How to spot and check for damp in your caravan

How to spot and check for damp in your caravan

Hi everybody, in this video
for Caravan Guard we’re going to be talking about one of
the scariest topics in caravan ownership, and that is damp. So in today’s video, I’m going to be
going through what damp actually is, how it affects our caravans,
and also I’m gonna show you how we can check for damp,
show you some gadgetry as well, and also other things that we
should all be mindful of as well. So let’s just dive straight in and
start off with what damp actually is. Well it’s really simple: It’s water
getting into the fabric of our caravans through some crack, or some inlet,
or some way getting into the caravan that it shouldn’t be allowed into. You see, a caravan is
basically a compromise. It’s a compromise between space,
living conditions, equipment, it’s also a compromise between
lightweight materials, compromised fabric, design, function,
it’s a compromise. and with it being on the absolute
edge of design and function, things sometimes do go wrong. You see when a caravan is built, a lot of
sealant is used to join things together, and sealants, over time,
and adhesives, do fail. And you only need a very small
amount of it to fail for water to get in. And the capillary action of water basically
pushes water through very small holes and soaks into areas
of the caravan. Now the good news is that
damp can be fixed in a caravan. It’s very straightforward: Caravan
constructions are very simple, in actual fact, and so
they can be fixed. Now obviously, the longer you
leave it if you know about it and you don’t do anything with it,
it will just get worse and worse, until the point where it’s almost
uneconomical for it to be repaired. So how do we check for
damp in the caravan? Well the first thing to do is to have
a visual inspection around the outside. When you clean your caravan,
just keep a mindful notice for any knocks, dings,
cracks, or any openings, or any sealant which
is coming away. Check around the caravan, make sure
you’re happy that everything is in place. Now as well as a visual look
around the outside, inside, run your nose around some
of the fixtures and the fixings. Certainly the cushions: Make sure they’re
not smelling musty or damp at all. If it does smell musty, don’t panic.
It could be that there is just condensation from the caravan being warm on the
inside, and cold on the outside, So the top tip here is to air the
caravan out as much as you can and then check again in a couple of weeks,
to see if the mustiness has disappeared. Now a third check
you can also do is to run your hand around the
wallboards inside the caravan to make sure there’s no pimpling and it
suddenly doesn’t feel wet to the touch. Make sure that all wallboards
are in good condition, make sure there’s no
discolouration as well, and you’ll make sure that
there’s no damp in the caravan. And finally, if you really want to know how
much moisture there is inside your caravan, you can use something like this.
It’s a damp meter. As you can see, it gives
a percentage scale of how much moisture it reads
between these two probes. But what do the moisture levels
actually mean? What does the percentage mean in terms
of how damp your caravan is? Well thankfully there is a scale
that we can use to understand how damp
your caravan actually is. Now if you look at this graph
on the side here, you can see it goes between 0% and 100%. You can see the
majority of it is red, and so the 0% to 100% scale
doesn’t really work in this instance. What we’re interested in is the lower
numbers, between 0% and 35%. So let’s redraw this graph, and I’ll
show you exactly what I mean. Now any readings between 0% and 15%
are completely normal. There is no moisture,
and it’s completely fine. Between 15% and 20%, there
needs to be further investigation, so what is recommended is that
you re-check in a couple of months. Between 20% and 24%, there’s most
definitely something going on here. So you’re gonna need to re-check it, give
a visual inspection around the outside, specifically around the area where
there seems to be higher numbers. Between 25% and 30%, there’s
most definitely water ingress. Something is happening in the fabric of the
caravan, and unfortunately it means that you’re gonna need to do some work
to repair this dampness. Now anything greater than 31% sadly means
the structure of the caravan is wet, it needs to be sorted, things need
to be done inside the caravan to make sure that the dampness
has been resolved. Now these meters are great,
but there is a problem with them. They’re only as good as
the day that you test them on. And what do I mean by that?
Well, let’s take today as an example. It’s a wet day. It’s raining outside, which means there’s
a higher moisture level in the environment. Humidity is quite high because it’s
quite warm, but it’s quite wet, so there’s already quite a lot of
moisture in the air around me. That means when I read, in a minute,
around the caravan, it does mean that I’m gonna get
slightly higher readings than I would do if it was a bone dry
day in the middle of summer. So bear that in mind when you’re recording
the damp levels inside your caravan. It needs to be taken in context with the
day that you’re doing the meter readings, so when you document down
the readings that you’re gonna take, also write down the temperature,
which a lot of these meters also have, so you know how humid
and how warm it was. So, without further ado, let’s get on
and start measuring around the caravan. First of all, lets just draw a few diagrams
down, so we know to record our results. So what I’ve got here is I’ve got
a very simple diagram of our caravan with the left, the right, the front,
the back, and the roof, and what I’ve documented is
all of the openings, so things like the window,
lockers, etc. Anything that’s been cut into
the side of the caravan, I’ve documented down here, and I’m
going to start recording the results. Now using the meter
couldn’t be simpler. The meter here, you’ve got
two probes across the top, and you literally just wedge that
into the fabric of the caravan, and it gives you a
moisture reading. Now as you can see here, it’s giving me
a 2% reading on the page of this book. Now you don’t need to push
too hard, to be honest with you, you just need to do it very gently,
until you get a good reading, and what you want to do is divide
each opening up into 4 or 8 areas around the window, so north, south,
east, west, and in between those points. And then just write down on your
little map here of the caravan, what the readings
actually are. It’s important that you put the date and
the temperature on the map as well, that way you can then refer to this
when you re-check the figures later on. So without further
ado, let’s get on and start making some
measurements around the caravan. Now once you’ve done all the openings
around the windows and the lockers, it’s also important to check right up
where the roof meets the wall. You want to do this at fairly
regular results as well. (That’s a 5%…) At the moment I haven’t seen
any reading greater than a 10. Now the thing is, this is
a very inexpensive meter. It’s not gonna be particularly accurate, it
certainly isn’t going to be anywhere up to the professional standards that they
use down in the service centre. So why would you spend £100s
on a meter and only £10 here? Well this is only going to be as good
as the moisture which it’s measuring. So on a damp day,
like today is, I would’ve expected these
readings to be a lot higher. The overall message
of this video is: By all means, use a damp
meter around the caravan, but if you are concerned,
get it into a dealership or even ask for a mobile engineer
to pop out and inspect your caravan. They’ll be able to
tell you first hand whether they think that
there is a ingress problem, and they’ll be able to know,
without using one of these, whether they think there
is an issue to be had. And there we go guys, I hope
that’s been useful for you today. If you have any questions or any comments,
feel free to add them down below. I hope this video has been useful
for you, and given you inspiration and the confidence to go
and check your own caravan. If you’re in the market
for a second hand caravan, I highly recommend that you
purchase one of these meters: It means that you can
quickly nip round and see if there’s any spikes in
any readings around the caravan. But like I said, if you do find it’s
slightly higher readings than normal… don’t be too alarmed at that. It could be
the environment that you’re actually in, or whether it’s been raining,
or whether it’s a cold or warm day. Environmental factors play a
large part in damp readings. So here’s our top 5 tips for reducing
the risk of damp in your caravan. Use your caravan as
often as you can. Keep it well ventilated,
especially in colder months. Limit condensation by not drying
wet clothes in your caravan, and if you have built up condensation
after cooking or taking showers, or in the mornings, open the windows
and the skylights to air it out. Use a clean microfibre cloth to
wipe down the walls and windows if you get buildup
of condensation. Open all the locker doors, and if possible,
remove cushions and mattresses when leaving your caravan
for long periods. Dehumidifier crystals, or even cat litter,
can help soak up excessive moisture. Use moisture traps wherever air
doesn’t circulate around the caravan. For more hints and tips, head on over
to the Caravan Guard blog, and that’s it from us today.
Thanks for watching, bye-bye now.

About the Author: Michael Flood


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