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  • Help! Frozen Gray Water Tank

    OK, since we are having below zero temps here in Chicago, the freezing problems have started. Anyone have any idea to thaw out the gray water tank. We had the problem of the pull lever freezing before and all we did was put the heater directly on the lever for a few minutes and that was enough to free it up. But tonight with the temp being -4, I freed up the lever and nothing. The water is probably frozen solid in the pipe where the lever is. I tried hot water down the drain, warming the pipe with a heat gun, and forcing hot air up the outside drain. Nothing worked. I may try to push a hose up the drain and run hot water directly up the pipe. This will be very messy and the driveway will be a skating rink but I have no other ideas. Also, I know no one who has a indoor space to thaw it out. Any ideas appreciated.

  • #2
    I keep a ceramic heater running on high at all times when I am not grooming. I plug it in when I get home and park. Actually, I have 2 of them i my trailer. Keeps the whole trailer at about 85 deg.
    If your dog is fat, you are not getting enough exercise!

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    • #3
      I have ceraqmic heaters as well ... you don't need to keep it quite so warm, but it IS nice when you get inside in the morning, isn't it? I also keep the propane set so that if the GFI pops or a fuse pops the propane will kick in if the van temp drops below 55 deg. I keep the laundry shoot propped open so that if that happens the rear will get some warmth.

      I also have an exterior hot water tap so when I fill the van I fill it with hot water, so tht slows down the whole freezing process as well. It doesn't typically get below mid-20s inthe winter here, although we have a 7 deg night comking up. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

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      • #4
        I keep a heater in the front on at all times and I put a heat light in the back.
        when the weather is this cold i don't use my gray water tank and try and park where the water won't cause any problems

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        • #5
          thawing out the drain pipe

          very messy yuck.Get something like a short portable tub put it under the van fill it with hot water and use a sump pump and a hose to run hot the hot water over the gate valve and the pipe as much it will alow you to.If you have a cover for the waste pipe that adapts down to a garden hose you can drain it out on the yard away from the drive way when it does start to drain.The frozen water behind the gate valve is where you have to put the heat.As the water in the pipe gets warm the heat will travel up.Heat dosent travel down very well and takes a long time.If you have to keep adding hot water to the tub on the ground then thats just the way it is.The tub has to sit under the place your pumping the hot water onto the pipe and valve so it can go back in the collecting tub.It would be sitting under the van where the valve and pipe are.Why not keep the tank empty and the valve open at night and let a small amount of hot water run through in the morning so you will be able to shut the valve.Drain and leave open at least partialy open over night. If the tank freezes solid it will takes days to thaw out.The longest thaw I know of was a week on a wt van.It was frozen solid both tanks it sat idle for two weeks durring a cold snap while the person was away.bummer

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          • #6
            I don't understand the problem? I mean yes, I understand that your tank is frozen, but is this just after grooming for the day? I empty mine the moment I get home each day and make sure to close the valve when I am finished to avoid just this situation. If you put enough hot water down the drain, it will eventually thaw provided the tank was not over half full when it froze as it will need quite a bit of hot water to melt that much ice.

            I have had the intake connection freeze and I couldn't get the cap off to fill, but that was easy enough to thaw, just used a warm dryer to get cap off then filled from a hose connected directly to the hot water tank in the house. The hot water melted the ice in the connection quickly and filled my tank. It alwo allowed my water heater to not have to work so hard and use as much propane through the day. (I do normally fill also when I get home, but if the hoses outside are frozen, it is easier to just run a hose from the hwh tank in the house in the morning)

            Also, for those with WNT vans. If you turn the elec switch on for your hot water heater, it will use MUCH less propane. You will have to plug in at night or turn it off, but most of us are pluggin in anyway for the space heaters to keep pipes from freezing. I only fill my propane tank about once a month in the winter and "maybe" once during the rest of the year by keeping the switch allowing it to heat with electricity too. The elec heat does not heat as fast nor as hot, but alone works great in warmer months and aids the propane heating in the winter.

            Carol

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            • #7
              Doug,
              Thanks for the info. Makes sense and I will try.

              Auss,
              The drain probably froze because it was so cold and the gray water tank sat for a couple of hours before I tried to drain. I was away at the time and told our groomer that if she could not get the drain valve open to leave it and I would take care of it when I returned.

              To the others,
              I do run a ceramic heater in the back of our WNT van. When the temp drops to single digits, I also run an oil filled electric heater in the salon area with the cabinet doors open (where the gallons of fluids are which freeze.) Also, I made a heater cover which a small ceramic heater warms the fresh water fill outside the van. Again, only in single digit weather. I will attach a pic when I get a chance.

              Biggest problem of all is that we keep the van at a relatives house two towns away. I hate not being where the van is. I always get nervous when the weather is this cold and probably would be checking on it every hour of the ight if it were here.

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              • #8
                OMG

                I have a wnt and haven't had any problems with grey water freezing, but I am running my ceramic in the rear at all times during freezing weather.

                I don't always empty my grey out until late at night rather than when I get home right away. But If I were you, I would run the heaters as much as you can to heat up the vehicle itself, run a ceramic as close as you can to the tank, then I would do like Doug said. If that meas running an extra cord for electric from a different outlet in the house, than I would do it.

                You dont' want the pump to freeze up because then you may have to start replacing parts and we went through that with my old vehicle, and it's not fun.

                Are the pumps running ok? Is the fresh water ok?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by HavensHubby View Post
                  Doug,
                  Thanks for the info. Makes sense and I will try.

                  Auss,
                  The drain probably froze because it was so cold and the gray water tank sat for a couple of hours before I tried to drain. I was away at the time and told our groomer that if she could not get the drain valve open to leave it and I would take care of it when I returned.

                  To the others,
                  I do run a ceramic heater in the back of our WNT van. When the temp drops to single digits, I also run an oil filled electric heater in the salon area with the cabinet doors open (where the gallons of fluids are which freeze.) Also, I made a heater cover which a small ceramic heater warms the fresh water fill outside the van. Again, only in single digit weather. I will attach a pic when I get a chance.

                  Biggest problem of all is that we keep the van at a relatives house two towns away. I hate not being where the van is. I always get nervous when the weather is this cold and probably would be checking on it every hour of the ight if it were here.
                  It has been in the single digits here too. With the 2 ceramics on high my trailer stays nice and warm. Also, go to kmart and buy the thermomoter that you put the unit inside your rig and the other part stays inside the house. Ask your relatives to keep an eye on it for you that way if temp drops too low they can call you.
                  If your dog is fat, you are not getting enough exercise!

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                  • #10
                    I don't think I could handle having my van stored away from me either. I didn't realize you were in such cold area to have it freeze so quickly. Another idea I just thougt of after ponding the problem for a bit. (trying to truley think of what I would do if it happened to me, you never know, we all forget the simplest things of our normal routine at times) I would probably start the genset and let it run for about 30-45 min then go check the problem. That generator under the van should provide plenty of heat to gently thaw things out. (that is if your is mounted under the van, I don't know where they have the exhaust going for the ones mounted on the side.)

                    I do hope you get the problem fixed without any pipes breaking. Winter is about the only time I really wonder whether or not I really want to remain mobile rather than opening a stroe front. LOL

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                    • #11
                      OK. Problem is that I had gone too long without emptying the dirty water. I tried shooting the water up the drain with a sump pump. Good concept but did not work. I ended up taking apart the back end of the van by removing the cosmos system, vacuum, and water heater cover. I now have direct access to the frozen pipe. It runs about 3 feet along the vehicle wall. I now have two heaters on high in the back of the van and one in the salon. I'll let it go through the night and tomorrow and maybe by evening (when I get off work) things will be thawed. We already rescheduled today and tomorrows clients and will also probably reschedule Tuesdays. Can't wait 'til Spring! OK, gotta go. Bears game is on!!! GO BEARS!!

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                      • #12
                        I am having the same problems. so cold here single digits and something froze in the hot water heater I couldn't bath the pup yesterday wound up taking the pup in the house and finishing in the van. I have now put the van inside the shed at my uncles down the street. left it all night last night and today plugged in and heaters on high 75 for the full 24 hours. well it worked cause checking the van tonight it was thawed out (thank god) It seems to me that there has to be a better design then this......... those of us in the colder areas know how difficult it is. we do everything right and still things freeze....... very frustrating!

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                        • #13
                          Auss,
                          Thanks for pondering the situation but our generator is accessed from the side and not the bottom. Running it will not help.

                          Peka,
                          Would your uncle mind if I used his shed? I could probably make PA in about 12 hours. I wouldn't mind the drive now, it would help me take out my frustrations from the game. Turned out to be a lousy weekend.

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                          • #14
                            Something that might help in the future when you have the van all thawed out, is to keep the cap off of the grey water pipe and keep the valve open a bit. I learned this from Jason at WNTs and I never had a problem with my tank.

                            I am so glad that I am still out for the next three weeks!

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                            • #15
                              too cold

                              There is a point where it becomes too cold to groom and your more likely to do damage to the vehicle more then it is worth not to mention standing at some ones door waiting for them to get off their fat a-- and answer the door leaveing you standing there sucking air that is - 10 or 15 degrees.Anything under 0 degrees I dont go outside. I could servive it but knowing how easily things break in the frigid temps and how hard it would be to then have to fix the broken parts in the cold i try to weigh out how much it might cost versas how much I might make.Then I look to see how long it will be till it warms up enough to fix the van or boken parts and how sore I will be afterwards.There is a big difference between being profitable and being busy.
                              barknpur Im glad your off for the next three weeks to,she cant break anything if she isnt working lol.Now if the other lisa (misty)would take a few days off till it warms up I could sleep even better.

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