How to Freeze Water & Sewer Hose in Arkansas’ Frozen Tundra

January 8, 2017 (by Angela)

Okay, Arkansas doesn’t really have a tundra, but it is dang cold here! We awoke on the 6th to 1 1/2 – 2 inches of snow, and that alone was not too bad. The bitter cold that came with it and also followed it is what was (and is) so bad.

Snow in Batesville, AR

Snow in Batesville, AR

As we had done on the night of the 5th, we left a little drip going in the bathroom sink, and we had water upon awakening on the 6th despite it being 17 degrees.  Feeling like we’d figured out a plan, we once again left the water the same way night before last. However, despite the drip, heated hose, heated under belly, and heat inside, getting down to 9 degrees was more than our water system could stand, and we did not have running water yesterday morning. Although it never broke 30 degrees Saturday, about 3:00 in the afternoon the sun had warmed things enough that water began flowing freely once more. Jim got a shower; I washed dishes. We set the bathroom faucet at more of a light stream instead of a drip hoping that temps in the low teens last night would not leave us without running water again.

Then, just before going to bed Saturday night, I had a thought. Had I really left the gray tank open when I emptied tanks on Thursday? This is usual for us. We fill the gray tank before the other tanks, so it is normally left open for two or three days after emptying tanks. We close it between weekly tank emptying to give it enough time to fill decently to aid in flushing the yucky black and galley tank water out of our sewer hoses. My fear was that I didn’t actually leave it open, and by running a light stream of water over night, we might over fill the tank.

Jim went out to check it. I had indeed left the tank open. My instinct to check it had been correct but for a different reason. We were beginning to overflow because the entire sewer hose line had frozen. Oh. My. Gosh! I never expected that.  With the power of the water coming out of the tanks and a bit of Jimmy engineering to make the grade more level, our waste water does go into the sewer hook up,even though it is an uphill battle. Folks were not thinking when they put in the sewer hook ups here; they are all uphill from the site where campers must park. Evidently, the slow drips of the night of the 5th along with the cold temps began a freezing process in the hose that is slow to thaw due to the fact that our sewer hose/hook up gets very little sun this time of the year, and temps have not been above freezing for three days! Big oops!

Yep, the entire sewer hose from camper to hook up is frozen.

Yep, the entire sewer hose from camper to sewer is frozen.

Uphill to the poop drop - to right where Jim tried to make it less uphill

Uphill to the poop drop – to right where Jim tried to make it less uphill

The snow and ice here is not getting sun, so it stays.

The snow/ice here is not getting sun, so it stays.

We went to a plan B with regard to keeping water coming into the camper, but that didn’t work either. We can’t allow any more water to drain out of the RV until the sewer hose line is thawed. If we can figure out a way to get the sewer thawed today, that will be awesome.

In other news, day before yesterday, late in the day, I heard a whole bunch of popping noises above my head, It concerned me, but Jim said it was probably ice falling off the pine tree above us. That made sense, so I forgot about it. Then, yesterday afternoon, just after our water began running again, water began dripping on me and my computer. All of a sudden, there was a brief dumping of water from the skylight. Since it has rained like the dickens many times the last couple of months with no leaks, we must assume that the snow warming enough to melt, then freezing and melting again caused the leak. I now think the popping noises I heard was the caulk being broken by the process described.

Sun hitting roof melted snow, which froze again while trying to run off.

Sun hitting roof melted snow, which froze again while trying to run off.

All around the RV, especially on back side, icicles cover everything.

All around the RV, especially on back side, icicles cover everything.

Here’s the dilemma. It is not going to get dry enough or warm enough for Jim to get up on the roof today to check it out and re-caulk. It may be warm enough tomorrow, but it certainly will be by Tuesday. You say, “That sounds great. What’s the problem?” Problem 1: Jim has to be at work during all of the daylight hours Monday – Thursday. Problem 2: Once it warms enough to get on and work on the roof, rain is in the forecast for pretty much the rest of the week.

All we can do is do the best that we can for this week. There are some lessons here for us. Since we’ve not spent much time boondocking or living in the RV in really cold weather, we realize now that we should have filled our fresh water tank and turned the water off on those nights it was going to get below 30 or so degrees. The gray water tank should not be left open, even for dripping water, when temps are going to be so cold.  If we get out of this experience with only the need to re-caulk on the roof, I will count us lucky.

Once we get to leave here and head south, hopefully, we can find a place to stop when it is warm enough to spend a few days addressing repair issues properly. Life happens even on the road; we just have to roll with it and remember how blessed we are to be able to live this traveling lifestyle we love.

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