Condensation and Humidity in the Camper

It is funny all the differences to be found in living in a camper versus living in a normal home.

Up here in South Dakota, we bought humidifiers the first year we were here and living in our sticks and bricks home.  Near-constant heating of the dry winter air made it a necessity.

In the camper, it’s SO much different.  Here we have humidity and too much of it.  I guess all these humans breathing, the moisture from cooking, and the heat going in such a small space completely changes the dynamics.  Dramatically.

This is an excellent post about the importance of reducing the humidity in a RV.  And I mean excellent!  It’ll open your eyes to the importance and I’m not going to regurgitate what was written.

As we enter our first winter in the camper, we’re faced with trying to reduce the humidity in our space.

Window Design.  I’m thinking this is a newer design on the windows for RVs but our big windows in our living/dining/kitchen area have little itty bitty holes for the condensation to drip out of.  Not all of the windows have these holes so we have to be sure to wipe any water out of the “trough”, where it collects.  Also the water can freeze so that’s something to watch out for too.

Venting.  

Cooking Fan.  When I cook, I make sure the vent is on. (important to do anyway because of the propane)

Windows.  Sometimes we need to crack the windows because the condensation just isn’t letting it up.  The camper heats up quickly, but it also cools down quickly.

Bathroom & Ceiling Vent.  Not as easily accessable (at least our bathroom one is) but this also helps and is an option.

Dehumidifiers.  I read the reviews on Amazon, and we purchased an Eva Dry small humidifier.  It doesn’t seem to be able to keep up with the humidity but at least it is doing something.  The jury is still out on whether we like this one or not.  We may need to try another location and see if it draws out the moisture better.

Moisture Absorbing Beads.  We have NOT tried this but we have read about people using a product such as DampRid to absorb the moisture.  With our little ones, we’re leaning away from doing this just yet.  Seriously, it’s hard enough keeping the dog food and water in their respective bowls.

Plastic Window Insulation.  We have NOT done this one either, but reportedly plasticing the windows helps with insulating the warm indoor air from the cold window (thus reducing the condensation).  Since the temperature fluctuates so much here, we want to be able to open the windows so we’ve been dragging our feet on this one.

Dry Towel.  Oh yeah!  We’re high-tech and use a towel to wipe the condensation off.  It collects again, but at least it wipes up excess.

So those are the ways we’ve found to reduce the condensation on the windows.  It’s not a horrible issue, just one more thing we deal with differently in the camper.

Any experienced RVers or smart ones out there have more ideas, I’d love to hear them!

Vinyl RV Skirting Issues at Our Windy Location

There are developments in the vinyl skirting that we put up.  Not good either.

Our order just came in for replacement snaps and pipe clams.  Sounds like bad news and it sorta is.

We’ve had some wind since we’ve had the skirting up.  Some of our snaps have broken or popped off and caused the skirting to fall.  Our 5th wheel enclosure seems intent on coming down.

Ah….the joys of figuring this all out.

The 5th Wheel Enclosure

We were pretty adamant about having the 5th wheel portion skirted.

We could make it work still, I’m sure.  But of the 20-some RVs that are parked here for the winter, only a few are fully skirted.  So we’re going to admit defeat as far as that portion goes.

We could have saved $200 by NOT ordering the enclosure and we’re regretting that money spent.  We’re keeping the enclosure vinyl and may put it up again depending on how cold it gets in our room and what our heating costs are this next month.

The Problems

From what we can figure, this is what we’ve come up with…

  • The 5th wheel end takes the brunt of the wind force.
  • Snaps were placed at 10 inches but needed to be spaced even closer because of the wind.
  • Our skirting was weighted down with sandbags but that may have been too tightly wedged, causing extra pull on the snaps.
  • Because of the tightness, there is even more pressure on the skirting when the wind gets to blowing.  So much pressure, in fact, that the skirting ended up looking like this.

  • It is highly possible we rushed putting the skirting up.  Um, actually we did for sure and ignored the recommended wait time.  After attaching the 3M base, it’s important to wait on putting the vinyl up, which ensures the maximum bond strength of the 3m snap base.
  • We needed to distribute the pressure evenly on the snaps, which would have been possible with a pipe clamp system rather than sandbags.

Lots of lessons learned on this one!

I contacted EZ Snap Direct to see their thoughts on where we went wrong or if there was some sort of faulty materials involved.  They were very helpful and quick to respond to our questions and suggested some of the fixes below

Our Fixes

  • More snaps, quite a few more.  Since we are in a high-wind area the snaps need to be closer than 10 inches.  From EZ Snap,

For extra windy locations, we recommend placing the studs more like every 8″ to 6″ apart. If you use this spacing you will need to order extra fastener sets with your order.

  • The snaps need to be allowed to cure.  We are leaving them on for a week, even though that length of time isn’t necessary.  Call us paranoid but we want to make sure they are really stuck on this time.
  • We put the new snaps on when we had a warm day and it was near 60 degrees. We’re hoping it’s close enough to the recommended temperature to be effective.
  • We are going to move the sandbags back and use them to stop the skirting from moving too much.  This will allow some movement though, rather than wedging them allowing pressure to build up.
  • PVC pipe clamps were ordered with the extra snaps.  We’ll use them to clamp the skirting down to PVC pipes and more evenly distribute the weight and pressure.  The sandbags will stop any flapping.
  • Our contact at EZ Snap Direct recommended we superglue any snaps that separated (leaving the adhesive back on the camper)

Conclusion

Oh, to do this again!  We didn’t do our homework as well as we had thought.  Most certainly, we made mistakes.  Overall, I think we would have been better off skirting our RV with Option #1.

As far as the vinyl skirting is concerned, here are our conclusions.

Pipe Clamp System.  We should have read about and used the pipe clamp system especially given our windy location.

Snap Spacing.  If we had paid attention to the windy area tips, it would not have cost us so much in the long run in added shipping.

Snap Curing Time.  We rushed it.  Plain and simple, we didn’t wait the recommended time.

5th Wheel Enclosure.  As it looks right now, it’s not necessary and is really an added cost.  We have our electric and propane costs for November.  Of course, weather changes and fluctuates but we’ll see how our bill changes for the month of December without the 5th wheel enclosed.

EZ Snap was great to work with and their product does seem to be high quality.  I just wonder if this type of skirting is not the best for windy locations.

We’ll update on how our modifications work after the next blustery day.

Winter Wonderland in the Black Hills, Thank You Banana Belt!

It is really amazing to me that just one week ago we were covered in snow.

Today it was close to 60 degrees!  60 degrees on December 2nd. In South Dakota.

All the locals know and will tell you that it is because of the banana belt.

According to Wikipedia,

A banana belt is any segment of a larger geographic region that enjoys warmer weather conditions than the region as a whole, especially in the wintertime.

Rapid City is probably one of the best places to live, if you love snow but don’t want to have to deal with the constant cold in the wintertime.

Being a North Dakota native, I “get” cold.  -40 degree winter days.  Crazy cold.

South Dakota is a dream, especially winter weather wise!

Today, all the snow is gone.  You’d have never guessed that just one week ago, Hart Ranch looked like this…

 

 

 

Just one of the reasons I love Rapid City!

DIY Vinyl Skirting for Winter RVing

We’ve already covered the skirting options and supplies needed to do vinyl skirting for the RV.

Today is our simple step by step.

The Plan

When we planned out our skirting, we decided it would be best to piece the vinyl since it is sold by the yard at 61″ width.  Measuring the height around our camper, the most we’d need for width would be 48.”  The most.

At that width, there is still enough vinyl to tuck under and ensure there are no gaps between the ground and the skirting.

We decided to join our pieces of vinyl with vinyl cement.  Only, we didn’t order enough of the cement and ended up running out towards the end of the piecing.

Attaching the Snaps

The first thing we did was measure and mark where all the snaps would be placed on the RV.  The snaps are suppose to be placed no less than 10 inches from each other and on smooth (non-textured) surfaces, if possible.

After measuring and marking, we had to prep the surface since we ordered the 3M Snaps, (to make sure there was no residue and we’d get proper adhesion).  To prep, we just wiped the spots where the snaps would be placed with alcohol wipes.

Next we peeled the sticky back paper and placed the base piece of the snaps.

After the sticky back base of the snap, there is a pointy cap that needs to be pressed onto the base, have fun.  Your fingers will feel like they are being ripped raw.

Attaching the 5th Wheel Enclosure

I have to say, this part was tricky for us.  Our 5th wheel end is curved and the wind was blowing like 300 mph that day!  But still, we got it attached with the help of L. She stood inside the enclosure to help stop the vinyl from being blown under the camper.  She was a trooper.

So we plugged away at it and started unrolling the vinyl all the while pressing the vinyl through the pointy caps.  Once the vinyl was all pressed on, we placed the top cap on to clip the cap in place.  *I don’t think you are suppose to, but I took a hammer and slightly tapped the top cap on since my fingers were so sore from the pointy caps)*

Attaching & Gluing the Remaining Vinyl

Next, we cut 4 foot lengths of the 61″ vinyl, so we ended up with 4′ by 5′ pieces.

We brushed the vinyl glue onto the seams, which were overlapped by 1″.  Those puppies dried in like .001 seconds so we were ables to move quickly.

We got about 25 feet of vinyl cut and glued and then worked on getting that section up.

For the stairs, we folded them up and cut slits to workaround the metal that comes down.

Make sure your height allows for the ups and downs that go with working around access doors and the height of the slides. Once the snap caps are on, it’s perminent so you can make adjustments if you need to, just be sure you do so before the cap.

We continued to cut and attach sections until we go to the back.  There we decided to velcro the piece instead of using vinyl cement.  This was done so we could avoid having one humongous piece of vinyl to store and mess with trying to reattach next winter.

Problems

This is where I discovered my mistake in ordering.  We meant to get sticky back velcro, but I got non-sticky back (is that even a word?).  We tried using the vinyl cement to attach the velcro but it didn’t work so we went to the sewing machine to attach it.

We continued to cut and cement strips of vinyl, until the cement ran out.

Problem # 2.

We had to postpone finishing the skirting for a couple of days while we tried to find more vinyl cement locally.  We tried Menards but no luck. Hobby Lobby had something similar but they it was really expensive, (especially for the amount that we were going to need).

Since we had to sew the velcro on with the sewing machine anyway, I convinced Mark that we should just sew the remaining 4 pieces of vinyl.

Sewing Vinyl

Sewing vinyl is slippery and the feed dogs (for you sewers) doesn’t properly grab the vinyl.  Basically we ended up pulling the vinyl through.  It’s a two man job, so Mark held the heavy vinyl up while I sewed.  I cannot say that the job was pretty but it was effective.  We sewed the vinyl so the seam would be hidden (sewing right sides together and the ugly seam to the inside of  the camper when attached to the snaps.

Lastly, we trimmed the vinyl that was overhanging.

How it has Handled the Wind

Once we got the skirting all up, we got another blustery day and the skirting was flapping in the wind.  It is unbelievably windy here at times and some the skirting actually popped off.

Mark got some sandbags and tucked the vinyl under them.  Before we had used 2X4s and some of our stowed gym weights.  But that proved to be so ineffective against this wind.

Over all, we’re ver happy with the skirting.

We can see all the mistakes that were made. Some snaps are placed in an uneven pattern but like I said, once you place the 3M part of the snap on, there is NO turning back.  I may or may not have placed some in the wrong spot.

The skirting is still not completely tidy, and I think that is something we’ll have to accept these winter months.

So Has it Helped?

Most definitely.  The bench dinette area (which is over a slide) is much warmer and the overall floor doesn’t feel near as chilly.  Before it was mighty cold in that area.

There you have it, our take on Vinyl Skirting the RV.  I’d estimate overall, it took us about 6 hours to do the skirting.

**UPDATE**  We have had some added issues with our skirting which we address, here.

 

Vinyl Skirting Materials for the RV

We’re happy to report that our rig is skirted.

There are lots of options for skirting an RV, which we discussed here.

We opted for vinyl skirting.

We learned a few tricks and made some mistakes, which we’ll cover tomorrow in a post with all the pictures of the skirting job.

But for today, we’re going to cover the materials for our skirting.

Supplies

We ordered our supplies from 2 different companies.

  1. The 5th Wheel Enclosure Kit and 3M EZ Snaps from EZ Snap Direct.
  2. Vinyl, velcro, & vinyl cement from Sailrite.

The 5th Wheel Enclosure Kit

We were surprised to find out that the 5th Wheel Enclosure Kit was simply a 25 foot length of vinyl that was glued to another 15″ strip of vinyl.  Not that we question the durability, it was just so simple.  We figured we could have done this ourselves.  But doing the math on what it would have cost us, it was more efficient to buy the kit.  We would have saved a meager $20 by doing the entire thing as a DIY.

For starters, we were not able to find the 3M EZ Snaps anywhere else.  (they are out there I’m sure, we just couldn’t find them)  We could have just bought the snaps from EZ Snap Direct, but then we’d have been charged $28 shipping, (shipping was free since our order was over $250)

So it made sense for us to buy the Enclosure Kit from EZ Snap.  If you are doing the screw in type of snaps (they are available from Sailrite) I’d recommend simply making your enclosure kit to save some cash-o-la.

The Skirting Material

We went with the ShelterRite 18 oz. vinyl.  There is a bunch of info here, but basically, it is non-fraying (so you don’t have to sew the edges) and super-durable.

HH-66 Vinyl Cement is what we used to glue the seams.  That stuff works super fast and is perfect, (order more than you think you’ll need though…uh huh).

The Snaps

We opted to go for the 3M adhesive snaps simply because we didn’t like the idea of drilling holes in our camper.  Those puppies are super strong, once you place them, there’s not moving.

Velcro

In order to get easy access into the 5th wheel portion and also break up the VERY long piece of finished skirting, we put some velcro between some of the pieces of vinyl.  Make sure you order sticky back velcro unless you plan on sewing your velcro on…uh huh.

Cost

For all our materials, it cost us just under $730 (and that includes shipping).

 

But that’s it for today, other than the sewing machine and thread we ended up needing. But we’ll cover all that business in the next post.

 

5 Tips for Baking in an RV Oven

I admit, I’ve been complaining about my RV oven.

I had reservations about it before I ever turned it on.  And truth be told, I was just waiting for it to fail me when I moved into the camper.

My RVing friend, Alicia, told me her oven stunk.  She hated it so much so that she took out her overhead microwave and replaced it with a toaster oven.  She does 90% of baking in there and rarely turns on her oven.Continue Reading

Keeping the Precious H2O Flowing During Winter

The other day, we moved into our semi-perminent site.  Semi- because we’ll be there for 6 1/2 months.  The winter months and off season at Hart Ranch allow for less moving.  Come summer, we’ll be moving twice a month.

We already had our water hose freeze when it got real cold.  It’s been warm lately, but we figured now was as good a time as any to protect our precious H20.

So Mark spent about an hour making sure our water won’t freeze again.

It’s pretty self explanatory but the pictures are below.

But first, we’ve been discussing heat tape for a few months . . .

“We have to get heat tape so our water doesn’t freeze.”

“We need to order some heat tape.”  

“How long do you think we need the heat tape be?”  

“Did you order the heat tape?”

Well did you notice that each quote had the word “tape” in it??

Ummmm yeah, me too.  But heat tape is NOT tape.  Tape implies something that bonds or has an adhesive side to it.  Heat tape is NOT tape.

One of life’s mysteries I suppose.

Heat HOSE would be more appropriate…or heat STRIP.

Heat hose tape is plugged into an outlet and it becomes a heated strip that lays against the water hose.  Whoever came up with the name “Heat Tape,” I’d like to talk to you.  But really, I suppose I have more important things to concern myself with so….I’m sorry.

Back to the task at hand.

First Mark wrapped the water hose with tin foil…something about conducting heat.

Next he wrapped both the water hose and the heat tape in 1-inch foam insulation.

Here is another view. . .

How’s that for over-explaining something??

Pretty simple really.  Lastly, he duct-taped the foam to secure it even further.  Easy peasy.

But don’t forget to plug in your heat hose tape.