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Old 03-10-2015, 12:58 PM   #1
Bus Nut
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Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Denver
Posts: 488
Year: 1982
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: International S1800
Engine: DT466 Trans: MT643
Rated Cap: 65
How do you keep your tanks from freezing?

Hey everyone,
Im mapping out my grewater tank situation (no black water tank on my bus) and I am curious how you all deal with keeping your tanks from freezing?

Freshwater will be in the bus so no worries there. Id like to keep the greywater below the bus (outside) so Im wonderi g what everyone does to keep that from freezing up.

Ive seen heaters, but Im not thrilled about using power to keep my wastewater warm.

Has anyone experienced a frozen tank? If the tank is not full, is damage likely if it does freeze? My greywater will be 80 gallons.
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Old 03-10-2015, 01:13 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Roswell, NM
Posts: 3,583
Year: 1986
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: 40 ft All American FE
Engine: 8.2LTA Fuel Pincher DD V8
Rated Cap: 89
Yes, I have learned grey water will freeze. Only had it happen once (black also froze). This was in the Class C. Slapped a water bed heater on the bottom of the tanks (I could use one pad for both tanks) and built a temporary box out of rigid foam insulation (that one was the pink foam board). Valves were wrapped with pipe heat tape. Didn't freeze after that. In current location (NM) I have the grey bypassed and the black stays open all the time (I have a residential toilet). My supply and drain lines are heat taped and insulated. When I build the new tanks, they will have bypass valves on both (only 1" insulation as well, no heat pad). I fulltime and when in cold areas, am on full hookups. This is my last winter. Come the end of summer, I'm out of this state and heading for warmer climes.
This post is my opinion. It is not intended to influence anyone's judgment nor do I advocate anyone do what I propose.
Fulltime since 2006
The goal of life is living in agreement with nature. Zeno (335BC-264BC)
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Old 03-10-2015, 03:37 PM   #3
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 258
In our camper our grey water tank is very low to the ground and we can't get any insulation under it - I'm literally talking <6" here and a bump in the road would rip it out. We've lived with this issue for a while.

If you're concerned about your tank freezing because of STORAGE, it's super easy to deal with. You pour some RV antifreeze down there to protect the valve and just let it go. We've had this happen to us several times and it's no big deal, as long as it isn't completely full. The real trouble comes because you can't DUMP it until it all thaws.

During full-time usage I like Lorna's idea of the electric blanket. They also sell tank heaters designed specifically for this. The only differences between the two are that the RV-specific ones are 12V, and cost more.

You didn't say what your usage pattern would be, and that matters a lot. Access to electricity and the ability to dump regularly (or always - full hookups) changes the picture a lot. It's also important if you're more worried about damage than convenience. For example, if you want to go camping in the mountains where it might freeze, and you don't mind waiting a day in the valley before you can dump, that's a different story than full-timing in Alaska...
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Old 03-11-2015, 10:18 AM   #4
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 5
Being on hookups makes it easier as we leave both tanks open and use lots of water to flush. Not very conservative but the alternative when we're traveling in the cold requires a combination of rv antifreeze, stock salt, and livestock water tank heaters. We've been completely frozen up 3 or 4 times and no damage as of yet aside from some connections working loose here and there.

I cant see that the branded tank heaters are much more than thinly insulated heating pads. I almost spray foamed one to the bottom of my tank but somehow didnt care to.

I park with my valves to the southwest and let the CO sun keep me fluid.
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