Do you shower, wash clothes, cook, or even breathe in your RV? If so, RV condensation will be a problem and there is one item you need: a dehumidifier. In this article, I will tell you why.
Condensation and Humidity
Each of the items above creates an increase in moisture in the air. Yes, even breathing expels moisture in the air. Two terms that are important in understanding why a dehumidifier is important are humidity and condensation. Humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air. It can be affected by location, other weather, and the amount of space. Weather forecasters usually relay humidity as a percent, also known as relative humidity. Condensation is the result of the air temperature becoming too cool to hold the water as a vapor. As a result, the water turns from a vapor to a liquid.
In an RV, the space is much smaller than a house, which is strike one. The smaller space has less area for the water vapor to go, which increases humidity, especially if you are cooking, showering, washing clothes, and breathing just like you were living in a traditional house.
Decreased air flow is strike two. Most RVs are not ideal for great airflow. Using the vent fans in the bathroom and kitchen, if you have them, will help. Also, opening windows will increase airflow, especially if you use a strategy that will encourage the air to flow through your RV. The air conditioner also helps with air flow and removes moisture from the air. In extreme temperatures and weather, however, it is not ideal to keep windows open or run the AC (if it is cold). The colder it is, the more you will begin to see condensation on your windows and outer walls.
Lower levels of insulation in the RV is strike three. Typically, the outer walls of the RV are not as insulated as the walls in a traditional home. This allows the surface temperature of the walls and windows inside the RV to get cold, or warm, relative to the air temperature in the RV. The temperature of the air as it gets close to a cold wall or window will allow the water to turn to liquid and condense on the walls or windows.
There are problems with having water build-up on the surfaces inside the RV. The primary problem is the material will get damaged and cause structural problems. This can lead to expensive repairs and a decrease in time spent traveling while waiting for your RV to get out of the shop. Another major problem is mold. Mold can be dangerous to your health and can cause severe illness. Removing mold can be quite expensive and can result in major structural repairs or even the loss of your RV. The last major problem is insect infestation. After the water begins to break-down the material, the bugs will come running.
Best Preventive Solution
A dehumidifier, or two, can be an inexpensive preventive maintenance tool to reduce humidity and condensation. The dehumidifier will pull the moisture out of the air, lowering the relative humidity within your RV. We use four dehumidifiers in our 44-foot fifth wheel. In the bedroom and in the kitchen, we have an Eva-dry Electric Petite Portable Dehumidifier. These are small, but hard working. They are also very, very quiet. We recently had to replace one because it quit working. The other one is still going strong after more than 3 years. The other two dehumidifiers we use are Damp Rid Disposable Dehumidifiers. There is one in the bathroom and one in the garage. Once they are full, we throw them out and buy a new one. They last about 3-4 months.
Other things that can help include turning on the bathroom fan when showering to help pull the moist air out of the RV. Do the same thing when cooking in the kitchen. Also, when able, have your windows open to increase air flow within the RV. Lastly, run the AC when it is warm.
We opted for an small investment up front to prevent serious damage and maintenance costs in the future. So far, it has paid off and we rarely have any RV condensation issues. We highly recommend a similar investment to protect your RV, your health, and your time spent traveling!
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