My Camper Door Lock is Frozen
Winter camping presents some unique challenges that most RV owners will never experience, but will definitely teach you some valuable lessons from the RV mistakes you will undoubtedly make. Like standing outside in the middle of the night with a key that won’t open your frozen camper door. Casting blame and cursing yourself for locking the camper doors in the subzero temperatures isn’t going to help you when coming home to frozen RV door locks.
Dealing with a frozen camper door lock can be a frustrating event. Especially when you have no tools or resources to utilize while staring at a door that should simply open up with the frozen key in your shivering hand.
All you want to do is get inside to the warm comfort of your camper home. Dealing with a thin layer of ice on your camper deadbolt isn’t something you planned for.
And if you’re like me after about an hour of dealing with this seemingly stupid predicament, you simply adopt an “I don’t care attitude.”
So you finally resolve to lighting a piece of paper on fire and holding it next to the frozen camper door lock as long as you can.
Twenty-second later my key worked and I was standing inside the camper. I didn’t ruin my RV door locks and I didn’t break my key off in the camper door. Yes, I left some personality on my RV door locks in the form of char marks, but I didn’t die in the snowbank next to me that was laughing at me.
Why Do Camper RV Door Locks Freeze
Since then I now carry a small butane torch in the glove compartment of my Toyota Tacoma. Should I ever need to heat up my camper door locks again. Coming home to frozen RV door locks shouldn’t be a thing. I mean my house door has never had its locks frozen in place. Why does this happen to campers?
Because the main heating source for campers is propane, and propane burns wet. Adding moisture to the air. So when cold air meets hot air condensation forms. This is why you see so many posts on the RV forums asking about condensation on their RV windows. The same condensation that builds up on your camper windows also builds up on your camper door locks. Allowing them to freeze in place during your winter camping adventures.
How to Unlock a Frozen Camper Door Lock
The quickest and easiest way to unlock your frozen RV door locks is with heat or fire!
This is easier said than done when you’re not prepared for this annoying situation. Which is what happened to me after working a double at two different restaurants over Valentine’s Day weekend.
I was so exhausted and beyond caring that the path of least resistance was the solution to my predicament. Fire or heat is what I needed to apply to my camper door. So in my case, I lit a piece of paper on fire!! It did the trick that night, but the very next day I went out and bought a butane lighter to keep in my Tacoma.
This absolutely annoying situation played itself out several times while urban boondocking in Minnesota last winter. These are the tricks I learned first hand from unthawing frozen camper door locks in negative 35 degree temperatures.
Unthawing Frozen Camper Door Locks From Inside My RV
If you find yourself locked inside of your camper because of the frozen door mechanism’s turn the heat up. If you have a blow dryer plug it in and aim it at the door locks. Turn on your space heater and hold it in front of the frozen door locks for a couple of minutes. It doesn’t take much to thaw the frozen door locks, but you do need a heat source that will allow you to aim directly on the frozen camper locks.
The Tools I Use to Unthaw My Camper Doors from Inside
- Space heater
- Blow Dryer
- Electric Blanket
- Butane Lighter/Torch
Unthawing Frozen Camper Door Locks From Outside My RV
If you have the unfortunate luck of being outside of your RV when the camper locks freeze up then you may need to get creative. All you need to do is dethaw the thin layer of ice on your camper locks briefly to get them to open up. My go-to has been lighter and paper, but if you have a way of turning on a blow dryer that’s probably a bit safer.
There are numerous ideas and tips on the internet about how to unfreeze your camper door locks, but I am here to tell you that NONE OF THEM WORK!!! I tried everyone fucking one of them!! All of them failed. Miserably!!
Last year when I was urban camping in Plymouth, MN my door locks would freeze every other day. And I had access to tools, rubbing alcohol, de-icer, and lock lubricant. None of them worked. I tried Vaseline. No, go. I even tried for over two hours one night heating the key. All that got me was a broken key!!! All of the so called “frozen camper door” tricks found on the internet at the time of this writing are complete bullshit!!
The job I worked at while urban boondocking last winter had bins and barrels full of the strongest alcohol money could buy to sterilize their products. Guess what? It didn’t help one bit!!!!! I sprayed WD40 inside the lock, on the key, in the seam onto the frozen camper deadbolt lock. This had absolutely zero benefit to my situation!
The only thing that ever worked, and worked in just a couple of seconds was flame to the keyhole! All the other ideas, tricks or methods mentioned on all the other worthless RV blogs are complete crap. They are just guessing at what might work.
If you are locked out of your RV for any reason because of frozen camper door locks then you need to find a source of fire. I know it seems scary and the wrong thing to do, but trust me on this. I had to dethaw my camper doors over 50 times last winter, and the only thing that worked when everything else failed was fire to the keyhole.
And when I say fire I don’t mean a lighter. That will do nothing. You need a directional torchlight like flame. Yes, you may end up charring your camper keyhole as I did, but a $5 bottle of spray paint can fix that pretty easily.
The Tools I used That Actually Worked to Unthaw My Camper Doors From The Outside
- Butane Torch
- Lighter & Crumpled Paper
- Propane Heater
- Electric Blanket
- Roadside Flair
Best Camper Accessory To Unlock Your Frozen Camper Door
The absolute best camper accessory any winter camper needs is a small butane torch.
They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. For less than a pack of cigarettes, you can be guaranteed to never be frozen out of your camper again. These small butane torches can unthaw your camper door locks in under 5 seconds. They sell them at any gas station, Walmart, Amazon and various other trinket shops.
All you need to do is light it and hold it right where your key is supposed to go for a couple of seconds. Insert your key and turn. It’s as simple as that. I promise. Not only do I promise I tried everything else found on the internet and this is the only way I got into my camper every time the RV door locks were frozen shut.