the equipment you have on hand if you do not have a heat cable, heat gun, or space heater.

Related reading: Does RV Insurance Cover Water Damage? What You Need To Know

Conclusion

There are at least five ways to practically unfreeze water lines in an RV that are also safe, provided that such heating elements are never left unattended. These items pose a fire risk when left unattended.

You can effectively unfreeze the water lines in your RV using one or more of the following items:

  • An electric heat cable/tape
  • A hairdryer with a cookie sheet
  • A space heater
  • A heat gun
  • Hot water and rags

How to Unfreeze an RV Water Hose >> Check out the video below:

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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