An RV Park with full water and sewer hookups is a true thing of luxury. During the summer, freshwater, gray water, and black water flow smoothly in warm temperatures.
Yet when the mercury starts to dip during fall camping trips and hunting excursions, the risk of freeze-ups can increase throughout your RV’s plumbing system.
If you’re contemplating a late fall or winter camping trip, or you want to embrace four-season RV camping, you might be wondering do RV sewer hoses freeze.
The inconvenient truth is that RV sewer hoses can and do freeze when the temperature outside is low enough.
This is even more likely to be an issue if your RV doesn’t have an enclosed underbelly or you don’t have any sort of skirting to protect cold winds from affecting your RV sewer hose.
Compounding the risk of a freeze-up is that a lot of campers use less water during winter camping, and the lack of moving water through the system makes the hose increasingly prone to freezing up.
Especially in the nighttime when temperatures outside are at their lowest.
Do I Need A Heated Sewer Hose For My RV?
If you stay in an RV on a remote construction site during the winter, use your RV as a base camp for late fall hunting trips, or you camp in everything that the four seasons can throw at you, then you need to include a heated, no freeze waste hoses in your list of “Must Have Accessories.”
If you only camp in your RV during the fair-weather times of the year, when the mercury stays above 32degrees, then a heated sewer hose probably isn’t necessary.
What Happens When an RV Sewer Hose Freezes?
Water goes through different stages of transformation when it starts to freeze.
While the inclusion of effluent material tends to lower the freezing point of black and gray water, it is still only a matter of time before your RV sewer hose will start to freeze up in temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Early on, super-chilled black water will go into the transition phase, where it turns slushy. It might even flow through the hose for a short amount of time.
Though eventually, this gradually hardening slush will prevent black and gray water from flowing out of the RV’s wastewater plumbing system to the campsite’s septic hookup.
You will likely experience a backup in the wastewater storage tanks when this happens.
If you have small gray and black water storage tanks, or you have a bad habit of taking your eye off the gauge, the wastewater can start to backflow into your RV through the toilet or shower drain.
In a severe case of a freeze-up, where the black water slush goes unnoticed, but the system isn’t being used overnight, the hose itself can crack, or the fittings can fail.
This can release black water slush into the campsite. It’s a terrible mess that can get expensive to clean up in a hurry.
Afterward, you’ll likely need a new RV sewer hose and might need to repair your wastewater plumbing system.
Is There An RV Sewer Hose That Can Resist Freezing?
In recent years the demand for an RV sewer hose that can resist freezing has supplied a few good answers.
Surprisingly these heated hoses are relatively inexpensive. Especially compared to the potentially high cost and frustrating waste of time of a frozen RV sewer hose.
Here two of our favorite heated sewer hoses to keep the sewage system in your RV running smoothly.
1: NoFreezeWaterHose Heated Water Hoses
The NoFreezeWaterHose is one of the most effective ways to prevent your RV’s sewer hose from freezing up in sub-zero temperatures.
It’s made from Polyethylene copolymer that is further reinforced with an integral polyethylene helix. It also has a layer of closed-cell polyvinyl chloride foam.
This material build quality means providing superior insulation. It also significantly reduces the risk of cracks, leaks, and fractures if the black or gray water inside the hose does happen to reach the transition phase without you noticing.
Though this RV sewer hose isn’t just insulated and reinforced. It also has an electrical heating cable that bolsters freezing protection in sub-zero weather.
Just keep in mind that the heating element runs on 120 Volt AC electricity. Without an inverter, you can’t hook it directly to your RV’s 12 Volt DC electrical system.
Though you can get around this relatively easy if your RV park is also offering pedestal shore power electrical hookups.
All these layers of engineering features and material construction translated into a temperature threshold rated to handles as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit before the black water starts to enter the transition phase to freezing.
The reinforcement in the hose also means it can handle the pressure of 5 to 22 PSI.
2: Camco RhinoEXTREME 39867 RV Sewer Hose Kit
Camco is a popular RV and camping accessory manufacturer. They developed the Rhino Extreme to be durable enough to withstand a lot of use and abuse.
This translates into the ability to handle the early expansion force of black water as it moves into the transition phase of freezing.
However, it doesn’t include any sort of built-in electrical heating element. It’s meant to be used in conjunction with other sewer hose freeze-up strategies, such as a heated & enclosed underbelly with skirting.
This will buy you a little insurance against modest freezing temperatures. If the hose does start to get slushy or experiences a minor freeze-up, it’s strong enough not to fail easily.
It’s made from Thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), a rubber-like material that doesn’t require vulcanization or curing.
This provides it with a superior level of protection against pinholes and offers superior abrasion resistance and accidental crushing.
It’s available in a variety of lengths from 5 to 10, 15, and even 20 feet long for just about any size RV.
How To Reduce The Risk Of My RV Sewer Hose Freezing
You can do a few things to reduce the risk of your RV sewer hose freezing. Though a lot of these methods are just meant to reduce the risk of freezing using passive techniques.
An Enclosed Underbelly
Some RVs come with an insulated and enclosed underbelly. This is ideal for keeping your plumbing system relatively warm while reducing the risk of the sewer hose freezing.
Though there is still a risk of a freeze-up occurring where the RV sewer hose meets the campsite’s septic connection.
If you are considering buying a new RV and want to do some cold weather camping, a model with an enclosed underbelly might be a priority option.
There are also ways to improvise an enclosed or insulated underbelly on an existing travel trailer or fifth wheel.
Wrap Your Sewer Hose with Pipe Insulation
Pipe insulation is a simple, inexpensive way to reduce the relationship between your RV’s sewer hose and the outside air temperature.
Though even the best pipe insulation will only buy you a modest amount of protection against a pipe freeze-up.
Skirting is another way to reduce the relationship between your RV’s sewer hose and the outside air temperature.
Sometimes you can buy RV skirting for some models. Though you can also improvise skirting with things like home foundation insulation panels installed into portable frames.
Ultimately, even with skirting, an enclosed underbelly, and high-quality pipe insulation, there’s still a significant risk of your RV’s sewer hose freezing up in prolonged hours of sub-freezing temperatures.
This is what drives many four-season campers to invest in a heated sewer hose.
Few things can ruin your camping trip more than a sewer hose freezing up in your RV.
While skirting, an insulated underbelly, pipe insulation, and improvised heating can reduce the risk of a freeze-up, deep cold can inevitably catch up to your RV’s wastewater plumbing.
Fortunately, recent innovations have made it possible to reinforce, insulated, and even heat the hose with electrical elements.
In this arena, the NoFreezeWaterHose is your best bet, and easy enough to use if you are staying at a campsite with shore power.
If you just need a little added insurance against pipe fractures and leaks caused by sewer hose freezing, then you might be able to get away with the Rhino Extreme RV sewer hose.
It’s durable and reinforced and will take care of you for times when the weather briefly dips below 32 degrees for the overnight low.