How to Thaw RV Pipes and Tanks?



RVs are usually able to withstand some cold weather, but once the temperature drops below freezing, problems can occur. Your RV could suffer some severe damage if your holding tanks, hookups, or pipes freeze. Hence, it is imperative that everyone knows how to thaw a frozen RV tank safely. An RV’s holding tanks can take a long time to thaw because they are one of the most exposed parts. If they are out of service, you may have difficulty getting running water in your RV, which is frustrating.

The best ways to thaw an RV tank:

Fortunately, there are some methods that can help accelerate the thawing process and prevent freezing. The following are some of the most effective options.

1. Hair dryer/heat gun:

Putting heat directly on a frozen RV tank is the most effective way to thaw it. Heat guns are more efficient than hair dryers in achieving the same results. If you wish to use this method, you should be very cautious when doing so. Unless you take special precautions, you could end up melting the outer layer of your holding tank if temperatures change dramatically. ABS and polyethylene are frequently used for holding tanks, so you should take special care when handling them. Ideally, begin at the top and work your way down the tank for the best results. Don’t apply direct heat to one area for an extended period of time with a hairdryer or heat gun. Once you have reached the termination valve, you should be able to open it. As the contents of the tank move around, you will be able to heat them. The tank has thawed when this happens!

2. Install a 100-watt bulb:

You can opt for the 100-watt bulb method for a slow and steady thawing process. It can provide a constant source of heat that will assist in bringing the holding tank to a comfortable temperature. Since a 100-watt bulb cannot produce too much heat on its own, you won’t have to worry about extreme temperature shifts. The method works best if your holding tanks are located in an enclosed RV underbelly but are not fitted with heaters. A 100-watt bulb installed under the eaves will gradually and gently heat the space. If you choose this method, you’ll need to be patient, but it’s safer than using a hair dryer or heat gun. Additionally, it is quicker than waiting for the tank to thaw on its own.

3. Thaw the tank naturally:

Alternatively, you can just wait it out and let your tanks thaw on their own if you have no other option. It is possible for your tanks to melt naturally if the weather outside is above freezing. A person who is in a hurry should refrain from attempting this, as it could take several hours. Adding some insulation around the tanks and running the heater in your RV can speed up the process. It is best to let the tanks thaw at their own pace to avoid cracks or damage to their exterior. 


More to explorer

Which RVs should be winter-ready?

RVs can withstand freezing temperatures with the following features.  If you plan to camp in cold weather, look for these RV features. 

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