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Damp found in caravan


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Hi all. Not sure if this is an issue or not, or exactly what I need to do!

 

Bought my caravan last year, it's a 2005 lunar zenith sport 4. I have a cheap damp meter (tenner off eBay) and have checked it over the year every few weeks to make sure nothing looks odd. Today I noticed a high reading (45%) on one of the inside corners.

 

I have checked this area before as it looks like it's been repaired previously, there was a bit of silicon repair where the vinyl paper looked like it had been taken back, but today I noticed a lot of bumping which was never there before.

 

How do I add pics to a post?

 

 

 

I can't seem to add photos as there is a ridiculous file size limit.

 

How do I compress my pictures enough to upload them?

Screenshot_20220119-080617 (1).png

Screenshot_20220119-080644 (1).png

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The damp reading is on the wooden bar bit with all the bumps at the bottom where it meets the wooden effect board.

I've taken the screws out and snapped this off, and it's black and mouldy under the paper.

The panel to the left of the image is actually the front of the van, over the locker storage. If I put my fingers behind the panels, the side feels dry but the front is wet (damp). The wooden coloured board meets the plastic front of the van, and is soft. The bottom of the panel where it meets the wood colored board of also reading high, but only the very bottom.

I've checked the window seal and that seems dry. Is it possible this is condensation on the inside of the plastic panel running down and sitting on the board? It looks like it's wick'd up the wooden bit that I snapped off.

I've had a look around the outside and it doesn't look like there is any visible cracks etc that it could be coming in. There is a rail screwed on, but this is above the window and the readings everywhere else seen ok.

Any help or advice greatly appreciated.

 

So I think this could be either the rail, or the window hinge or seal maybe?

 

How do I pinpoint without ripping out apart. Will captain Tolley's seal it up for now until the summer comes if I put it around all bits that are likely culprits?

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Hi Martin and a big welcome to the forum.

 

Due to the location of this damp (the lowest part of the corner joint) my bet is that it’s the awning rail on that side that is leaking somewhere and the water is tracking down to point where it can get in! By the sounds of it the previous owner was aware and has bodged it sometime in the past rather than fix the issue properly.

 

The trouble with damp in a caravan is that it tends to be a bit like an iceberg, you only see the tip of it until you start investigating! You need to pull off the wallboard to see what’s happening behind it and how far the damp has spread,  once you have the wallboard off you should get a better idea as to where the water is getting in.

 

One thing is for certain, it will only worsen if you don’t fix it ASAP. It might be worth your while getting an AWS caravan engineer to have a quick look at it and give you an estimate of what he thinks is happening, and a price for fixing it. It could save you many hours of grief because you will be ”feeling your way” so it will take you much longer than someone who is doing such work all the time.

 

Having said that many people on the forum have sorted damp out themselves and will probably able to help you if you decide to tackle it yourself. But act sooner rather than later to minimise any further damage.

 

Good luck, and keep us posted with how you get on.

Edited by Mr Plodd

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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Hi and :welcome:

As Mr. P says, it really needs looking at.

 

The fact that the wood is black and rotten shows there has been a long term leak, much more than a few months, the source of the leak obviously needs to found and cured, not always easy due to the fact that it may be leaking from say the  awning rail roof joint but only shows up lower down.

 

It is imperative that all rotten timber is cut out, this includes both the frame work and the wall board, the remaining good timber allowed to dry and replaced  with new, also there may well be mold in the area which will need treating to kill any spores.

 

Also as Mr P says, by the time damp shows up on the outer surface there always will be more extensive damp behind, you have to be ruthless in the repair and be prepared fr finding the extent of the damp.

 

I've not been in a Lunar of that age but the square piece of wood up that corner, is there one on the other side, looks odd, similarly the dark wooden beading, I stand to be corrected though, van manufactures tend to use plastic strip, usually concave, in those joint position, the same as the walls to ceiling joint to give a neat finish, does the other side have evidence of visible silicone.

 

When you say vinyl wall paper, is the colour of the paper, and pattern if any, in that area exactly the same as all the other walls, the vinyl covering of the wall boards is applied when the boards are made and I wouldn't expect someone at the factory pasting some wallpaper to that piece of wood.

 

Time to get a good torch and look over every inch of the van looking and testing for damp in every nook and cranny, sometimes the wall covering under goes a slight colour change, and the bubbling is another clue.

 

Along the side and the bottom of the window, in fact all the windows, you should be able to peel up the rubber trim to allow you to see the window frame wood, it should be dry and the colour of new wood.

 

Can it be repaired, yes in most instances depending on the extent, both professionally, but at a cost, or my yourself if you have reasonable diy skills and the time.

 

There are plenty of videos here on CT and on Youtube covering damp repairs from minor ones to drastic ones but I think that the videos from this young couple below, I think there 9 all about 30 mins or so long, covers every aspect of damp repairs, plenty of tips, hints, methods and materials that will give you a good idea what may be behind the surface and how to tackle it.

 

Good luck.

 

Part two will give you a good idea of what can be hidden.

 

 

 

Edited by Silversurf

Common sense isn't a gift, it's a punishment because you have to deal with everyone who doesn't have it.  :rolleyes:

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Good post and good advice. 

Graham

Unless otherwise stated all posts are my personal opinion 

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Have a good look at the joint between roof and front panel.  
When looking, consider how the van “sits” when stored.  This will influence water run off and could point you towards possible ingress areas

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I would also check the rail above the front windows as a fairly common possible source.

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Hi. Thanks for all the responses.

 

Firstly, the vinyl paper is the same throughout the van, and the other side is identical in respect of the wooden bit I snapped off.  I think there has been a repair before as the rail on the side of the van isn't one whole rail, it's in 2 sections. The other side is one whole rail. However, I don't think that is the problem.

 

I got some Captain Tolley's and ran it around to see if it went in anywhere. The front rail that joins the roof to the front panel looks like it might be the issue. Putting captain Tolley's on the top edge of the front rail, it appears at the bottom, so it's running behind. This must be the issue.

 

I couldn't get it to seal, probably due to the cold, so for now I've ran a bead of silicone across it to stop the water coming in. Ideally now I need to dry behind the wall panel inside and make sure it stays dry and then I can re seat the rail on mastic when the weather improves.

 

How can I dry it out relatively quickly without doing too much damage to the inside?

 

 

Edited by Martin Stamford
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8 hours ago, Martin Stamford said:

 

How can I dry it out relatively quickly without doing too much damage to the inside?

 

 

The simple answer is that you can’t!  In order to dry out the damp timber needs to be exposed to air flow in order for the water to evaporate out, and that takes a lot of time.

 

You need to find the full extent of the damp and ensure the entire area is exposed and fully dried out.  Caravan workshops will often use fan heaters and dehumidifiers to “speed up” the drying out process, but it still takes weeks, hence the overall time workshops take to rectify damp in caravans.  

 

Captain Tolleys Creeping Crack Cure  is not designed to fill large gaps, it’s a very thin liquid that is meant to creep into very small cracks in shower trays etc by capillary action and then cure/set.

 

There is no quick fix to your problem I am afraid. 

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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Ok thanks. I think later on today I will take a section off and see what it looks like behind.

 

Fingers crossed it's not too bad and reveals what I assume is the issue. Then I can attempt to dry it out, reseal properly in better weather and have a think about repairing inside.

 

You have to try and see the positives. I was planning on putting it in storage, which means I wouldn't have found it when I did, and hopefully I can learn a new skill along the way. Rails look ok to seal up from watching videos on YouTube.

 

I can probably repair any wall boards with 3mm ply and paper or paint to hide any repairs. Then I will know how to fix any leaks in future and should have some happy caravanning ahead!

 

I might get some pictures on later depending what I find...

Edited by Martin Stamford
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Here we go. Adamant I've got this covered now, but I'm more than open to constructive criticism or any advice as I know you guys know far more about this than me!

 

I've cut a section off the side panel. That's dry as far as I can see / feel.

 

Behind the front panel I could feel a wooden batten running along the bottom which reads damp. The insulation behind the front panel is wool type, is this normal? It feels wet in places.

 

I ripped a section off the corner and I can clearly see the batten I could feel is wet. It reads drier the further you go away from the corner.

 

There is another piece of frame that meets it and runs up. Must forms the window frame, this looks and feels dry. Reads around 25%

 

I've ripped out any wet insulation. This is all below the rail I've siliconed up yesterday as a temp measure or along the bottom where the wet wooden frame batton sits 

 

So what next?

 

Now the wet bit is exposed to the air, I think I need to get a fan heater in there and dry off the wood. Then make sure the readings come down. When it rains check it's staying dry and no signs of leaks. That'll mean it's the rail I've sealed temporarily that was causing the issue.

 

Assuming I've got it, fix properly with mastic in spring.

 

Refill with dry wool insulation and patch up the interior.

 

Does that sound ok?  As I say, comments more than welcome.

 

I guess if I'm unlucky, the wood behind the rail could be shot when I try and screw it back on. I think this is unlikely though as where it's collected in the bottom corner, the wood is solid enough to take a screw.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screenshot_20220122-141952.jpg

Edited by Martin Stamford
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Sounds like you have caught it pretty early, which is excellent news indeed and means much less work fir you. The main thing is that you appear to have stemmed the leak, it’s now just a case of some remedial work to get rid of the rotten wood and dry out the wet stuff before you reinstate the walls. 

 

My only comment would be that a moisture level of 25%  is pretty damp in caravan woodwork terms,  I would aim for around 15%  (or less if possible)  

 

Don’t apply too much heat too soon, you might dry out the surface, but you want to dry it all out before going any further. A lot of heat will dry the surface only. 

 

Good game this caravan owning malarkey  isnt it?

 

I woukd just add that I have not carried out any remedial works as you are undertaking, I am just reiterating stuff I have read (mostly on this forum) over the years. A fair few have done what you are doing and hopefully they will be along soon to add their practical experience and tips. 

Edited by Mr Plodd

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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Don't worry Mr Plodd, I know I am either on my own, or paying someone to do it, so I won't try and hold anyone to anything. 

 

Yeah I know 25% is too high, but I think if I dry out what I can with a fan heater, the rest around the area should come down.

 

I've had the fan heater on it for 15 mins and the blackened colour is already disappearing. The wood seems sound. I think you need to take a step back and be methodical. There are only so many places it can get in, and they seem easy enough to fix. Although I can't comment on it too much until I've sealed the rail and made 100% certain that is the issue.

 

Everywhere else in the van seems sound.  No more than 20% anywhere, most in the region of 13 - 17. But I have to remember I have a really cheap damp meter and it's cold and wet out. Accuracy of the readings isn't going to be perfect. It's a 16 year old van as well, but if I keep it in good order it should serve me well.

 

Key is going to be checking the van every few weeks, or even days until this is resolved. I have been checking every fortnight or so, which is why I spotted it!

 

Yes, I love this van. I got out in it quite a few times last year with the family. Towed it all the way to Cornwall as well. I've done quite a bit to the inside too made it my own. I had a mad flap when I spotted this damp. I was aware of the previous repair so always paid attention to that area but this does seem to be a new issue.

 

I really appreciate the comments and advice from everyone too tbh. Feeling a lot more positive today about it all.

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My has just had its three year service. Damp readings between 9 & 14% throughout, so your 13-17% is very respectable indeed.

 

Good luck with your efforts, and I for one, would be very interested to hear how you get on. Not that I am planning on having to do anything of a similar nature, ever!! 

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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1 hour ago, Mr Plodd said:

Good luck with your efforts, and I for one, would be very interested to hear how you get on. Not that I am planning on having to do anything of a similar nature, ever!! 

Thanks.

 

I will update when I am done. Might not be for a while but I will report back 👍🏼

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Did you buy from a dealer as if you did you should have rights against them for the repair?

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9 hours ago, Wildwood said:

Did you buy from a dealer as if you did you should have rights against them for the repair?

 

Its pretty unlikely that a dealer would have a 16-17 year old caravan on their forecourt!! Far too big a risk of................

 

damp being present.,

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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13 hours ago, Mr Plodd said:

 

Its pretty unlikely that a dealer would have a 16-17 year old caravan on their forecourt!! Far too big a risk of................

 

damp being present.,

You are probably right, but I just thought I would raise the point just in case. With the shortage of stock some dealers might just sell older models than they might have before. 

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I don't think damp used to be a problem, certainly never heard my parents and their friends discuss it, and when when the Disco Queen and I joined the Caravan club (1964) the subject never came up,  

 

In the 90's I was a member of a caravan forum (was it this one?) and again, don't recall it raising its moist head very often.

 

 

 

Edited by Disco Kid

Roughing it . . but in comfort . .

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44 minutes ago, Disco Kid said:

don't think damp used to be a problem, certainly never heard my parents and their friends discuss it,

Back in the 1970’s my parents has a Sprite something or other. 
I clearly remember my dad stripping out the back end to repair rotted frame, and resealing the awning rails

So, although not often talked about back then, it obviously existed. 

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1 hour ago, Lost in the wilderness said:

 

So, although not often talked about back then, it obviously existed. 

 

It was a lot more common than it is now!  It’s just that the Internet didn’t exist back then so people’s awareness was minimal. 

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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7 hours ago, Disco Kid said:

I don't think damp used to be a problem, certainly never heard my parents and their friends discuss it, and when when the Disco Queen and I joined the Caravan club (1964) the subject never came up

 

I would agree with that 100%.     We too joined the Caravan Club in 1964 when we bought our brand new Sprite Musketeer.   We kept it for 17 years before selling it on to friends.   With its white painted hardboard lining, surely the slightest damp problem would quickly show itself on the lining.   Our following two Avondales we bought were also damp-free.

Although there was no modern media in those early years, there was plenty of opportunity for the exchange of ideas.   The Caravan Club ran a very good magazine, "Enroute".   Also there were several magazines available throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s - "Practical Caravan";  "Caravan";  "Caravanning DIY" ;  Caravanning Life" and "Popular Caravanning".   I have some old copies of these magazines sitting on my shelves and nowhere will you read articles dealing with damp.     The problem just didn't exist - at least not for the first 20 years of a van's life.

 

Citroen C5-X7 Tourer+Avondale Rialto 480/2
https://jondogoescaravanning.com

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