Winter RV Living – how to stay Safe and Warm in Canada

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Winter RV Living - 10 tips to keep you safe and comfortable

Updated:  December 2022

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Unless you’re a snowbird, winter may be unavoidable and if you’re living full time in your RV then you must take a few extra steps in preparation for Winter RV Living. 

Planning for Winter RV Living Reduces Problems

For the rest of us traveling south is not always an option. For those who will be staying closer to home and choose Winter RV Living there’s no reason why we can’t continue to RV in the winter with careful planning. 

The main issues during Winter RV Living are staying safe, warm, and being able to use the water and sewer hook-ups. We don’t want everything to freeze up solid including ourselves.

Have a Secondary Heat Source

How important is it to have a secondary heat source?  I’d say it’s extremely important. Not only will you have a backup if your propane supply runs out and your furnace quits working – it helps take the pressure off your furnace.  

It seems as if we only run out of propane in the middle of the night when you can’t do anything about it. It doesn’t matter how many blankets you have you can’t seem to get warm.

There are many different types of safe and economical heaters on the market that will do the job quite well so visit your favourite hardware store or ask your friends what they recommend.

A catalytic heater may be an option but check with a reputable RV dealer before installing one in case they aren’t legal in your area.  NOTE:  Ensure your RV is vented when using the heater!

A ceramic heater (electric) is another option I’ve used myself when living in a travel trailer on the west coast of British Columbia.

NOTE:  If your electricity isn’t included in your pad rent it could get expensive when using other types of electric heat. Just be fore-warned. 

Propane Tanks!

Using regular propane bottles are a pain because you may need to fill them every couple of days if you’re heating your unit with propane.  This may also be a reason to have a secondary heating source.

Consider purchasing a large propane tank that won’t be needed to be filled as often, especially if the propane is delivered to your site.

Skirting your RV for the Winter RV Living

RV Skirting helps reduce drafts under your unit and goes a long way in keeping you warmer.

Having a vinyl skirt or one made of wood are two popular methods to skirt your unit.

Not all parks will allow RV skirting but when possible do it! By not having skirting you stand more of a chance of having your tanks and water freeze which will be a huge inconvenience and potentially an expensive fix!

Once the skirting is in place maybe line it with insulation and something we have always done is put a heat lamp near our tanks for added protection.  Having a trouble light or open light bulb burning will surprise you as to how effective they can be.

 Two reasons not to use an electric heater under your RV is the chance of starting a fire and the cost of the electricity will be extremely high.

Insulating Hoses and Tanks

Insulate all pipes, both interior and exterior ones and strategically placing light bulbs in cupboards or closets will really help keep the threat of freezing away. A heat tape wrapped around the exterior water hose is an absolute must and make sure it covers both the outside water tap and the inlet into your RV. Cover this with insulation and wrap it up nice and tight.  Don’t insulate the sensor though because you want it exposed to the cold so it will run all the time.

Keep those valves closed! Only drain when they are full – a difficult lesson many have learned over the years and it’s not fun when the hoses are full of refuse and freezes.  

Remove the plastic sewer hose and replace with PVC pipe at an angle so it will drain well when dumping your full tanks.

Have the drainage hose placed on a very steep angle so water doesn’t sit in it.

Heat Tapes are necessary when Winter RV Living

Heat tapes are a must!  Cover any exposed plumbing both exterior and interior – interior cupboards can get very cold if the doors are closed.  

Insulating foam tubes are a great way to protect your hoses and reasonably priced.

#RV Accessories

Prevent Condensation

Moisture or condensation is really hard to avoid. It’s caused by propane heating as well as our breathing.  A dehumidifier is a really good idea.

Check for drafts or problem areas and use insulation or tape where possible and keep a window or vent slightly open for ventilation which helps reduce the moisture.

Awnings, Slides and Windows

Awnings in the winter – don’t use them. If it’s snowing, the snow will weigh down the awning and the next thing you know it will break the arms, rip and vinyl and do a lot of damage.

Slides – It’s important to clean the now and ice from the slide and awning that may cover it.  I have seen some RV owners cut a piece of styrofoam to fit under the slide awning, thus lifting it up and the snow will slide off.

If the snow is allowed to build up on the slide-out it puts unnecessary stress on it and the heat from inside your unit will melt the snow possibly causing water-damage.

Windows – Snap-on fasteners or velcro work well in sealing the curtains to the wall of the RV. As long as it’s removable anything works.

Stop Tires from Sinking into the ground

Place blocks under your tires – because when the ground flaws your tires might sink into the ground and that’s not a good thing.  Planks or blocks under the tires is a good preventative task.

Snow shovels and Brooms

It will be impossible to avoid snow piling up on the roof and a broom is perfect for sweeping it off. You’ll need a shovel definitely to clear your walkway, etc. 

Prevention is key to Winter RV Living safely!

  • When possible don’t use your fresh water tank and use the park’s water system – this is just one more thing that could go wrong and it’s easier to prevent problems than trying to fix them.
  • When you go around your RV to plug up any problems areas don’t forget to put insulation in the roof vents.
  • Seal and insulate as much as possible

Curtains made from a heavy, durable fabric helps keep cold air from seeping in the doors or windows.  

To ensure you are comfortable take the time to seal every possible crack or crevice that freezing air might enter. Take your time and do it right – you will be glad you did when the weather gets cold and the snow is blowing.

Heavy socks or slippers will help keep your feet warm and a nice warm sweater goes a long ways to keeping the chill from making your uncomfortable while Winter RV Living during the cold months of winter. 

A day spent curled up on a chair with a warm blanket and a good book while the snow falls gently outside your window will make it all worthwhile.

The tips and suggestions listed above are not the only methods to ensure a safe, warm Winter RV Living experience but they should go a long way in helping.

There is no reason why you have to be uncomfortable while Winter RV Living.  

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