How to Avoid Caravan Damp Repairs

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Using the word 'Damp' around most caravanner's is usually enough to send them rigid with fear and in search of a comfortable chair.

If there is one thing all caravan owners agree on, it's that knowing How to Avoid Caravan Damp Repairs is something worth knowing!

From the earliest days in caravan design and construction, water ingress has remained the Achilles Heel of the caravan industry and owners, with many a tourer taken out of service before their time. The insidious nature of the problem underlines the importance of regular caravan servicing to avoid catastrophic damage and costs.

Better Late Than Never may not Apply

In all cases water ingress found early enough can be cured with the minimum amount of work, for example the removal and replacement of the existing window rubber with new mastic.

Caravan submerged in a riverIn most cases spotted early enough this would be all that’s required, but left or ignored water penetration will result in damaged or rotten wall board and woodwork, with the subsequent caravan damp repair work costing many hundreds, or even thousands of pounds. In some extreme cases the work could be uneconomical to undertake, leading to the caravan being written off and being sent to the knackers yard!

It can also be very difficult to work out exactly where the original breach started, as water can travel along any horizontal beam and settle a distance from its entry point.

In its late stages, dampness can be seen by discolouration and softness of internal wall-board, and often is accompanied by a smell resembling that of `old damp towels` - old damp towels, I hear thee exclaim!

The heart of the Problem

You may well raise an eyebrow as to how it could be possible for a modestly size industry to have been dogged for so many years by everyday rain water. There are several perfectly explainable reasons why touring caravans have traditionally been prone to water ingress, that have long since been understood:

Reasons why Caravans are Prone to Damp

  • The combination of construction materials (chosen for their lightweight properties), where each material behaves differently under stress, and during temperature and atmospheric changes.
  • Reliance upon out dated manufacturing technologies(in recent history) and materials.
  • Cost of discovering and adopting new technologies is prohibitive.

The combination of construction materials, where each material behaves differently under stress, and during temperature and atmospheric changes.

In order a caravan to be a successful sales product, it needs to appeals to a wide range of tow vehicles. This means it's essential the weight of the caravan is kept as low as possible. To achieve this goal lightweight materials are used in construction, materials such as timber, aluminium, fibreglass and various other plastics.

These materials are bonded together to create the floors, ceiling and walls of the caravan however, the bonding of such divergent materials is less than idyllic due to the way each material reacts to vibratory road stress and expansion and contraction that takes place, due to temperature changes and humidity.

Panels and walls are sealed and joined with aluminium rails and fixed with mastic before being screwed in place (all that's missing is a band aid and some sticky tape).

So How Does Damp get into the Caravan

All touring caravans are built using flexible structures to tolerate vibrations from the road, and cope with temperature changes and ambient moisture. Over time or through excessive force, joints subjected to stresses naturally begin to age and come apart, which can create openings for water to pass through into the caravan.

Age is usually the most common reason for damp occurring as many of the sealants used at time of manufacture, can over time harden and crack, leading to seals braking down and water penetration. Therefore, I recommend you regularly check any areas that may require reseating, such as aluminium rails and window hinges.

Water that does make it into the caravan will soon penetrate woodwork causing dampness, that could eventually will lead to rot and delamination of the panels.

Changing Face of Caravan Construction Methods

In recent years Caravan manufactures have started to design and develop new methods of construction, which prevent water ingress that leads to damp.

One of the industries leading innovators is the Swift Group who, after 5 years of research created a new revolutionary caravan construction system called, SMART.

Swift SMART Plus Intelligent Construction System

Read More:  Swift SMART Intelligent Construction System

SMART Intelligent Construction System has been hailed, “the most exciting breakthrough in caravan construction since their inception in the 1960’s”. It features a new strong timberless body frame material ‘PURe’. PURe is a hard polyurethane based product that is totally impervious to water.

Checking Your Caravan for Evidence of Damp

To avoid having to pay out for caravan damp repairs we recommend you have your caravan serviced annually, it the most sensible way to protect your investment and avoid unnecessary problems. At Homestead Caravans a comprehensive damp check is provided as part of our standard caravan service, where upon completion you will receive a detailed report.

Read More:  The Importance of Regular Caravan Servicing

You can of course purchase a good quality Damp Meter and conduct you own periodic surveys. When using a damp meter, a caravan built using traditional construction methods, with wooden framed internal panels, should return a moisture reading of between 17 % to 23%. A reading in excess of this requires further investigation.

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