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Do I Need a Dehumidifier for My RV? If So, Why?

Inside space of an RV that consists of the kitchen and dining area.

Yes, you need one for your RV. Too much humidity might cause wet stains on ceilings and walls, condensation on windows, musty odor, moldy bathrooms, and a clammy feel to the air.

Therefore, you should have a dehumidifier designed to help remove humidity from the air inside your RV.

Can I Run My Dehumidifier Too Much?

Woman cleaning dehumidifier in RV.

Simply run your dehumidifier unit for approximately 12 hours daily. Again, it’s fine if you don’t stick to the rule, but remember the more you run your dehumidifier unit, the cleaner and fresher it will be all year long.

What Problems can Happen When Humidity is High in My RV?

High humidity might cause damage to your RV unit. Most RVs are constructed using wood, and humidity might cause that wood to expand, warp, or lose integrity gradually. Another dangerous issue with high humidity is mold growth.

Mold spores in the air might get attached to your RV’s surfaces. So, you risk developing breathing complications if you come into contact with these pores.

Can I Run My Dehumidifier When the AC is on in RV?

A hand turning on a dehumidifier in RV.

Yes, but only when you need quicker dehumidification that your RV unit can’t offer while working alone. The Air Conditioner helps get rid of humidity by providing a cooling effect on your RV. I run my AC when I need cooling and dehumidification, especially during summer and humid seasons.

Should I Run My Dehumidifier All the Time?

No, you shouldn’t run your humidifier all the time. The humidity levels should determine how often you run it. Again, when the RV unit is underpowered, it might wear out quickly and become ineffective. That is why you need to check on the relative humidity levels in your RV.

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Moreover, there is no harm in running your humidifier on a low setting for a few hours a day. But, I recommend you run it during the hottest part of the day and overnight.

What Is an Optimal Humidity Level for an RV?

RV dehumidifier level.

The optimal humidity level for an RV is approximately 30%-50% range. If it exceeds that range, switch it off! Again, too much dehumidification, say below 30%, might lead to the growth of molds, bacteria, and dust mites that thrive in a low humidity environment.

How Should I Maintain My Dehumidifier?

During long summers, excessive humidity robs us of sleep, saps our energy, causes safety and health issues, particularly for the elderly, and makes our homes smell musty and damp.

So, you need to maintain your dehumidifier so that it can efficiently help fight such summer-related challenges. Here are the top three tried and proven maintenance steps for your dehumidifier:

  1. Vacuum and clean the coils. Dirty coils might cause freezes. Therefore, if they accumulate specks of dust, clean them immediately.
  2. Tighten the screws on the fan shafts as they might have slipped.
  3. Replace the fan motor if it makes low revolutions per minute or if it’s barely turning.
  4. Take it to an expert if steps 1 through 3 don’t fix it. Maybe the compressor isn’t working or the dehumidifier needs recharging.

Why Does My RV Smell Bad? 

Disgusting look of a woman holding her nose in an open refrigerator.

It’s so stressful to live in a smelly RV. I am not a technician, but I have lived in my RV for four years and smelled most of these odors. So, I’ll share the most common types of RV smells, their causes, and how to fix them.

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Rotten Egg Smell

The rotten egg smell is caused by a couple of issues. The first culprit is your water heater. This is a common issue in RVs. The reaction of the bacteria with the anode rod in the RV water heater creates this odor. Simply change the rod and clean out your water heater.

The next issue is your RV batteries. An over-charged lead-acid battery produces a gas that smells like a rotten egg. This gas is highly flammable and risks your health. Also, over-charged lead-acid batteries are dangerous and cause harm to nearby people.

Please contact an RV technician for battery replacement to help fix this issue immediately.

And, if you are unaware of the cause of the smell of a rotten egg odor, check your propane! A rotten egg smell is comparable to the strong smell of a propane leak.

So, if you smell a rotten egg odor and it isn’t from your overcharged batteries or water heater, it might be a propane leak. This is disastrous! That is why you need to contact an expert ASAP.

Turn off your propane system and ventilate the RV. You can get off the area to keep out harm from your leaky propane. Also, don’t allow any flame or spark near the RV, not even a cigar!

Sewage-like Smell

The sewage-like smell might be coming from your gray tank, black tank, or your drains. And if the smell comes from your black tank, it might be from a worn-down seal or broken seal on your toilet. Please confirm if your RV toilet has a rubber gasket sealing it from the black tanks.

These gaskets help prevent odors from getting into the RV. But it is normal to smell a black tank odor when flushing your toilet. So ensure your vent fan is OFF when flushing the toilet! Use a holding tank deodorizer, too.

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You have a serious issue if the sewage smell permeates the RV and it doesn’t go away. So, test your toilet to find out if it holds water. If not, the seal isn’t working and needs replacement. You can order an RV toilet gasket from most RV supply stores.

Moreover, your gray tank might become stinky, too! Ironically, gray water isn’t raw sewage, but it stinks! You can notice the stinky gray tank smell when the tank becomes full or if you’ve dirty drains. Therefore, clean the drains and dump your gray tank.

Ammonia Gas Smell

A faulty RV fridge causes an ammonia odor. Be sure to take this smell seriously! It is dangerous to breathe ammonia gas.

Unfortunately, fixing an RV refrigerator smelling like ammonia isn’t easy. The wisest step is to turn off the fridge and ventilate the RV. I recommend you contact the nearest RV technician to replace the cooling unit.

Mildew, Musty Smell

RV wall with molds.

A musty smell is prevalent in RV units, especially ones stored longer. RVs can hold in humidity and moisture, creating a breeding environment for molds! So, the musty odor is caused by mold growing due to a lack of enough ventilation.

Please check your RV for any signs of molds, then clean (if any) and treat with bleaches. Mold growing in RVs can be spotted under the RVs’ mattresses, cabinets, closets, and along the top of the wall near the ceilings. Also, check your RV for potential water damage by filling soft spots in the wall, ceilings, and floor.

Closing Thoughts

You need a dehumidifier for your RV unit. It helps reduce moisture efficiently and quickly. Also, opening your cupboards and closets helps maximize dehumidifying effects.

This ensures that moisture has no hideout and mold has no environment to thrive in! Finally, always contact an RV technician whenever you detect any odor in your room.