When pulling into an RV park or waste station to clear our your tanks, one obstacle that is not fun to face is a frozen hose. This is especially true if there is waste in the sewer hose, and you need some way to get it out so you can finish pumping without buying another hose or leaving that tank full.
Prevention is a big deal here. We would like to help you keep your RV sewer hose from freezing so you don’t need to worry about issues like using a hair dryer to warm up feces and urine.
Keeping your RV sewer hose from freezing is easier than it sounds. You’ll need insulation, tape, and a few other items to maintain a nice temperature for your RV hose.
How do RV sewer hoses freeze?
Let’s attack this one from the beginning. Before we know what to do to prevent freezing, we must understand what causes freezing. Amongst causes are placing the sewer hose in an exterior compartment that ends up getting too cold. Moisture can build up and ultimately freeze to the inside – ice does indeed expand as it freezes and makes a small amount of water feel big.
RV sewer hoses can also freeze while being used. If you leave your RV hose outside too long while waiting to drain, the inside can freeze – even with waste inside. This is honestly a worse situation because you’ll likely have to heat up feces and urine to get the flow going again.
1: Get an RV Skirt
An RV skirt is a mostly fabric piece that attached around the outside part of your RV that helps prevent both heat and cold from getting into your RV and its compartment. Think of this as exterior insulation.
The skirt typically attaches by sliding on though rails and screws are possible too.
The purpose of the skirt is to raise the temperature high enough to keep the hose and other components from freezing – it also helps keep the RV interior warmer – even by more than several degrees on cold, windy days.
RV skirts can also be inflatable and even filled with warm air in some instances.
2: Anti freeze in the holding tank
This helps mostly when the hose itself is warm, but starts getting colder as you drain your black tank.
Pour some anti freeze into the toilet or shower to allow the anti freeze to run through the hose as it exits towards a sewer receptacle. The constant flow of even a small amount of anti freeze will help greatly in keeping the hose from freezing during draining or pumping.
Anti freeze is fairly inexpensive for this purpose though you’ll have to add more every time as the draining of the tank removes your anti freeze too.
3: Wrap your hose
Besides the RV skirt, wrapping the hose on your RV will be the most consistently helpful.
Start by getting three things: A heat tape (also known as a heated cable), electrical tape, pipe wrap insulation, and weatherproof tape.
The heat tape is actually an electrical wire that you plug into an interior or exterior outlet that uses electricity to keep the hose warm constantly when plugged in. Wrap the heat tape around the hose so that the wire never touches itself, but is applies to every available square inch of the hose. Ensure that the thermstats is also in a place where it can get cold.
Tape the heat tape to your hose with as much electrical tape as you need to prevent it from having the wire cross.
You can also wrap the now taped on heat tape in foam pipe insulation. Then wrap the foam pipe insulation in weatherproof tape.
The wrapped up heat tape creates the consistent ability to heat up the hose when it comes cold enough to potentially freeze. One caution here: Make sure the heat tape is well wrapped. Crossing the heat tape onto itself can cause excessive heat and a fire.
Can I combine these ideas?
You could certainly do all three. The RV skirt generally is to be disassembled when moving, and needs to be put back on when you stop – but it’s highly effective at warming up multiple parts including any hoses stored outside.
You can wrap your hose, too. The two combined make it even less likely that your hose will ever freeze unless the heat tape experiences a malfunction – even the insulation is better than nothing – and the whole thing can be removed.
The anti freeze idea also works but requires you to dump some in often, and mostly right before actually draining your tank. This requires a repetitive action when the skirt might work better.
We recommend trying the hose wrap first. An RV skirt can be a bit more expensive, though it does help prevent chilly air from coming into your vehicle. If that isn’t a problem, the heat wrap should cost significantly less – and it only needs to be done once. The heat tape will provide consistent heat when you need it, and shut off when it’s warm enough out to not affect your hose.
When you are done, try it
You’ll likely be able to physically feel the difference when doing an RV skirt or a tape wrap – the hose should be a bit more pliable and feel less like a rubber brick.
Once you’ve done one of the above, you’ll pull into an RV park feeling much better about the possibility of having to defrost your hose before use. Or worse yet, finding a way to thaw actual waste out of the house. The steps are a great investment for your RV, time, and to avoid doing some potentially gross things in the same of having a cleared out tank.