We’re all aware of the possible damages that damp can cause in our homes, but damp isn’t something that’s exclusive to bricks-and-mortar properties. Motorhomes, due to their exposure to the elements and the fact they are self-contained, often open-plan living arrangements, suffer from damp just as frequently as houses. Fortunately, damp is reversible and treatable, but in almost all cases prevention is much better than working out a cure. Here’s a guide to identifying common motorhome damp problems, treating the issue and damp prevention.
Identifying Damp Problems
Damp is very often about following your nose. If you’re finding that clean clothes feel slightly clammy when you put them on, that there are slightly sour smells in some areas of your motorhome or even if you’re getting mild cold-like symptoms which clear up when you step outside, you could have a damp issue. Visible mould is an indicator that damp has been around for some time, so look out on ceilings and in corners for blue-black growth.
If you’re after a more scientific approach, you can easily pick up a damp-meter from a motorhome store or even your local DIY supplier. Usually the meter will give you a reading in terms of the moisture levels in your motorhome. Readings vary, but usually a figure around 20-25% is normal. If you’re getting readings of above 40% you need to start worrying.
Common Damp Sources
All damp starts off as water in some form; it could be ice from your fridge, vapour from your shower or just plain old rainfall getting into the fabric of your motorhome. Thinking about where damp comes from is a case of working out how that moisture could have come in. In general, bathrooms – particularly if you enjoy long, hot showers – are damper than the rest of your motorhome and, as such, are fitted with laminate and non-porous materials.
Otherwise, a broken fridge or a window seal could be letting damp in unwittingly. Here you can use your damp-meter to source out the exact location of the problem. Other common sources include wet washing, lingering wetsuits and often cupboards that sit above a boiling kettle which are particularly prone to dampness.
In the UK, damp is a very seasonal matter and you need to bear in mind the effects of the seasons when measuring or looking for damp. In the winter, latent moisture and humidity levels tend to be considerably higher because rainfall in the UK is that extra bit higher. If you’re putting your motorhome into winter storage too, beware of higher moisture levels.
In the summer damp levels tend to be much lower and, as such, it’s a great opportunity to get your motorhome dry. Leave windows and doors open as often as you can – you may even want to give your motorhome a day or two in the sunshine to just dry out. If you’re doing this, remember to keep it secure – your motorhome insurance provider won’t look kindly on valuables taken from an unattended and unlocked motorhome.
If you have been infected with damp the first thing you need to do is identify the source. There’s no point patching up a damp problem only to have it reappear the following year. If you’ve got damp because of a leaky window or a bad seal you may need to replace this particular part: this work may need to be done by a professional repairman.
If, however, you only have mild and latent damp, things like dehumidifiers can help get rid of excess moisture. A dehumidifier can be sourced cheaply from a DIY store and put to work for a day or two to dry things out. Mould sprays can be very effective at removing growth from damp, but they are incredibly irritating to the eyes and respiratory system. Don’t spray out your motorhome before a trip: leave it for at least 24 hours before use.
Motorhome damp needs to be treated as it can spread quicker than any motorhome problem. Don’t overlook the first signs of damp and even if damp has never been a problem for you, make sure you can keep windows open whenever you can and whenever possible leave damp washing outside. All these things can contribute to a long-term damp issue.