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Old 11-08-2018, 10:12 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by JOEL2125 View Post
I am not a SMB owner but looking at van options. The Hymer Aktiv is super comfortable but the water tank is external and I definitely plan to camp in subfreezing weather. I thought that because the SMB water tanks are internal freezing would not be an issue as long as the interior of the van is not frozen, Not true? Thanks. J

Couple of factors here. And of course, remember, internal freezing is not an issue as long as you're in the van and keeping it heated all the time... no leaving it in the parking lot for a few days while you stay with friends or at a hotel.


As far as when you're in the rig, yes the heated environment should keep internal tanks from freezing. But the hot water heater can be an issue as they by design have to vent to the outside for exhaust from propane combustion, so at least on my SM there's just a little door on the outside with vents on it with the hot water heater behind it. Yes the hot water should stay hot in the heater but the lines in and out can be susceptible.


And the lines are the other issue. As an example, the design of my van (bought used, I wouldn't have done it this way) has my water tank under my gaucho on driver's side of the van and hot water heater on driver's side of van, my sink is on the passenger's side of van. Tank of water = interior not subject to freezing, sink = interior, not subject to freezing, water lines between hot and cold water tanks and sink = freezing risk, as they run underneath the floor and don't get heated enough by the heat in the van. So far I haven't damaged anything but have had the lines freeze up a few times when temps get to mid lower twenties... can usually run the van for a bit and the heat from the exhaust thaws the lines, but nerve wracking nevertheless.


Other issue can be grey water and black water tanks, they're often quite external and can freeze up and a) crack or at least b) be impossible to empty.


So not insurmountable problems, but things to be aware of, and like most vehicles if you're doing lots of winter work they sure appreciate a day here and there in a heated environment like a garage to really thaw everything out.


-- Bass
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Old 11-08-2018, 10:24 PM   #22
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Thanks Bass,
As usual, more to the picture than I thought. Seems like they should add a low amp continuous recirculation pump to keep the water flowing from colder to warmer areas. The pump could have a switch for shut off when not needed and would be so small you shouldnt be able to hear it. I have a recirc pump in my house as the distance from the HW heater to some of the sinks is quite far. Works like a charm.
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Old 11-08-2018, 10:25 PM   #23
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Thanks Bass,
As usual, more to the picture than I thought. Seems like they should add a low amp continuous recirculation pump to keep the water flowing from colder to warmer areas. The pump could have a switch for shut off when not needed and would be so small you shouldnt be able to hear it. I have a recirc pump in my house as the distance from the HW heater to some of the sinks is quite far. Works like a charm.

That would be a good solution, and with the small number of end appliances not as complicated a plumbing job as having hot water recirc in your whole house!
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Old 11-09-2018, 02:15 AM   #24
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As far as I know, water lines are not run under the floors for the reason described. I remember being told this when they were building mine. I have the same set up, with gaucho on drivers side with the water tank and sink on the opposite side. The water lines are run to the back end, then up and over the rear doors and then back down and forwards to the sink, all kept internal.



The lines for the hot water flat plate heat exchanger that I have are indeed run through the floor and then back in, which is a known freezing issue, along with the flat plate itself, which, if the water side freezes and cracks internally will exchange more than heat, contaminating the fresh water system with engine antifreeze. Not good. Sportsmobile actually did a recall on the original flat plates they installed because of this, replacing with a beefier one.


When temps start getting too low, I drain everything(don't forget the outdoor shower line, if so equipped) and blow out with compressed air. I leave all drains open for the winter and put a little RV antifreeze in the sink trap if I'm not using the van. If I'm using the van in winter conditions, I still use the sink, just with a 2.5 gallon water jug, instead of the internal system. I also leave the grey water tank cap off and catch with a 5 gallon bucket. Less worry and hassle, for me, that way. I put some RV antifreeze in the fresh water tank of the porta pot, as well. I've done many Tahoe winters this way with no issues...after the first year, anyway. I did go through one cracked trap and one cracked outdoor shower fitting.



I wouldn't trust windshield washer fluid as antifreeze for long periods in anything not sealed, such as drains and traps, as the alcohol will evaporate out faster than it's water base. The freeze point will, subsequently, rise over time.
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Old 11-09-2018, 10:27 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by JOEL2125 View Post
I am not a SMB owner but looking at van options. The Hymer Aktiv is super comfortable but the water tank is external and I definitely plan to camp in subfreezing weather. I thought that because the SMB water tanks are internal freezing would not be an issue as long as the interior of the van is not frozen, Not true? Thanks. J
Well if the ambient air around the water isn't below freezing, no problem. But in some builds the water lines run under the van floor, in walls, etc. Same with gray or black water tanks. And some of us don't heat the interior of our vans. I don't. It will usually stay warmer than outside, and a big tank of water retains some heat, but I don't count on interior warmth. I've had water bottles freeze, etc. But YMMV.
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Old 11-09-2018, 01:16 PM   #26
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On my van (1990, Texas build) the main plumbing lines are all inside, but the city water connection line runs underneath from the driver's side to the passenger side. The city water connection is actually in the rear quarter panel, below floor level. A drain in that line would be an obvious solution, of course, and not hard to add, but being in SoCal I don't worry about it.

You can also have issues with enclosed cabinets next to side walls or doors -- the air in the cabinet gets chilled and, since it doesn't circulate with the other indoor air, it can get below freezing even if the rest of the interior is comfortable. If you've ever seen an old farmhouse kitchen with vents in the cabinet under the kitchen sink, that's why. Before modern insulation they could get frozen pipes inside the cabinet unless there was a way for the air to circulate.
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Old Today, 12:20 AM   #27
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I am planning on some of my first"cold weather" travellingthiswinter.

If one has a relatively full water system, does this suggest that in low temp conditions one is best evacuating the entire system each night or simply before leaving to cold climes?

My rig has a flat plate / I believe there are drains outside that should be bled to prevent cracking that unit, but because the rest of the plumbing is inside, I've always assumed that keeping the interior relatively warm would not be to hard.

At the risk of appearing ignorant, how do you safely "bow out the system" ?

I have onboard air. Do I simply open all the drains and valves and put air pressure to the outside water hookup?
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Old Today, 06:28 AM   #28
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Evacuating the entire system depends where the water lines are routed and whether you will keep the interior of the van warm all the time.

My van has a flat plate and two drains, one hot directly from the flat plate and cold water feed drain as well.

There is an attachment one uses that screws into the city water hookup, like this:
https://www.amazon.com/Camco-36153-B...em+air+shrader

Or quick release like this:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I've read about different processes of opening drains and blowing out one at a time. One should also open the faucet and shower and blow them out. Turn on the pump and blow it out while on. I've used different sequences until I don't get any water.

I'm sure someone more knowledgeable can articulate if there is a "best" sequence.
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Old Today, 09:38 AM   #29
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When you blow things out dial the outgoing air pressure from you air source to 40 psi so you don't over pressurize the system.
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