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How to Use Heat Tape for Your RV Water Hose

How to Use Heat Tape for Your RV Water Hose

One of the great things about camping in your RV is that you can stay warm and cozy even when the temperature drops below freezing. In a previous post about winter RVing, we included tips on successful cold-weather camping strategies. But since our visit was so short, we were able to leave out some steps. Winter RV camping for extended periods calls for some additional modifications to your normal setup. One thing you’ll appreciate knowing when RVing in below-freezing temperatures for any length of time is how to use heat tape for your RV water hose.

Why Do You Need Heat Tape for an RV Water Hose?

Using heat tape for your RV water hose allows you to RV in below-freezing temperatures without a plumbing disaster. Because of the added heat provided by the heat tape, your water hose won’t freeze even when it’s cold outside. That way you can have on-demand water available at the RV park water hook-up no matter how cold it gets, or how long you’ll be there.

Does Everyone Need Heat Tape for an RV Water Hose?

No. Some people choose to store their RVs for winter or travel south to warmer temperatures, but others choose to brave the cold. If you’re a cold-weather camper, and want to stay connected to a steady supply of city water, you need to use heat tape for your RV water hose to ensure that your hose doesn’t freeze into a solid tube. If your hose freezes, you won’t be able to get water from the RV park water hook-up into your RV. In some cases, this can even damage the spigot, your pressure regulator, or even your RV itself.

How to Use Heat Tape to Make Your Own Heated RV Water Hose

We should first mention that you can purchase a ready-to-go heated RV water hose from the store, or online. But it’s generally going to cost more, in some cases significantly more. Heated hoses can be quite expensive.

But you can use heat tape to make your own heated water hose as a DIY project. We showed how we did it in the beginning of our video titled How To RV In The Winter… but keep reading for the step-by-step instructions to follow.

Items required to use heat tape for your RV water hose.

DIY Project: Using Heat Tape for Your RV Water Hose

Using heat tape for your RV water hose is a simple process and will ensure you can safely RV in the winter without worrying about your supply of water being cut off by freezing temperatures.

Materials You’ll Need

Here are the materials you’ll need to have on hand to use heat tape to make your own heated RV water hose:

Once you have all your supplies, you can follow our step-by-step guide to using heat tape to safely heat your RV water hose.

  1. Wrap Hose Length in Aluminum Foil

The first step to using heat tape for your RV water hose is to wrap a standard RV drinking water hose in aluminum foil. When you finish, the aluminum foil should be snuggly fitted around the hose. The aluminum foil is there to even out the heat all the way around the hose, rather than having it create a hotspot against one side of the water hose and potentially causing it to melt.’

NOTE: Not everyone agrees with the necessity of this step, and many have reported successfully surviving frigid temperatures by just doing a lazy coil wrap of the heat tape down the length of the hose. But we think the foil wrap step is a big help in keeping the heat from the heat tape more evenly distributed around the RV water hose.

Also, if you wrap the heat tape around the hose, be sure that it doesn’t overlap itself, as that could cause a hot spot that could damage the heat tape.

  1. Insert RV Water Hose & Heat Tape Into Split Foam Tube

Next, lay your aluminum wrapped hose inside a split foam tube. You can find these tubes in the plumbing section of a hardware store or home improvement store. They come in different sizes, so just be sure to get one that has a large enough opening to fit your water hose (1-1.5″ inner diameter should work).

aluminum foil covers hose before using heat tape for RV water hose

Heat tape-wrapped hose tucked inside a foam tube.

As you’re laying the hose into the split foam insulation, include the heat tape alongside it. You want the heat tape to lie in a straight line and be tucked inside the foam tube with the water hose.

how to use heat tape for RV water hose

Lay the heat tape alongside the full length of the foil-covered hose.

If your RV has a designated water compartment, make sure the heat tape runs the length of the entire hose, including the portion of the hose that will enter the RV and end up inside the water compartment.

You’ll also want to ensure that a length of the heat tape extends out beyond the end of the water hose that will connect to the spigot. This will ensure that you can wrap the heat tape around the campground spigot as well, ensuring that it doesn’t freeze up when the temperatures drop.

  1. Seal Seams with Duct Tape

If your hose needs several foam tubes to cover its length (which it most likely will), use duct tape to seal the seams.

duct tape sealing the seams of foam tubing that encloses heat tape for RV water hose

Use duct tape to seal the seams where the various sections of foam tubing meet.

This prevents the multiple foam tubes from coming apart or falling away from your hose. Even though the split foam tubes came with adhesive strips aligned along the split (making duct tape unnecessary to close the tube around the hose), you’ll still want to tape the lengths of tubing together where the ends meet, creating one continuous, unbroken insulated tube along the length of the water hose.

  1. Use Additional Heat Tape for the Water Spigot

The next step to using the length of heat tape that you left extending beyond the end of the house to wrap around the water spigot. Once wrapped, insulate the spigot with a length of the foam insulating tube to ensure that the water within the faucet doesn’t freeze.

  1. If Necessary, Wrap Faucet & Exposed Spigot/Pipe in Heat Tape

Some parts of the spigot will likely be too large to cover with your foam tubes, but you still want to insulate them to make sure they don’t freeze. For these areas, you can do one of two things.

  1. If you have a section of electric heat tape sticking out beyond the end of the foam tube (as planned), you can wrap that around the faucet and any exposed part of the spigot.
  2. The second option is to use separate insulated heat wrap tape for these areas. In this case, you would wrap the insulated heat wrap tape around the faucet and exposed spigot to completely cover any exposed sections.

Either way, your goal is to ensure that no fresh water plumbing remains exposed to the cold/elements. You want to keep the entire route from the ground right into your RV’s water compartment heated & insulated to keep it all from freezing.

  1. Inspect Your Work, Double-Check All Heat Tape & Insulation

Before you finish the job, inspect all areas. For example, you’ll want to inspect the entire hose and spigot to ensure that you’ve covered everything in heat tape and foam/insulation. You’ll also want to be sure you insulated the spigot all the way from the ground to the hose. The only part that should be exposed is the knob to turn the water on/off, so you can access it if/when needed.

 heat wrap tape is used to protect spigot

Here we used insulated heat wrap tape to wrap the spigot to keep it protected from the cold. Only the on/off control remains exposed (note the two power cords… one for the heat tape for the RV water hose, the other for the heat tape wrap for the spigot)

You’ll also want to use a good quality, heavy-duty extension cord to plug in your heat tape, rated not to crack or break at low temperatures.

Note that most heat tape has a thermostat that will turn it on automatically when the temperature drops below about 40-45 degrees, so you won’t be wasting power heating things up when there’s no risk of them freezing.

Finally, fill your fresh water tank. That way, if your water hose should freeze temporarily, you’ll still have water for a few days while you wait for the temperature to rise.


Winter is no reason to give up on RVing. In fact, you’ll probably enjoy how much less crowded parks will be. You can get out and enjoy your favorite winter activities and come home to a warm, toasty RV. But when you camp in freezing temperatures for any length of time, you’ll need to protect your RV water hose. The low-cost way to accomplish this is to use heat tape for your RV water hose by following our simple tutorial.

Of course, if you’d rather NOT do this yourself and would prefer to buy a commercially-made heated RV water hose, you can check out this article: Best Heated RV Water Hose Options

For more tips on how to prepare for winter RVing, be sure to check out our first post about How to RV in the Winter, and see all our winter RVing posts here.

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Tom McCrossin

Tuesday 25th of July 2023

Great article, very helpful. My wife and I have been living in our RV full time for 4 years now & every winter I end up outside with the hair dryer trying to thaw out our water hose. This year I'm going to DIY a heated water hose. I have one question, will the heat tape melt the foam pipe wrap? The hose is protected by the tin foil, but the foam would come into direct contact with it wouldn't it? Or does it not get hot enough to melt the foam? I was thinking about doing another layer of tin foil between the heat tape and foam, but then it would be pretty bulky to try and wrap in the foam. Just wanted to get your thoughts about it. Again, thank you for this wonderful post!


Tuesday 25th of July 2023

Hi Tom! Thanks so much for the comment. You don’t need to worry about the heat, since the tape doesn’t get hot enough to melt anything. The reason we used the foil to wrap the hose was to help distribute the heat from the tape more evenly around the circumference of the hose, to help ensure there weren't hot spots.

John Schretlen

Friday 22nd of October 2021

I remember when you first posted this helpful blog. Good tips.

Is reposting it your way of saying that you are spending this winter at your home in BC?


Friday 22nd of October 2021

LOL! Unfortunately, yes, John. Although we're hoping that something (good) comes up and keeps us snowbirding... and warm! ????

Robert Oliver

Sunday 3rd of January 2021

Instead of aluminum foil wrap the hose in aluminum tape. Aluminum tape is readily available at the Big Box home stores, and the independently owned hardware store. It is usually found in the same aisle or near as ducting, insulation ect.., If you put the heat tape into the split foam; then lay the hose on top of the heat tape; close the split foam with the split side up; then when using the hose the heat tape is under the hose with heat rising the entire hose will be heat protecting. I work with heat tracing as part of my everyday job and if the heat tape is next to or on top of the hose the under side of the hose in closest contact with the ground could potentially freeze depending on outside temp ect.

Sandy Wetzel

Saturday 26th of December 2020

Another post with good DIY tips. We are in the Rio Grande Valley TX for the winter. Merry Christmas to you both and a Safe and Happy New Year 2021.


Saturday 26th of December 2020

Thanks, Sandy! Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you, too! Glad to hear you're enjoying the warmth of the RGV!

Hans Heep

Saturday 26th of December 2020

This is a nice and good idea. The only problem I see with this is that the prepped hose is hard to coil up. The insulating foam tubes are not very bendable. Maybe not a problem with a bigger A-class RV, with large bays, but questionable for B- or even C-class RV's with limited space in the under floor compartments.

Brian V

Tuesday 15th of November 2022

@TheRVgeeks, Another option to store wrapped hoses, is get multiple short hoses (like 6 feet) and insulate each one with a loop of heat tape going between them. Then when you disconnect you can disconnect each section of hose and fold them, with the heat tape keeping them all semi-attached.


Saturday 26th of December 2020

That's true, Hans... having the water hose wrapped up this way makes it take up more room, since it's less bendable. In that situation, there are a few options you could try:

Disassemble the hose between uses... the adhesive that holds the split-tube insulation won't re-seal it, but you could tape it closed with Duct tape instead Purchase one of the pre-made heated RV water hoses, since they SHOULD be more malleable than the DIY version (although still more bulky than just a standard water hose) Fill your fresh water tank and run off of that using your onboard pump... only connecting to city water to refill your tank, so you don't have to worry about the fresh water hose freezing (stow it away again in a heated compartment between uses)

Hope that helps!

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