Why damp and condensation can be dangerous
While damp and condensation themselves aren’t a threat to your health, they often lead to increased humidity and the growth of mould, which can cause various health issues.
As the management of damp and mould is part of the general maintenance of your vehicle, damage caused by it wouldn’t be covered by your self-drive hire policy. However, if you rent out your vehicle and the hirer falls ill, it could theoretically be covered under a public liability policy (as long as you weren’t found to be negligent), which you can take out as an add-on to a self-drive hire policy. We imagine a claim like this would be extremely rare, but not totally out of the question.
In this article, we look at the possible implications of damp in your motorhome or camper and how to reduce it to ensure your hirers have a safe and enjoyable trip.
- Common sources of damp in motorhomes and campervans
- DIY solutions to help solve damp in motorhomes and campervans
- Professional solutions to prevent damp and condensation in motorhomes and campervans
Is it possible to eliminate damp in a motorhome or campervan?
Maintaining your vehicle to ensure it stays in the best condition is important, as damp and condensation can lead to damage if they’re not addressed promptly.
Once you understand common causes of damp in your vehicle, you’ll be in a good position to rectify any issues and take action to prevent problems in the future.
There are different reasons why you may experience damp in your vehicle, but some of the most common are:
Water can enter your vehicle at any point where there is a hole in the bodywork, including where windows, rooflights, bike racks, or ladders have been fitted. The area that is showing damage from water ingress may not be where the water is entering the vehicle, so make sure you investigate to find the source and resolve the problem properly.
Sealants tend to perish over time, so it’s good practice to get into the habit of regularly checking them.
A high relative humidity is more likely to lead to condensation, so it’s important to try and keep the humidity level between 30-50% to avoid damp and the damage it could cause.
Condensation occurs when humid air encounters a cold surface, such as a window, which causes it to cool rapidly and turn into liquid. There can be numerous reasons for condensation in your vehicle, including drying clothes inside, bathing, and people themselves.
A poorly ventilated vehicle will increase the chance of high humidity and condensation levels. You can introduce fresh air by simply opening the windows, or you may also want to consider installing an extractor fan in bathrooms and kitchens. It’s also a good idea to air your vehicle out regularly if you won’t be using it for an extended period.
Water damage caused by leaks can go undetected for long periods and result in significant damage if left untreated, including malfunctioning electrics and mould growth and damage.
How can I prevent damp and condensation?
There are plenty of things you can do to reduce damp, and the effect it can have, in your motorhome.
Checking for signs of damp and mould
What are the signs of damp in a motorhome or campervan?
Keep an eye out for a range of issues, from black or blue staining on your internal walls to damp-looking patches, which can appear even if they don’t feel damp. Key places to check include window frames, seals, and the awning enclosure rail. You may also notice a musty smell in your vehicle, rusting screws, and cracked or peeling sealant.
How often should I check for damp in my vehicle?
It’s good practice to check your vehicle before and after it goes into storage or every six months if it’s in continuous use. It could be worth investing in a damp or moisture meter, which will help identify if you have an issue. Routine maintenance should help you spot the signs of any damp problems before they develop.
Should I cover my campervan in winter?
If you aren’t able to store your vehicle in a garage over the winter, it could be worth buying a cover for it, but you must be careful not to reduce the airflow around the vehicle as this will lead to moisture build-up.
Cleaning gutters and awnings
Cleaning out the gutters on your motorhome regularly is important to remove dirt and debris build-up. Cleaning your awning before you stow it will also help prevent the build-up of damp, but it’s important to use a suitable cleaning product so you don’t damage the awning’s waterproof layer.
Regularly checking and fixing window seals
Taking the time to check your window seals regularly and repairing them as soon as you’re aware of a problem will save you time, money, and hassle in the long run.
Using breathable fabrics and materials
Using breathable materials for soft furnishings will help prevent moisture build-up and lower the overall humidity. It’s also worth making sure cushions have airflow around them where possible to help avoid stagnant air collecting.
Adding insulation and heat sources
Modern vehicles are likely to come with heating systems installed, and keeping your van warm will help prevent damp. However, if you want to turn up the heat, consider buying a low-wattage electric heater, or a combustion fuel-based heater, such as wood, diesel, or gas, although these come with more health and safety risks than their electric counterparts. An additional heater can also be a backup if your main system fails.
As with housing, it’s worth upping your insulation to avoid the need for more heating in the first place. Check for any gaps in the insulation in your flooring and walls, and consider adding things such as thermal curtains, screen covers, and skylight covers. If you have a larger van, installing a thermal curtain between the driving compartment and the rest of the space could also make a difference.
Improving ventilation with fans and air vents
You may want to add extra air vents or an extractor fan in key areas such as kitchens and bathrooms where moisture build up is high.
Drying wet clothes and gear outside
This may seem obvious, but drying things inside your vehicle will add to the humidity, so you can try to dry clothes outside or use a tumble dryer if the site you’re staying on has the facility.
As well as DIY solutions for the prevention and treatment of damp, there are additional actions you can take –
Manage the humidity levels
As well as taking steps to prevent leaks, adding extractor fans, and maintaining airflow, it’s also worth considering investing in double glazing if you have single panes. A handheld window vacuum cleaner which will remove condensation from windows quickly and easily could also be worth consideration.
Installation of proper ventilation and air circulation
Make sure you check all your air vents regularly to remove blockages. Ideally, you’ll want air flow through, including lower and upper-level ventilation in the habitation area. Additionally, consider installing extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens, and simply opening the windows when possible.
Use a dehumidifier to get on top of the damp
Consider using a plug-in dehumidifier to help control damp in your vehicle, or, disposable moisture absorbers can also be used for a lower initial cost.
Can I use household dehumidifiers in my vehicle?
We always advise using a dehumidifier designed for use in a vehicle, as household versions may not be equipped with certain safety features, such as an automatic shut-off if a malfunction occurs.
Add additional insulation
Does insulation stop condensation?
Condensation is less likely to build up on a warm surface, so while insulation doesn’t guarantee you won’t get condensation, it will help you to reduce it.
Should you insulate the floor of a campervan?
You should always insulate the floor of your van, as in addition to keeping the van warm, it will help with dampening road and tire noise.
Is a vapour barrier necessary in a campervan?
It’s always best to include a vapour barrier as it will help to insulate your vehicle and prevent moisture from reaching the body of your camper and creating condensation.
Whether you’re planning on keeping your vehicle for your use or hiring it out, ensuring you have the right insurance to cover all eventualities is important. To find out more about our tailored insurance, speak to our team at 01603 649744.