How to prevent damp in Caravan
Damp can be a major problem in many caravans. Damp encourages the growth of mould, mildew and dust mites. It can increase the risk of respiratory illness. It can cause mould on walls and furniture and make timber window frames, floors and fittings rotten. It can damage wall panels and can also give rise to dry rot. It is the most common reason for caravans being scrapped, because if damp sets in and is left untreated, it will destroy the caravan. It is possible to cure minor damp problems if caught early, but once it gets passed a certain point, its bye bye to your beloved caravan. Never has the saying “prevention is better than cure”, rang more true than where damp and caravans are concerned!
How is damp getting in my caravan?
There are a couple of ways damp can get into a caravan. The most common way is what’s known in the damp industry as “Penetrating Damp” and in the caravanning world as “Water ingress”.
It is water getting into the caravan some how from outside. Common ways are rain, snow melt, improper washing (ie pressure washer). There may be a leak in the roof, walls joints, windows, floor or even behind handles etc where you can’t see. Defects of this sort should be relatively straightforward to fix once they have been tracked down, though the dampness may then take some time to dry out.
Maintenance and regular checks are extremely important to keep caravans in good order. It is far better to sort things out before they become a serious problem, so regular checking and planned repairs are the best approach. Always worth a 10 minute check around the caravan if your ever in it during a torrential rain shower, this can make finding leaks pretty easy. Although double skinned walls may be leaking into the void between skins and not actually visibly leaking into the caravan. This is how damp in caravans is so serious as it can go detected here for a long time before the wall becomes soft and you start noticing there is an issue.
An other method of damp forming is from inside the caravan itself caused by condensation.
There is always some moisture in the air, even if you cannot see it. If the air gets colder, it cannot hold all the moisture and tiny drops of water appear. This is condensation. You notice it when you see your breath on a cold day, or when the mirror mists over when you have a bath or shower.
Condensation occurs mainly during cold weather, whether it is raining or dry. It does not leave a “tidemark”. It appears on cold surfaces and in places where there is little movement of air. Look for it in corners, on or near windows and in or behind wardrobes and cupboards.
Caravan activities such as cooking, showering, washing, drying of clothes inside the caravan and even just breathing, are major sources of moisture generation.
On soft or absorbent surfaces you cannot see the water droplets as they are absorbed, but they can be seen clearly on non-absorbent, glossy surfaces such as the glass in windows and on tiling. If condensation is not dealt with it can rot the wood of any doors and window frames and also damage furnishings and decorations.
Mould will grow as a result of condensation and will be clearly seen on walls, furnishings and even clothing. Severe mould growth increases the risk of causing or exacerbating asthma and other respiratory illnesses due to the inhalation of spores.
How can I reduce condensation?
It can be reduced as much as possible by following a few simple tips:
- Do not block air vents in walls, floors or ceilings
- Use extractor fans (if fitted) in kitchens and bathrooms
- Keep the kitchen window open when cooking but keep the other doors closed (to stop the moist air getting into other rooms)
- Close the bathroom door when running a shower
- After showering open the window to let the steam out
- Put lids on saucepans
- Heat the whole caravan rather than just one or two rooms
- Allow adequate air circulation around large pieces of furniture
- Remember that portable gas and paraffin heaters give off a lot of water, electric heaters are best (for safety reasons aswell!)
- Use a dehumidifier