Prevent water hoses freezing in camper

SlimTim

Member
Hi all,

Living and camping in a cold climate I think the water hoses on my camper keep freezing, leading to cracking and small leaks. The camper is stored in my shed which gets awfully cold.

I have replaced one of the hoses I suspected were leaking, but now I have noticed another small leak. I may have missed the hose that was actually leaking in the first place though. Its a very slow leak.

Does anyone have any ideas that could prevent this? Perhaps wrapping the hoses in some insulating foam?

Cheers,
Tim.
 

CTL

Well-Known Member
Had a camper in cold weather a few times and the hoses froze but we never had a split hose. Water expands when frozen so if the water is in a sealed tube with nowhere to go, it may cause an issue. But I would think the plastic pipes would have enough flex to not split when frozen. Unless you have a one way valve in the system, the water can move back into the tank. Do you have a pressure pump? Is the splitting happening in the pipe under pressure? Maybe try turning the pump off before going to bed and opening a tap to drain a bit of water out of the pipe.
 

SlimTim

Member
Had a camper in cold weather a few times and the hoses froze but we never had a split hose. Water expands when frozen so if the water is in a sealed tube with nowhere to go, it may cause an issue. But I would think the plastic pipes would have enough flex to not split when frozen. Unless you have a one way valve in the system, the water can move back into the tank. Do you have a pressure pump? Is the splitting happening in the pipe under pressure? Maybe try turning the pump off before going to bed and opening a tap to drain a bit of water out of the pipe.
Thanks CTL.

I was thinking something along those lines. I usually store the camper with full tanks as I've heard this helps prevent mold build up. I wonder if the tank is too full so the water has nowhere to go. I might drain a little out.

I have a pressure pump. I store the camper with the pump off and usually turn the pump off overnight while camping also. I'm assuming the pipes are not under pressure and I'm not sure about any one-way valves either.

In that case, it may just be a cracked hose/pipe or other leak and not due to freezing water. Might be time for a good going over of the camper.
 

cam04

Well-Known Member
The tank won't freeze and expand (in Australia), but any exposed small lines under the camper will. I'd keep the tank empty and try to get rid of water in the lines when storing in the cold - problem gone. I have always drained my water for storage with no mould issue.
You can lag your lines with refrigeration foam where they are exposed to the cold for camping in sub-zero. We try to drain the lines and turn off the pump. Also drain the hot water system and put it away at night in the cold.
 

SlimTim

Member
The tank won't freeze and expand (in Australia), but any exposed small lines under the camper will. I'd keep the tank empty and try to get rid of water in the lines when storing in the cold - problem gone. I have always drained my water for storage with no mould issue.
You can lag your lines with refrigeration foam where they are exposed to the cold for camping in sub-zero. We try to drain the lines and turn off the pump. Also drain the hot water system and put it away at night in the cold.
I also suppose mold will be inhibited by the cold temperatures?
 

mac_man_luke

Well-Known Member
not sure if you can get it in aus but there are food safe anti freeze that is used for winterising, just drain and flush before using it again.
 

callmejoe

Well-Known Member
It probably got more to do with the hose quality then the weather. By the sounds of it I suggest it was of poor quality to start with and now passed it use by date.

Once a pipes start splitting is time to change the whole line.

Joe
 

SlimTim

Member
It probably got more to do with the hose quality then the weather. By the sounds of it I suggest it was of poor quality to start with and now passed it use by date.

Once a pipes start splitting is time to change the whole line.

Joe
Good point. This may very well be the case. They certainly have been on there awhile.

This may be a silly question but when replacing is there a certain type, like food grade, hose/pipe I should use?
 

callmejoe

Well-Known Member
All depend on how much you can afford to splash out.
If you want to drink the water that'll run through the pipes, I'd defenity go food grade.

Nothing wrong in replacing it with the same type of food grade hose can buy to fill your water tank, just make sure you get the correct size. From memory it 25mm. Normal hose is 15mm/19mm from memory.

Once you decide what to do, just take some old hose with you to compare sizes in the shop, as they all start looking the same beside each other.
 

CTL

Well-Known Member
Bunnings sold the cheapest food grade 12mm hose when I last bought some about 2 years ago. Supercheap sell the Camec brand food grade hose but it was a bit dearer (unless you jag it on one of their “store wide percentage off” sales). For the water tank filler hose it really doesn’t matter as water should not be sitting in it. Again Bunnings sell a few different sizes. If you are worried about mould/algae, cover any clear hose in electrical tape or split electrical tubing, it won’t grow without sunlight.
Always use food grade hose to fill your tanks if you are drinking it and don’t want that funny taste you get slurping out of the garden hose.
 

Albynsw

Well-Known Member
Bunnings price is reasonable but get the reinforced one not the plain clear hose as it kinks too easily
 
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cam04

Well-Known Member
I recommend john guest hose and fittings. Probably cheapest way to go too as you can get it at the plumbing supplies. It is designed for (low) pressure.
 

MrPoopypants

Well-Known Member
Freezing pipes is a real problem in the Blue Mts and the Snowies. We've had a few and so have most of our friends. Copper or plastic, they can all freeze.
I've also had large tanks (40lt & 80lt) freeze regularly when camped in the Snowies in winter, too. If camped up high in a cold spell they can stay frozen for days. Leaving space in tank won't help, the line freezes and expands outwards. Lots of ski lodges have special heating which kicks in automatically at low temps even when unattended, just to try to prevent burst pipes. Even this doesn't always work. As pointed out, depends on weak spots, fittings etc. as to when and how it splits. Disaster if your pipes are in the roof.

The lagging you can get at Bunnings works reasonably well, but you've got to cover as much of the pipes as possible. I've been meaning to do our camper for a while. Bit of a hassle, as you need to get brackets large enough to include the insulation and some standard pipes won't be long enough for the extra required to fit the insulation, so you might need to fit longer pipes. You don't need to undo all the fittings as the lagging is split and clips together.
As pointed out john guest hose and fittings are the standard, available from any caravan supply place, colour coded for hot and cold. (although for some bizaree reason Jayco use black for everything)

Or do what the diesel truck drivers in Turkey do, light a small fire under the tank to thaw it out!!! :eek:

PP
 

CaptainBanana

Well-Known Member
Re do the camper in John guest fittings and pipe used in caravans. My caravan has frozen its pipes and frozen its hot water heater but never broke anything. Caravans plus is where I buy my John guest stuff.
 
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McGinnis

Member
I use silicone peristaltic pump tubing wrapped in an open cell foam conduit (the type used for glycol chillers). Unlikely to freeze, and if it does, unlikely to crack.
 

Batts88

Well-Known Member
Boiling a billy so you have something between the flame and the water tank especially if it's plastic is an old way to help if your despirate I've never had to do it but it would probably take a long time. You could try adding some clear alcohol when storing it your choice of brands as long as you remember to flush it out.
 
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