5 Tips for Unfreezing RV Water Pipes

An RV in the snow.

During the cold winter months it is very common for the water pipes in your RV to freeze. Fortunately, there are some methods that can help you unfreeze your RV before or during your trip.

1. Camper Heater or Space Heater

Use a camper heater with propane or a small portable space heater on the frozen areas of the water pipe. Since heaters can be a fire hazard, always keep a watch on the heater and never leave it alone when in use. Once you are done with the unfreezing process, or if you need to take a break, turn off the heater until you are ready to resume.

2. Heat Tape

RVs in the snow

Check the pipe to make sure it is not cracked. If you do not see any cracks and you know exactly where the pipe is frozen, try using heat tape to unfreeze the area in your RV. Although it has the word tape in its name, heat tape is actually a wire that you are able to wrap around the pipe. Once you have wrapped the wire around the frozen area, plug the heat tape into an outlet. This will warm up the wire, which will then warm up the pipe. Heat tape is sold in a variety of lengths and sizes, so buy the one that fits your needs best.

3. Plumber's Torch

If you are sure that the water pipes are made of copper or steel, a plumbers torch can be used to heat the frozen water inside the pipe. Before using the torch, check the pipe for cracks or breaks. When you find the area of the pipe that is frozen, move the torch back and forth to heat it up. Be careful to not overheat the pipe. Apply only a small amount of heat at a time on that area.

4. Heat Gun

RVs in the snow

If you are somewhat apprehensive about using a torch, another great and safer option is a heat gun. Point the gun on the frozen area of the pipe move it back and forth to spread the heat evenly between the two frozen points.

5. Piping Hot Machine

A piping hot machine can also be used to unfreeze metal pipes, and is especially convenient if your RV is still parked in your driveway. You can rent it from a local plumbing store or buy a brand new machine. The piping hot machine has spring-loaded clamps that you use to connect to the pipe. After making the connection, turn on the machine to heat the section of the pipe that is between the clamps.