Blackish smears in ceiling- What do they mean? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-13-2019, 05:33 PM   #1
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Blackish smears in ceiling- What do they mean?

Hello- Because I do not know what the fuzzy ceiling in the Bigfoots are called I cannot use the search engine for possible answers.

We have looked at two that have light black smears in the ceiling inside every upper cabinet and both owners have said it is likely due to condensation and not leaking. Is this typical and is it mold? There are no black smears anywhere else except inside of cabinets.

In one, the roof had leaked around the air conditioner due to failing seal and there was a water stain on it which I am not sure would ever come out but no black smear along with it.

If it is mold, then how do Bigfoot owners deal with keeping these areas mold free during periods of non use? We keep our Roadtrek and boat mold and mildew free with DryZair and a Davis Airdryr. Have never had mildew in the headliner of the Roadtrek interior cabinets and I do not leave them open when it is stored so I am wondering if condensation is an ongoing issue to be aware of due to shape of molded fiberglass? Thanks for any information.
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Old 12-13-2019, 07:09 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shangie View Post
Hello- Because I do not know what the fuzzy ceiling in the Bigfoots are called I cannot use the search engine for possible answers.

We have looked at two that have light black smears in the ceiling inside every upper cabinet and both owners have said it is likely due to condensation and not leaking. Is this typical and is it mold? There are no black smears anywhere else except inside of cabinets.

In one, the roof had leaked around the air conditioner due to failing seal and there was a water stain on it which I am not sure would ever come out but no black smear along with it.

If it is mold, then how do Bigfoot owners deal with keeping these areas mold free during periods of non use? We keep our Roadtrek and boat mold and mildew free with DryZair and a Davis Airdryr. Have never had mildew in the headliner of the Roadtrek interior cabinets and I do not leave them open when it is stored so I am wondering if condensation is an ongoing issue to be aware of due to shape of molded fiberglass? Thanks for any information.
No black stuff at all in my 2002 Bigfoot. We have been on some long trips in all sorts of weather.
But we are based in Texas.
Is this a left-coast thing?
Do you have any pictures?

Jim
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Old 12-13-2019, 07:18 PM   #3
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When not in use leave the cabinet doors open so that air can circulate.


This kind of situation is why in my trailer renovation I used a strong vinyl coated woven mesh for the panel in my cabinet doors. That way I always have good air circulation inside of the cabinets.


A bit of oxy clean product or a bottle of touch up carpet cleaner with oxy bleach in it should help get rid of that black mildew residue. It really is not a major issue, mostly just a housekeeping issue and opening the cabinet doors when the trailer is sitting around unused.
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Old 12-13-2019, 07:26 PM   #4
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Blackish smears in ceiling of Bigfoot

Jim, Thanks but I have one picture that doesn't show much. These are definitely blackish on the lighter side like steaks throughout the interior cabinet ceilings.

I don't know how to post a picture.

Am familiar with parts of Texas as we have family in the Gulf Coast as well as interior. Being a 'Northener" the humidity can take my breath away. Texas is beautiful and incredibly diverse both in terms of it's natural beauty as well as it's peoples. I always enjoy visiting.

Anyway, I can only think that perhaps the lack of maintenance on one of the trailers, well actually both, has led to leaks going undetected and responded to for many months on end.

We don't mind buying a trailer that needs some cosmetic work or a little carpentry or refinish or cleaning. It's the major structural we want to avoid. On one, I felt that my eye caught a wee bit of sag along the kitchen area where the stove vent is but I can't be sure if that is how they are built or if I am imagining things. The sag wasn't huge but it just felt as though the build was a bit out of 'true' if the makes sense. I have a god sense of level and square. This was also the one with the most prevalent blackish streaks.

I am excellent at detecting leaks and subsequent damage on non molded fiberglass trailers but detecting major damage on molded fiberglass trailer is new to me and more difficult because the opportunity to see one, especially a Bigfoot, on the North West coast is rare and I don't know what to look for.
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Old 12-13-2019, 09:51 PM   #5
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the opportunity to see one, especially a Bigfoot, on the North West coast is rare and I don't know what to look for.
Because Bigfoots are made just over the border in British Columbia it is actually not at all rare to see them around the Puget Sound area. Even the used RV dealers get some of them on trade-in. The four season ones tend to not to be as much on the used market because there are very few makes of 4 season RVs with dual pane windows. When someone wants to sell one there is almost always a waiting list of friends and neighbors who want it so they rarely make it onto the publicly advertised sites.


As to seeing a number of used trailers that have some indication of mildew/mold on the interior. You are searching in an area that has significant amounts of wet and cold. Of course you are going to see such things, many people close up their RVs for the winter and don't realize that will turn them into a constantly moist terrarium, the perfect place to grow mold because over the winter without an air exchange all those organisms just keep on releasing new spores and that rapidly increases the size of the colonies. It does not take a leak of any kind to have this happen, it just takes a closed up RV in the Pacific NW. I installed a louvered vent in my fiberglass trailer that keeps the rain out but allows for a fresh air exchange year round. No mold growth, no musty smells because there is no over saturation of spore growth with a good air exchange.
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Old 12-14-2019, 10:20 AM   #6
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Shangie, WAl--hi! Also in WA. Sounds like mildew/mold to me, and it is caused by damp.

We keep Peanut's cupboards as open as possible for air flow when not using it, and we keep 1-2 Dry-Z-Air containers in there whenever it's parked at home, just as you said you do with your boat.

Paul checks Peanut it every week or so for damp, leaks, and to tidy up the Dry-Z-Air (sp???). They fill up with liquid that has to be drained out and you need to replace/add fresh crystals as they old ones suck up moisture and "melt." He just pays a little friendly visit for a few minutes, gives it a go-over, and locks up again if all looks well.

The "rat fur" fuzzy lining is said to be fairly easy to clean. Having just typed up 97 Ways to Use Vinegar, for my college-age grandson (Oh, he'll be so grateful--ha!) I can suggest that a spray bottle with straight vinegar, lightly sprayed on and shop-vacced off might help with the black streaks. The vinegar kills those little spores, and the smell dissipates plenty soon enough unless you're camping tomorrow.

Again, air flow is important. Try a small fan, an electric dehumidifier, and definitely check for leaks over the parking season. Don't wait six months for your "big reveal."

Do NOT use a heater on "low" all the time. It makes the temperature differential between inside and outside over the winter the perfect environment for condensation and mold. We ruined the mattress left in our Get Away Van by keeping it just warm enough to grow mold. Our son had told us to keep it warm. Problem is, in Western Washington, that's not the route to dryness.

You don't keep the inside of your CAR slightly warm all the time even if you park it outside, do you? And it generally stays dry if there are no leaks. I rest my case. Previous owners may well have adhered to the low heat theory of winterizing...

Good luck to you. We live south of Seattle.
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Old 12-14-2019, 10:46 AM   #7
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Do NOT use a heater on "low" all the time. It makes the temperature differential between inside and outside over the winter the perfect environment for condensation and mold.
"K"

Yup. Warm air holds more moisture than cool air. From time to time I will run a space heater, but open a vent to allow the warm air to escape.
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Old 12-14-2019, 11:15 AM   #8
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Glenn Baglo:

Thanks. Yes. When Paul goes out for his tour of inspection, he may flip the space heater on, but usually the door is open. Sometimes he gets it quite warm when he sits out there and reads or watches the neighborhood activities for a while, has a snack, etc., just like you'd run your car heater when you're sitting in it. That's fine.

He turns it off before he locks up.

I see by my typos above that my typing fingers woke up before my editing brain did.

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Old 12-14-2019, 11:50 AM   #9
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The staining you see is likely mould growth. When mould grows it produces gases that have a distinct "musty" odour, always a tell tale sign. A water stain, once dried, remains the same size. Active mould growth increases in size over time.

Mould requires two things to grow, a food (carbon) source and moisture. Most dust is a food source for mould. There are two common moisture sources in trailers, leaks and condensation. Condensation is the result of warmer air contacting a cooler surface. Warm moist air inside a trailer contacts the inner surfaces of the shell as it cools over night producing condensation. This condensation will evaporate the next day as the trailer shell warms however circulation is minimal inside cupboards and other enclosed spaces so the moisture may be trapped and not able to completely evaporate.
Mould is nature's recycler so spores are constantly present in the air. The only way to prevent mould growth is to eliminate the moisture source.

Opening cupboard doors may help. Ventilating the trailer, like opening the door to allow moist air to escape on dry days may also help, especially if you use a fan to help circulation.
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Old 12-14-2019, 09:22 PM   #10
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Thanks For All The Information!

Thanks for taking time to tell me what causes the problem and what works for you.

I read each response and certainly gained a better understanding of how to care for a molded fiberglass trailer interior because of those.
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Old 12-21-2019, 12:13 PM   #11
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I live on the OR coast and here's my solution -

Covered roof vents that can be cracked for ventilation

Run a dehumidifier 24/7. The humidity inside is usually <50%.
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Old 12-21-2019, 04:18 PM   #12
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Blackish smears

Hi! Do the cabinets smell musty or mildewed? If not, it may be a metal stain left by the pots and pans stored in them (if thatís what you store in your cupboards). Fine particles of metal can be generated by the rubbing together of pans as you drive down the road. This residue can then stain the lining. We had a Bigfoot camper that we lived in full time and never had this problem. We do see it in our Casita, and we do not have any mildew or even moisture problems. You can always call the Bigfoot factory in Armstrong, British Columbia. They are great people and super helpful!
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Old 12-21-2019, 07:45 PM   #13
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I live on the OR coast and here's my solution -

Covered roof vents that can be cracked for ventilation

Run a dehumidifier 24/7. The humidity inside is usually <50%.
Do you mean either / or.. or both?

Because it seems to me that running a dehu with a vent open is basically trying to dry out all the air in the entire world.

If the vent is only open a little and the dehu is effective then it might be able to keep up, but its still drying out the outside air some. IMHO good ventilation only is usually sufficient but if a dehu is used, then close up the camper otherwise it will work harder than it needs to. Would you run you home air conditioner with the windows open? Its the same concept.
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Old 12-22-2019, 03:42 AM   #14
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I live in Seattle where of course there is a lot of rain and humidity, especially this week. I have never used a dehumidifier, I just have a vent that rain can't get into left open for air circulation. No mold, no mildew. But I also don't use a trailer cover.



Trailer covers that are not all made with good vents and that can contribute to these issues as the air can't circulate and that builds up the concentration of mold spores. I am not saying don't use a trailer cover, I am saying use one that has fresh air vents. Covers can be modified to add some vents. Go to youtube and look at some videos by the company Sailrite. The covers will be ones for boats but that does not matter, you can still use them as an example for adding vents to a trailer cover that did not come with them.
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