How to Get Rid of Damp in a Motorhome
There’s nothing quite like owning a motorhome. It’s probably your pride and joy. The key to a better and more relaxed way of life: Enjoying being out and about and on the road - but loving all the creature comforts too...
There is a downside, though – but, thankfully, it is something you can deal with.
Motorhome ownership as a joy doesn’t come without problems. It’s an inconvenient fact that your vehicle is vulnerable to damage. Damp and mould can attack the fixtures and fittings of your vehicle – and in the worst case scenario they can compromise the structural integrity. Even though the build quality of motorhomes (plus caravans and other leisure vehicles) is improving all the time, damp is a natural phenomenon and is always likely to occur in some way and needs to be considered.
Why do motorhomes get damp?
It’s not just about moisture trying to get into your motorhome - it’s also about the moisture that’s not able to get out.
Faulty seals at windows, doors and roof lights will let water drip or seep into your motorhome. Structural seals can also be a point of ingress if they have been made with cheap or low-quality sealant which has become inefficient. The whole resale value of your vehicle can be seriously compromised by this sort of damage. If you don’t do anything about it, you are basically contributing to your motorhome’s devaluation.
It’s not all about leaks, either. The air is your enemy too. Damp will often manifest as mould due to inadequate ventilation and a build-up of condensation inside the vehicle.
These things happen whether your motorhome is brand new or second hand (though, obviously, the likelihood of a brand new motorhome having leaks is very low).
When you are actively using your motorhome it’s a good idea to take steps to mitigate against atmospheric moisture as you travel around. Still, when you shut up and store your motorhome for the winter, it will be particularly susceptible. The stale air inside contains moisture - and so if it’s possible to do so, keeping good ventilation is key as this will help stop the air from becoming stale.
Putting damage right after the fact will be a costly business and so, with your whole motorhome experience in danger of being undermined by moisture, it’s best to invest in some form of protection up front. Prevention is better than cure, right?
How to get rid of damp in a motorhome
Your motorhome will never be completely moisture free. That’s the truth of it. As we mentioned just now, air naturally contains moisture – and a motorhome is not a vacuum!
There are behavioural steps you can take to limit the effects of moisture.
- Washing: Try to limit condensation by not drying clothes within the motorhome itself. Moisture from wet or damp washing will end up in the internal environment when it is easy enough to swerve this problem by drying clothes in your awning (if you have one).
- Cooking: Cooking generates a lot of moisture. Turn to the lightest simmer possible on the hob and use lids on pans. Opening windows and switching on the extractor fan will also be a big benefit as moisture will be drawn out of the motorhome through them.
- Showering: Using a shower generates a lot of moisture. Keep the window of your bathroom open to allow steam to escape outside – but remember to keep the bathroom door closed so that it doesn’t also enter the rest of the motorhome.
- Sleeping: Make sure there is some ventilation when you sleep. Humans (and pets!) generate condensation when they sleep.
- Cleaning: After any activity which has caused condensation – cooking, showering, drying washing, and whatever else – you should wipe down the walls and surfaces of your motorhome. This will always help, and it could mean you detect any small signs of trouble early on.
- Winterise: When your season in the motorhome is done for the year and it will be out of action for weeks and months over Winter, you should do something to ensure good circulation. Your process should include opening all cupboards, lockers and doors between areas, and adjusting all cushions and mattresses to maximise airflow.
These steps alone won’t be enough, though they are at least something you can get into the rhythm of regularly doing that will have a direct benefit. In addition, it’s advisable to seriously limit the effects of moisture on your motorhome with just a couple of purchases.
A decent quality moisture meter is a good addition to make to your ‘caravan kit’ (those bits and pieces, tools and accessories, that you need to keep your motorhome life functioning at optimum level). This meter will give you an indication of the moisture or damp in your vehicle before any serious problems occur. You can use it to test in specific areas every few months, and therefore track levels. A typical meter may set you back a little bit – perhaps £150 – but it’s worth it in the long run as it will help you catch any issues early and so could save you hundreds or even thousands in costly repairs.
Of course, a meter is only the ‘dashboard’ of your protective steps. It’s the indicator light. It will only alert you to any potential issues or areas of concern, and by itself it won’t do anything to prevent them.
What can I use to counteract moisture in my motorhome?
If you’ve looked into this at all you will have heard the same old solutions coming round. Amongst them will be ‘electric heaters’ – but this is really not going to be cost effective, particularly with the current state of rising prices in the domestic energy market. It’s potentially also dangerous to leave an electric heater running for the extended period of time it would take to dry out a motorhome, due to the risks of malfunction and overheating.
You may be asking “Should I use a dehumidifier in my motorhome?” and, once again, you’ll rinse the power and raise your costs drastically if you plug in a dehumidifier to try and get dried out.
Salt, cat litter, wash powder, rice and - of course - silica gel are also often touted as moisture absorbers for your motorhome. While it’s true that each of these does have some absorption qualities and therefore could be used in your vehicle, none of them is specifically designed for the task so it’s ‘hit and miss’, and they’re also potentially messy with leaks, spills and potential staining. (Check out our blog on the use of cat litter as a moisture absorber and the risks here). There are some desiccant moisture absorbers on the market which come in packaging so reduce the chance of any mess, but even so their effectiveness can be less than expected and required.