Camping Hack: How to Winterize

At Small Country, we require that you perform winterization your RV in a timely fashion, at the latest by November 15.  The following steps should be taken:

* You must heat tape and pipe wrap your water hose from your trailer to the hose bib and heat tape and pipe wrap the spigot and pipe all the way to the ground.  If you don’t know how to do this, please check with management.

* Make sure your sewer hose does not have any low spots that will hold water and freeze.  Ensure that you have a “donut” in around the sewer hose.

* We also recommend that you skirt your unit which will help prevent potential freezing and water leaks under your trailer this winter.  Use approved skirting ONLY (ask management).  Do not use cardboard boxes, scrap wood, insulation or other such materials.  This campground will not look trashy.

* If you haven’t already made arrangements for a large propane tank, you can call Blossman Propane on 540-832-0090.  If you don’t have a large propane tank, we will assume you are using electric heat and expect you to pay an additional $5/day for electric heat unless you can show that you are using your own propane tanks (receipts required).

* We highly recommend that you keep your parking places and walkways raked, swept or shoveled this fall and winter as the accumulation of leaves will cause slipping and sinking … plus you will carry the leaf trash into your units.  DO NOT put down straw or hay or any other organic material in the parking spots or walkways as that only causes more sinking and slipping.

Read Below for more great and in-depth tips for successfull winterization of your RV!

During snow falls management will endeavor to open the roads as quickly as possible.  Please be patient.  We will NOT shovel your driveway or walkway. This is your community.  We ask that you keep your site clean and neat and that you please don’t throw down cans and bottles or other litter on the campground or on our roads.  We do recycle.  Call or come to the office if you want to report any problem.  Thank you!

Most RVs simply weren’t designed to be used in the winter. They were built for family outings and weekend getaways during the warm months and were intended to be stored away when the weather got too chilly for outdoor picnics. Full-timers are faced with living in their traveling home, whether it is well designed for cold weather or not. Luckily, there are lots of things that you can do to make your RV more comfortable during the colder months.

Let’s start by keeping that cold weather outside and the warm air in. To do this, you need to increase insulation and reduce cold air infiltration. Your windows are a great place to start. Most RV windows are single-pane and many do not seal well. A simple solution is to use shrink film on the insides of your windows. This film is readily available at home supply and hardware stores. It is a clear film that you cut to size and affix to the window frame using double-sided sticky tape. Once the film is stuck down good, you use a hair dryer to shrink it until it is smooth and tight. This not only slightly improves the R factor of the window, it makes the window airtight. This will eliminate those annoying cold drafts and also help reduce condensation on the insides of your windows. After the winter, you simply peel it off and throw it away. Getting the tape residue off the windows can be a bit of a hassle, but rubbing alcohol works well to remove the sticky stuff. It’s a great, inexpensive storm window and is relatively easy to apply. I do almost all of my windows, leaving one window at each end of the rig uncovered so that it can be opened on warmer days.

Now that the windows are covered, let’s think about the roof vents. Most vents really don’t seal well and we all know that warm air rises, so what can we do to stop it? Again, there are lots of possibilities: That same shrink film can be used, or some fiberglass insulation can be cut to fit and held up with a piece of cardboard. There are also nifty little pillows that are designed to fit snugly into the vent opening to seal and insulate it. These are great, as they are easily removed when you want to have the vent open.

Finally, we need to seal all those other places where cold air can enter our rig. Any compartments that open into the inside of the rig need to have good weather seals. Under the rig, there are many openings where water and gas lines enter the living area. These openings need to be sealed and some of that aerosol self-expanding foam is great for this. Alternately, foam rubber can be forced into gaps to help reduce air leaks. Finally, the entry door needs to be checked to make sure that it seals properly. Adding some inexpensive foam tape or weather-strip will really help seal those air leaks.

Now that we’ve gotten the rig pretty airtight, we’ve got a new problem to deal with. Moisture from cooking, washing and just our breathing raises the humidity inside the RV. As it gets colder, this moisture condenses out on cooler inside surfaces like window frames and doors. This can lead to mold and mildew, water stains or even worse. The best way to prevent condensation is to avoid introducing excessive moisture into the air. A good practice is to always use the range hood vent when cooking and the bathroom vent when showering. This will draw most of that moisture out of the rig. It may be necessary to keep a roof vent open slightly to provide some ventilation and keep condensation in check. Insulating exposed surfaces that tend to collect moisture will also help. A small dehumidifier or some of those little tubs of desiccant crystals may be necessary, depending on the RV and how many are living in it.

This discussion of condensation brings up a related subject… the method of heating that you use in your RV. When propane is burned, it releases combustion byproducts and one of those byproducts is a surprisingly large quantity of water vapor! Most standard RV furnaces are vented to the outside of the rig and will not add any moisture to the inside air. This is not true of any unvented propane heater, including popular catalytic heaters. Using your stovetop burners also adds moisture to the inside air. If you intend to heat your rig using an unvented propane heater, you will have to provide a larger amount of ventilation to remove the additional moisture added to your air. Most unvented heaters are pretty nice for milder climates and are great for taking that morning chill off. Using them as your primary source of heat in really cold weather can prove to be a challenge because of the potential for condensation problems.

Many folks choose to use portable electric heaters to heat their rig. This method of heating doesn’t add condensation to the air and depending on the cost of propane may actually be slightly cheaper to run. Great care must be taken to not overload the wiring in your RV or the electrical system in the campground. Most parks will either put you on an electric meter or charge extra for electric heat. Use only UL approved heaters and keep combustibles away.

Now that we’re warm, draft free and hopefully dry inside, let’s deal with the stuff outside your rig. The first thing we need to do is keep your fresh water hose from freezing. If you are traveling a lot, simply use the hose to fill your freshwater tank and then disconnect it each night. If you are parked for a longer period, consider heat taping and insulating your water hose. Standard 110v heat tape can be wrapped in a spiral along the length of the hose and then covered with either round foam insulation or fiberglass batting wrapped with tape. Don’t forget to wrap the faucet to protect it and add a pad of insulation where the hose connects to your RV. In moderately cold weather, this should keep your water flowing. If it gets extremely cold (below zero), it may still be necessary to let a faucet drip overnight.

Sewer lines need special attention in sub-freezing weather too. It’s necessary to support the hose and provide a continuous slope from the RV sewer connection to the park sewer hookup. That way, water will drain from the hose and not create an ice plug at the low point. Alternately, you can use a straight section of thin wall PVC sewer pipe and the necessary fittings to complete your sewer hookup. The PVC will stand up to cold temperatures better than your plastic hose and is fairly inexpensive.

Depending on your RV’s design, you may need to take extra steps to protect your fresh water and holding tanks from freezing. Tank insulation for exposed holding tanks can be fabricated from fiberglass insulation and light plywood… just build a small lightweight box around the tank and line it with fiberglass. A small electric light bulb can be used to provide a safe source of heat. For rigs with enclosed tanks, it’s often enough to provide some source of heat in the tank compartment and small electric bulbs can be used here as well. If you are too mobile for such solutions, then you should look into special heating pads designed for RV holding tanks. They can be purchased from many RV parts dealers or camping catalogs and will allow you to use the holding tanks as you normally would with no fear of freeze ups. Alternately, many Rv-ers who travel in the winter simply minimize use of the holding tanks and keep plenty of RV antifreeze handy to treat them.

We hope these winterization tips and campground instructions are helpful! Stay warm out there campers!

Camping Hacks for Fall Safety

Fall Safety for Campers

Fall weather brings a fantastic time to go camping. Crisp air, sunny afternoons, and a ton of colorful trees and fun! We wanted to take this time to share some of our favorite tips for safely staying warm while camping, and give some pointers on Halloween safety for the little trick or treaters! We hope to provide the best fall safety for campers!

Heating

Protect against carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless and can cause illness or death in people and pets. Never use fuel-burning equipment such as gas stoves, heaters, lanterns, and charcoal grills inside a tent, camper, or other enclosed shelter. It can cause dangerous levels of carbon monoxide to build up. As alternative heat sources to fuel-burning appliances inside an enclosed shelter, campers should bring adequate bedding and clothing and should consume extra calories and fluids during the outing to prevent hypothermia (a dangerous loss of body warmth that can cause death).

Staying Warm While Tent Camping

  • Make sure that you have a good quality temperature rated sleeping bag. For maximum toastyness, get a sleeping bag that is rated for zero degrees. You can also get a fleece sleeping bag liner to increase the temperature rating of your sleeping bag by about ten degrees. If you are in need of a good sleeping bag, you might want to check out the highest rated sleeping bags.
  • Use a sleeping pad. Sleeping pads offer more insulation than an air mattress does since air mattresses get filled with cold air on cold nights. An air mattress by itself doesn’t offer any insulation between you and the cold air in the air mattress. If you want comfort and warmth, you can put the sleeping pads right on top of your air mattress. Thermosets Sleeping Mattresses are excellent.
  • Use a Coleman Blackcat Catalytic Heater. These heaters are made for use inside of a tent. We do not recommend however letting the heater run all night while you are sleeping. If you use one of these heaters, we recommend that you run it for a while before you go to sleep and when you wake up in the morning.
  • Use a Mylar Thermal Blanket to reflect the heat from the heater back down at you. Most people just think of these blankets as emergency blankets. Whether you use a catalytic heater or just your own body heat, this tip can really help a lot! Just attach the thermal blanket to the ceiling of your tent with duct tape and it will reflect much of the heat inside the tent back down at you.
  • Heat up a few 5 – 15 pound rocks by your fire for about an hour or so. Pull them away from the fire and let them cool down for a bit. Once they are cool enough to handle (but still very warm) wrap them in towels and put them in the foot of your sleeping bag. They can also be placed in the center of your tent and combined with the Mylar thermal blankets on your ceiling, they should keep your tent warm for hours!
  • One other tip that is important that most people don’t realize is that you need to keep your tent ventilated at night. This may sound a little strange at first but there’s a good reason for it! The heat from your body and your breath itself inside your tent at night can cause condensation to build up and make everything in your tent slightly damp.

 

Staying warm in your RV

  • The first thing the owner can do is take a good inventory of their RV, and perform an inspection of all the slides and windows, and door seals on their RV. Those cracked and torn rubber seals and gaskets around your windows, doors and slides should all be maintained regularly and either replaced or repaired depending on their condition. If they are cracked and hard, then they are probably not going to give you a good seal against the elements, so replace them too. They are probably letting air into your RV, wherever you can see that the fit is not perfect. Once you have taken care of any and all gasket and seal problems on the outside of your RV, make a thorough check for air leaks on the inside.
  • If your RV feels “drafty” the leak is often something that can be fixed with a little Silicone rubber, or maybe a little strategically placed spray foam insulation, then great. But if you have significant level of cold air coming into your RV, from wherever, you might consider finding a short-term solution.
  • Use insulated “Snakes” One of the things that we used, in our older RV was a couple of those insulated “snakes” that you will find in places like Walmart. They are long (3-4 feet) stuffed cloth tubes usually about 4-inches in diameter. They are often sold to be placed at the bottom of the door of your house, to stop the cold air from entering.
  • Another quick temporary fix is the use of painters tape. You know the tape you can purchase at your local hardware store that is similar to the old tan masking tape but has one great advantage. It is designed to be removed after several days, or even weeks, and the glue will not stay on the surface when the tape is removed. And the tape will come off later easily and without leaving any residue when you hit the road again.
  • If you have Day-Night shades, and windshield window shades, as almost all RVs do, you should keep them closed. Even if you do not have thermal-pane windows in your RV, by closing the shades, you trap an added layer of air between the window and the shade that aids in the overall insulation of your RV interior.
  • Another thing you should do is, place throw rugs in the central parts of your RV floor where you walk the most often. These rugs placed in the heaviest traffic areas of your RV can shield your feet from the cold and often uninsulated floors.
  • A heat pump works pretty efficiently down to about 40F, so rather than run your Propane furnace at nights, that are cool but not near or below freezing, set it to a low temperature of 52-54F for a base temperature. This saves us a lot of money over the winter.
  • The proper warm clothes are the next layer of cold management you should address. With a little forethought, you can dress warmly while in your RV, and improve your comfort level dramatically. Here are some tips we have learned when we are in a cold climate: Keep a pair or two of warm Sweat pants and a Sweat shirt in your RV. They are not only useful when outside, but they can also keep you nice and cozy when sitting around inside the RV. Wear socks when inside. Don’t walk around on your cold floor barefoot. The socks will not only make your feet feel warm, but they will block most drafts from affecting your feet. A pair of Bedroom slippers is also good to have and wear in your RV on a cold night. And, of course, when you go to bed, wear some pajamas.
  • Use a space heater. It should be small, have a built-in sensor that will turn the heater off when and if it is ever kicked over. It should have a multi-speed fan for adjusting the amount of heat it puts out. One of these heaters can make a big difference in a room’s temperature, and it will keep the furnace from cutting on nearly as often, as it would if you did not use one.

Halloween Safety at campgrounds –

  • Plan the route – You can scout your trip ahead of time, visit sites that look trick or treater friendly. Don’t be afraid to walk up and ask, you may even make a new friend!
  • Keep the costumes bright – carry glow sticks and flashlights.
  • Set some ground rules – don’t enter any campers, cabins, or tents, do not approach any vehicles, cross the street with caution.
  • Older kids – set an approved route, approved group, ground rules, and a curfew.
  • Do not eat any candy until it has been checked out by adults!

We hope this guide to fall safety for campers comes in handy! Let us know if you have your own tips for staying warm this fall and into winter!