Frozen holding tanks and water heater... - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-22-2012, 10:46 AM   #1
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Frozen holding tanks and water heater...

Hello all,

I am grateful to be a new member of this friendly and informative FiberglassRV community. Yesterday I pulled home my very first new used 2010 13 ft Scamp, and at the moment my primary concern is that no steps have been taken to winterize the systems.

The temperatures in northern MN/WI have long been well below freezing for many weeks, and so of course all liquids in the Scamp are currently solid.

My main question is, should I just wait until spring, since what has already been frozen cannot get any more frozen? Or should I find somebody with a heated garage and park it inside for a few days until everything thaws out so I can then winterize with the correct procedures?

This little 13 footer does have a toilet and shower, with a pressurized water system, and of course a water heater.

I did "some" searching before initiating this thread, but did not find exactly the answers I seek. I hope I am not causing too much redundancy here...

Thanks.
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Old 12-22-2012, 10:51 AM   #2
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Yes, I'd try to thaw out and drain all the liquids, may not be too late.
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Old 12-22-2012, 11:08 AM   #3
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Hi Doug, to FiberglassRV, we're glad you're here!

I agree with Jim, it's never too late to try and thaw out. If you're fortunate enough to find/have a garage to do the work, that's what I'd do.

Best of luck
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Old 12-22-2012, 11:15 AM   #4
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Doug I am with the others do what you can to drain it. At the very minimum take the screw cap off your hot water tank - thats a costly item to have to replace.
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Old 12-22-2012, 11:52 AM   #5
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Welcome aboard, Doug.

If you can do it now in a garage, you can monitor the thawing, and take action to correct what you need to. If you wait until spring, it will thaw on its own, and if you are not there when it happens, you could have a bit of a mess.
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Old 12-22-2012, 12:01 PM   #6
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Even if you could just get it in a garage, run your heater for a while and Im sure it would start them defrosting

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Old 12-22-2012, 12:09 PM   #7
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Welcome to the forum and good choice of a Scamp13

One 1500 watt electric heater can do a lot to get most of the frozen stuff thawed. If a garage is readily available, great, otherwise I'd get going with a heater.

The first thing I'd do is put it in the locker with the water tank. After the drain valve unthaws I'd open and let water start draining from the tank.

The most important item in that locker is the water pump. Unfortunately they are prone to being damaged by being frozen with water inside. So I'd get it unthawed. I'd observe it and look to see if there's any trace of water leaking from it that would indicate that its cracked. If not, count yourself lucky and make sure it's well drained.

Then I'd work away at the other areas with the heater. Hopefully no damage has occurred.

Good luck,

Ron
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Old 12-22-2012, 12:24 PM   #8
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I wintered for 5 winters and kept the inside warm, opened cabinet doors under the sink so it would get warm air and put ROCK SALT in both holding tanks. This kept the water from freezing.
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Old 12-22-2012, 01:08 PM   #9
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Wow. Thanks to all for such quick replies. My garage has a 7' door, so the Scamp is about 4" to 6" too high.

The overnight temps here now are reaching about zero degrees Fahrenheit, so I think to fully thaw the liquids throughout will require more heat than what a 1500 watt electric heater can offer. I wonder if I position some pink styrofoam insulation around the camper (like skirting) and then aim my kerosene forced air heater carefully toward the underside... as long as the heater is not TOO close to anything, and does not put too much heat directly on any surface, it might thaw the holding tanks after enough hours? Any thoughts?

Also, my main concerns are the black holding tank because replacement would require MAJOR disassembly of the Scamp, and the water heater, which as was mentioned is quite expensive. So is it possible to remove the water heater and bring it into my house? Might be a silly idea, but as you all know I am brand new to these campers.

Lastly, the propane tanks have been removed because of a suspected leak in the system, which I don't really want to investigate further until spring. This is why I cannot just turn on the furnace and let the Scamp warm itself up.

Thanks again.
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Old 12-22-2012, 01:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyplain View Post
. My garage has a 7' door, so the Scamp is about 4" to 6" too high.
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Old 12-22-2012, 01:36 PM   #11
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Take the drain bung out of the water heater and you may be able to use a torch to get the water thawed.

Should you remove the wheels off the camper you may be able to roll it in on the hubs or place it on a set of special set of dolies used for moving vehicles around on.

Vehicle Dollies - 2 Piece, 1500 Lb. Capacity
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Old 12-22-2012, 02:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyplain View Post

My main question is, should I just wait until spring, since what has already been frozen cannot get any more frozen?
This rationale makes sense to me....I see no advantage to laboriously thawing things out right now since as you point out, whatever damage there is has probably already been done. And quick-thawing with torches/space heaters can actually do more harm than gradual, weather-related thawing.


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Old 12-22-2012, 04:04 PM   #13
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You should be able to use a hair dryer to get your grey water tank valve open & as you probable will not be able to empty the grey water tank completely if its solidly frozen leaving the valve open to allow for expansion would be a good thing. As all your other tanks are located inside the trailer running a small electric heater in the trailer for a couple of days once you have the drain valves open - should work to thaw out the lines & tanks inside, maybe even enough to unfreeze the hot water tank a bit assuming it does have water in it.
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Old 12-23-2012, 09:35 AM   #14
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I have lived in Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin for 63 years . In my opinion the only way you will thaw out your trailer is to place it in a heated garage (already warm) , open the windows and door of the trailer and wait about 2 to 3 days for the heat to penetrate. There is one other way "Wait till Spring" Ice out in my area is about April 15
to May 1 so you have a while till Spring
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Old 12-23-2012, 10:05 AM   #15
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I have lived in Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin for 63 years . In my opinion the only way you will thaw out your trailer is to place it in a heated garage (already warm) , open the windows and door of the trailer and wait about 2 to 3 days for the heat to penetrate. There is one other way "Wait till Spring" Ice out in my area is about April 15
to May 1 so you have a while till Spring
Or take a week in Florida Raz
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Old 12-23-2012, 10:10 AM   #16
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Florida Thaw

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Originally Posted by P. Raz View Post
Or take a week in Florida Raz
I like your method better . Sounds like a lot more fun.
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Old 12-23-2012, 06:01 PM   #17
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UPDATE: Well, I removed the plastic drain plug on the water heater and of course all I could see was ice blocking the exit. So, I decided to bring out my little espresso machine that I have used every morning for two decades and utilize the steamer/frother. I hooked up a small plastic hose to the metal steamer and carefully aimed it toward the drain on the water heater. Within a few seconds, the ice was cleared away and water started coming out... not exactly gushing out, but a lot more than a drip. It seemed as if only about one gallon, maybe less, came out, and even after inserting the steam hose five or six inches into the tank itself, no more water came out. So, it seems clear that the water heater tank is not full, or the water would have continued to come out. Arguments are invited.

The potable water tank on the other side I finally figured out is almost completely empty. I could tell after shining a light on it and tapping on the top.

Now... I don't think using steam on plastic would be wise, although I am open for advice... but I would sure hate to have the black water tank that is installed under the flooring get a crack in it from ice expansion... the shower lines ARE filled with ice too...

I think if I skirt the camper with pink styrofoam and aim a kerosene heater toward the underside from the front, after several hours the lines and black water tank will thaw quite a lot... from what little I am learning about these campers, it seems there is a GREY water tank AND a BLACK water tank... is this true? I know the black water tank is basically under the toilet, of course... but is there another tank under the shower? If so, is there a secondary pump that moves the liquids from the grey to the black tank for draining?

Thanks for all the help, as I would really hate to see any avoidable damage done to this quite new Scamp. A trip to Florida IS the best idea, just not possible for me at the moment...
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Old 12-23-2012, 06:59 PM   #18
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Glad to hear the draining of the hot water tank went OK. Some may have left the thawing to Spring but if it was me, I'd ~want~ to know

My 13 is a 2008. Yes, there is a dump valve for the black water tank under the toilet, on the driverside forward of the wheel. I'd heat it with a hot air gun or heater and open the valve. I'd put something down to catch whatever may drain when it thaws.

Yes, there is an electric pump that pumps the grey water to the rear tank. The dump valve for that is also drivers side to the rear of the wheel.

I would heat the electric pump and drain it. See other posts about protecting it from road debris.

I'd do the same thing for the grey water tank. Heat the dump valve before trying to open it and then use some heat to thaw it. Putting a shroud of foam should work well to keep the heat near the tank.

Good luck,

Ron
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:36 PM   #19
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Name: Doug
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Quote:
Some may have left the thawing to Spring but if it was me, I'd ~want~ to know
Well, mainly I have been very concerned about the water heater tank, since that is expensive to replace. Once I saw the ice blocking the drain I felt I had to try something.

I have figured out where the two main (large) dump valves/drains are, but I am still a little confused about this:

Quote:
...there is an electric pump that pumps the grey water to the rear tank.
I found the electric pump, but are you saying there IS a tank under the shower which is separate from the tank under the toilet? And, if so, what is "the rear tank"? Sorry for my ignorance, but I love learning about this setup, and I thought the fairly large plastic tank under the passenger side seat was for potable water. If not, where is the potable water tank located? AND, does this mean my Scamp has a tank under the toilet (black water), a tank under the shower (grey water), another tank in the rear (grey water), a water heater tank, AND a potable water tank located in some mysterious place? Wow. I think I am listing one too many tanks here...

I am researching all this while engaging in this thread, so don't feel obligated to answer all my silly questions.
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:44 PM   #20
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Humm, potable water should be inside under passenger side seat. Black water tank inside right under toilet. Gray water tank (if you have one) is outside, underneath between the axle and the rear of the trailer. You already know where the hotwater tank is
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