Friday, January 5, 2018

RV Humidity -- An RV Rig Killer!

A strong title, but true.  One of the major killers of RV walls is moisture in the form of humidity.  You don't even have to be using your RV it can be sitting in storage and humidity can still be present on the inside above a safe level.  Mold depends on moisture to grow and flourish. What is a person to do?  Well, the safe level of humidity for an RV is 40% or thereabouts.  So the first thing you need to do is know your current humidity level and the best way to know that is with a humidity monitor.

In the photo for the Humidity Monitor, the screen is showing 53% which is not acceptable for an RV.  The reading shown is more likely a Sticks&Bricks house.
Now that you know what the humidity is.  What can or should you do if it is not right.  You need to try and find out the source of the moisture causing the high humidity.  People give off moisture when we breathe, but getting rid of all the kids is not an option be they fur or not.

Next showers or taking a bath gives off moisture.  Be sure that the bathroom fan is turned on during the bathing process, even in the colder months.  Wipe down the shower and bath area to reduce the amount of moisture that is evaporated back into the air of the RV.

Cooking is another moisture generator.  Keep lids on pans when cooking, to keep the moisture down, open a window a bit to let the warm moist air out, and turn on the kitchen vent if you have one.  Many of the newer RVs do not vent the stove vent to the outside.  This is not good, as an inside vented stove hood keeps the moist air inside the RV.  Do not let a tea kettle steam longer that is necessary.  Don't leave a coffee pot running all day long.  Make a cup as you need it or the coffee pot will add to the humidity in the RV all day long.

Try to locate any seals in the RV slides that is letting in outside air and seal that area.  You can cut strips of foam insulation like Reflectix or other foam insulation.  If you find caulking around the tub or shower stall or even around the kitchen/ bathroom sink is missing or cracking re-caulk using 100% silicone sealant as shown below.  This keeps water from going in the RV wood structure or supports where, if conditions are right, mold will start to grow.

If it is during the colder months and your RV has single pane windows you might add Bubble Wrap to the windows.
To install the bubble wrap do the following.

Cut the bubble wrap to the size of the window pane with scissors.
Spray a film of water on the window using a spray bottle.

Apply the bubble wrap while the window is still wet and press it into place.
The bubble side goes toward the glass.
To remove the bubble wrap, just pull it off starting from a corner.

This bubble wrap will help insulate the inside of the window from the outside of the window to further reduce moisture forming on the inside of the window when the outside air is colder than the inside air.

Do you dry clothes in the RV by hanging them in the bathroom?  Did you remember to turn on the exhaust fan?  It is not wise to dry clothes in the RV during the colder months because drying clothes add to the amount of moisture inside the RV.  Do you have a combination washer/dryer?  Make sure the dryer is vented to the outside.  If you do not the dryer will add to the moisture in the RV.

If it possible let the RV inside temperature drop a bit in colder weather so the air inside the RV will hold less moisture.  Cooler air holds less moisture than warm air.  You may have to dress a bit warmer, but your RV investment will thank you for being a bit cooler.

Poor air circulation inside the RV can make mold grow in drawers, closets, and even cabinets.  Keep the air moving even when you are not inside your RV.  How you may ask? You could open two roof vents or a single roof vent and crack a window so that air naturally flows in and out.  You can add a MaxxAir vent cover

over your current roof vents so that you can keep your vents open without rain or snow coming in the RV when the roof vent is open. You should put your RV in storage with vents cracked a little bit to allow for air movement.

If your RV does not have LED lighting you could swap out your current incandescent light bulbs for the LED equivalent.  This will reduce the about of air heating that the hotter incandescent bulbs are known for.  There is an LED replacement light for most all of the RV incandescent bulbs used in RVs. As an additional benefit, your RV battery will last longer during dry camping with LED lighting and depending on the LED light you buy you may find that the inside of your RV is now brighter with the lights on.

OK, we have talked about what not to do and some of what you can do to reduce moisture in the RV now let's get serious about stopping or greatly reducing moisture in your RV.
1. Get a dehumidifier.  They come in several sizes and types.
The simplest one to do business with is the bead type.

Twin Pack resealable packaging
100% silent operation
Lasts 45-60 Days
Indicator beads let you know when it's ready to be discarded.

You can spot these around the RV and in closets, cabinets, drawers, where ever you feel or think moisture may be lurking.
Next, you have the mechanical dehumidifiers.

Whisper quiet
Renewable reservoir
Compact size is perfect for bathrooms, closets, and R.V.s
Low energy consumption
One of these usually works but if you have a severe problem you may want to consider two of them.

If you have an RV more than 36 feet long you may want to consider this one.

Squeeze's Up to 20 oz. of Water a Day From Humid Air
Very Quiet Operation Due to No Moving Parts
At Capacity, Indicator Lights Up and Device Shuts Off
Compact at 4.45 pounds, 6.8" x 8.5" x 14"
For bunkhouse RVs, you will need two.

And if you really need more moisture removal you can use a sticks and bricks type unit.
Removes up to 70 pints of moisture from the air per day
1.3-gallon water tank with transparent water level indicator, full bucket alert and automatic shut-off when full
Removable, easy-cleaning dust filter with a clean filter alert
4 durable, rolling casters for easy movement

 It is generally felt that a combination of dry and mechanical works the best.

Well, that should about do it for this topic.  I hope you found the information helpful and can use some of the ideas presented.

Until Next Time

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And finally, please remember that this blog is an Amazon affiliate. When you order something through any of the Amazon links, it doesn’t add anything to your cost, but I do earn a small commission on everything you buy. Just click on an Amazon link, then shop as usual.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Living In Your RV In The Winter Tips

We have talked about staying warm in your RV during the cold winter months. First by moving South to warmer weather but, for many that is not an option. If you have to say in the cold for whatever reason what should you do to help your RV not to freeze. Let's look at the different areas of the RV and what can be done to keep that area from freezing.

First the outside perimeter.  Ok, let's get it on the table, do not use bales of hay to surround the rig.

Why, they're are cheap and easy to stack?
Because of  FIRE, rodents, and bugs. If for some unknown reason the hay should catch fire there would be little chance of survival.  And don't forget that many outdoor creatures would love to come inside your RV and spend the cold winter months.

What can be used?  You can use skirting for your specific RV. Which is shown below;
While this is expensive it is a good solution to the problem of cold air getting under your RV.  There is another solution for the DIYer and that is 

Foil-Faced Foam Sheathing board is rigid polyisocyanurate foam sheathing that provides exceptional heat, moisture, and air control.
  • 4'x8' sheet (9' and 10' available via special order)
  • 3/4" thick
  • R-4.4
  • One side has a reflective foil face typically installed toward the warm air surface to reflect energy back toward the dwelling and the other side has a white non-reflective foil face typically installed toward the exterior.
  • Can be used in residential construction as insulated sheathing in above grade exterior walls, above and below grade interior walls crawl spaces attic, sand cathedral ceilings as well as Type I-V commercial applications
  • Highest R-value per inch of any rigid board insulation.
  • Does not melt when exposed to flame versus other types of rigid foam board (ASTM E84)
  • Reflective aluminum foil face blocks radiant heat and prevents penetration of air and intrusion of moisture

Dimensions: 3/4" x 4ft x 8ft Cost as little as $9.25 per sheet

This type of foil backed foam board can be cut to fit and close-in around the RV to protect the underbelly of the RV from freezing. This type of insulation is available at Home Depot, Lowes, Menards, etc.
You would secure the foam to the RV and to itself by using aluminum heating duct tape.
The area under the RV that you create by enclosing the area needs to be heated with a low heat generator such as this mini heater.

This heater uses about 200 watts of AC power and I would use two of them for a 40ft trailer.  The heater should be placed off the ground several inches in case of water flow.

Second is the water and control compartment.
Yours may look different,  but the issue is that it needs heat.  This area should be kept warm by a Mini Heater or 60 watt light bulb.  The concern is the water hookup to the trailer and the ability to release the black and grey water tanks valves. One problem you can encounter with a light bulb as a heat source is light.  In many articles that I have read on winter camping one solution to heating, a small area is using a 60 watt light bulb.  But at no time does anyone offer a solution to the light pollution that is given off by the bulb.  Here is one solution you might consider,  a
60 Watt Non-Lighting Heat Source
 This non-lighting heat source can be used by screwing into a clamp on-light fixture or using just a bulb socket and cord.

Following is a sample of a clamp on a lamp base.

For the fresh water lines, you will need to use the shortest hose you can to go between your rig and the fresh water source. 
  • Provides constant source of water in freezing temperatures
  • Thermostatically controlled
  • Turns on when temperatures are below 45 degrees
  • Turns off when temperatures are above 50 degrees
  • Made from drink-safe PVC
  • Keeps water from freezing down to minus 42-Degrees Fahrenheit
  • Tougher thermostat
Do not let the hose lay on the ground.  You can do this by wrapping the water hose in pipe insulation. You can get some from Home Depot, Lowes Menards etc.
Use some of the Aluminum Tape to seal the pipe insulation and do not forget to wrap the water source with pipe insulation to help keep it flowing.  Some people even build a box out of the foil foam board to cover the water source to further insulate.
Next the sewer and sewer hose. "DO NOT LEAVE THE DRAIN VALVES OPEN" Open as needed to dump the gray or black tank.  Use the shortest sewer pipe you can and you need to support it off the ground.  Wrap the sewer hose with heat tape first.
Next wrap the sewer hose and heat tape in a blanket made from a Hot Water Heater Insulation blanket
You want to wrap it tight and then tape it very well to hold it together.  Leave an overlap at both ends to go over the sewer connection and the sewer pipe that comes out of the ground and be sure the heater tape is wrapped around the end of the pipe that is attached to the RV as well as the water heater insulation blanket.
To keep the sewer hose off the ground and well supported you can use rain gutter pipe or you can use,
Some RVers even put a gallon of RV antifreeze down the black tank after dumping the tank to help ensure that nothing gets frozen between dumps.
I have not tried this myself, but there is no reason it would not be a good idea.  It is an added expense that would need to be considered.

I believe that covers the outside of the rig now let's move inside and see what can be done to keep out the cold and keep in the warm.
You need to check all doors that you go in and out of the rig with.  If you can see daylight around the edge of the door with the door closed. You will have cold air coming into the rig.  You need to put door weather seal around the door to seal the door better.
What about the windows you say.  You are right if your rig windows are single pane, as most of them are, you will need to winterize them as well.  The easiest way is to us the small bubble pack wrapping material that you can find almost anywhere.

    • Cut the bubble wrap to the size of the window pane with scissors.
    • Spray a film of water on the window using a spray bottle.
    • Spray a film of water on the bubble side of the bubble wrap using a spray bottle.
    • Apply the bubble wrap while the window is still wet and press it into place.
    • The bubble side goes toward the glass.
    • To remove the bubble wrap, just pull it off starting from a corner.
Next let's look at the vents in the rig. All of the vents through the roof allow warm air to rise into a cold space and chill the air.  We need to block the upward movement of the air but still be able to use the vent when needed.  A vent pillow is just the thing.  You can make them if you are handy or buy some cheap pillows you can stuff into the vent opening or you can get these.

Fits standard 14" RV vents

Reflective surface blocks the sun's damaging rays
Full 2.75" of foam to help stop heat transfer
Durable and easy to store
Keep your RV cooler in the Summer and warmer in the Winter

Now that we have sealed the rig against the cold air we have now trapped water vapor from cooking, propane heating, showers, and human breathing inside the rig.  You will begin to see water or moisture on the walls of the rig and anything that is colder than the inside air.  This is not good and can cause mold.  To get rid of the moisture and reduce the humidity we need a dehumidifier.  Several ideas come to mind.

Quiet Small-Size Dehumidifier with No Moving Parts

Removable 16-oz. Water Tank & Washable Air Filter

Features 'Tank Full' Indicator Light

Auto-Shuts When Water Reservoir is Full

Measures Just 5.75" x 5.32" x 8.78" in

You might need two of these in a large 40ft rig.  They do work and keep the air drier but not completely dry.

Next is the Goldenrod Heaters.  You also will need several of these in larger rigs but they are smaller and you do not need to dump them, like the one above.

This unit comes in different sizes up to 36 inches in length.  It consumes about 1 watt per inch and is mounted along the wall at the floor level.  You will need several in a large rig as they can dehumidify approximately 200 cube feet of air. So if you have a bunkhouse then that room would have its own unit. The main living area would have one and the master bedroom would have one.

Something I have used is DampRid in closets and drawers where moisture is not wanted and maybe harmful to the contents of the surrounding area.

That should do it.  You have done your best to get the rig ready for winter and now the daily grind begins.  In a separate blog post, we cover how to keep you and the kids warm when it is cold outside.

Until next time.

And finally, please remember that this blog is an Amazon affiliate. When you order something through any of the Amazon links, it doesn’t add anything to your cost, but I do earn a small commission on everything you buy. Just click on an Amazon link, then shop as usual.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Water Out Of The Campground Faucet, YUCK!!

Well,  I suppose that most of you enjoy Artesian spring water with just a touch of Evian for good taste at your campground.  I know I do. NOT!!  While most city water is ok (well some is less than ok but just barely drinkable). Most campground water is not even ok but is drinkable.  With just a little bit of  DIY skills, you can improve your drinking, cooking, and shower water to be something to be proud of.  Enter the RV water filtration system.

Let's look at the simplest of these non-RV filtration systems and see what makes it filter.  The carbon/charcoal filter is the simplest of the non-RV water filters.  The filter holder can look like this
Culligan HF-150A Filter Holder
So how do you hook this blue thingy up to your RV?  You will need a few more simple parts.  The input and out put of the holder is 3/4" so any big box DIY store will have the needed plumbing parts.
You will need 3/4" Garden Hose to 3/4" Brass Coupler/Adapter  it looks like this
3/4" Garden Hose to 3/4" Brass Coupler/Adapter
This screws into the filter holder and allows the drinking water hose to hookup to it. (this attaches to the output of the filter holder)

For the input of the filter you will need a Female hose to Male pipe  It will look like the following.
Female hose to Male pipe 
You can mount the filter holder to the rig or you can just set it on the ground.  If you want to mount it you will need a Filter Mounting Bracket The filter mounting bracket will look like this.
Filter Mounting Bracket
You can use the bracket if you wish or just sit the filter canister on the ground.  Next, comes the Drinking Water Filter with Carbon  The filter comes in a two pack and looks like below.
 Drinking Water Filter with Carbon

So you are saying to yourself  why do I want to DIY this type of project when I can just go and buy one of these,
RV Water Filter

The answer is, that once the big blue filter is put together, you can get two of the filter replacement cartridges for big blue for less than one of the above filters.  Also, there is the chance of bacterial build up because, unless you are a full timer you are not using the filter enough.  With the replacement cartridges, you can just take it out and throw it away and use a new one next time you go out and you will still be saving money.

But wait there is more.
What if we add a second big blue filter?  Would we gain anything?  You bet.  So let's do it.

The two stage filter
For a two stage filter, you will need everything we listed for the one stage filter plus a 3/4" Brass Nipple that looks like this,
3/4" Brass Nipple - Length you must determine
You will need to measure the length that the nipple must be and buy one from one of the Big Box DIY stores. This nipple will be used between the blue filter cans and the other fittings will be the input and the output of the filters just as before.  You now have a chance to increase the filtering of your drinking water.  Now you will start to use Sediment Replacement Filter which looks like this,
Sediment Replacement Filter
A sediment filter gets rid of: sand, silt, dirt, rust particles and scale particles The park water should come into this filter first, then go through the Drinking Water Filter with Carbon and finally into your rig.  So now we are done, right?  Not so fast RVer slow down and keep reading.

The Triple RV Filter
With this type of filter system, you have the best possible filter system for still not a lot of money.  So what do you need?  Everything listed above plus an additional 3/4" Brass Nipple of the correct length to go between two more blue filter canisters.  Plus one more special type sediment filter the Special RV Filter which looks like this,
Special RV Filter

This special filter goes just before the Drinking Water Filter.  I know this looks like a lot of work but it really is not.  It is just a lot of hooking up of pipes to plastic.  You will need some Plumbers White Tape which looks like this,
Plumbers White Tape 
I would suggest getting several rolls as the tape tends to tangle and get wasted.  You will want to check for leaks after assembly by hooking up your filter system and be sure to let the water from the filter system to run on the ground for five minutes or until the water is running clear.  Some black pieces of carbon may come out onto the ground and this is normal.
Mounting the filters
You can use a 2"X 4" (2x4) of the length you need and mount the filter holders to that as a way of keeping them corralled together or you could mount them in one of the service bays on the rig. It is up to you.
The water you will get from the triple filter has to be drunk to be believed.  This system will not take pond water or salt water and make it drinkable.  This will, however, make city treated or treated well water taste just great.  And the wife's ice tea will be out of this world.

Until next time

And finally, please remember that this blog is an Amazon affiliate. When you order something through any of the Amazon links, it doesn’t add anything to your cost, but I do earn a small commission on everything you buy. Just click on an Amazon link, then shop as usual.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Do RVers Really Need A Power Management System?

I see that question all the time on Facebook and most of the Blogs that I read.  For the simple, easy, straightforward answer, YES you do.  There are so many factors involved here that I can not possibility cover them all in a single post but, I would like to cover the basics so that you can better understand why you need a Power Management system of some kind.

1. You need to know what the AC (Shore Power) voltage is inside your rig.  This is the power that indirectly powers lights, water heater, microwave, furnace, charger for the 12-volt battery system, etc.  If the voltage gets below 102 volts and should stay there for a few minutes it would be possible to sustain approximately $1200 of damage or more.

So what do you need?  You will need an AC Line Voltage Monitor.  The unit shown below is plugged into an AC wall outlet that you can see and will monitor what the line voltage is.  If it should go below 105 volts you need to unplug your rig from the outside power pedestal until the voltage goes back to normal.
AC Line Voltage Monitor
So how do you know when the outside power pedestal is back to normal.  You plug the Voltage Monitor into the 125 volts two pin socket in the power pedestal and see what the monitor reads.  It should read 110 volts or higher up to 125 volts.  The same caution goes for over voltage.  You should unplug the rig from the power pedestal if your Voltage Monitor begins to read over 122 Volts.  Plug the Voltage Monitor into the power pedestal and watch for the voltage to drop to below 122 Volts.
Could this monitoring of the voltage be done for less money?  Yes, by using a cheap Digital Volt Meter  pictured below;
 Digital Volt Meter  

Harbor Freight offten offers a cheap digital volt meter for free, with coupon.  Watch their ads and take advantage of the offer.  You could plug the test leads that come with the meter into the meter and then the other ends of the test leads into the slots on the AC wall socket. (Caution do not leave unattended) Or  you could make up a cord from a 6 foot extension cord and the test leads that come with the meter.  See below for an example.
AC Cord With Test Meter Leads

2. Next is  The Polarity Tester .  This is used to be sure that the Neutral wire of the power line is not reversed with the positive lead of the power line.  If that were to happen you could have what is called a hot-skin condition.  Meaning that if you had an aluminum skinned rig you could receive quite a shock from your rig.
 The Polarity Tester
The Polarity Tester can also tell you if the Earth Ground (the bare copper wire) is hooked up properly.  
The Earth Ground is a separate conductor which may seem to be doing nothing but, is, in fact, a protective wire. It is there, ready to take the current away to earth ground, from the body or frame of the electrical device it is connected to, makes contact with any "hot" wire. [the 120 volts mains power is carried in two current carrying conductors called "hot" and "neutral".] 
So, IF one of the "hot" conductors should contact the metal frame of the rig, or housing of an appliance, perhaps because the appliance got damaged by being dropped from a table, or similar accident,  the third wire which is the earth ground wire, which runs directly from the housing to the grounding [or earth ground bus] in the fuse or breaker panel, will in effect cause a short circuit which should blow the fuse or trip the breaker. 
This third wire also guarantees a current path back to the electrical panel where the fuse or circuit breaker protecting that circuit is located, in the event that the hot wire should come in contact with the rig's frame, but the neutral conductor should happen to have been cut or damage and become disconnected, or open. 
The idea is to guarantee that if a part of the rig, device or appliance should become "hot," which could be fatal to anyone who then came into contact with it. That the earth ground would trip/open the circuit protection device [fuse or breaker], and turn off the flow of AC current. 

To help further in checking for unwanted or wanted electricity a good investment is the, Voltage Sensor which is shown below;
 Voltage Sensor
With this probe, you do not need to touch the power line to tell if there is voltage present.  You can use this probe to find power lines behind the wall or under the floor of the Rig as well as the towing vehicle.

3.  Often times you want to know or need to know how much power something uses, especially if you keep popping a breaker or the power pedestal. The solution is Kill-A-Watt .  The unit shown below can be used to show how much power an appliance, tool or piece of electronics is using.
4. Next, let's look at surge protectors for the various pieces of equipment in your Rig.  Surge Protectors protect only what is plugged into them and only for over-voltage surges.  Surge Protectors do not protect for under voltage or high voltages.  Shown below is a pair of good simple surge protectors;
Surge Protectors
There are Appliance Surge Protectors made just for appliances like microwave and coffee makers

AC refrigerators, freezers
Refrigerator/Freezer Surge Protector

These special surge protectors offer extra features like audible alarms, flashing lights, displays, etc and are to be used with just the items listed on the packaging for the one you would buy.

5.  Next is a group of power management items that will protect your entire Rig not just one item or several items in it. First is the Portable Power Management System This type of system looks at High and Low voltage protection, a time delay for air conditioning compressor start up, 3-mode surge protection, reverse polarity protection, open neutral protection, open ground protection, AC frequency protection accidental 220 Volt protection. Includes an Integrated information panel, previous error code display is weather resistant and has a built-in locking bracket so it can be chained to the power pedestal at the campground to prevent theft.  The only thing this unit can not do is flush the black water tank.  The miracle unit we are talking about is shown below.
30 Amp Portable Power Management System
These portable units come in two sizes the one above 30 amp and the one shown below 50 amp.
50 Amp Portable Power Management System
Let's say you were involved in a lightning caused power surge at a campground.  It is estimated you would suffer approximately $3000 worth of damage to the electrical system of your Rig along with the things plugged into it.  The features of the 50 amp unit are the same as the 30 amp unit.
Ah, but there is more!  What happens if you do not want something portable but something more permanent in the Rig? Then you have the permanently installed units which are called Fixed Power Management Systems  These units are not really a DIY type of item but, they can be installed by the DIYer if care is taken during the installation.  The 30 amp models is shown below;
 30 Amp Fixed Power Management Systems
There is also a 50 amp version of the same unit as above and can be found here;  50 Amp Fixed Power Management Systems .  The features of both units are the same and are,  high and low voltage protection, time delay for air conditioning compressor start-up, 3 mode surge protection, surge trip indicator, reverse polarity protection, open neutral protection, open ground protection, AC frequency protection. Accidental 220V protection, with remote information display panel, and unit bypass switch.  Unfortunately, this unit also does not dump the black tank.

I hope that you now have come to the conclusion that some type of power management is needed to protect your Rig, its contents and YOU!

Until Next Time

And finally, please remember that this blog is an Amazon affiliate. When you order something through any of the Amazon links, it doesn’t add anything to your cost, but I do earn a small commission on everything you buy. Just click on an Amazon link, then shop as usual.