RV One Night Freeze: How Long For RV Pipes to Freeze?

RVing in the winter brings a new set of challenges. One is the cold temperatures that can plague any RV. These problems do not exist in the summer as everything is too warm. Avoiding the big freeze is important as your RV could get damaged if you don’t.

How long for RV pipes to freeze? A few hours below 32 degrees F is not going to do much to your RV. They say that it takes 24 hours at temperatures below freezing to freeze RV pipes and tanks. Longer if you have insulation over your pipes and tank or using other freeze prevention methods.

To learn more about avoiding freezing your RV’s pipes and tanks, just continue to read our article. It has the information you need, so you can sleep better during those long, cold winter months.

RV One Night Freeze


These days or nights happen when you are either camping or wintering your RV in a region of the country that has moderate daytime temperatures and cold nights. These nights may seem like a problem but for most people, they are not.

The reason why they are not is because they know that their water lines and other pipes are located inside their RV. This means that not only does the cold not reach the pipes but they are kept warm by your use of your heater.

Then if you have insulation on those pipes and water tanks, you should be okay. It takes longer than a few hours to freeze the water in RV tanks, so even if the temperatures dropped to the low 20s your tanks and pipes should be okay for one night.

Keep in mind that the coldest part of the night is only for a couple of hours and those hours arrive just before daybreak. That should not be long enough to do anything to your RV.

Then make sure to keep the interior of your RV warm as that will help prevent the cold from doing any harm.

How Long Does it Have to be Below Freezing for RV Pipes to Freeze?


The outside temperature has to go below 32 degrees F for at least 24 hours before any water in your vehicle’s pipes or tanks begin to freeze. That is a consistent 32 F or below for the whole 24 hour hours.

There is one caveat to this time frame. The length of time it takes to freeze those pipes and tanks depends on several factors. If the underbelly of your rig is exposed, then it may take less time to freeze the water.

Or if you do not heat that exposed area, do not place insulation, heat tape, or take any other antifreeze option then your water may freeze quicker. Then wind chill may also play a role in how fast the water will freeze so the best thing to do is err on the side of caution.

Invest in some cold weather protection to ensure that your pipes and water tanks do not freeze while you sleep. Plus, keep the heat on in your rig overnight even when you are not sleeping inside of it.

That way you can delay any freezing or avoid it altogether. For those living in warmer climates, this should never be an issue for you.

How Cold is Too Cold for an RV?

How-Cold-is-Too-Cold-for-an- RV

The first thing you should do before you buy your next RV is to ask the salesman if the rig is rated for cold weather and what temperature level is it rated for. This information will give you an idea of how cold it needs to get before it is too cold to use your RV.

Most people who have camped in the winter state that they do not winterize unless the temperature is going to remain well below freezing for several days, if not longer, in a row. Some people have used their RV in extremely low temperatures, i.e. -20 degrees F, but have taken the right precautions.

The boundary for low temperatures is going to be up to you and how much you can handle when the propane runs out. Also, if you have winterized your RV then you should be able to handle the low 20s with no problem.

Insulation, heat tape, enclosed storage areas, and opening your cupboards, when there are water lines behind those doors, all contribute to helping you endure very low temperatures when camping.

If the daytime temperatures reach the 50s for several hours, you should be good to go even when the nighttime temperatures reach the teens.

How to Unfreeze Your Pipes


The biggest problem you will have is not so much the RV’s tanks and pipes but the garden hose you use to connect to the water supply. These are very hard to protect against freezing when the temperatures dip down.

The best solution for this issue is to roll your hose up for the night and drain the water out. Then place somewhere warm till morning. Then re-hook up the hose when the temperatures get warmer.

Here are some other tips to help you unfreeze or keep your tanks and pipes from freezing:

  • 1. open cabinet doors - this works for both situations as the warm interior air should help insulate and thaw any ice
  • 2. cover your underbelly - the wind will help freeze the tanks and pipes so block the wind from going underneath the RV. There are a variety of ways to do this without using skirting
  • 3. turn your RV’s heat up - for frozen pipes this is a good way to gently and slowly thaw the pipes out without damaging them
  • 4. use portable heaters - place these near those frozen pipes and let these heaters do all the work for you
  • 5. use your hairdryer - this is slow going but if you are desperate and need running water, this appliance will help out in a pinch

The defrosting can take a long time, some say up to 12 hours, so patience is really going to be needed here. Also, do not start your water pump until all the pipes have been defrosted or you will damage it.

Some Tips to Avoid Freezing Pipes

It pays to get tips because other people’s problems and a solution will save you damage money and time. here are some tips to guide your RV use when the temperatures get colder:

  • 1. Insulate - not just the interior pipes and other water-related devices. Make sure to insulate all exposed water lines and pipes, etc., to get full coverage.
  • 2. Heat tape or cord - both are easy to attach to your pipes but the key to using these items is to make sure you insulate and apply heat tape to your connections and the spigot. If you don’t, these can freeze blocking any thawed water from getting to your taps.
  • 3. Heated pipes - this is a simple way to keep your water flowing. It works in extremely low temperatures and makes sure to insulate your connection points.
  • 4. Heated wet bay - use an electric lamp to heat the area, a portable heater or whatever is safe and works best for your rig.
  • 5. Pad tank heater - like an electric pad or blanket you use in your home, this option is for water tanks and at 12 volts your water tanks should not freeze.
  • 6. add skirting - keep the cold wind away by adding skirting to your travel trailer or RV. Or use blankets or plastic sheeting etc., to block the wind from lowering the temperatures down underneath your rig. Just do not cover exhaust vents.
  • 7. add insulation - or at least upgrade whatever insulation you already have on your rig. Foam is always good and makes sure there are no air leaks as that will compromise the insulation.
  • 8. Add a built-in furnace - this will keep the underbelly nice and warm when you camp during the winter or are storing your RV in a cold place.
  • 9. Keep the water flowing - running water takes longer to freeze and helps keep an open channel in your water lines. Some people disagree with this method as the flow of water is minimal but it is up to you to decide if you will use this method or not.

Some Final Words

If you are not careful and have not heard the most recent weather report, it is easy to fall victim to the one-night freeze. The danger that comes with this event is that your water pipes and tanks could be damaged.

When that happens, you are looking at a hefty repair bill. The best thing to do is make sure your RV is protected through the methods that fit the region of the country you are camping in.

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