How long does it have to be below freezing for RV pipes to freeze?

In this blog post, we will answer the question: “How long does it have to be below freezing for RV pipes to freeze?” We will talk about a few tips to keep your RV pipes from freezing. We will also talk about preventing your RV water tanks from freezing and discuss a few extra methods to prevent pipes from freezing during winter.

How long does it have to be below freezing for RV pipes to freeze?

It takes around 24 hours below freezing for RV pipes to freeze. This is applicable in temperatures that are lesser than 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The RV pipes can easily freeze in such extreme conditions. However, there are certain steps to be followed that can prevent the RV pipes from freezing in such extreme weather conditions.

  • Your RV is vulnerable despite having winter packages and other added advantages. When it comes to extreme winters and snow, you will need to prepare well to ensure that you can take on the winter in style. 
  • The most common problem RV enthusiasts face is the freezing of pipes. The pipes in your RV are everywhere and they run in some of the most crucial areas where it can freeze.
  • The pipes are not the only thing that can freeze in your RV during winter. You will also need to safeguard the RV black tank and the RV gray tank. 
  • With only 24 hours for pipes to freeze and the clock ticking, you must be certain to have all the requirements in place before heading out during winter. A frozen pipe is the last thing you want when you are enjoying your beautiful winter trip with your family.

Tips to keep your RV pipes from freezing

A few things are required if you are planning on hitting that snowy road during winter. Once your pipe is frozen, you will start facing issues and you might not be able to enjoy your beautiful trip. A frozen pipe is not going to give you water to drink and it can be hard to use the washrooms. Here are some of the tips to keep your RV pipes from freezing.

Protecting the underbelly of your RV

It is a known fact that you have a couple of pipes running down your RV. The underbelly is the most vulnerable part when it comes to keeping your RV warm. Since the underbelly is exposed to the earth, it can easily freeze your pipes in extreme weather conditions. Having an enclosed underbelly is the first thing you need to do before heading out.

The chances of the pipes freezing more are highly possible with an open underbelly. Some RVs are manufactured with an enclosed underbelly for these purposes. If pipes are running under with an open underbelly, you are sure to have a tough time. It is not possible to drive all day and night during winter and you are bound to camp somewhere. 

The ice will take longer to set in if you have an enclosed underbelly. It is also worth insulating the RV from the floor. This will pay off in the long run. Doing this one step is sure to keep you far from freezing. Even if this is not going to entirely help, it can easily delay the process and take more than 24 hours for a pipe to freeze.

Preventing the black tank from freezing

The RV black tank is pretty important since it contains all the waste. A frozen black tank is not something that you want while camping out during winter. In some RVs, the black tank is situated above the floor level. In that case, you do not need to worry too much about freezing. If the tanks are located in the underbelly, you must consider protecting them.

  • One easy method is by using non-toxic antifreeze. This antifreeze is pink in color and is made specifically for RVs. 
  • Be sure to empty your back tank and close the dump valve. 
  • Add some of the non-toxic antifreeze to the toilet. Make sure to add sufficient if you have a large black tank. 
  • You can do the same for the gray water tank but make sure that the bases are covered.

Preventing the fresh water tank from freezing

  • You will find yourself in dire straits if the fresh water tank turns to ice.  Make sure that you have the fresh water tank covered with a blanket around the exterior. 
  • Some people use heating pads to cover the freshwater tank. Heating pads are very useful in this situation, but you will need a 120 V DC outlet to power them up.
  • Winterizing the RV tanks is one of the options that you can try. The easiest way is to try and use minimal facilities and make use of bathrooms at campsites. 
  • There are a couple of winter packages that you can purchase for your RV. 
  • Carry some extra blankets along with you while camping during winter this is sure to help you out.

Unfreezing RV pipes

The first tip to unfreezing RV pipes is by turning up the heat and opening all the drawers and cabinets. This will help in getting back the water to flow again. You can also use blow dryers and space heaters to prevent the RV pipes from freezing. However, this can be a long process and it can take up to half a day. Never try to turn on the water pump during a frozen pipe situation.

Using RV heat tapes

This is a common practice and many people use RV heat tapes to secure the pipes and prevent them from freezing. RV heat tapes will require an electrical hookup, this hookup can be found easily in a store. Apply the tape to the water and sewer hoses and you should be all set. The heat tape simply adds heat to the RV pipes and prevents them from freezing.

Using a heated water line

You will need to purchase a heater water line and this is only used as an exterior water connection. Connecting your RV to campsites during winter can surely make the external pipe freeze. A heated pipe is the best solution to get that water flowing into your vehicle. This solution cannot be used on the inside of an RV.

Tank heaters and insulation

  • A tank heater is one of the best options to prevent the tank from freezing. 
  • Purchasing a 12-volt tank heater is a really good option. 
  • Insulating the walls, roof, and floor will not only keep you warm but will also help in preventing the pipes from freezing. 
  • You can also use foam for the sealing process. Seal the windows and doors properly to prevent any air from coming from the outside.

RV Skirts

  • Using RV Skirts is yet another option that will help you keep some colds out. An RV Skirt can keep out a good percentage of cold air or breeze. 
  • You can also purchase a snow skirt for your RV for extreme weather conditions. Try not to cover the exhaust vents and try installing a skirt around the RV if possible.
  • By considering all these tips, you should be able to keep your RV pipes from freezing. It is also advised to keep the water flowing frequently. 
  • Standing water in pipes is bound to freeze faster than moving water. Try to keep your taps open with only a few drops of water dripping. Be sure to save that water in a container and not waste it.

For people who love camping in the winter, these are very important tips to consider. It also depends on how often you go camping and how long you plan on staying at a particular place. Driving around in winter might be hard and you might want to camp for a couple of days. Staying prepared for the cold climate is surely going to help you.


In this blog post, we have answered the question: “How long does it have to be below freezing for RV pipes to freeze?” We have discussed a few tips to keep your RV pipes from freezing. We have also talked about preventing your RV water tanks from freezing. Let us know in the comments below if you have any particular method to keep your RV pipes from freezing.