Winter Travel in a Foretravel

We are dealing with a couple of days of 20 degree Texas cold weather and are keeping our plumbing safe with four Lasko 200 watt personal heaters.

These are the same heaters that were recently mentioned by other Forum members:

Lasko Electric My Heat Personal Heater, 100

Heaters put out enough heat to keep the freezing temps away, but not enough to damage any nearby things.

Today we found the defrost water tray behind our electric refrigerator was frozen, so I put another heater behind fridge.

Anything very close to the front of the heater needs to be protected. All heater locations, except one do not have anything closer than 6 inches.

In the water manifold area, there is not much room, so we cover the plumbing and the inside of the bay door that is within 6" with heavy-duty foil as a precaution. Barry Leavitt 1997 U270 36'

I had one in my wet bay running non-stop for 3 months last year in Denver. Had it pointed away from the tanks and only a few inches from the gray and black pvc. No evidence of any problems. In fact it's down there running right now.

I would recommend getting a thermometer with a remote and locate the transmitter unit right next to the water pump head.  The pump is usually the first thing that will freeze due to the small passageways inside.  Do this and you won't have to wonder if your light bulb is going the trick or not - can really help put your mind at ease. Then you can easily bump up the furnace if necessary from the cozy inside of the coach if necessary. John & Tina Fitzgerald 1991 U300

I plan to take a couple of ceramic heaters to supplement if needed the propane, 40 watt bulb for the water compartment, a plastic tray for collection of the shoes near the front door, some bubble wrap for the single pane windows to increase the insulation, keep diesel and propane near full, use the tanks (to not use any exterior hoses except on intermittent basis).  Charles scruggs 1996 u295

I put one thermometer in the service entrance bay, one in the water pump bay and one in the big bay. The one in the big bay is not critical. Put the thermometers relatively low in the bays. There may be a big difference from the top of the bay to the bottom.

The 40W bulb may be a bit small for heat in the bay. A larger bulb or a "personal" ceramic heater (200W) may be appropriate. The thermometers will help you know what is required.

I installed adjustable grills for outlets for the rear furnace. I close them partially to force more heat into the bays when temperatures are below 20F. Before I installed the adjustable grills, I would put a box against one of the grills to effectively close it.

We carry a heated water hose so that we can reliably fill the fresh water tank if the campground has a fresh water supply. Dumping the tanks hasn't been a problem for us in cold weather. The water is warm enough and flows fast enough to keep from freezing.

Many campgrounds close for the winter or have limited services. That may affect your travel plans. The ones that are open may have limited access to water.

I usually leave the kitchen vent slightly open and leave the small passenger vent window slightly open. This allows fresh air to circulate and exhausts a bit of moist air.

We have double pane windows and usually don't use additionally window insulation. We also do not plug the ceiling vents nor the skylight.

We found that we burned about four gallons of propane per day when daytime highs were 10F and nighttime lows were 0 to -5F.

We plan to visit family in Missouri and Montana during the upcoming holidays. We have specific travel plans, but we keep in mind that weather may stop us at any time. We buy local diesel fuel on a daily basis while on the move in order to get local seasonal blends on board. We also try to keep enough food, fuel, and water to park for a few days at any place along the route. Bad weather can cause to you stop in order to remain safe. A "show stopping" mechanical problem in cold or bad weather can threaten your safety if you don't have sufficient supplies.

When we are at destinations in Missouri and Montana in cold weather, we are in campgrounds with full hookups. We use the propane furnaces for most heat. We sometimes use ceramic heaters for additional local heat.

On one trip, we lost use of the front furnace (daubers ruined the burner) and so we used the generator to support a ceramic heater while dry camping overnight in a service plaza. We like to keep the interior of the coach around 70-72F in the winter.

We use the No Freeze Water Hose. It is high quality, and very sturdy. My understanding that it uses a temperature sensitive heating component. It does not have a thermostat in a specific place on the hose.

Some short lengths of "jumper hose" can help make connections. At our campground in Montana, the water hookup in the winter is about 18" below ground. The "jumpers" help connect the stiff heated hose to the faucet and inlet in the coach. The "jumpers" are in areas that remain above 32F.

You will need antifreeze in the windshield washer fluid. I generally buy 0F rated washer fluid any time of the year. That's the coldest rating I found at the local parts store. When we travel north in the winter, I try to get some fluid rated for lower temperatures. Even if the washer fluid remains liquid in the lines, it can hit the windshield and freeze immediately. That's an unpleasant experience!

In cold weather, we have to clear the windshield (inside) before we can start traveling. It will be covered with moisture or ice, depending on the temperature. A fan or ceramic heater blowing across the front of the coach will clear the window in a few minutes. Towels at the base of the window may be required to gather the water. As temperatures warm, there are often a few rivulets of water from the top of the windshield.

We frequent switch between "Defrost" and "Floor" settings on the dash heater in order to maintain comfort and vision while under way.

We seldom experience fogging or icing of the double pane windows.

Leaving the ceiling vent open a bit and one or two windows open a bit will help clear moisture, especially if the outside air is dry. J D Stevens 1997 U295 36'

To clear the condensation from the WS in cold weather I keep a small squeegee ( same one I clean the shower door with ).  Gets most of the moisture off then I can towel off the rest. Gary B. 1995 U280

Many things will cause the moisture your experiencing. Cooking, making coffee, moisture in the coach materials etc. Also people and pets emit a certain amount by just breathing. Turn on the heat and it will condensate on windows etc if the outside temps are cold enough.  Just crack a roof vent a little bit like J.D. says and it should help. Dean & Deirdre 2003 U270 36'

Dori & I spent the entire winter in a campground in Denver last year. Luckily it was a pretty mild winter. We took most of the precautions mentioned above. Pirit heated water hose PIRIT PWL-02-25 Water Line 25-Foot x 5/8-Inch Heated Water Hose: look for one that has the thermostat at the facet end. Mine is at the outlet and I had to use a short piece of hose to insure it was on the outside of the bay and wasn't influenced by the wet bay temperature. Pack towels or sponges around the hose entrance to keep air infiltration to a minimum. Small ceramic heater Lasko Products My Heat Personal Heater - in the wet bay.

I left my sewer hose connected but closed my sewer valves and opened them to dump. Never had a problem with them freezing but had the ceramic heater right next to them in the bay. Opened the heater vent in the bay and closed off one of the heater vents inside to push more air into the bay.

Also bring a plastic snow shovel. You'll want to keep the area around the door and the wet bay clear of snow. I kept about a 3 foot border around the coach clear. I even shoved the roof a couple times when we had a couple of feet of snow. A thick layer of snow on the roof slowly melting then freezing at night is almost a guarantee of water leaks. Be extremely careful on the roof it's slippery and dangerous! Push from the middle of the coach to the parameter. A 12 foot fall onto concrete is painful and probably damaging to body parts.

That said December is usually pretty mild (relatively speaking) with only light snow falls. Of course mother nature does whatever she wants so be prepared. The ski resorts bring in a lot of tax money so the DOT takes great care of the roads but with a big storm they can only do so much. Hunker down until the roads are clear if you can. The uphills are usually not a problem. The downhills on the other hand can get you in trouble real fast. If it's slick go slow and don't use the retarder (if you have one). As Dave M says the heavy end wants to go first.

Don't give it a chance to do that. If you do end up driving in snow be sure to give the underside of the coach a good rinse to get the sodium chloride off when you get home.

Big Agnes in the snow

Big Agnes in the snow

If a storm comes thru hunker down and wait for the sun to come out. Once the sun is out it's amazing how quickly the roads clear.ken & dori hathaway 1992 U300

We always run off our fresh tank, so did not need a heated water hose as I would wait for a sunny day to fill the tank and watch pretty close so that I would refill before it got real low in case we had a long run of below freezing temps. We spent the winter in a campground in Nebrasks for the winter of 2012 and had no issues. I filled the power cord access door with rags and insulation to keep out the wind and kept a 100 watt bulb in there. Red Tractor 2003 U320 40

Cold weather travel is an interesting way of going. I have spent time waiting out the weather and have gotten up very early to beat it... I second the idea of washer fluid check and also check that you have the heater bypass not turned off.  (There is a valve in my water manifold water heater area that was used to close off the water heater bypassing the heating of the water to send it up front.) If you are using propane to heat, you will need to crack a vent to prevent the water vapor from freezing on the windshield. You might also bring some extra towels to put at the bottom of the front window. IT will run water if is is really cold. ALso carry a hair dryer or two so you can get rid of ice that forms on the inside of the windshield.  If you have just cold weather you will only need to crack a vent but if it is really down in the single digits then you will have other issues. John S. 2001 42' U320

We typically use ceramic electric heaters in the coach when we are hooked up on outside electric and temps are not below 25 degrees. But I have always been concerned what would happen in real cold weather if the propane furnace malfunctioned. I decided to install light bulb receptacles in the water bays to provide electric heat if needed. Last night it got down to 17 degrees here in Oklahoma. It stayed in a hard freeze for 16 hours. Wanting to test the two light bulb receptacles in the water bays I installed two 40 watt bulbs and was anxious to see how much heat they would add without the heat from the back furnace. I had remote thermometers in each bay and was very surprised that the 40 watt bulb did almost nothing to heat the bay They got down below freezing after only a couple of hours. I then installed 100 watt bulbs.  The 100's did much better but still allowed the bay floor to go below freezing. When I fired up the back furnace the bay's temps went up over 40 degrees almost immediately. Some coaches use the front furnace to heat the bays but I believe that most use the rear furnace if the coach has two furnaces.

DON'T RELY ON LIGHT BULBS. Maybe the personal heaters or the Halogen lights will work but incandescent light bulbs won't cut it. IMHO

Last year we were in Amarillo down to 7 degrees. Used the rear furnace and had not problem with anything on the coach freezing. Kent Speers 1993 U300 SSE 40

The little personal heaters from Walmart have been just the ticket. I got a thermocube and a couple of those small no thermostat personal heaters.  I was tempted to get the larger ceramic heaters but demurred as I was concerned that I may overload the circuits and break them.  So max is 400 watts through both of the smaller heaters.  I like the thermocube (like you say on at 35 and off @ 45). The area (floor) in the coach above the compartment where they are located is warmer to my sock feet than the floor without the heaters below. 

I took advantage of the remote temp sensor on my satellite clock and put it by the water pump while the personal heater  (opposite side) was by the hook ups.  I think the lowest temp recorded was 43.  I used a small ceramic heater in the front of the coach and the rear furnace sans electric heater in the front.  The coach stayed between 65-70 which was comfortable.  I did not hardly use the front furnace. 

The reason was mainly to use the electricity (provided by the park at no additional cost AND what I consider the most important, to keep the propane tank above 1/2 full. I was advised to refill if got below 1/2. If got below 1/2, the chafe of "freeze up" would be increased more as the level decreased. 

My neighbor also told me to not run dometic on propane as tends to freeze up.  He has spent 14 winters up here! I would think rather sage advice.  Also note kept blinds closed most of time.  Did not use fee bus, but noted pick up was just outside park. BTW the coldest night got downto -14F. No frozen pipes or tootsies, got to love that FT. Charles scruggs 1996 u295

© Barry Brideau 2003-2018