Winter is getting close enough to start thinking about protecting from freezing temps.
These projects are what I do/have done for winter living. Please remember we live fulltime in our bus at roughly 33° - 35° latitude (currently NM, prior was TN/NC mountains & Coastal TX). We tend to get freezing temps at night/warm above freezing days, with only a few times of freezing days (less than 7 days in a row). I do not make a new heated water hose every year. My current hose was built new last winter (December). The hose before that is still in use on the Class C and was built in Oct 2009. The hose before that was built in 2007 and dismantled in 2009 because we did not need a 100 ft insulated water hose anymore.
If you use or plan to use your bus in fall or winter there are things you need to do. Have you built your winter hoses? Building supply & hardware stores are getting in the stuff to build one. Doing this while the weather is nice beats doing it with a surprise storm approaching. Plus the stuff to do it with is easier to find in Sept rather than in November or December. I've done both, don't put it off! For a winter hose, I would suggest you go as short as possible. First, measure to see how short you can go (measure between the bus and the pipe stand). This is where a little pre-planning during the summer would have come in handy if you plan on going camping in the fall/winter. Buy your heat cable a little longer than your hose needs to be. I have no problems cutting up a water hose. The repair fittings tend to be better than the factory fittings. Hose fitting are available in the garden dept of Home Depot (at least at the store I work in). We tend to buy the plastic repair ones because they do not freeze as fast as metal ones and because they are cheap so we can keep a few extra as part of our plumbing repair kit. You do not want a longer winter hose than necessary. Our current hose is roughly 12 ft with 15 ft heat tape. We have a brass pressure regulator on the pipe stand side. The hose connects to the filters INSIDE the bus.
We use a standard water hose (it's a heavy one that's safe for drinking water not the thin Wal-mart variety but we have used those in the past with no problems except the crappy ends leaking which get replaced with plastic fittings). I'm not worried about "taste" since we have whole house residential style water filters (inside the bus where they won't freeze). If you have sediment or inline filters outside, you need to heat tape & insulate them as well. We have cut our hose down to smaller lengths (it was something like 75 ft). We used Frost King's Easy Heat Pipe tape
for all our heat taped hoses. It was the brand available in our areas, there are other brands. I stretch out the water hose to where it is straight. If you have a curled up hose, let the sun warm it and flatten it out for a day or two before winterizing. It just makes things easier. Buy a set of plastic "quick connects" for each end of the water hose (plus the other ends to connect to the water pipe and the water inlet on your bus). Install on your water hose using teflon pipe thread tape and new hose washers. Decide if you want the heat tape to plug int the bus (best option) or hope that it will reach the electrical post from the pipe stand (you may need a short heavy extension cord for that). Unroll the heat tape and center the hose lengthwise on the heat tape placing the plug side at the end of the hose you chose. You should have the same amount of heater cable (the heating part) over hanging the hose on each end. STARTING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HOSE, attach the heat tape to the "side" of the hose with electrical tape. Use electrical tape because it is "stretchy" and will give slightly as the hose expands when filled with water. The heat tape seems to shrink while I tape it to the hose so don't skimp on heat tape length or start at one end. All you are doing is keeping the heat tape in place while you get the pipe insulation on. So don't get carried away. Just a loop to hold in place about every 6 to 8 inches will do. Don't stretch either the hose or the heat tape. Just lay the heat tape flat against the hose. Measure the diameter of the hose WITH THE PIPE TAPE IN PLACE. This is the inside diameter the pipe insulation needs to be. Looser is better than tighter. We used the foam type of pipe insulation
. In the past I have used the more expensive neoprene type. Either one works. The neoprene is more flexible and will allow you to roll up the insulated hose into a smaller coil albeit a pretty large smaller coil. This is one reason why you don't want a long winter hose. The "self sealing" is a waste of time, just peel the double stick tape off if you want. It is designed for stiff pipes not flexible water hoses. You will not be able to keep the heat tape "on the bottom of the "pipe" like the heat tape says. We have not lost a heat taped water hose due to the heat tape "melting a hole" in them in all the many years we have been making them. Use a decently thick water hose and you should be fine. If it's a hose you would trust laying out in the sun in July then it should be just fine. Starting at one end of the heat taped water hose (still stretched out, laying as flat as possible), open up the insulation and slide it over the water hose. You want the pipe insulation to butt right up to the quick connect fitting. With EU6000 glue the pipe insulation closed. They do make a pipe insulation adhesive
but I've never used it and I do not know how flexible it is. Use pieces of Gorilla brand exterior duct tape to hold the insulation together until the glue dries (overnight). Butt the seams of the pipe insulation together tightly, glue/tape. Make sure the pipe insulation butts up snugly to the quick connects on each end. Let dry overnight. Not hard but a messy sticky job to do sitting outside in the wind/rain or sleet. Once the hose has dried, you may want to squirt a bit of EU6000 around the edges of the quick connect/pipe insulation to prevent bugs from setting up housekeeping in there. Spiders seem to be fond of the area. Next is the real fun part. You might want a helper or two for this. Once the hose has dried completely, to protect the insulation and to use it for several years, you can cover the pipe insulation with Gorilla brand exterior duct tape. Now this tape REALLY likes to stick to itself. It holds up to the hot sun as well (we use the same hose year-round). This step is optional. One person holds the hose straight (a section at a time) while another wraps the sticky duct tape "smoothly (?)" around the insulation. It's a real PITA. Makes the hose even harder to roll up into to a semi-tight coil. BUT makes it tougher to the 4 legged (& 2 legged) critters who could damage it. Once all insulated, you should have some heat tape hanging out each end of the hose.
Connect the insulated hose to the pipe stand. Wrap the excess heat tape around the hose bibb up to where the campground pipe insulation starts. Next using a sheet of Reflectix make a simple bag (closed on 3 sides, open on one) large enough to cover the whole pipe stand including your hose either all the way or most of the way to the ground. Secure the "bag" with bungie cords or rope or what ever. Keep in mind that you may have to share a hose bibb in some locations so you may want to use a wider bag and bungie cord (CHEAP bungie cord... they will rot over the course of a year). This keeps the heat from the excess heat tape inside the Reflectix bag and you don't have to worry about an unprotected hose bibb freezing up (a common weak spot in winterized systems). I did go out and make sure the bag was replaced when we had neighbours leave who were on our shared hose bibb.
Connecting the insulated hose to the bus water inlet. If you used a typical RV "thru the wall" city inlet, then you need to get one of those hose bibb covers they sell for houses (solid hard foam) and a 90° angle. The angle keeps the hose from pulling on the side of the city inlet causing it to leak (you should have one anyway) and allows the foam bibb cover to be used. Carve a hose out of the bottom of the foam bibb cover to allow the hoses (insulation & all) to just fit inside the bibb cover. Hook the hose up and wrap the excess heat tape around the elbow and as close to the wall side of the city inlet as possible. You may need to secure with a bit of electrical tape. Thread the electrical connection out to the bibb cover and connect to electric (try to place connection under the bus with a drip loop to keep protected from water/ice . Use some of the tiny bungiel cords to hold the hose bibb in place.
If you placed your city water connection inside an insulated water bay. then good for you. All you need to do is hook your water up and leave the excess heat tape just loosely wrapped around the connection. Don't forget to plug the heat tape's electrical connection into an outlet.
If you do not need 12vDC tank heating (I know nothing about those) you can use an inexpensive waterbed heater to keep your tanks from freezing. These work very nicely and do not use a lot of power. A frozen black tank is not a nice thing. I don't want that again. Our black tank that froze was only 18 gallons and I didn't think I would get it thawed out until Spring. After it got thawed out, we slapped our old waterbed heater
on the tank and set it at the lowest setting it had. No more frozen black tank. We will use the same method for the bus. Insulate tanks, cheap waterbed heaters under the tanks. I know these things use very little power. Once we left a house in NC during Feb/Mar/Apr while we worked in FL. The only power in the house was to the waterbed. The waterbed had fiberglass batt insulation in the pedestal and 4 thermal blankets, two quilts and 1 sub zero sleeping bag in a minimally insulated house. The power company had a minimum $10 electric bill. Our electric bill was $10 for those months. Our power usage was actually far lower. If you don't want to do heated tanks, then a simple 40 or 60 watt incandescent light bulb would keep your tanks thawed if the bays/drain valves are insulated.
We stay on shore power. For us this works. At some point we will add an LP generator for those rare times we need to be self contained (parts of ABQ was out of power for over a week last winter due to a winter storm). For anyone off the grid, this setup will probably pull too much power. Some RV folks advocate keeping fresh water tanks filled and then draining the water hose. I don't want to discover that I got up at 3:15AM to go to work, only to find we are out of water. I figure the ones who push the "fill & disconnect" do not work and have more leisure time. I've did the "fill & disconnect" methods in the pop-up (1995 - 96 Chattanooga winter). It's not fun. I want my life easier not harder as I age.
The above set up has worked well for us in over night temps down to below 0°F (as well as a few days!). I hope this helps someone.