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Over Wintering - Heater or Dehumidifer or both or Neither?


GrahamPye

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Just about to start our first winter with the van and have emptied it of everything, brought the cushions inside the house, etc. Now as we live in Scotland and it gets cold and wet here I was thinking of leaving a small heater and/or de-humidifier in the van while we are not using it.

 

Does anyone think this is necessary? Over the top? Worthwhile?

 

Suggestions please for how many watts the heater might need to be, and whether it's worth getting a thermostatically controlled one. Similar for de-humidifier, any suggested models? Ideally it should have a drain pipe so I don't need to remember to empty the tank!

 

I should add that the van is on our drive and plugged in, so I'm not worried about the batteries and I have power available.

 

Other over-wintering suggestions welcome too!

 

Graham (2013 AutoTrail Navajo)

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We have had vans since September 1977 and never done anything other than drain the water and move the bedding, clothing and towels into the house.

 

We live in the south Manchester area, so well away from the coast and have never experienced any damp problems at all.

 

If there was damp, I would suspect a leak, if there is no leak, then as far as we are concerned there is no need to do anything special.

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Heater, dehumidifier etc is all personal choice.  Some will say yes and others no....however one thing we will all (I hope) agree on is drain down the water...all water so don't forget the toilet............. as fully as possible and leave the taps open in the mid position which will allow any water remaining to 'expand' in the cold depths of winter.  This should ensure, or lessen the risk of burst pipes/connections/seals.

 

Should you chose to go with a heater/radiator Argos do a nice one, oil free so no worries about the 'remote' possibility of an oil fueled fire.  It's called the Dimplex Chico Eco and is £54.99 .....runs at 0.7 kw.

 

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RogerC - 2013-11-11 7:55 PM

 

..................................and leave the taps open in the mid position which will allow any water remaining to 'expand' in the cold depths of winter. 

 

 

.

 

 

I'd agree with Roger there.

 

Two years ago I had opened up all the taps but one must have got ' nudged ' at some time and was not centred ( half way between hot and cold ) and the plastic base of the tap split as some water left in it obviously froze.

 

( All the system had been drained down as usual ).

 

I keep a small oil filled radiator in the van at a ' frost ' setting - but sometimes turn it up a bit in extreme cold.

 

My split tap happened in spite of the heater !

 

 

;-)

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I wouldn't use heater as I think that might just cause more problems with condensation, we have only ever used condensation traps two or three dotted about, you will be amazed at how much water is in them, check and empty often. Also stand any cushions on end if you can and away from outer walls, leave cupboards open anything that helps air circulate.

 

For the first time we have a fixed bed so we might from time to time put in a humidifier that we have in the bungalow and prop the bed up so that gets aired. When I asked for advice about over wintering the bed I was told *-) use it go to Spain for the winter (lol)

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We continue to use ours(about every two weeks or so)but we tend to just use it in drained-down mode..

 

This year, for the first time, I've "pressurized" our water system, to blow through as much additional water as I could(..it was surprising how much extra came out!)

(Similar to as shown on this Floe video: http://keepfloeing.com/products-motorhome.html )..

 

I didn't use their "kit", as I was able to just release the main feed pipe leading from the onboard tank and "pressurize" down that...

 

Re: Damp traps(salt trays?)...Yes, they'll collect moisture but it'll only get replaced by moisture in the air that is coming in through vents, gas drop etc anyway..

Good, ample ventilation is the key...

 

Also be on the look out for signs of mice!!.... 8o|

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Graham

Although I intermittently use my motorhome during winter, I do use a dehumidifier when not in use. My dehumidifier does not easily allow for continuous drainage, so I empty out every few days. I am amazed at how much water is collected - 5 litre container fills in about 4 days dependent on weather.

My reasoning is that (1) outside air vents into the van from the fixed venting apertures and so dampish air will get in whether you like it or not ! (2) The dehumidifier outlet fan will circulate air around the van interior (3) The "used" electrical power from the dehumidifier slightly warms the van (4) Too much of a faff to take all the seat cushions in/out all the time, and I have noticed slight mould marks on cushions if I do not keep the van dry.

I also drain the water and leave all taps part open as others have said, and ensure the fridge and bathroom doors are left ajar.

Finally I have altered the on board battery charger wiring to use a plug-in 7 day timer, and set this to charge for 4 hours once a week.

 

This regime has worked a treat since 2004 on the van - except when in Portugal during the winter - as will be the case this year !

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Apart from the general tips we have never heated or dehumidified our Caravans/MHs.

So many ventilation holes in these vehicles that the air is drawn in by dehumidifiers making them ineffective.......but full of water very quickly!

Heating simply causes condensation.

 

PS. Never had damp furnishings or fittings if the ambient air can move round them.

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ours is on the drive over the winter and connected to ehu but we drain the water and take the cushions into the house, open all the cupboards and under bed lockers on the inside as well as the bathroom door, Don't forget to open the fridge door slightly to stop mould. I put in a small fan heater on frost setting and this is aimed into the wardrobe where the pump and most of the pipes are.

check the MH every couple of days and take it for a 5 mile run every weekend if not away

 

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I don't understand the comments that placing a heater in the van would cause condensation. Water will condense from air when it comes in contact with a cold surface. However, it can oly do this if the air temperature is lowered below its dew point. By adding gentle heat on a frost 'stat one prevents the air chilling to the extremes reached outside the van. This has the effect of lowering the relative himidity of the air, while at the same time slightly raising the temperatures of the internal surfaces. So, the condensation risk is reduced. However, it is essential to ensure that the permanent ventilation is unobstructed, and that any such heating is only of "greenhouse" type, and electric, so dry. This is, I am convinced, a far better solution than runing a dehumidifier.

 

Because it has permanent ventilation, the van receives an unending supply of new, relatively moist, air from outside. So, in effect, as noted above, your humidifier is trying to de-humidify half the neighbourhood, which is why it produces such copious amounts of water - some of which will inevitably evaporate back into the van air, and merely recycle itself. Further, mechanical dehumidifiers work by blowing air over a chilled coil, causing it to drop below its dew point, and condense. When air temperatures fall very low the coil would need to be below freezing point to condense the moisture, meaning it would merely ice-up, to prevent which dehumidifiers generally have a cut off when the ambient falls below 4C or so. So, in very cold weather, when the internal surfaces are all getting cold, the dehumidifier ceases to work.

 

So, if you think it desirable to reduce the risk of condensation, and I do, a small, electric, greenhouse type heater, with a thermostat set just high enough to ensure it generally comes on as temperatures drop over night, will definitely do no harm, and should be beneficial. It is necessary from time to time to check the 'stat setting, reducing it as the weather gets colder going into winter, and increasing it again as it warms up (we hope! :-)) going into spring. About 500W should be sufficient, and the running cost, used in this way, is minimal.

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