Picture this: You lucked out and nabbed the perfect campsite with stunning views of the lake and the mountain range in the background. There’s a gorgeous sunset that you’re watching as you cook dinner, but the windows fog up, and you’re not able to see it. You keep running over to the windows and toweling them off to get a blurry, fleeting view before they fog again. The condensation on your windows totally kills the vibe, and you’re left with a meal that you might as well be eating in the living room back home in the suburbs.
Don’t let this happen to you! We’ll clue you in on some of the top tips and tricks to prevent window condensation inside your RV. You might not be able to stop it completely, but by following some of these steps, you should be able to reduce it at least.
What is Condensation?
To learn how to fix condensation, it’s best to first understand what condensation is. Simply put, condensation is water. Specifically, condensation is water that is pulled from the air. This happens when humid air comes into contact with a cool surface. The cool surface causes the warm air particles to convert from a gas to a liquid. When this conversion happens, tiny water droplets are left on the surface of the cool object.
There are many examples of condensation that can be spotted throughout a typical day. To start, you’ll see dew on the grass in many areas of the country. These little water droplets form when the cool ground interacts with the warmer air around it and causes the air to release moisture.
If you’re not up at dawn to see the dew on the grass, you can still see an example of condensation when you take a shower in the morning. If you take a hot shower like most people, you’ll almost always get condensation on your bathroom mirror. The warm, humid, steamy air contacts the cool surface of the mirror and causes water molecules to form.
Perhaps you’re not the morning shower type and prefer to shower before bed. In this case, you might still catch a glimpse of condensation on your car’s windshield when you head to work in the morning.
Even if you miss this, if you get an icy drink in the afternoon, you’ll be able to see condensation on the outside of the glass or cup. The ice inside your drink cools the surface of the cup or glass, and the warm air surrounding the drinkware condensates.
What Causes Condensation in an RV?
You probably get the point—anything that increases the moisture levels is liable to cause condensation to form. Now that we know how condensation forms, and we’ve reviewed a few examples, let’s get on to typical causes of condensation in an RV.
Cooking on the stovetop inside your RV will release moisture into the air. This is especially true if you’re boiling water or making soup. Just think about how much steam is released when you drain a batch of pasta!
Just like using your shower at home, the steam created by hot showers in an RV will create condensation quickly in the small, enclosed space.
- Using propane accessories
When propane burns, it creates water as a byproduct. Running a 13,500 BTU furnace could produce as much as 1 pound of water vapor an hour. If not ventilated and exhausted properly, this could add up quickly.
- Doing laundry
Using warm or hot water to wash clothes will create moisture and lead to condensation.
Humidity is a measurement of the amount of moisture the air can hold. The higher the humidity level, the more moisture there is in the air. This not only affects the air outside your RV but will affect the air inside your RV as well.
Okay, we know there’s nothing you can do about this one, but we just want to make the point that there are so many factors that contribute to moisture levels and condensation inside your RV. Even respiration, or breathing, creates moisture. When you breathe in, the air is warmed by your body. When you exhale, this warm air collides with the cooler air outside your body, and moisture is released.
Top Tips to Prevent Condensation Inside Your RV
Now that you know some of the factors that cause increased moisture levels inside your RV, we’ll give you some tips on how to combat the causes.
- Cook outside.
Part of the reason you bought an RV in the first place was to get outdoors more, right? Cooking outside is a great way to get more fresh air and to keep the air inside your RV fresher too. Cooking outside, especially if you’re boiling water, will help reduce moisture levels. Many RVs have connections for an outside propane stovetop, and some even have full outdoor kitchens.
- Shower outside.
Compared to houses, RVs are small, and the bathrooms are even smaller. The steam from a hot shower, or even just the moisture from a warm shower, can build up quickly in a small space. Outdoor showers are a common option for most RVs and travel trailers, so take advantage of this feature. If you’re at a campground with showers, you could opt to use those instead, too.
- Don’t keep wet clothes in your RV.
RV’ing goes hand-in-hand with outdoor activities such as swimming, going to the beach, running, cycling, hiking, boating, and more. Many of these activities involve water or at least sweat. If you come back to your RV after these activities to change clothes, be sure to hang the wet clothes to dry outside whenever possible. Drying the clothes inside, or worse yet, balling them up to deal with later, is sure to increase the moisture levels inside your RV.
- Open windows and doors
Airflow is a key ingredient to keeping moisture levels low. Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors when the weather allows. Keep in mind that you won’t want to do this if outside humidity levels are high.
- Ventilate closed spaces.
Moisture can hide in tight or closed spaces that don’t get much air movement. These spaces could be closets, cabinets, and other similar spaces.
- Use exhaust fans.
Exhaust fans are a great way to remove warm, humid air quickly. They are typically installed near the ceiling near humidity-prone areas such as above stoves and in bathrooms. Warm air rises naturally, and the fan will pull the warm, moist air out of the trailer and draw in fresh air from outside. These are very effective and can typically be installed as an aftermarket option if your trailer wasn’t equipped with them from the factory.
- Use a dehumidifier.
Dehumidifiers are an excellent way to rid your RVs air of excess moisture. These machines run off of electricity and work to filter the air and remove excess moisture. The dehumidifier will collect the moisture in a tank that will need to be emptied periodically.
If you don’t have access to electricity or are storing your RV long-term, you can use moisture-absorbing products, such as DampRid. These moisture absorbers are containers that are filled with crystal-like materials. The crystals absorb moisture from the air and fill the container with water.
- Run your air conditioning.
Air conditioners, by design, pull moisture out of the air as they cool the air. This is why you’ll commonly see condensation hoses plumbing water away from HVAC units or water dripping from the underside of vehicles when the air conditioning is running. Turning on the AC on a hot, humid day won’t only help cool things down, it will decrease indoor humidity levels too.
- Don’t travel to humid places.
Speaking of humidity, if you’re trying to keep the inside of your RV as dry as possible, you might want to avoid the southeast region of the United States, especially during summer. Humidity levels are brutally high, which means lots of moisture in the air. If possible, opt to travel to these places in the fall or winter months.
- Insulate your RV’s window.
RV windows are usually single-pane windows, which provide very few insulating properties. If it’s an option when ordering, upgrading, or repairing your RV, opt for double-pane windows. Instead of a single layer of glass, double-pane windows use two layers of glass with an air gap between them. The air gap is the key ingredient that helps to create an insulating effect. The air gap will lessen the temperature differences between the outside face of the RVs glass and the inside face. This will considerably reduce condensation buildup on windows.
If you don’t have the option to upgrade to double-pane windows, you can still add window coverings that will help insulate the openings.
- Keep your RV maintained.
Follow manufacturer recommendations for maintaining your RV. This will help ensure that your HVAC system stays in top shape and that your RV stays as water-tight as possible.
The Dangers of Condensation
We’re making a pretty big deal out of condensation, and you might begin to wonder—What is the big deal? Isn’t it just water? Yes, and that’s precisely the issue. Condensation might not seem like a big deal when it’s on your windshield or windows. You can typically get rid of it by flipping on the defroster or wiping it away with a paper towel. It’s typically a minor nuisance. If you’re driving down the road in your motorhome, though, it can be a danger.
Other dangers are hidden and only appear over time.
Excessive moisture can lead to mold and mildew. Not only can this cause unpleasant odors, but it can also lead to allergies and other serious health effects. Mold-infested materials must typically be removed and replaced, or at the very least, professionally cleaned. The best way to deal with mold is to prevent it before it starts.
Delamination of walls, ceilings, and other surfaces occurs when excessive moisture breaks down the adhesive that bonds two surfaces together. For example, travel trailers with excessive moisture might have interior walls that have bubbled and are pulling away from the framing. Similar bubbling can occur on painted and wallpapered surfaces.
On the extreme end of the spectrum, excessive moisture that is left untreated can eventually lead to rot. This is why many RVs with water damage have soft spots on the ceiling and floor. Repairing rot is costly and can keep your RV off the road for days, weeks, or even months, depending on the extent of the damage.
Is Your RV in Need of New Windows?
If your RV is in need of replacement windows, Glass.com provides nationwide service that can handle the replacement, no matter where you are in your travels. Simply submit your RV details to us, and we’ll reach out to provide you with a quote. Safe travels!