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Old 12-01-2022, 12:43 PM   #1
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Water Line Routing?

Hello,

Wondering if anyone has knowledge of how SM - California typically routed the water lines? Prepping for winter camping... don't want to freeze my lines.

I've got a 2006 penthouse w a small water tank on drivers side and the sink on the passenger side. The pressure line disappears into the drivers side wall and then daylights back inside the cabinet for the sink/pantry.

I'll have a diesel heater running while camping, so the cab will be a steady 60ish degrees.

Grateful for any insight.
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Old 12-01-2022, 01:08 PM   #2
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I have seen the water lines run up and over the back wall in SMB builds. If the water line is routed into the cavity between the interior and exterior body walls, it will certainly be at risk of freezing.

Your cabin will be 60 deg but the back of and behind the cabinets will not be. SMB insulation was not great.

Do you have a hot water heater in your system?
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Old 12-02-2022, 06:59 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhamBaker View Post
I've got a 2006 penthouse w a small water tank on drivers side and the sink on the passenger side. The pressure line disappears into the drivers side wall and then daylights back inside the cabinet for the sink/pantry.
Have you looked underneath the van? I wouldn’t put it past SMB to do something dumb like that.
I have a similar setup as your van only the tank is center-mounted under the rear folding seat/bed. We camped several nights last week with lows in the single digits. Set the furnace to 55. Froze the line a couple of nights. I’m guessing the freeze was behind the wall as 1der indicated. Once the temps climbed back up into the 20s during the day and we got the van warmed by driving water flowed freely again. If outside temps are in the 20s or above and you have the furnace set at 60 you probably won’t be at much risk of freezing an in-wall line, at least from my experience.

I’ll probably install a switched adhesive RV tank/elbowheater somewhere on the line behind the wall. I’d be interested to see how whatever you’re working on turns out. Good luck!
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Old 12-02-2022, 08:53 AM   #4
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I had a similar setup with water Tank and inlet on driver side, water heater and sink on the passenger side. The water line ran back over the door as 1DER suggested. Here are a couple of things I did for temperature issues.

Covered water lines with insulating foam.


Add a check valve, between main line and fill port. This allow me to fill tank, and drain the outside plumbing and fill valve. The fill valve is a common item damaged by colder weather.



-greg
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Old 12-02-2022, 09:24 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhamBaker View Post
Hello,

I've got a 2006 penthouse w a small water tank on drivers side and the sink on the passenger side. The pressure line disappears into the drivers side wall and then daylights back inside the cabinet for the sink/pantry.

I'll have a diesel heater running while camping, so the cab will be a steady 60ish degrees.

Grateful for any insight.

I have a 2005 SMB west build with the same water set up as you. I have never seen the pipes but I've assumed the pipes go over the rear doors on mine too. I live in Colorado and have the gratuitous Esbar diesel heater as well. My van in no way is able to prevent water from freezing in the piping. Sportsmobile, like many manufactures, made no effort to design the water system to not freeze in cold temps. I do try to get away with water in the system if it's only below freezing for a few hours or just in the 20*F range.

The first time I flowed water in my van when I purchased it from the original owner, coolant flowed out of the faucet because the flat plate water heater had frozen and ruptured internally at some point with the original owner. Also explained why I was adding coolant in the beginning weeks thinking it was a 6.0 head gasket. Note - I still have the original head gaskets. All of that was completely exposed under the van and was removed promptly. Lesson learned here was always have the water system charged when inspecting an RV before purchase.

I blow out the water system with 30 psi air when freezing temps are expected and we just go back to living car camping style. Now, I have replaced the city fill valve and it's pex connection a few times after freezing up and rupturing when I've been caught in unexpected single digit temps. The city fill valve is completely exposed when viewed from under my van.

If I ever built an interior from scratch or removed mine to rebuild I would bring everything within the properly insulated walls so I could have water at any temp.


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Old 12-02-2022, 09:44 AM   #6
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If I ever built an interior from scratch or removed mine to rebuild I would bring everything within the properly insulated walls so I could have water at any temp.

Yes. It is important to make sure the heated air can reach inside the areas where the plumbing is run. Allowing for the cabin air to flow to the back of the cabinets is really important. Properly insulating the outside and inside walls and wall cavities, running the plumbing lines so they are truly exposed to the cabin area, routing some heat into the back of and under the cabinets helps to protect the water system.

Often forgotten is the holding tank and related lines. Your sink will quickly become unusable due to a frozen holding tank or line. Pouring hot water down the pipe will do more damage in 0 deg weather. I leave the gray tank drain valve open to flow through. I will be adding tank and line heaters this season. A hair dryer blowing on the lines has saved me a couple of times. Easier to flip a switch for a tank heating pad.
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Old 12-08-2022, 12:01 PM   #7
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See these threads

My 2010 Ford E-350 SMB has a different water system than yours. (Are any two ever the same?) So not everything I did will apply to yours. But here is the link to a two part post I did showing some ways to help keep things from freezing.

https://www.sportsmobileforum.com/fo...2-a-25932.html

https://www.sportsmobileforum.com/fo...2-a-25933.html

Bottom line:
1- insulate between the pipes and the cold walls. But do not insulate the entire pipe. Instead leave the interior sides of the pipes open to warm air.
2- Make sure that warm air can get to your pipes inside of cabinets, under the bed, etc. Even without the furnace on your body heat alone can keep things from freezing until outside temps get well below 32°F.

There is probably no one magic fix, but perhaps several little tweaks can make things a lot better.
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Old 12-08-2022, 02:13 PM   #8
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2008 build from Texas the lines go over the back (accessible panel) at the head of the bed, roof level.

Comment on ShuttlePilots freezing exterior fill valve - There is a drain under the fill, and a shutoff on that line from the tank, so in colder weather that exposed line can be shut off from the tank and drained beneath the exterior fill. An E series 95 SMB West build I had did not have the tank shutoff on that fill line but had the drain under the fill. This I assume was to allow total system drain.....With the newer design as long as the interior is warmed nothing freezes. We have camped down to 15F a number of times and not had an interior pipe issue.
Also, my understanding is pex can take the expansion, but other metal or plastic (such as the fill) parts may be an issue...We have worries about our external shower fittings behind the plastic door, but so far so good....The fill valve, tho easily replaced, has frozen when left with water inside....
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