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Old 10-21-2013, 07:41 PM   #1
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What temperature will a Greyhawk with tank heaters take without freezing?

It came equipped with tank heaters, but not the heated line and elbow wraps. Reputable dealer says good to single digits. I want to believe that, but I'm not sure I do. Tank heater manufacturer agrees with dealer. Says you only need the line heaters in extreme (?) cold.

The weak part of the system is considered to be the pipe from the tank to the dump valve if it's long (getting away from the tank).

Does anybody have any real-life experience with this set-up?

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Old 10-21-2013, 07:47 PM   #2
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Listening to this since in same area as you...Hate winter so soon

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Old 10-22-2013, 06:13 AM   #3
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Wow I will have to disagree with the dealer. I took our Redhawk out with tank heaters and some of the outside lines froze at only 28 degrees. It wasn't enough to crack the pipes but it gave us a good scare. The next night we winterized the lines and used water from a container to flush.

This why I am convinced tank heaters alone are worthless. I will be very interested to see what others have experienced.
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Old 10-22-2013, 06:30 AM   #4
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I used our tank heaters when returning from a vacation in Florida in November. I turned them on somewhere in Pennsylvania when it got chilly and turned them off when we dumped in New York. I never considered *camping* with the tank heaters on.

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Old 10-22-2013, 07:34 AM   #5
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I've been out in when temps have dropped into the teens not only with our current SENECA, but also with the 2001 DESIGNER MH and the FW we had before that without tank heaters and never had any issues. I do have a heated water line (PIRIT) and we do not leave the sewer hose out since it would be the first thing to freeze. We don't even run the furnace as I use electric heaters and keep the temp around 70.

If you have water lines in a slide out I recommend keeping the cabinet door open.
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Old 10-22-2013, 08:01 AM   #6
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I don't have any specific experience, but as always I do have some comments.

Fresh water freezes below 32F. That is a fact.

Insulation does not add heat and will not prevent freezing. Insulation will only keep things that are warm at that higher temperature than ambient for a longer period of time. Without a heat source, given enough time even a fully insulated pipe will reach ambient temperature which means that an insulated pipe will freeze if the ambient temperature is below 32F for long enough. That is a fact.

(At one time insulation was commonly referred to as "lagging" because it slows down the loss of heat. Insulation installers were known as "laggers".)

A tank heater will add heat to the tank. Given free flow, the warmed liquid (relatively... above 32F anyway) will keep connected pipes like the dump lines from freezing. A dead ended, valved off isolated dump pipe full of liquid could still freeze. That is a fact.

Without a circulating system, the tank heater will have little or no effect on remote area connected piping whether the pipes are insulated or not. That is a fact.

There is a common misconception that insulation will keep pipes from freezing. That is a myth. Without some means of keeping the liquid in the piping warm, given enough time, eventually unused insulated pipes will freeze if the ambient temperature is below 32F. Normal use of water combined with a raised local ambient temperature from a heated trailer box helps insulated pipes operate correctly.

FWIW. vic
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Old 10-22-2013, 10:40 AM   #7
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The tank heaters are not worth much on their own. In 20 degree weather, our coach completely froze up. The tanks didn't, but any piping from the tanks did - including the supply line from the fresh water tank to the pump. www.ultraheat.com is the same manufacturer that supplies Jayco with their tank heaters. They also make heat pads for the waste lines, dump valves, and water lines. This addition is on my list of things to do, but I haven't installed them yet. Hopefully msturtz will read this and post. He has installed them as well as additional insulation.
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Old 10-25-2013, 08:42 AM   #8
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Probably silly question, but can you pour rv antifreeze into the grey/black water tanks to keep from freezing?
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Old 10-25-2013, 09:05 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by dumboat View Post
Probably silly question, but can you pour rv antifreeze into the grey/black water tanks to keep from freezing?
Not a silly question at all. Yes you can add antifreeze to the tanks. It doesn't need to be a true 50% mixture. Less mixture will keep it from freezing solid. Slushy is OK.

For the most part a heel of water laying in a poly tank isn't a real problem. It is where the water is contained in a small area that the issues begin (dump lines, other fittings). A single freeze isn't usually fatal. Freeze thaw cycles are what do the most damage. My explanation of the mechanics are this. The water freezes and expands a little bit. Then it partially thaws (a solid plug of ice remains), more water moves in to the voids, and then it freezes again. Each cycle adds more expansion until something finally breaks. That cycle is obvious in old copper tubing in summer cottages when pipes don't drain completely. In the low points you often see pregnant areas in the tubing. Copper will tolerate some expansion without failing. I think that people would be surprised to see just how pregnant the copper tubing can get before finally failing. Hard plastic fittings... not so much.

I know of people who use RV's in the winter. They leave the fresh water system winterized. Many use a container of water/anti-freeze solution for manually flushing the toilet. I find that most times peanut butter jars are a convenient size for one flush. Some people use a jug.

Were I to use the camper in winter (we're considering that so we get some more use out of it) then my mode will be to fill my jars with 50% antifreeze solution. I am not speaking from experience for winter use, just what I've learned working on plumbing systems, and what I've gleaned from the forums.


Edit: P.S. - Even though it is going into wastewater tanks, please still use the pink RV type anti-freeze. The automotive ethylene glycol is just so much more toxic.
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Old 10-25-2013, 09:16 AM   #10
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Thanks for the extra info. I, too, am looking to camp in the winter and I was thinking the same thing (antifreeze in a bucket for flushing ) and it's nice to know it has been done before.


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