Holding Tank Basics
A lot of the newer RVs, like the Heartland Cyclone, come with heated and enclosed holding tanks that not only protect them against debris, but they protect them from freezing too. If you are without this luxury, then freezing temperatures need to be a concern. Having your holding tanks freeze can cause substantial damage that isn't just a hassle to fix, it's expensive too! The potential to freeze is largely dependent on your holding tank's location within your rig. If they are above floor level, the ambient heat of your interior furnace will help to delay freezing. If they are housed in the underbelly, then they are exposed to the elements and the harsh temperatures, making them very susceptible to freezing. Be aware of this when deciding on your course of action to prevent your tanks from freezing.
Winterizing holding tanks is just one of the options you have to keep them from freezing. While this process is intended to be done before putting your RV in storage, you can winterize your tanks and continue your adventures without the use of them. This will diminish some of the luxuries and functionality of your RV, but it is possible to work around this in the same way you would if you were dry camping. For example, bring bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth, and use campground amenities whenever possible. Winterizing will give you peace of mind that your tanks aren't in jeopardy of freezing, but we understand that this isn't a viable method for every traveler. Luckily, there are other options!
If you want to RV in cold climates with the use of your holding tanks, you can use antifreeze to prevent your holding tanks from freezing. You can buy non-toxic antifreeze that is specifically made for RVs. This product is distinguishable by its pink coloring, rather than the conventional green hue of the toxic variety. Only use non-toxic RV antifreeze in your holding tanks! For this method, completely empty your tanks and close the dump valves. Add a couple of quarts to your black-water holding tank by pouring it down the toilet. Do the same for your gray-water holding tank by pouring it down the shower/tub drain. The exact amount of antifreeze will depend on the size of your tanks and how much they contain. Added waste will eventually dilute the antifreeze past the point of effectiveness, so you'll need to be sure to add more if necessary. You'll also want to make sure you empty your tanks often. Typically, you should try to empty them out before they reach the halfway point.
A number of after-market heating system products are available to help prevent your holding tanks from freezing. A drum blanket can be wrapped around larger tanks to insulate and heat them, or heater blankets can be used in a similar manner. Holding tank heating pads are another great option, and they can be used in combination to maximize effectiveness. These pads are easy to install as they feature a peel-n-stick design with durable adhesive, and because they are thermostatically controlled, they are very user-friendly too! You can find holding tank heating systems that run off DC current or a 120V outlet. Before you postpone that RVing adventure for warmer weather, look into some of the available options that let you travel to any destination, hot or cold! With so many fun winter activities and destinations to choose from, it would be a shame to miss out on them over the fear of freezing tanks! Take sufficient steps to prevent your RV holding tanks from freezing and enjoy all the thrills of RVing throughout the year! Do you have any tips for preventing holding tank freezing in an RV? Have you ever experienced freezing in your holding tanks? Let us know in the comments below.