Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Your RV's Silent Enemy: Interior Humidity

Let's be honest, owning an RV and maintaining it is far from being a passive undertaking.  Yet, there are countless incidences of people purchasing a new RV, using it a few times and then storing it for months, even years, without doing anything to maintain it.  Nothing could be more harmful to your RV!  There are so many things that can hurt these very fragile and temperamental RV's, and this is one of the main reasons that we have always bought new.  Not winterizing properly can burst pipes and break hardware and ruin interiors.  Overloading can compromise suspension and welds, not caulking regularly can cause catastrophic moisture damage in the walls and floors.  The list is long, and some of the damage is difficult for a novice RV shopper to find, until a costly repair crops up by surprise down the road.  One of the things that causes a lot of aesthetic degradation is interior moisture being trapped in the RV causing mold and moisture damage and just a plain unsightly mess.

Visit a "Campingworld" in the fall and you will see large displays of dehumidifying products.  Desiccant holders and electric appliances which are designed to extract moisture from the air and deposit it either into a container (which must be emptied or disposed of) or as in an appliance, through a hose into a drain.  They all work pretty well, and they all make an important difference as to whether you open your doors after winter storage to a fresh smelling clean RV or something that smells very musty and moldy, or worse has visible black mold growing on surfaces.  Don't disregard this important step in preparing your RV for winter!  Deploying a couple of inexpensive moisture collectors is cheap and will help ensure you don't have any nasty surprises.  The one shown at left is the one we use.  I like that you can use as many as you need, and you can toss them out.  I also like that they cannot "overflow" making a big mess.  Sticky "desiccant water" is a mess to clean up.

Don't worry, there is much you can do to avoid this silent interior destroyer!  You don't even have to spend a lot of money, but you CAN if you want to!  As with most things "RV" a little effort will save you a lot of money and heartbreak.  If you want to be passive about removing moisture, it will cost a little more.  There are electric appliances that will do this for you, but they are not cheap!

A good rule to live by: MOVING AIR=GOOD, STILL AIR=BAD.  One of the most impactful things you can do may be the most overlooked: Keep moisture OUT to begin with.

Here are some DO's and DON'T's in that regard:

DO:
-DO keep a window cracked open and a roof vent cracked whenever possible for cross ventilation.  This is the most effective way of keeping moisture at bay: Circulating air.  Even when you are boondocking and conserving power, this is a great way to keep the air moving in your rig.

-DO If you are hooked up, turn on your furnace to fan only mode.  This is a fantastic way to move the air around.

-DO Use an electric fan to move the air around.

-DO Limit your use of water inside the rig. This includes washing dishes and taking showers, etc. Any water that comes in causes a portion of it to become water vapor, and this is airborne moisture. That's a bad thing.

-DO Limit cooking of high-liquid-content-foods inside. Things like boiling pasta, cooking open pots of liquids on the range, boiling water, etc.

-DO Place moisture absorbing products inside the RV and check them regularly. They will fill up or become saturated and need to be replaced.

-DO Remove any sources of water as quickly as possible.  Once you boil the pasta, get rid of the water, don't just let it sit on the stove steaming and releasing more moisture into the air that you will have to remove.

-DO Use a bathroom fan religiously when showering!  This is a really important one.  Get that steam OUT!  When finished, close the bathroom doors and leave the fan running until dry.

DON'T:

-DO NOT hang wet towels or clothing inside the RV to dry.

-DO NOT boil or simmer liquids on the stove for long periods of time. Put a lid on them or use a slow cooker to reduce evaporation.

-DO NOT take long steamy showers without using the roof vent until all steam is out.

-DO NOT allow wet rugs or shoes clutter the inside.  Keep them outside.

-DO NOT allow windows to drip with condensation. Remove the moisture with towels and work to prevent moisture from collecting on windows by increasing ventilation.  An electric fan helps a lot with this.

All of these things will become habitual.  In a sticks-and-bricks house, you usually have the opposite problem of not enough moisture in the air, but NOT in an RV! The dry air in a house is caused by a furnace constantly going, which creates a giant dehydrator.  Your RV is far too small to be able to digest the amount present inside simply from us breathing and doing simple chores.

You must stay ahead of moisture inside you RV.  You will be rewarded by a greatly extended lifespan on your RV and much better resale because your interior will be fresh and clean.

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