Monday, November 8, 2010

Keeping warm in a cold place, (Long term) living in your RV

This topic recently came up on the escapees forum, so I thought it would bear repeating my advice here in case you don't keep up with that forum. I am a lifetime veteran of sub-zero weather and mobile homes, if you are enclosing the trailer tightly with skirting, you may want to put down a vapor barrier in the cement pad or ground, a great deal of condensation can rise up from the earth, get trapped and do some dry rotting and surface rust of metal members. A good 8 mil. plastic will do quite nicely and is cheap enough.

Besides using the foil covered insulation board wedged tightly in place between ground and frame, you might consider running roofing, (tar paper) around the inside of the skirting, overlapping the ground and top of the skirting, and leaving an airspace between. It inhibits rodents from sharing the cozy little space you have provided for them and adds double value to your insulation. It's cheap too!

For heat you have to be cautious of what type of heater you use, only "milk house" rated heaters should be used, or a tipping/turn off type, I really hesitate to recommend using them at all because of the fire risk. My favorite was to use a yard type, (porch light) 150-200 watt, they give off a lot of heat and you can tell if they burn out because you wont see the light peaking through here and there. One usually near the water inlets will keep them from freezing all winter. Build a fireproof, melt proof place to put it and keep an eye on it at first to see if you have a heat build up problem. Do not place it too close to the underbelly if it has a plastic type barrier.

I have built hot boxes, (wooden boxes), around the water pipes and put a 100 watt bulb inside to keep this area from freezing up too.

Keep a hairdryer handy for thawing pipes, shut off water temporarily while thawing in case a leak has developed.

For inside, use foam pillows to close off skylights and vents, hang a blanket over the door at night, use window quilts cut from bedspreads purchased at second hand stores, bind edges and velcro attach to window frames. This will keep you warm and toasty and save on energy consumption, (it is a bit claustrophobic, but keeps one from listening to the furnace all night).

For long term cold, keep closet and cupboard doors open a bit at night to prevent condensation and frost from developing, pull furniture away from walls if cold spell lasts more than a couple days to keep frost from coming through the walls.

Use an auxilliary heater inside the camper, but be aware that if your furnace doesn't run, your underside could freeze up quickly, work out a balance, keep a remote thermometer under the skirting and keep track of it. Undoing the damage is much more difficult than preventing it.

This about covers what I know about it, have made it through -75 below at times in a cheap mobile home. 

One more caveat, if you have an on board generator, throw a can of HEAT in it to prevent gas line freeze, if it is a gas model, appropriate additives for diesel generators can be found and used too.

2 comments:

Rebecca Kutz said...

Wow, no comments on such an informative article? I enjoyed this, i trust the information and thank you for the tips ( especially lift bulbs as a heat source)

AshleyShell@gmail.com said...

Hi, I was wondering if you could tell me why you think 8 mil plastic is thick enough? I am trying to decide which thickness of plastic to buy. I found a professional RV skirting company that uses 18 oz vinyl, and when I was shopping for vinyl I found that their 20 oz = 22 mil...I also found some 11 mil that was very cheap, so I'm trying to decide between the 11 mil and 22 mil. FYI we have a fifth wheel with an enclosed underbelly and heated garage, but holding tanks aren't heated except for the heat they get from being next to the garage.

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