Preparing for a winter in the travel trailer

freezing photoWe’ve had great weather this year. As a result I never got around to winter preparations. So freezing weather crept up on me, and I wasn’t ready. I’m a huge procrastinator, and if it isn’t an emergency, I can do it later.

I’ve done the best to find solutions to problems as they have presented themselves. I am hoping that you don’t have to go through as much stress. Please, learn from my mistakes, don’t wait until you’re freezing!

  • Condensation is the enemy. Everything adds moisture to the air in a camper. Breathing, cooking, the propane heater, and especially showering. They all help create a warm moist environment. Warm and moist is the perfect habitat for mildew. The first thing we tried was Damp-rid. It did collect some water, but it wasn’t fast enough for what we needed. A dehumidifier was the next buy, it was hard to find one that was low wattage. We found this  Eva-dry Electric Petite Dehumidifier on amazon. It does collect a lot of water we dump the container every couple of days. We may need a second, our humidity levels are still around 65%.
  • Reflectix insulation is godsend. This product looks like bubble wrap sandwiched between two sheets of tin foil. Before we moved in, my wife started lining the exterior cabinet walls. There was water pooling underneath the bed, so we have insulated it with reflex. We’ve insulated under the dinette seats because of the condensation on the wheel-wells. This stuff is incredible. Reflectix 24-Inch-by-50-Foot Bubble Pack Insulation
  • Insulate the windows.Insulating the windows was the next defense. What happens when warm moist air touches ice cold glass? Water collects and drips down the glass. There were little pools of water on the bottom edge of the windows. We fit Reflectix insulation into all the windows. They are working out well. I wish we did this in the summer, It may have kept us a lot cooler. The place does look dark now. My wife removes two windows every morning for light.
  • Full spectrum light bulb. There is lots of research suggesting that a full spectrum light bulb will relieve symptoms of depression. The ferrets need a little sunlight, they have been sleeping too much lately. Now we are trying out a full spectrum light bulb during the day. Maybe it will help with their depression.  We bought a light like this Future Harvest Development Sun Blaster 26W CFL.
  • Get a catalytic heater. The furnace that came with the camper, never heats the bedroom. The thermostat is above the dinette, one warmest area of the camper. The heat would shut off before the bedroom got up to temp. With the new heater it sometimes gets two hot in the bedroom, even on the lowest setting. I wish there was some way to hook a thermostat up to it, then it would be perfect! We have the Camco 57341 Olympian Wave-6 6000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater. Read about our install.
  • Leave a vent open. Opening sounds like the opposite of what you would want to do, but it works. An open vent allows the warm moist air to exit the trailer, while replacing it with drier, fresher air. Make sure you do this when you shower.The catalytic heater requires us to leave it cracked for air exchange anyway.
  • Heat the outside tanks. I haven’t worried too much about the fresh water tank, its inside. The black water tank gets a swig of RV antifreeze here and there. I bought a heating blanket for our gray water tank. It turns on at 45 degrees, to keep the water above freezing. I think 45 is too soon to turn on, so I plan on wiring it to my brewers thermometer at setting it for 38 – 42.The instructions say to turn it off when the tank is empty, So I will wire in a switch.
  • The door leaks air. I bought a roll foam insulation tape, and attempted to seal out the cold. This appears to be working, but it is not 100% sealed. The foam makes the door harder to close, and it will pop open if you don’t close is right.

Things I have read about but have not tried.

  • Clear window film. I’m afraid water will condense within the layer pool up, and then release all at once. I would most likely be away from home, and would walk into a mess.
  • Trailer skirting. I’m too cheap to buy the prefab kind, and too lazy to build the wooden ones. We also dump our tank monthly and having to take down a solid skirting, sounds like a lot of work.

Most days our windows and door frame still sweat. The camper is only 1 1/2 inches thick and the insulation in the walls is white Styrofoam. There is only so much we can do. If I find the perfect solution I will make sure to write all about it. If you know some things that will help please share.

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About Fred

Self taught jack of all trades, Master of none.

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