- Laurie Mrdjan
Week 51: Pandemic Valentine's, Mattress Woes, and Arctic Weather
The week started out with us learning that our mattress has mold under it and on the top where it touches the wall under the window. We assume it is from condensation that couldn’t dry due to the tight fit of the mattress to the wall and a strip of carpet that runs along the middle under the mattress trapping moisture and not allowing it to dry as fast as the halves with linoleum and wood under them. We immediately started shopping for a new mattress to hopefully avoid getting sick. We picked a few options from a local store where we bought our current mattress. We headed to the store to see if we could try them before having to spend money. We were lucky to be the only people in the small store other than the one saleswoman. We were able to try the ones that we were looking at and made a decision but, she advised that they would not deliver to an RV park. We went home defeated to think about what our options might be. We also found that one of our propane hoses was leaking where it attaches to the tank and regulator. We took it with us to find a replacement. We did not find it at Tractor Supply, Wal-mart, or Lowe's. The 6.2 mile drive back took almost 2 hours due to traffic! This traffic is one of the reasons why we initially wanted to leave this area when we sold our house. Wednesday the cold weather started. Overnight it was below freezing and our water hose froze. We have a heated hose but we had failed to notice that the GFCI plug was reset and not working even though we flipped the breaker on when setting it up. So our heated hose was not heated when we needed it. We pressed the reset button and got the ice out of the hose. Dom also had to unfreeze the spigot and the inlet at the RV. He did this by taking off any connectors and bringing them inside to thaw. We heated water on the stove and used it to pour over the spigot to thaw it out. Once everything was ice-free, he set up the hose, powered this time, and got the water running into the camper. It was time to tackle the output. Both dump tanks were frozen shut. We used our Handi Heater and held it under the grey tank dump pipe. After about an hour or two he was able to open the valve. Nothing came out so we ran the outdoor kitchen sink, since it was closest to the tank. We ran hot water only and put the whole 6 gallons in the water heater through the sink. We got a trickle out of the dump pipe. We let the water heat up again and put another 6 gallons down the drain. That did the trick! We had fully flowing grey water. We took a break to look for the propane hose, after several more stops we found it! It turns out that a piece that was supposed to stay on the regulator had come off with the hose and that was complicating our search. We got the replacement hose home and put it on between the tank and regulator and we were back in business with two propane tanks. We worked on the black tank for a while. We tried the hot water trick using the showerhead to put hot water down the toilet. That didn’t work though and we had to give up for the day. We are lucky enough to be across the street from the campground bathrooms and we could use those until we could free the black tank.
Thursday morning both dump valves were frozen shut again. After work we drove around trying to find pipe heating tape. We couldn’t find any that said that they were suitable for a pipe as large as the dump pipes. Most that we found were for water lines, small diameter pipes and stated that it was not to be wrapped around the pipe and only lay across the bottom. We thought that this would not solve our issue due to the diameter being so large. We went home and flushed hot water through the grey tank again to thaw it and it opened. The black tank was still frozen after 6 more gallons of hot water and we didn’t want it to get to a place where it might overflow so we stopped. We tried the Handi Heater on the black tank dump pipe but it was too cold and windy and the heat was not able to penetrate the pipe. Dom had purchased some foam pipe insulation so we zip tied that around the pipes in hopes of helping to keep them warmer once we got them flowing. Overnight it dropped below 20°, we were just getting started.
Friday after work we hunkered down and tried to stay warm as the temperature dipped down to 7°! We slept in on Saturday and had a relaxing morning. After breakfast we headed out to look for RV antifreeze or windshield washer fluid to thaw the black tank. Every store was sold out, and when we tried to grab some other supplies we needed, we didn't end up buying anything as the lines at every store and every register were halfway through the store. People were preparing for the storm to get worse.. We ended up finding an RV Dealership that had some RV antifreeze but was rationing to 1 gallon per household. We snagged one and headed home to try it. After putting the antifreeze in the black tank and giving it a few hours to work, there was still no movement. We even tried another 6 gallons of hot water. By now, the tank sensors were reading ⅔ and we decided that we just had to wait for warmer weather to thaw the tank. Sunday we had a nice warm breakfast of pancakes and bacon and tried to stay inside and warm as it was freezing rain and snow outside. It was Valentine's Day so we watched some movies and had wine and chocolate covered strawberries that Dom had picked up earlier in the week. We talked with family members on Zoom and went to bed early.
It was quite a week. We are learning more about how to RV in the winter as well as how to boondock without power. We are in a pretty good position since we have propane heat and we are near to working bathrooms, we are actually doing better than some people in homes in Texas so we are grateful. Thank you for following our journey and we will see you here next week.