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Home Forums General Discussion Converting House Trailer to Off Grid-plumbing

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    I have no choice at this time but to use a house trailer, a 1995 14×86 and convert it so we can live off grid. The power lines are no where near the house by miles. I’m in Michigan-it gets very cold here. I have a ‘fall well’ that flows under the house and never freezes. Plan to heat with a wood stove.

    I understand in this type of home the water lines will freeze if the central heat is not used. So I need help in the following areas:

    1. How do I keep the water line from the ground ‘Fall Well’ from freezing?

    2. How/where do I run the Pex Tubing pipes throughout the house to keep them from freezing?

    Any help or suggestions would be greatly appriciated. We have a small wind turbine and generator and are working on making our battery bank bigger. We dont have enough to run a gas forced air furnace.


    I live in a mobile home also so I can relate to your problem.

    How do you pump up the water from the fall well?

    In our place the water comes from the well in buried pipes and enters the trailer in the bathroom. For the short vertical run it does not freeze but run the water often to prevent freezing All our pipes have been brought inside the exterior walls but one section lies between the bathtub and an exterior wall innner surface. This section freezes when it drops below -30F outdoors.

    ther is a lesson to be learned from this.

    Fortunately the kitchen area backs up against the bathroom so the other pipes do not freeze. Much will depend on your layout. If the washroom and kitchen are at opposite ends the best solution would be to run a trunk pipe from one end to the other along the ceiling in the hall maybe and drop feeders to the sinks where needed. If this looks objectionable make a screen cover but not too thick. You do not want to block warm air fronm it. As long as you maintain the interior temperature above freezing the pipes will be fine. Heat rises so the ceiling will be the warmest place in all rooms and hallway area. A friend and I piped in an ATCO trailer in this fashion last summer. Simply abandon the pipes under the mobile. Its not worth the trouble and effort to salvage.


    I see I forgot to address ypur first question adequately. Wrap the pipe from your well with insulation and include a heat trace cable but remember to leave the temperature sensor portion outsode the insulation.

    Most flowing water cominf ffrom below the frost line will be at 50 – 60F temperatures. If the well is atesian and flows without power let the tap run slightly when extreme temps are expected over night. It dpes not have to be much of a t4rickle to keep bringing above 32F water up on an ongoing basis.

    We moved into this place on a mid January day with extremely cold weather All the water pipe had frozen. The mobile had been abandoned and nothing winterized. For a while we had to bring in water in a jerry can. I had to build a tent under the trailer then blow hot air in from a propane fired space heater. It was so cold the propane was hard to vaporize. Even so it took a day and a half to completely thaw the pipes coming out of the ground and get the water running. Now we make sure some heat is always on.


    Do you have a septic tank and leech field?

    Nick Rosen

    Wow, looks like you will learn fast or die.

    HEAT is the issue for you.

    Fortunately spring is almost here. I recommend a wood stove for heat (you probably have that) and a vented propane heater that does not require electricity for times when you have to leave for a few days. Clearly you can’t leave for long unless you drain the pipes.

    I imagine you have poor insulation but that is offset by only needing to heat a small space.

    There are some propane heaters used in truck campers that do not require electricity like many wall propane furnaces.

    I have been heating with firewood for many years. In my last place we super insulated with spray foam and cut our cord wood consumption from 4 cords per season to a little over 2 cords. Unfortunately I’m in a concrete block house with drafty windows and poor insulation. So I know what it is like to live in a cold house again.

    It seem to me that this can only be a short term option. Whatever you need to do for the short term, you will need to build a cabin, a permanent structure, that is well insulated, provides for freeze protection and some kind of heater that does not require constant tending–to keep the temperatures above freezing.

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