Raining from the ceiling - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-04-2015, 01:04 AM   #1
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Raining from the ceiling

Recently camped in Western NC mountains. Had some condensation problems in the 13' Love Bug. Temp outside at night was high 40s to mid 50s.
We don't have fantastic fan or furnace. Which one will help more? Will they solve this or just help. Is this normal. I had to wipe the inside to try to keep the dripping under control Everything was wet even under the matresses.

Sorry for the rotation of the pics.

Thanks, cat

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Old 11-04-2015, 07:12 AM   #2
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Wow... Makes me glad I live in dry(er) AZ! (It's raining as I type, and we're in the midst of one of the wettest years in recent memory, so I qualified that statement.)

Condensation happens when warmer, moister air contacts a cooler surface, like the lightly insulated shell of a typical fiberglass trailer. Running the furnace may make it worse, not better. The warmer air will hold more moisture- you're exhaling it in every breath while you sleep- and give it back when it contacts the shell or windows.

Plenty of ventilation helps- opening a window or vent, running a fantastic fan in exhaust mode (a nice upgrade, even if it doesn't completely solve the condensation problem). It's a balancing act between staying warm enough to sleep comfortably and keeping excessive moisture at bay. Depending on how your shell is lined, you may not be able to eliminate it completely. I couldn't tell from your photos... is that Ensolite?

We camped at Big Sur last November in cool, very damp conditions, similar to what you describe. We ran the furnace in the evening (to knock the chill off before changing) and again in the morning, but during the night we snuggled in our sleeping bags with the vent open 1-2" and the crank-out window over the stove open as well. It was damp in the morning (there are four of us, so lots of breathing happening), but no rain, not inside, anyway. I do credit the rat fur in our Scamp with being less prone to condensation issues. The windows were wet, though. I later read a suggestion from a member here to carry a chamois cloth to wipe down in the morning (thanks Norm!).

Main thing is to dry everything out thoroughly after the trip. That was easy for us because it was sunny and warm in Salinas, where we spent the Thanksgiving holiday, so I opened all the windows and vents to let it air out. You might need to bring cushions inside and use some of the desiccant crystals I've read about here.
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Old 11-04-2015, 08:05 AM   #3
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We just came back from camping last weekend in Cherokee NC with similar temps and our electric heater going at night. We have yet to complete our restoration of our 1971 Boler to 100% but it is campable. That being said we have installed 1" thick foam board insulation through most of the trailer, but there are some places we haven't finished, so some of the ceiling, walls, and inside the cabinets are exposed shell. We did notice some condensation on all of these areas, with seemingly more inside the closed cabinets. We did not have any condensation on the foam insulation, however, some of the insulation has released from the shell in places since we put it up about a month or two ago but has not completely come down (just small areas where you can feel it has released from the shell). This foam is Styrofoam sheets with a silver liner on one side and clear plastic on the other. We applied the 3M contact cement to the plastic side and to the shell with a foam roller or brush, waited 15 minutes the pressed it in place. We believe we coated every piece evenly and sufficiently, and had sanded & cleaned the shell before application. So I can only assume either we should have put the silver side to the shell, or the condensation is occurring between the shell & the foam causing the glue to release (not sure which). Anyway, I believe (if we can get the foam to stay without releasing) the foam will eliminate any condensation, especially after we apply the marine headliner to the foam. I am concerned though as to the long term effects of any condensation between the shell and the insulation. We bought a roll of reflectix to try but I am thinking about taking it back as I just feel the foam will insulate much better, reduce noise better, and is much cheaper when you break the cost of each down by the square foot. The down side is I am sure it is not as easy to work with as the reflectix but we have learned a few things as on how to handle it, cut it, and which direction bends better for handling the curves inside the Boler... hope this helps!
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Old 11-04-2015, 10:01 AM   #4
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Cathy, Condensation is something those who camp in the North West are pretty familiar with.
There is only one way of stopping it completely and that is to stop breathing ;-)

You can reduce it though. Make sure you keep a window open regardless of the weather outside. I added some Window Maxx vents to the rear side windows on my trailer so I can keep them open even in the rain. Some people put a cover over their roof vents that will allow them to leave it open in poor weather as well.

If you can run the furnace on propane on low at night or a small electric heater, both will help.
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Old 11-04-2015, 12:33 PM   #5
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Thank you all for your responses.
Johnny, have you considered the possibility that your 3m adhesive may have caused the film to separate from your foam insulation. Sometimes one adhesive can cause the bond of another adhesive to break down.


We are in the final "tweeking" stages of a total rebuild. When it was time to make a decision about insulation, we found discounted insolite locally and opted to go with that. I have been rethinking that decision. Even contemplating applying an additional layer of insulate which is almost unthinkable.

It was just me and my dog and I opened the ceiling vent and the windows. We were gone for two weeks and it rained for most of that time. I thought that might be a contributing factor since the temperatures were not that cold outside. I thought that trying to equalize the temperature on the inside would help reduce the condensation. Then I thought maybe letting in the humidity from outside was making it worse. Lol. I have been acused of thinking too much.

When we got home we took everything out of the camper and laid it out to dry. Almost everything was damp, even the mattresses were wet underneath.
I want to take an extended camping trip and I think if much more time had passed the wet things would have started to mildew. I used vinyl covers for the mattresses but they are not completely encapsulated. Would that make a diference?

We have a fantastic fan vent that we intend to install in the front section of the roof. And leave the existing vent that is near the rear. I took a freestanding gas heater with me. ran itonce, thinking it would dry things out. Of course it could not be run unattended so I had to turn it off before going to sleep which, i think, defeated my purpose and made it worse. Not having enough time to dry the camper, but warming the inside of the cabin enough to make the condensation worse.

We have discussed installing a furnace. Not wanting to put additional drain on the battery we think a gravity furnace would best suit or needs. (I think that is what they are called). Any thoughts about what type of non electric furnace. Those that I have looked at are costly. $400.00 and up.

I have composed this post on my phone so please pardon if I have repeated myself or misspoken. I can only see one line at a time. Any additional input is welcome.


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Old 11-04-2015, 01:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Johnny, have you considered the possibility that your 3m adhesive may have caused the film to separate from your foam insulation. Sometimes one adhesive can cause the bond of another adhesive to break down.
Yes I did consider that, which could be possible, but we did find out that if the plastic had a tear the glue would eat away at the foam
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Old 11-04-2015, 03:59 PM   #7
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Wet FG or metal roofing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat futrell View Post
Recently camped in Western NC mountains. Had some condensation problems in the 13' Love Bug. Temp outside at night was high 40s to mid 50s.
We don't have fantastic fan or furnace. Which one will help more? Will they solve this or just help. Is this normal. I had to wipe the inside to try to keep the dripping under control Everything was wet even under the matresses.

Sorry for the rotation of the pics.

Thanks, cat

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: what helped me years ago I discovered rigid Foam insulation at that time all you could buy was white and I glued it to the ceiling and walls of old van I was sleeping in when hunting as I was tired of getting soaked inside, was drier outside? This helped immensely no more interior rain. But make sure you use Foam Glue if not the Foam will fall off. then your back to the rain.
Stude
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Old 11-04-2015, 09:13 PM   #8
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Red face Similar Threads

There is another recent thread that deals with similar issues:

Mold under the mattress
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Old 11-04-2015, 11:49 PM   #9
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Thanks Roger

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Old 11-05-2015, 12:14 AM   #10
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I had the same experience camping in NW Washington in September. Wet walls, wet windows, and dripping from the ceiling vent. This was with three of us sleeping in the trailer and a few windows open slightly. After a few nights of this I bought a little electric fan heater and kept it running at night on medium heat. That seemed to help a lot. The windows were still wet but the wall were dry and no more dripping. I think from now in if we plan on camping in cooler weather, we'll make sure to have electrical hookups and bring the fan heater.
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Old 11-05-2015, 09:28 AM   #11
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No furnace Vince?
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Old 11-05-2015, 10:22 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by David Tilston View Post
No furnace Vince?
When propane is burned, it releases a large quantity of water vapor!

In my experience when dealing with condensation the use of propane stove top will greatly increase the condensation level in the trailer so one does need to run a fan when using the stove top & for some time after.

Most newer propane trailer furnaces (manufactured in the last 25 years or so) are well vented to the outside & have built in fan so they do not add much in any condensation.

Unfortunately many of the older furnaces found in small fiberglass trailers 30 years old or more are not well vented to the outside or have a fan ( the reasons you can not purchase them anymore), so the use of them will greatly increase the condensation levels in the trailer. Same with Catalytic heaters as well as the small portable propane heaters - all will increase condensation issues.

If possible one would be better off to use a small portable electric heater if one has an old rv propane furnace or a portable propane furnace.
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Old 11-05-2015, 01:06 PM   #13
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Our primary reason for camping is solitude in nature. My limited experience with hook ups is state parks which I found too populated. Are there parks with hook ups that have dispersed sites?

Regarding heater with a 12 volt fan, I don't think we can afford the power draw.
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Old 11-05-2015, 01:38 PM   #14
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Sorry, sent that post too soon....our cabin is only 10' long and I'm really not comfortable with any kind of free standing heater... With the limited space it seems a great liability. I used the small portable propane recently with continual observation and the dog confined. Not trying to be difficult, looking for an option that feels safe and is most effective in our primary camping preference.

I have seen that the draw of some of the 12 volt furnaces is as low as 1.5 amps. I don't know what that means as far as how long it would take to exhaust a battery at highest draw, maybe a second battery dedicated to the furnace? Becoming more confused by the day.
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