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Our damp caravan diy repair story

When I bought our caravan off Ebay , I went and had a good look at it before buying . There was so many things to check , I had a list pages long . My main worry was buying a damp caravan as Iíd read this would be a real bad mistake . So I checked it for damp every where that I could think of , in all the corners , under the storage areaís , in the cupboards , along all the roof edges inside , the only mistake I made was I didnít have a damp meter with me . It was our first caravan so the only way I could learn about what to check was to buy caravan books and read info on the web . I had ticked off all the things to check on my lists so we bought the caravan , happy that everything was as it should be .

Click on pictures to make them bigger.

Hereís our baby.

Whilst on our first holiday I spotted a soft area of panelling behind the seat cushions in the back of the caravan , it didnít worry me much as it was only a small area , so left it alone thinking it was something probably age related , the caravan being 14 years old I couldnít expect all the panels to be spot on could I ? This is how it looked .

After a few more holidays the soft area had grown alarmingly , so I decided I couldnít leave it any longer , I bought a damp meter from B&Q (£14.99) and started prodding the panel , the damp meter was screaming itís head off over a much bigger area than just where the panel felt soft , it was then that I realised it had the dreaded damp bad and by leaving it , it had got a lot worse . Soft area of panel can be clearly seen once the seating had been removed .

It was time to see just how bad it really was , hoping at worst Iíd just have to replace the wall panel .

It wasnít looking good .

Once Iíd got it stripped , I realised that it had been letting in water in 4 different places , around the window seal , through the rear grab handle , through the outer skin and through the awning rail .

So the repair began , I had just 3 full days that I could work on the caravan with a few evenings here and there before our next holiday in a weeks time . All the rotten panelling was removed , the rotten corner spars and the grab handle wooden block . Whilst I did this I had a fan heater drying out the area .

The lower part of the awning rail had to be removed as the screws holding it were screwed into the spars that had rotten away . Note the spars were also glued in place , and had been stapled and screwed beneath the fold in the aluminum skin and they didn't want to come out very easily . Never pull / tug off the awning rail while rusted screws are still in place , you will bend it , drill the heads off first if you canít remove the screws . Note When removing the wooden spars go careful as it's easy to hack right through the aluminum skin . Yep I did it .

The window frame was so rotten it had to come out , this job seemed to be getting bigger by the minute , time to call a mate to help me get it finished in time for my holiday . When the spars were removed I could see day light through the aluminum skin , there were small holes about 5 of them, it looks like the aluminum has just worn through .

Yes this is the window frame , or whatís left of it .

The area stripped of all rotten wood , dried out , and ready for rebuilding .

Spars and window frame replaced , I used Grip Fill to stick the spars and window frame in place , I also used Grip Fill and staples to hold the grab handle block in place . Note , i would now recommend using EvoGrip tube adhesive ( non solvent type )( from B&Q ) , the solvent type adhesive melts the polystyrene wall insulation .

Awning rail replaced , I used 32mm awning rail mastic . Note stick mastic to the rail and then carefully place in position on the caravan . To stop the screws dragging on the mastic I used a bit of spit on the tip of the screw . I also filled down the sides of the rail with ď Sealastik ď sealant , just to be extra fussy ( I now recommend using Silkaflex 512 Caravan sealant instead of ď Sealastik ď).
The panels were coated with a weak mix of PVA glue / water to seal them , the foam on the aluminum skin was also treated with the same mix . Once dry , the panels were cut to fit , then glued and stapled into place . Wooden flooring glue was used to glue them in place .
A length of wood was used to force one of the glued panels into a slightly curved shape on the back wall , the panel was also slit half way through with a Stanley knife in a few places to allow it to bend .
Fablon was stuck on the new panel first then a new window seal was fitted . Note the window seal came supplied with mastic already on it , and I stapled the seal in place ( staple in the channel covered by the white trim ) , then added the white trim .
Fablon was added to the rear wall panels ( though i don't any longer recommend Fablon , i found the fablon seemed to attract moisture and didn't stay stuck very well ) , the shelf above the window was put back and the grab handle was refitted with new screws and plenty of sealant on the outside .

Finished in 3 days with help from my mate Frank . 
Have to say I wouldnít have even tackled this damp repair , if I hadnít had the help of Steve , Neil , Al , and others from , they have great websites that show just how to fix the dreaded damp and they support you all the way through . So thanks guys , proud to have become a member of the fixed it club . Wizard

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