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How to Keep Your RV Holding Tanks From Freezing

December 18, 2019

How to keep your RV holding tanks from freezing image. Snowflake on blue background

Key Points:

  1. If you want to use your RV in colder temperatures, you have two options to prevent your holding tanks from freezing: 1) skirting your RV or 2) installing an aftermarket heating system. 
  2. Skirting can provide an effective solution to freezing holding tanks. 
  3. To prevent freezing holding tanks, the other option is to install an aftermarket heating system, such as a heating blanket on the interior of your holding tanks. 

RVing is a great way to travel the whole year round. But RVing in the colder months or in colder climates can present you with some confusing, potentially frustrating problems. When temperatures drop outside, the contents of your holding tank can freeze up, causing some really disgusting, and potentially costly problems. Thankfully there are some pretty simple tips and tricks to follow when travelling through cold weather that will help you prevent the headaches that come with frozen holding tank problems. In this guide we will be exploring your options for preventing your holding tanks from freezing. 

Turn Up The Heat

It is important to keep the interior of your camper, trailer, or RV warm during cold days. Keeping the heat on in the interior of your rig prevents your pipes from freezing. These heating units can come in the form of a built-in furnace, electric heater, or even a portable space heater. So as long as the interior of your RV remains above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, it's unlikely that you will have problems with freezing faucets or drains in the interior of your RV. 

Location, Location, Location

The placement of your holding tanks will greatly influence their susceptibility to freezing. If your tanks are above the floor level (often the case in Class B motor-homes or conversion vans), they likely will not freeze, because the heat from the interior of your RV will keep them thawed. However, if your tanks are on the outside of your RV (normally the case in Class A's, Class C's, Travel Trailers, and Fifth Wheels) or are closer to the ground, they will be more susceptible to freezing. It’s important to know the location of your holding tank because it will be the largest influencing factor on how you choose to protect your tank from freezing.

Decisions, Decisions

There are two basic options you can adopt to prevent your holding tanks from freezing in colder temperatures:

  • Installing an RV skirt.
  • Purchasing an aftermarket heating system. 

Let’s explore each of these options in a little more depth. 

Skirting Your RV

The first option you have for preventing your holding tanks from freezing is to fully skirt your RV. RV skirting (also called windskirting) works best if you are staying in one spot for an extended period of time. Skirting an RV involves installing semi-permanent “walls” around the entire base of your RV. 

This skirting provides a barrier to wind and cold temperatures drafting up under your vehicle. It also prevents heat from escaping through the bottom of the RV. In this way, if a skirt is installed, the ambient heat from the interior of your RV can actually help to warm the air under your RV, thus keeping your holding tanks thawed in cold conditions!

RV Skirting Material Options

You have a few options when it comes to the material you choose for your RV skirt. But not all skirting options are created equal. Your RV skirt options include: 

  1. Vinyl
  2. Plywood
  3. Insulation boards
  4. Tarps
  5. Foam boards
  6. Straw or hay bales


Many RVers tend to believe vinyl skirting is easier to work with than plywood or insulation boards, and there are even companies who professionally install vinyl skirting for you. You can also purchase a vinyl skirting kit and install it yourself if you’re on a budget. Vinyl is also easier to remove and reinstall if you are frequently relocating your RV. 

Plywood, Insulation Board, and Tarps

While plywood and insulation boards do provide an effective barrier from the cold freezing your holding tanks, they are ultimately hard to move and cut. Tarps are easier to remove and reinstall than these previous options, but they rip easily and tend to not provide as much protection as a more solid solution. 

Guide Continued Below

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DIY Solutions

There are also certain DIY options for RV skirting that you might want to look into. For example, some campers choose to use foam boards to skirt their RV. This is indeed a viable option, just make sure the material is strong enough to stand up against the cold temperatures you’ll encounter during your trip. Many people also choose to use straw or hay bales to skirt their mobile homes. Though effective, hay bales can tend to be cumbersome and messy not to mention the mice and other small critters they attract. Use caution when choosing this straw or hay option. 

As you can see,  RV skirting for your mobile home can provide an extremely effective solution to freezing holding tanks. But there is another option out there and we’ll explore it next. 

Aftermarket Heating Systems

The second option you may choose to keep your RV holding tanks from freezing is to purchase an aftermarket heating system. One of the best options to prevent freezing in your holding tanks is to use a holding tank heater blanket.

A holding tank heater blanket is simply a large electric blanket that can be installed on your black or gray water tanks. Depending on which blanket you choose, you can connect it to a 120-volt outlet or run it off the DC current. Additionally, certain aftermarket heating products can be installed on the outside of your holding tanks or pipes, preventing the tanks or pipes from freezing. 

An aftermarket heating system provides an easy, all-encompassing solution to freezing holding tanks. Once installed, you will not have to worry about your tanks freezing. You’ll also be able to pick up and move your RV whenever and wherever you want.

Do keep in mind though that even if you choose to use RV skirting, an aftermarket heating system can still be useful. In fact, RV skirting and aftermarket heating systems work very well in tandem, providing two-tier freeze protection for your RV.  

Final Thoughts

Preventing RV holding tanks from freezing is necessary, but thankfully it isn’t a difficult task. We hope that this guide has been helpful as you explore your best option to keep your holding tanks from freezing. Beyond keeping your tanks from freezing, you also must make sure you're using the right products and practicing good holding tank habits in general. The Unique Method is our comprehensive guide to treating RV wastewater systems, helping to prevent all clogs, odors, and misreading sensors. 

If you have any further questions or concerns about the topic of freezing holding tanks, The Unique Method, or anything else relating to the camping lifestyle, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We would love to help you resolve any issues you might encounter! Stay warm and happy camping!

Adopt The Unique Method

You bought your RV so you could enjoy life and spend time with family and friends. The last thing you want to do is waste precious time and money on fixing wastewater holding tank problems. Keeping your tanks in peak operating condition doesn’t have to be hard, confusing, or expensive if you follow our proven process: The Unique Method.

The Unique Method is a comprehensive tank care plan that we developed after years of conversations with real customers facing real problems. The Unique Method provides you with simple, preventative steps to stop odors, clogs, and sensor problems before they start so you can spend less time worrying about your holding tanks and more time enjoying the freedom and adventure of RVing. Try it yourself and see why thousands of campers trust their RVs with The Unique Method every day.

If you need more help with anything covered in this guide or simply have a comment, we’re here to help you anytime!

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