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Thread: Living in my motorhome this winter, winterization questions...

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    Question Living in my motorhome this winter, winterization questions...

    So, I'm going to be living in my motorhome (small, 20 ft. long) this winter in the Anchorage area. I'll be living completely off-grid, no plug-ins. I have a good wood stove & a propane furnace to keep me warm. Solar panels, a wood stove thermo-electric generator, and driving every day (my rig is my daily driver) to keep the batteries charged. I have a little bit of 12 volt heat tape and a 12 volt heat pad on my blackwater tank and dump valve. I'm "bringing water in" in a 4 gallon jug. I've completed winterized the greywater plumbing and water heater.

    My question:
    How much RV antifreeze (the pink, -50 F type) do I need to put in my 15 gallon blackwater/toilet tank to keep the tank from freezing solid?
    I usually dump the tank once every 3 weeks and I would like to continue using it like a normal bathroom. I can't leave the heat tape and heat pad running long (it eats my battery up quick) and I can't plug-in anywhere for power. I planned on just turned on the heat tape and heat pad about 3 hours before going to the RV sanitation dump. My waterpump pumps 100% -50 pink antifreeze directly into my toilet when I flush it, just wondering how much this antifreeze can be diluted before things freeze up (my worst nightmare).

    Please help, I'm sure some of you guys know something or have some first hand experience about keeping your septic from freezing in an OFF-GRID manner. Remember, it's my daily driver, so I can't put a thermal skirt around the bottom of the trailer. The blackwater tank is un-insulated and located outside below my rear bumper. Thanks everyone.

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    Since you know the pink stuff's freeze point, isn't it just a matter of math between what you put in, vs. how much pink stuff at what ambient temp protection?

    Like if you choose to be good to ten below, you only need 1/5th the effectiveness of the pink stuff so dilute it 5 to 1, plus a fudge factor...... so to speak... (ouch, can't believe I typed that).

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    Member akiceman25's Avatar
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    I'd just put a whole crap load in it.....
    I am serious... and don't call me Shirley.

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    You might start of finding a way to add some insulation around the tank on the outside. I wouldn't think that it would be that hard
    Semper Fi and God Bless

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    Sooner or later ... when it does freeze up...

    get a forced air heater (they ussually run on diesal fuel) and thaw out good on a fairly warm day..

    go dump.... start over.

    The problem with trying to adjust RV anti-freeze to waste is the (ummm) larger chunks freeze

    the good thing is with only a small amount a RV pink stuff- they thaw enough to flow down south fairly quickly.

    If you were up here in Fairbanks area, I would say "stop using your indoor plumbing till spring, and use a honey bucket with garbage bags and a good lid"

    Set bucket out side and let freeze, throw away frozen waste. (keep bucket for re-use)

    Another good thing is, as your daily driver- you are stirring the pot so to speak on a regular basis.

    At least try to put paper in a separate trash bag, if you must continue to use the indoor plumbing.

    You might want to get an Auto-start installed if you haven't already. Sure helps battery, engine, and you to be warm in the morning.

    Hope this gives you some ideas,
    Chris

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    I needed to think this through myself, since I'm doing a trip in the next couple weeks.

    I found the below chart for propylene glycol (which is what is in the pink RV antifreeze). From the chart and others it looks like pink antifreeze that protects to -50 is at least 55% proplyene glycol (I can't find the actual percentage but if you know it protects to -50 it has to be at least 55%). So if you dilute a 55% solution 50-50 with waste you now have a 27% solution, you are now only protected to the mid-teens F. I'm surprised a bit by how much protection you loose, by a 50% dilution, but that is how it goes with stuff like that. Just a slight change in concentration makes a huge difference in protection. I have not seen it in an actual store, but I think they make -100 F RV antifreeze.

    http://www.lyondellbasell.com/techlit/techlit/2509.pdf

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    I noticed that some of the RV antifreezes (pink stuff) are ethanol based, although the ones I've bought never have been. The dilution curves for the ethanol based products might be slightly better, but are similar. I've never used so I have no comment there.

    T

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    My Lance Truck camper has insulated tanks but the area that gave me issues was at the black water outlet. Ended up with a frozen ball just above the T-handle. When/if this happens to you ~ use caution when thawing with heat. These parts are easily damaged if you let it get too hot. Also, it takes much longer than you'd expect to get things moving through there. Good luck.

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    OK, last post, I hope. I looked up the MSDS of several RV pink -50 antifreezes. Some are propylene glycol and water. Some are Propylene glycol, glycerin/glycerol and water. Some are Ethanol and water.

    Given that the ethanol and propylene glycol curves for freeze point vs concentration are similar and both respond poorly to dilution - you need to be concerned in temps below freezing. It seems like it is going to be really hard to get protection down below 10-15 F unless you are doing a lot of extra flushing to dilute the waste (then of course you will have to dump more). Anchorage winter temps I know are moderate, so you may be fine.

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    Spray foam and insulated pipe wrapping is your friend. Since your driving it all the time it's gonna get cold underneath the rig. The insulation and heat tape you have should help. We have used motor homes down to -30 with no problems as long as you flush with rv anti-freeze. We didn't dilute, just used it straight.

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    Member Rod in Wasilla's Avatar
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    I gotta ask... How is this hunting related?
    Quote Originally Posted by northwestalska
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    Is the exhaust close to the tank? Could you use some of the exhaust heat via a dryer hose or flange and plate to keep the tank heated while you are driving?

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    There is no place you can dump your RV in the winter they shut off all the water lines to keep them from freezing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacGyver View Post
    There is no place you can dump your RV in the winter they shut off all the water lines to keep them from freezing.
    There are several places in Anchorage to still dump in the winter, I've already looked into it. A few car washes, select Holiday gas stations, and the RV rent-a-spot sites (although they charge). Holiday still has free RV sanitation dump access in the winters. Thanks for the suggestions guys. Sounds like it's gonna be expensive as hell. RV antifreeze is (on average) $6 a gallon. If my tank holds about 12 gallons of waste, that means I'll need at least 6 gallons on antifreeze to protect it down to 14 degrees F. The math works out to about $40 every month for septic anti-freeze protection. And I know it'll get a lot colder than that. I wonder if I can get away with less antifreeze somehow.

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    At the Golden Nugget campground there are people that stay there year round in motor-homes. It is not a bad campground. Then you could hook directly into the gray water connection. They have showers too and a laundry. There would also be a great source of experienced people there that have don the same thing that you could pic their brains.

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    Quote Originally Posted by akgun&ammo View Post
    If you were up here in Fairbanks area, I would say "stop using your indoor plumbing till spring, and use a honey bucket with garbage bags and a good lid"

    Set bucket out side and let freeze, throw away frozen waste. (keep bucket for re-use).
    Realistically, and in all practicality, this is going to be your best answer, IMHO.
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    Member Rod in Wasilla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alaskacreeker View Post
    ... RV antifreeze is (on average) $6 a gallon.
    I just picked up a couple of gallons for about $3.50 each at Walmart today. But, I would agree that not using the plumbing in the winter would be your best alternative.
    Quote Originally Posted by northwestalska
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daveinthebush View Post
    At the Golden Nugget campground there are people that stay there year round in motor-homes. It is not a bad campground. Then you could hook directly into the gray water connection. They have showers too and a laundry. There would also be a great source of experienced people there that have don the same thing that you could pic their brains.
    We live at the Golden Nugget in our 37' Montana. Insulate the underbelly as much as you can. Being a daily driver might make it tough though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alaskacreeker View Post
    So, I'm going to be living in my motorhome (small, 20 ft. long) this winter in the Anchorage area. I'll be living completely off-grid, no plug-ins. I have a good wood stove & a propane furnace to keep me warm.
    Any word on how this worked out during our recent 10 below weather?

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