Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Problem of Humidity

There are a few common problems that all full-time RVers dread. Flat tires, water leaks, and humidity are among them.Yes, humidity. Humidity can be an RVer's worst nightmare.

Way back in October, as the weather started to cool while we were staying in New Jersey during a rainy spell, I started to notice a foul smell in our main cabin. Not a sewer smell, but rather like the smell of cat spray. Since our neighbors had outdoor cats, I assumed one of them had sprayed around the outside of our camper. Annoyed at the cat, I pretty much let it go figuring the smell would eventually disappear. Which it did.

But then over the following winter months the smell would periodically return as we traveled down the Atlantic coast and into Florida. I started to notice that it seemed to return when it was raining outside. "Oh no," I thought, "That's not cat spray. That's mildew! We must have a leak in our roof!"

Convinced that we had a leak somewhere in our main cabin, we isolated the smell to our living room slide-out. The slide-out roof must be leaking! So we closely examined the roof, but we could find no evidence of a leak. Where was the water coming from?

By this point the odor was very much stronger, when it actually did smell. Remember, the smell would come and go. But that stench was enough to drive all of us mad!

Finally enough was enough. Perhaps there was mold growing behind the sofa in the slide-out? We pulled the couch away from the wall, and eureka! Mildew was growing on the wall and back of the couch! But why?

We finally figured it out! As the weather cooled outside, the warm air inside the cabin was causing condensation to occur on the inside wall of the slide-out. Because slide-outs aren't typically insulated as well as the main walls of the cabin, we were getting cool walls against warm air. Since our U-shaped sofa fits the entire space of the slide-out, air wasn't able to circulate against the wall. These conditions were a perfect recipe for condensation against that wall and the resulting mildew to form.

We tried to disinfect the area with massive doses of Lysol, which worked temporarily. But a day or so later, the smell would return.

Then a miracle occurred! While strolling the aisle at the RV supply store, I found the most remarkable product. It is a mini-dehumidifier that works in small spaces. Because it uses silicon crystals it is rechargeable by plugging it into the wall, it doesn't spill like other dehumidifying products, and it lasts up to a month at a time. I bought three of them!

It has been over a week since I placed these hand-held dehumidifiers behind the couch, and we haven't had even the slightest hint of that mildew odor. Since we have been in quite cold weather, I would have assumed the smell would have recurred by now. But it hasn't! I think I found a new product to love! I will never go RVing without these again!

 (If only I had found these last October!)