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How to prevent damp in caravans

20 January 2015 ( 14 September 2018 )

Read our guide to preventing damp in caravans to avoid mould, mildew, condensation and musty smells developing.

Older caravan
Taking precautions to prevent damp will stop mould and mildew forming

If water can find a way to get into a construction, it will. At home, you’ll unclog drains, clear guttering, check taps, pipes and double glazing seals for signs of leakage.

A caravan or motorhome is no different to a house, and damp conditions can lead to mould or mildew forming.

If you find your caravan or motorhome smells musty, or you see black spots of mould or mildew forming, it's time to take action and follow these simple steps to prevent damp in your caravan.

Keep your caravan ventilated to prevent damp

Air movement in such a small living area is paramount as condensation is a notorious slow ‘caravan killer’. Keep the caravan as ventilated as possible.

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When to use a dehumidifier in your caravan

When returning from a caravanning holiday, you might consider running a dehumidifier for a few hours to drain excess moisture from the caravan. 

Moisture can accumulate from the most obvious sources such as the shower, to the more ‘well, who’d have thought it?’ suspects – a frequently boiled kettle and boiling pans every evening can make their own condensation contribution. Even your breath will be adding to the condensation in the caravan.

However, don't bother running a dehumidifier when the caravan is stored for winter - they are designed with ventilation so there will be a continuous flow of air, and you'll end up dehumidifying air that's destined to go back out into the wet weather. 

Don't allow steam from your shower into the rest of the caravan

When using the shower, keep the door shut, for the sake of avoiding steam entering the rest of the caravan, as much as for etiquette. Open or switch on the ventilation immediately afterwards and wipe the walls down.

Don't dry your laundry inside the caravan

Drying laundry is also a cause of condensation. Rather than drying it in the caravan or motorhome, dry towels and swimming costumes outside if you can, or invest a few pounds in the site laundrette drier, if you have access to one.

Check the caravan for leaks

Leaks in the main frame joints can cause irreparable damage. Check for any damage on a regular basis.

Check window seals. The rubber surround can rot or come away from its adhesive. The vast majority of leaks come from the windows. Simply running some sealant around it won’t necessarily solve the problem. You’ll probably face the same maintenance issue in a year or two’s time.

Sometimes a heavy holiday downpour can do you a favour, showing where rain is starting to get in. Don’t put off a minor repair. Get it fixed if possible (even if it’s a stop-gap job) and make a note to deal with it properly on your return home.

At the end of the season, check again for any signs of damp, even if they’re just suspicions you had while on holiday. Running a powerful water hose jet over the entire caravan and then check for leaks both immediately after and an hour or so later.

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Take care when storing your caravan for winter

Invest in a good, waterproof ‘breathable’ all-round cover. Saving a few pounds here could cost you dear later on. Before laying up for the winter, remove cushions, mattresses etc from the caravan and leave all cupboard doors open.

Wipe down all surfaces and ensure that is no water left in the bath/shower room and toilet.

Check your caravan a couple of times during the winter storage period, just in case, especially if you’ve opted for a basic tarpaulin or non-breathable plastic cover, and be sure to give your caravan several airings. This will reduce the chance of you getting an unwelcome surprise when you open your caravan for the first time in spring, only to be hit with a musty smell, or find mould or mildew has taken over.

If you're storing your caravan, be sure to read our guide to caravan security products to prevent theft.

Invest in a damp meter

Finally, a damp meter may be the best caravanning investment you ever make. Starting at around £13, it might just save your home from home from reaching a premature end.

Read our guide to caravan accessories for more ways to get the most out of your caravan.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.