How to Keep RV Pipes from Freezing While Camping

Winter RV camping

Camping in cold weather is gaining popularity among recreational vehicle owners.  As opposed to camping during the warm summer months, winter season camping brings some factors to consider, such as plummeting temperature conditions and unpredictable weather. Rain, snow, sleet, or hail–you need to be familiar with RV camping hacks to be prepared so the frigid temperatures will not get in your way.

If you’ve never rented an RV on a camping trip somewhere cold before but would like to have some wintertime RV camping adventure, don’t fret! We’ve got you covered. As it is essential to keep your RV pipes safe while camping in freezing temperatures, here are some tips on how you can keep your RV pipes from freezing while camping:

Ensure the temperature inside the RV doesn’t drop below zero

You’ll most definitely want to keep your RV as warm as possible if you wish to take it on the road or live on it during the winter. Exceedingly low temperatures can make the rig frigid, and obviously, it’s not good for your health.

Typically, pipes start to freeze when temperatures hit about -6 degrees Celsius. To keep them from getting to this temperature level, you have to set your thermostat furnace to about 7 degrees Celsius or more during the night, so temperatures don’t go down to freezing levels. Sink cabinet doors should be kept open so that warm air can flow around the pipes.

One of the initial things you’ll observe when opening the doors of your RV in the morning is that there’s a hole on the pipe exit. These must be filled in using a sealant to keep out critters and rodents.

Protect the hose from freezing

Bear in mind to avoid connecting your RV to any park utilities if it is freezing outside. But if you are left with no choice, then you should protect your hose from freezing over. Keeping your pipes from freezing begins with the water hose, as it is the part of your system that gets exposed to the outside elements the most.

You can try using regular foam hose insulation, to begin with. Simply slide the hose into the open insulation sleeve to install it. Then, remove the tape covering the adhesive on the open sides and stick them together so you can seal it shut.

Getting a heated hose is another option. You can buy heated water hoses designed explicitly for RVs as there are several different choices for such, or you can make one yourself with some pipe tape and a heat cable.

Put heat tape on the RV pipes.

Applying direct heat onto your RV pipes and hoses is something you can do to keep them warm. This works well, plus it is pretty simple, uncomplicated, and economical!

Heat tapes are indeed a vital resource, especially in freezing temperatures. Most hardware stores have heat tapes that can detect temperature changes quickly and automatically increase the temperature when it gets too cold. Heat tape plugs into an electrical outlet, and then you can enclose the tape around pipes to stop them from freezing.

Want a tip to get the most out of your heat tape? You need to fasten the heat tape securely along the hose length using an electrical tap. For optimum results, make sure to fasten the tape on every 1 foot of the hose.

You could also cover the heat tape with pipe insulation for an added layer of protection. You’ll not only get extra security, but this also ensures you get the maximum benefit from the heat tape to your recreational vehicle’s pipes in doing so.

Use RV Skirting

Skirting an RV means putting material around the bottom of the rig to keep its nether regions protected from the freezing temperatures. It is a brilliant choice if you plan to be stationary during the winter. Think about installing it before the temperatures plummet too much. This skirting will not only shield your RV from chilly air but also snow and ice as well.

Even if it is designed to withstand the winter weather, skirting your rig is a smart move as it helps keep it warmer inside the rig—this means you don’t have to run the heater as much!

To do it right, you must first install the RV skirt tightly to avoid any likelihood of heat leaking through accidental openings. This entails choosing appropriate skirts and parking your RV on a flat surface area without any bumps that can cause RV skirt openings. If you’re positioned in a pull-through camping site, this is important. Just to be safe, you may also cover the skirting with some insulation board.

The best material for travel is vinyl skirting since the install is pretty straightforward and can adapt to changes in terrain and ground levels. Another option with minimal work involved is hay bales, but they are likely to attract other creatures seeking shelter from the cold.

Allow heat in by opening cabinet doors.

Closed doors prevent your RV’s heat source from circulating. There will be a noticeable temperature difference when you open your cabinet doors if you keep them closed. As the back wall is possibly minimally insulated, your outer walls will show the most considerable temperature difference. Heat can go into your cabinets when you open your cabinet doors and ideally avoid any pipes behind the wall or in the cabinet from freezing too. A relatively simple solution, right?

Go to a warmer place.

One of the perks of RVs is their mobility. Hence, heading to a warmer location may be the easiest option when it starts to get cold. For example, in a typical winter, you don’t often hear people in Florida or Arizona dealing with freezing temperatures. If they do, it’s only for a short period, and temperatures will soar above freezing.

Compared to the tent camping lifestyle, RVing can provide enormous freedom regarding when and where you stay. While warmer locations tend to see more visitors during the winter, setting up camp in a warm location may still be your best bet. This is the reason why so many people prefer to chase 70-degree weather!

Use Thermocube + 250-watt Space Heater

A weak spot in an RV is the wet bay because it is not well insulated and has little gap holes where cold air gets in. This is the part of your RV where the grey/black drain valves, water pump, and water inlet lines are found.

The freshwater tank is at the lowest point near the ground with the grey and black tanks stacked higher above it. Inside the bay are exposed water lines that feed the water pump and then from there go up into the motorhome plumbing, which can freeze very quickly.

So what do you do and how many watts will it take to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping?

Simply run an extension cord from another storage bay that has a power outlet, attach a Thermo Cube to the cord, and plug in a 250-Watt space heater to ensure you have running water the next day.

The reason for using a Thermo Cube is because it allows power to reach the heater if a certain temperature is reached and shuts off when a different threshold is surpassed. Some Thermo Cubes turn on at 35°F and off at 45°F.


When it comes to how to keep RV pipes from freezing while camping, prevention takes precedence. As long as you have a prevention plan for each area of your RV’s water system, then you’ll have nothing to worry about as you enjoy your winter RV camping trip. Carpe diem!