It’s Not The (Lack Of) Heat…It’s The Humidity!

“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”
Thomas Edison

In that case, Mr. Edison would probably find our RV to be pretty smart!

We are well on our way through our first snow event. While we have not experienced what Buffalo, NY has had to deal with, we did manage to pick up a foot of snow as of this morning. The single day record snowfall for November 18 in Grand Rapids was 2.9 inches. We shattered that record. Mid-day yesterday, our trusty Stanley revealed the following:

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Grand Rapids picked up more snow in a 24 hour period than it did at any point during last season’s record setting winter. We are up to 23.4 inches of snow for November, which is the fourth highest snowfall total on record. The last 7 day’s temperatures have been 15 degrees below average. And thanks to Lake Michigan, we have only had 7% of possible sunshine.

As stated before, we have been concerned about moisture buildup inside the rig. Propane heat naturally gives off water as a byproduct, as does breathing, showering, cooking and excess snow coming in from outside on our boots after shoveling. The result becomes apparent in two places: the corners of the RV and the aluminum window frames.

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We have found that drying the window frames off with paper towels in the morning and evening helps a lot. The day/night shades trap a lot of moisture during the night, and a quick wipe with a piece of Bounty eliminates that. Once the shades are open in the morning, the air movement from our ceiling fan keeps them fairly dry, though not 100% moisture free. The daily maintenance prevents mildew and water running down the walls. The corners of the RV have also been places that dampness builds up, especially inside cabinets. This doesn’t seem to be as bad as the windows, but it still does require daily attention. We are keeping those cabinet doors open and doing our best to point fans at the problem areas. The Eva Dry 500 dehumidifiers we put in the cabinets seem to be helping with that. We also just purchased an Eva Dry 2200 dehumidifier for the bedroom area to compliment the Eva Dry 1100 we have in the living room, so we will see how that helps the overall picture. One other thing that is working well is the fact we are taking our showers at the YMCA every day. That not only cuts down on the humidity, but also eliminates the need to run the power vent, thereby keeping the heat inside. Working out at the Y also keeps us in shape, both physically and mentally. In addition, we are able to run two electric space heaters on ‘low’, which not only provides dry heat, but it cuts down on the propane bill. We are filling a 30 pound propane tank every 3 to 4 days at $25 a refill, and our electric bill looks like it will be around $160 for November. Keep in mind that we also kicked on the heater inside the skirted area below the rig. We have it set at 45 degrees, and our floors are staying comfortable as a result. Our estimate is that heating that area is costing us $40 a month. The skirting itself would definitely keep that area above freezing, but the floors would be cold, especially in our slide outs. We feel our comfort is worth the extra money.

Following are several photos of our campsite to this point. Not a lot of snow, but it is only mid November!

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This was taken out of our window in the middle of a lake effect snow band. At that point, the snow was coming down pretty hard.

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The campground has a good sized Kubota to keep the streets plowed. Keeping our campsite itself cleaned is our responsibility.

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The area we are keeping open is plenty wide, as we know that the snow banks will creep inward as the winter wears on. Knock on wood, the campsites on either side of us are not occupied. Hopefully they remain that way.

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We put partially inflated beach balls under the slide toppers. This keeps them up and will keep the excess snow and ice from pooling in them.

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Our Awning Airwedge is also helping, although not as much as the beach balls.

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We are getting a fair amount of icicles, meaning that the heat from inside the trailer is melting the snow on the roof. We think that we might need to brush off some of the excess snow today, in hopes of minimizing the runoff. We will attempt that with our 8 foot step ladder and a snow brush, as walking on an icy roof is not a good idea,

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Our bedroom slide sarcophagus seems to be holding up well, although it wouldn’t hurt to have the snow removed from the top of it also.

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Campfire anyone? 🙂

All in all, this has been a positive experience for us. While the windows…even though they are double pane…have been a daily maintenance issue, we are extremely thankful our rig has so many of them. Being able to look outside prevents winter claustrophobia. The view out of our windows is beautiful. Ok, so it isn’t the Tetons or the beach at Grand Haven, but it is pretty neat nonetheless. Our winter preparations seem to have paid off, even though we were going on other’s recommendations and our own trial and error.

Which brings us to another one of Mr. Edison’s quotes:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”.

Fortunately for us, most of our efforts are working!

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19 thoughts on “It’s Not The (Lack Of) Heat…It’s The Humidity!”

  1. Jim:
    Since 1977 the company I work for has been supplying polyurethane used as a thermal barrier for aluminum framed windows. This technology was invented to eliminate the thermal conductivity or temperature transfer of the aluminum thus allowing the cold temps from outside transferring to the inside of the house or building. The humidity in the air of the inside causes condensation to form on the aluminum.
    Unfortunately thermal barrier aluminum windows are not common in the RV industry. It became a big item in the 1970’s replacing all the residential house steel & non- thermal aluminum windows of the 1960’s. Today aluminum windows are only used in light commercial and Architectual curtain wall buildings because of the structural strength. PVC & wood framed windows has taken over the residential housing market.
    The RV market has not added thermal barrier primarily due to the cost. To read more about the concept, dew point, condensation, and the thermal barrier (pour & debridge) process go to http://www.azonintl.com

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    1. That brings up an interesting point, Mike. I know that you have worked in the realm of RV’s early in your career. Do you know of any high end units that do use this technology? If not, are there any aftermarket window manufacturers that can be used in an RV? I know we wouldn’t be looking in that direction, but perhaps there are some people that would.

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  2. Awesome job! Looks like you’ve pretty much thought of everything! Thank you so much for sharing. It has been very interesting and informative so far! So far, so good!!

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  3. We were wondering how you two were surviving and it looks like you’re doing great! With your attitude it sounds like you could survive anything.

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    1. Thanks, Bob and Kathrun! It does help to keep a positive attitude. There are several of us in the park that are keeping tabs on each other while shoveling. So far, we all seem to be handling the season well.

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  4. Thanks.. Some great info that I am going to start to use! I hardly have any moisture in cabinets.. Thank God. Running the dehumidifier and infrared heater a lot. Letting my faucets drip and haven’t had any problems with water freezing, except on initial onset. I do open my vents daily and run for a while; kitchen and bathroom. I have read that it’s good to do and seems to be working for me. I love your blog! Have a cozy day! We will have sunshine tomorrow!!! Woohoo 🙂

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  5. I meant to ask you… Are you going to clear all the snow off your roof? I wasn’t liking all the build up and had considered.. Just a bit challenging with ice. I do have a ladder and push broom…. Never know til ya try! 🙂

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    1. I just did a little while ago. I used an 8 foot step ladder and a shovel. It slid right off. Be careful not to chip at the ice, as you don’t want to damage the roof underneath. Let the warmer temps melt it this weekend.

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  6. Just discovered you blog. Sounds like an amazing thing to do, sell the house and travel around in the RV. But I can see winter seems a bit challenging – but you seem to cope well! 🙂 Looking forward to your future posts!

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  7. This is our first year full-timing and are currently in Salt Lake City near kids until after the holidays. We have a lot to learn when it comes to cold weather camping. We had some pipes freeze up last week so we traveled south to Zion to thaw out. We moved back up to Salt Lake today and hope to keep from freezing up again!

    One thought we had was to put the slides in during a snow storm and open them after. Are you aware of any reasons why we should not do this?

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    1. That would work, as long as you have the room to live, and also make sure you don’t cover up your heat vents. Do you have slide toppers? They are actually very flexible in the cold weather. I found that fact out the other day when I brushed a foot of snow off of them.

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  8. I don’t think there is an RV made that is ‘technically’ rated for full time use — and humidity is a big part of that reason. Humidity kills a lot of RV’s!

    We spent last winter on the Oregon Coast where humidity is even worse than what you are experiencing and I recommend what we did — invest in a small de-humidifier — not the dinky little things you put in a closet but a true electric powered humidifier. Not only will it take surprising amounts of water out of the air you’ll get a tag-a-long benefit of a little heat. 🙂

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    1. We debated that, but we didn’t have the power available, as we are supplementing our propane heat with electric heat. Our current setup seems to be keeping the humidity levels down. They actually have gotten lower as time has gone by. If this was going to be a permanent situation, we would take more drastic steps.

      I will post an update mid winter to let everyone know what works and what doesn’t…especially once the outside temps really start bottoming out.

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      1. Your situ IS different from what we had last winter in OR. Everyone has humidity and mold issues there — in fact we had a couple of volunteers who arrived from UTAH who ignored all our cautions about mold and they ended up having to pick up stakes, leave their volunteer gig, and head back to drier climes when they developed mold in their coach and in their Pick Up (which they left without starting or running for about 2 months during the rainy season — and kept opening and closing the doors — getting more humidity inside)
        It is something to be careful about. At least you’re keeping your eyes on it!

        Liked by 1 person

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