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Repairing a damp caravan

As we all know there are very few things that are worse than having damp. It gets into your homes and it causes plenty of issues and can end up being a real pain - and expensive - to fix. Well, whilst a lot of people have come across damp in their home, there are also many who have to deal with it in their caravan or motorhome
First of all, simply spotting the damp and locating its origins can be a nightmare. Because water travels easily along horizontal beams, the source of the damp can be far away from where it is visible. One of the main causes of damp in caravans is due to the bonding coming apart. Because they need to be lightweight, caravans tend to be made out of fibreglass and plastics which are bonded together where they meet. And, if these bonds do come apart, water can make its way in. 
One easy way of spotting that you have damp in your caravan is noticing the smell. If your caravan or motorhome is suffering from damp then you may well notice that it smells as if a wet towel has been left within. 
When it comes to repairing damp patches in your caravan, it is possible for you to do it yourself. However, you should never take this job on lightly and you should make sure that you are carrying it out thoroughly, otherwise you may as well not be doing it at all. 
Taking it to a dealer
If you do think that you are capable of carrying out the job yourself then read on and make sure you listen closely to what is being said. However, if you don’t feel comfortable attempting this work yourself, then you should take your caravan or motorhome to a registered dealer who will be able to carry out the work for you. 
If your model is under warranty then you’re in luck, as it shouldn't cost you anything to have these repairs carried out. But, if it’s an older model that’s no longer under warranty, then you will have to pay. And, depending on the state of the damp, this job can end up being relatively expensive. 
Fixing the damp yourself
So, if you are willing to carry it out yourself in order to save a bit of money, then check out these tips and advice to help you along the way. 
Dry out your caravan
The first thing that you will want to do, before you begin with your repairs, is ensure that the caravan is completely dry. Household dehumidifiers are relatively cheap and easy to get hold of and they tend to do this job fantastically. They can remove most, if not all, of the moisture from the fabrics and upholstery including the seats, carpets and curtains, which can soak up plenty of water. 
Dehumidifiers are good as they are easy to use, and you can leave them switched on and working until the tank has been filled to the top. They also pose very little risk of fire, which is always good to know. 
If you discover that there is moisture that is trapped in specific places - such as between the laminates, in the walls or in the floor - then you will have a much tougher job on your hands. These areas will need to be stripped in order for them to dry out properly. If the damp areas are located within the interior walls then you can use a pin to create a lot of very very small holes in the outer part of the wall which will help to enable the damp to escape. 
It is worth bearing in mind that one of the most common places for water to build up is through the trims around the joins and awning rails. You may need to repair both...
Removing old rails
You will want to begin by removing the screws - which are often covered by a plastic strip - that hold the rails to the body of your caravan. Then, once you have removed them, you will want to gently pry the metal rails themselves away from the body of the caravan. Take your time with this part of the job, as these rails could still be bonded on and you will not want to damage them or bend them. 
Once the rails have been removed, begin to get rid of all of the old sealant. This is a laborious task and may take a while, however, it is vital that you carry it out properly. You will want to ensure that the contact surfaces between the rails and the caravan body are completely clean and free of any old sealant or grease. A very effective method of removing grease would be to use some Isopropyl alcohol, which is a brilliant degreaser that should be available from any specialist caravan shops. 
Replacing rails
Once you have completed all of the above, you will want to replace the rails. You need to ensure that you use a very high quality sealant - a mastic - that doesn’t completely dry. You will want to apply it evenly and then place the rail back onto the body of the caravan. Then, you should apply some pressure until the mastic is visible through the screw holes in the rail. Once the mastic is oozing from the holes you should put the screws back in and keep tightening them until the mastic is once again visible around the sides of the screw. Once this has been done you will want to wipe off the excess mastic and replace the plastic trim. 
This should seal the trims and the awning rails and ensure that no more water can get in through here via that route.
Preventing damp in your caravan
Once you have fixed your damp caravan, you will want to ensure that it does not suffer from the affliction again. And one good way to do this is to check, regularly and thoroughly for signs of moisture. If you do discover damp then you will want to catch it early and sort it right away in order to prevent major damage. 
Whilst checking for moisture you will also want to keep an eye out for structural damage and also for general wear and tear that could possibly lead to water getting in. If need be, you could get these checks carried out by professionals. 
Here are the most common places where damp could be found - meaning these are the places we recommend you check thoroughly - along the joints, around awning fixings, around grab handles, around lights, around vents, beneath the trim, around the doors, around the windows and around the wheel arches. It is also common in the corners of your caravan.