How did the van end up so mouldy that it needed to be completely gutted?
The van was left under a tree and out in the weather, it was rarely if not ever washed and rarely aired out. In fact it was pretty much used as a storage area that sadly if only a couple of basic things had been addressed the rebuild would have never been needed!
The roof-rack came off due to an accident by driving under a low branch. An insurance claim paid out for a new one to be put on. The fitters are alleged to have not sealed the area around where the screws were used to attach the roof rack. This resulted in a leak………….a leak that never was attended to, albeit talked about! It was thought that this was the only leak but further investigations would show that the roof rack installation was only a very small part of a much greater issue. Literally the van was not so much different than an Irish colander!
The flooring in the initial build had not been waterproofed, nor had the underside where tires kick water up when driving. Basically the undercarriage was literally raw wood, so when driving and in wet conditions it just soaked through. The top part of the flooring showed water damage when the van was purchased, rather than treat it, this too was covered up. This did help the inside a little but it did not fix the greater issue. To have done the job properly this would mean sealing both sides of the flooring and putting in wheel arches.
The air conditioner was on an ever so slight angle tilting towards the van and the condensation hose was clogged with silicone. So the combined tilt and blockage resulted in water and condensation coming into the van. This created more leaks as time went on as the window frame surrounds slowly eroded away.
All the above and more problems were indeed well known about and as the project moved along the enormity of repairs became exceptionally clear! In front of us was the end result of several years of an out of mind out of sight attitude.
So just like the rust it was left untreated and neglected, factor in the number of sneaky cover-ups, it was inevitable that mould would take over the van……………….
There are literally hundreds of thousands of types of moulds all over the world. Some of them are good some are bad. Some help with decomposition, some the manufacturing of cheese, some for good intestinal growth…..
The mould in the van is the bad type…..
Nothing good can come of this type of mould, it was all over the ceiling, in the walls and on the bed and in the fridge. The mildew was so severe that there was gaping holes in the floor as rot had also set in.
Left untreated and neglected not only with the visible damage the impact on health is formidable.
Mould causes skin irritations, asthma attacks, allergic reactions and so much more. It is recommended that if more than 60% of an area is covered in mould, then the offending items need to be removed. So the only safe thing to do was to gut the van completely!
How could all the damage and health risks be prevented?
Caravans and motor homes are prone to mildew, hygiene and maintenance is paramount!!!!
A good pack down or unpacking procedure is a great thing to have in place. A good cleaning of all the surfaces, airing the van out and making sure that all foodstuffs in the cupboards and fridges are removed and the cupboards and fridge are properly cleaned. Basically a thorough going over every part of the van! Once a routine is in place it is actually quite an easy thing to do. You would be surprised that this does not take long at all really!
Another simple solution to help prevent mould occurring is to place a moisture absorber in the van when not in use. There are numerous products on the market, two we use are called Hippo and Damp Rid, what they do is take moisture out of the air, thus helping prevent moisture build-up and condensation. So placing one in a van and refreshing it every few weeks is a small price to pay really.
Also keeping on top of repairs, an “Out of mind, out of sight” mentality will not fix problems, it creates them!
You cannot cover up mould it needs to be treated or removed!
The act of putting another blanket on a mouldy bed to hide the mould will not prevent the skin irritations or health risks, the mattress needed replacing as it was too far gone!
The holes that were all over the van should have been repaired swiftly, or at the very least a simple waterproof tarpaulin being placed over the van.
To think just a few very small things put in place would have been all that was needed to have saved this van. It does make the mind boggle really as the solution was actually simple, easy and cheap! The hiding, covering, neglect and ignorance probably took a lot longer!