It’s the one big thing caravan and motorhome owners dread – the smell and sight of damp!
Sadly, the colder and wetter winter months when your ‘van might have been left standing for a while can be an opportunity for the dreaded damp to grow and spread. Or, water ingress can sometimes occur after a spot of accidental damage to your ‘van’s bodywork. It might be something as simple as a screwhole that hasn’t been fully sealed, or some DIY work that hasn’t been properly sealed and finished.
Faulty seals around windows, doors and rooflights are other areas where water can seep in. And, awning rails can be at the centre of a damp problem.
Left alone, water ingress and damp, can quickly cause quite a bit of damage to your caravan or motorhome. But act quickly and the problem can be easily sorted.
An annual habitation check or service should always include a check for damp, and highlights the importance of booking your caravan or motorhome in for an inspection each year to keep on top of such problems.
- Use your nose! A musty, foisty smell is usually the first sign of damp.
- Check for signs of black residue around windows, doors, and rooflights, as well as a blue or pinkish staining to the wallboards. Soft walls can also point to serious damp trouble underneath.
- If you’re buying a second hand caravan, look out for any unusual looking alterations, such as different interior wallboarding, as it can point to a past damp issue.
- A creaky floor, or a spongey feel underfoot, is often a sign of delamination – again, where water or damp has got in. It can be very expensive to repair if you don’t catch it in time.
- A damp meter is always a good investment and can give you an early heads up before the problem spreads.
Prevention is always better than cure so here’s our tips on preventing damp in your caravan and motorhome:
Let the air flow
- Ventilation is key and one of the best ways to avoid damp is by using your caravan or motorhome as often as you can throughout the year. Failing that, on a monthly basis fling open the doors and windows for an hour or so, to let some fresh air in.
- If you find a build-up of condensation on windows and walls, then give them a good wipe down.
- When leaving your ‘van for long periods open all cupboard doors and remove cushions and mattresses.
Check for leaks
- As well as an annual habitation check or service, you should always be checking for any damage to seals. And if you do spot a leak after washing the caravan or a heavy downpour, don’t ignore it. A quick repair could save you lots of expense in the longer term.
- Be constantly on the look-out for any signs of damp, particularly at the end of the season. Make sure you check under the beds, the backs of cupboards and lockers and even under the beds.
- A waterproof but breathable cover when in storage will help prevent water ingress along with those regular checks and door-opening visits.
Curb the condensation
- Try not to dry clothes inside your ‘van – in the awning might be a better idea to prevent condensation.
- When cooking use lids on saucepans and open the windows slightly to let the steam escape
- When showering, keep the washroom window slightly open, and the door closed to avoid steam getting into the rest of the caravan or motorhome. Wipe the walls down when you’re done.
- Dehumidifier crystals, bowls of salt or even cat litter in a tray can help to soak up excess moisture in the air to reduce damp.
Treating damp and mould
- Remove patches of mould and mildew with a mould removal spray. One dried use a mixture of clove oil and water and spray the area, leaving it for 20 minutes before wiping dry.
- If you can’t treat mould yourself or it has spread too far then it’s best to call for some expert help.
- Once any timber framework is affected by damp it can be tricky to sort out. Ideally, the wood needs to be thoroughly dried out and then the bodywork re-sealed. It can take time and you need to make sure you thoroughly dry out your caravan or motorhome using heaters and/or dehumidifiers. It’s probably the time to call in the professionals too. An approved repairer or workshop will be able to carry out a full inspection and will be well equipped to tackle the problem.
Will my insurance pick up the bill to repair damp?
We’re unable to provide cover for damage caused by damp or rot issues, which is why it’s important to regularly check your caravan for any leaks or water ingress, particularly around seals, seams, windows, doors and skylights.
Over to you
Do you have any hints and tips on preventing or treating damp? Please share any advice or experiences of dealing with damp below.
Note: All details correct at time of publication but may be subject to change.