Living in an RV and traveling across the country is one of the most thrilling experiences. However, there are some ugly parts you have to deal with, and humidity is one of them. Too much moisture in your tiny home can completely destroy the wood floorings, get the cushions and mattress moldy, and dampen the curtains.
Repairing all these things can cost you a fortune and put you through stress that simply could have been avoided. And you can be a couple weekender’s like we are and still run into these problems.
Mold is extremely dangerous for your health because it can cause toxicity, respiratory illness, and severely reduce your quality of life. It barely takes 24 hours to spread and not visible until it has done a lot of damage.
Controlling your RV’s humidity is a pretty simple process, but it starts with knowing the root cause. The solutions and prevention methods are specific to it.
What causes condensation in a camper?
Condensation can form irrespective of the season or your current location. Unlike homes, RVs aren’t well-insulated, which can cause evaporated water to turn into water droplets and gather together to wet its nearest area. It can be your RV’s floor, curtain, ceiling, stairs, or anything else that is close to the moisture source.
The two common ways water vapor enters your RV is during cooking and bathing. They don’t have a lot of space to leave the confinement and settle on the walls, carpets, and other places.
Did you know two showers a day can add four pints of water to your RV? Just washing dishes can add another pint. Cooking adds more two pints and respiration of two people contributes another five pints. It first appears as sweating on the wall and before you know, there is a musty smell in the RV.
Mold is a fungus that grows in the presence of moisture and water. It can severely affect your RV’s structure as mold corrodes through it. In extreme conditions, people have experienced horrifying termite infestation. You will have bugs running into your RV once they see the walls are all cracked.
Also, it is kind of uncomfortable to sleep in a very humid atmosphere. You get up dripping in sweat, keep tossing and turning throughout the night, and wake up with a heavy head. Let’s not forget about the musty smell that welcomes you when you open your RV after spending an entire day hiking out in the wild.
High humidity also fogs up the windows. The scenery outside won’t be as enjoyable when you are driving, loafing around, or working (like I am right now).
How do I prevent mold in my camper?
Preventing mold growth is easier than getting rid of it. Fight back against humidity right from the beginning, so you never have to worry about mold, bugs, or any other nasty creatures.
Here are five free things you can do to prevent mold growth in your camper:
Crack open the door and windows
Open the windows and RV at regular intervals, especially when someone is taking showers or cooking. If the weather is chilly a particular day, keep at least one window open for the vapors to travel out as the rate of condensation is higher the colder it gets. Your heater will have to work a little extra but at least you are protecting the interiors from moisture damage. However, if it is raining outside, shut all windows and the door because you don’t want moisture to come inside.
Range vents in the kitchen
Remember how when you cook pasta, vapors start forming and fill up in the pot. It is a lot faster in an RV. Install a range vent on the wall behind your cooking area to suck out the water vapor and throw it out of the house. When you finish cooking, lift the pot or pan towards the range vent and direct the steam outside.
Use public showers
As we mentioned earlier, two showers add four pints of moisture to the RV. You can easily get rid of them by taking showers in a public shower. If you are parked in a campground, you are at an advantage because all of them have showers. However, you need to choose wisely because some campground showers are filthy while others are like a 5-star spa.
Cover pans with lids while cooking
Something as simple as covering pans and pots while cooking will save you a ton of vapor getting inside the RV. After you are done the cooking, keep the food covered as the water vapors will condense and add moisture to the food. Interestingly, it makes the food juicers and keeps it warm for a longer time.
Dry clothes outside
If you have a washer and dryer in your RV, you don’t have to worry about drying the clothes. However, if you only have a washer, we recommend you to dry clothes outside. Wet clothes contain crazy amounts of moisture. Also, they take longer to dry inside. Park your RV in a nice shaded place surrounded by sunlight. Wash the clothes and take them outside directly. It will be weird at first, but you will see its advantage soon.
Now that we know some free methods, let’s head on to five paid and more effective ways to control your RV’s humidity:
- Use a dehumidifier – A dehumidifier is a tiny device that sucks out all the moisture into it. They condense the vapors and collect them into the holding tank. Make sure you regularly empty the tank so that it doesn’t overflow. It consumes a lot of energy, so install an extra battery depending on your use.
- Install double pane windows – RVs don’t usually come with double pane windows, but they offer better installation and don’t allow entry of moisture inside your camper. If you are low on budget, you can DIY it yourself. All you need is a clear plastic wrap, double-sided tape, and scissors. Stick the tape on all sides of the window and stretch the plastic wrap over it. Make sure that there are no gaps between them because it will encourage vapors to move into the empty space.
- Use a weather station – A weather station doesn’t necessarily reduce humidity but helps you in managing it more effectively. It shows a precise reading of the humidity in your RV. Your goal is to maintain humidity between 30 to 50 percent. Use other methods recommended by us to achieve control.
- Install an exhaust fan in the shower – Going to a campground shower is still pretty inconvenient. Instead, you can install an exhaust fan in your RV shower to clear out the vapors, especially during the monsoon and winters. You can also switch it on when you are cooking. Keep the bathroom door open.
- Use moisture absorbers A budget-friendly option, moisture absorbers collect moisture from the surrounding atmosphere. You can repurpose them after they are no use for dehumidifying the RV. One excellent option is silica packets that come with shoes, bags, and clothes. Cut the pack and empty the balls in a bowl and keep them on the kitchen counter. ( Careful though, they can be a serious health hazard especially if you have kids or pets in the camper). You can store them in a Ziploc bag and pierce small holes in it. You can also keep rice or other grains in the bag as they all are great moisture absorbers.
Should you cover your RV in winter?
In winters, your camper is exposed to a lot of moisture and condensation, which makes maintaining humidity extremely difficult. If your RV is warm and cozy, you will have a lot of unwanted guests like termites make your home their home.
One simple solution to tackle the winter humidity problem is covering your RV with a poly tarp. Here are four amazing advantages of covering your RV in winter:
- No water stagnation -Water vapors around your RV can condense during the winters and collect in dimples on its rooftop. Leaves and pine needles will fall into them and create a perfect breeding ground for mold, insects, and mildew. It can also damage the caulking and seals. Rotting leaves also make black streaks on the roof, which are very difficult to clean.
- No sun damage – UV exposure is higher in the winter season. They not only degrade paint but also prematurely reduce the quality of the tires. The tarp acts as an insulator and maintains an RV-friendly temperature, which avoids damage caused by freezing and thawing cycle that takes place every day in the chilly season. It does so by reflecting the sun’s heat back into the atmosphere.
- Low maintenance cost – If you invest in a good quality cover or tarp, it will last you for a lifetime. It doesn’t require any maintenance and has high reselling costs. It is also easy to clean as well.
- Humidity control – Humidity control is the easiest when you are using a cover. It also prevents dirt and debris from entering the RV, which is how mold enter inside. Using a tarp has overall values. It maintains your RV’s quality, which reaps you a better selling price in the future. You need fewer tire changes, less repainting, and fewer rooftop treatments.
What is the best dehumidifier for an RV?
When it comes to choosing a dehumidifier for your RV, you have to consider multiple things like noise, energy consumption, or a product type. Let’s find out more about it.
Desiccant or refrigerant dehumidifier
A refrigerant dehumidifier is the one that you use in your house or basement. It uses the cold coil technique and has a fan that cools the air and turns vapor into water droplets that collect into the holding tank.
On the other hand, a desiccant dehumidifier is an equipment that is filled with a water-soaking material. It doesn’t need any electricity as it works passively. When the material is full, the light on the dehumidifier changes to indicate that it needs to be replaced.
However, the second option isn’t as powerful as the first one. You can use it only for a part of your RV like the kitchen or the shower. However, if you are on a budget, you can buy several desiccant dehumidifiers and place them in different parts of your camper. It can be a little inconvenient because it takes up space and can fall down, break, and create a mess.
When you use a refrigerant dehumidifier, you only have to deal with one problem. It consumes a lot of energy and might require an extra battery. The holding tank is easy to empty, or you can pipe it right into a drain if you are handy.
Out of the two options, we would go for a refrigerant dehumidifier. Adding an extra battery is more convenient than changing water-soaking materials of five different desiccant dehumidifiers every three days.
Control RV humidity from day one and you will never face any moisture or mold problems.