The Frozen RV Sewer Hose Incident – Didn’t Know Those Hoses Could Weigh So Much!

Now that winter here in the great Midwest seems to be over, it’s a good time to reminisce about some of the problems we had because of it. Even though it was a mild winter compared to the norm, we still had to endure intermittent below-freezing temperatures for about 3 months. One of the ways we had prepared for this was to make sure we had a heated water hose for cold-weather camping.

RV Sewer Hose

If you don’t want to spring for a fancy hose with the heat built-in, you can go the cheap and frugal route. Basically, you get some “heat tape” (not really tape at all) which is a long strand of heated plastic-covered elements that plug in to a shore power outlet. This is wrapped onto your water hose with adhesive tape of some kind (yes, duct tape is OK), and then covered with tubes of pre-split foam insulation. It’s guaranteed to keep your water hose from freezing, as long as the heat tape stays on and the electricity is constant.

In addition to having a heated hose for the incoming water, you have to keep the water flowing on the coldest nights, and how do you do that? Simple – you open each tap (bath and kitchen) just a bit so that there is a contstant flow through the system. Of course, as in all things, one thing leads to another. If the taps are open the gray water tank is going to fill up if you don’t leave it open, so we left it open, thinking that the water would just flow along and go down the drain, about 20 feet away at the end of a double length of flexible sewer hose.

One frosty frozen morning, it became apparent that I would not be able to postpone emptying the black water tank any longer, so I put on my parka and snow boots and went out to get it done. To my surprise and dismay, after opening the valve, everything stopped after about 5 seconds. Puzzled, I lifted the sewer drain hose and discovered that it weighed a lot more than it should if it was empty. Which it wasn’t, obviously – it was full of ice, the result of the trickle of water flowing into it and freezing before it could reach the end. And it was completely full, with no room for anything to go through. We had a frozen RV sewer hose on our hands. As I lifted the hose a little farther out, it cracked in 2 right in my hands, putting an end to my hopes for a quick resolution to the problem.

All I could do was go get a new sewer hose and attach it. That worked fine, but my quick and easy black water emptying project turned into a several-hour process, all because of a little stream of water coming from the faucets in the RV. So we learned that it’s better to keep an eye on the waste water tank and dump it when needed than to just let the water run out into the open sewer hose. This is only necessary when it’s very cold, and you have to have a flow to keep the pipes from freezing. At all other times we keep the gray water valve open and there’s no problem. We live this life and learn as we go, and fortunately sewer hoses are relatively cheap – a small price to pay for a valuable lesson.

****Though this is Jim’s very own category on the blog, Robin couldn’t resist creating a poem…****

Let’s grab another Camco sewer hose

Cuz it appears that ours has froze

As all rvers knows (yeah, that’s a stretch)

RVing in the cold really blows


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