family auto mechanics - helping you find the problem

family auto mechanics - helping you find the problem

What Causes Frozen RV Pipes And What Should You Do?

by Herman Mills

Plumbing issues are a simple fact of life for RV owners. Since RVs combine many of the best (and worst!) aspects of vehicles and homes, that means dealing with maintenance and repair issues that are equally common on cars and houses. Unfortunately, plumbing can often be a source of severe problems for recreational vehicles, just as it can cause headaches for homeowners. 

Unfortunately, the potential damage from plumbing issues is often far greater with RVs. A relatively small leak can cause extensive damage, leading to body and interior repairs. Even worse, unnoticed leaks can cause rot and mold issues. Frozen pipes are a particularly common source of leaks for four-season campers, and understanding how to avoid and address them is a crucial skill.

Why Are Frozen Pipes a Problem?

Water freezing in pipes can create numerous problems, eventually leading to a burst pipe and a severe leak. Unlike many materials, water does not become denser when it freezes. Instead, water will expand, creating outward pressure on any pipes containing it. This expansion can potentially damage pipes and cause them to break or burst.

However, freezing water in pipes can also lead to other issues. As the water freezes, it will attempt to expand through the pipe. Since liquids are incompressible, this expansion will push any remaining water toward closed faucets or fixtures in your RV. While the PEX pipes found in many RVs are somewhat more resistant to bursting, this pressure will eventually build enough to cause a rupture.

How Can You Prevent Frozen Pipes? 

First and most importantly, if you don't own a four-season RV, you should be winterizing your vehicle once cold weather strikes. Four-season RV manufacturers typically take steps to help insulate and protect the water supply and plumbing, which can help delay pipe freezing — at least, as long as you run your RV's heater.

Even if you own a four-season RV, make sure you thoroughly understand how your RV protects its pipes and whether you need to take any actions to keep them safe. After all, having a weatherized RV won't do any good if you leave the heater off and expose your pipes to freezing temperatures.

What Should You Do If Your Pipes Freeze?

If you suspect your RV has a frozen pipe, you should do your best to assess the situation and determine if the affected pipe is accessible. For easily accessible frozen pipes, gently apply heat (while opening any connected faucets) to thaw the ice. When this doesn't work, or if you can't reach the pipe, you'll want to have an RV repair specialist take a look.

Remember that frozen pipes are not simply a minor nuisance. Having no water in your RV can be frustrating, but a burst pipe can quickly ruin a vacation. If in doubt, a professional can help you find the affected pipe and determine a safe and effective way to thaw it without causing extensive water damage to your RV.

Contact RV repair services to learn more. 


About Me

family auto mechanics - helping you find the problem

As the son and grandson of mechanics, I spent much of my child hood under the hood of many cars. I have listened and learned about so many different problems and how to repair them effectively. I created this blog to cover as many car problems as possible without overwhelming readers. You will find tips for troubleshooting, advice for when to take it to a professional and suggestions for when to stop driving the car or truck immediately to prevent further and more costly damage. We hope that you find all of this information helpful and useful, allowing you to have a great running car.