If you have spent any time in the motorhome market, looking at the available vehicles, you will know only too well yourself that they constitute a considerable investment. That’s likely what’s brought you to this particular page because you want to ensure the model you put all that money into will hold its value while offering comfort, luxury and safety to you and fellow travellers.
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Understanding How Motorhome Maintenance is Categorised
A huge part of motorhome maintenance is obviously the servicing side of things. Within the industry, you must understand that when motorhomes are services, they are considered two different parts. There is the front part or end of the motorhome that includes the chassis and engine bay and the back part or end that includes the living area and main body of the tourer.
For this post, though, we are going to focus on what is involved in habitation checks on motorhome back ends, not front ends.
As we know a lot of you will be keen DIYers and owners simply looking to save a bit of money, having spent a lot on the vehicle in the first place, we will look at whether you should take care of the habitation checks yourself or have them done professionally.
What are the Most Common Habitation Checks?
First things first, before we go any further, especially if you are new to motorhome ownership and indeed maintenance and servicing, you will probably want to know what checks are most commonly involved in habitation checks.
Although it really depends on the make and model, the main checks that should be done are as follows:
- Gas System Checks – this is one of the checks we would recommend that you do not solely handle yourself as a DIYer, due to the dangers surrounding gas supplies and equipment,. It will also help ensure that your motorhome is safe and follows gas regulations. These checks involve looking for gas leaks and whether the gas regulator onboard can maintain adequate flow and pressure. When arranging it, you should make sure the technician is going to remove the fridge vents if you have a three-way fridge, as the gas burner needs to be serviced too.
- Electrical Checks – these checks involve testing both 230-volts and 12-volts electrical systems to ensure they are working properly and are suitably earthed. It should also include inspection and testing your vehicle’s leisure battery.
- Internal Damp Checks – As dampness is a real problem in touring vehicles, these checks are designed to ascertain whether or not water ingress is an issue for your motorhome that may need to be inspected further and repaired. It involves the use of moisture or damp meter.
- Motorhome Bodywork Inspections – self-explanatory really, but these checks involve looking closely at any damaged seals and cracked panels in the bodywork that could lead to potential water ingress and leaks.
Before we get to the meat of this post, it’s also important to consider two things when it comes to the decision of whether you should rely on professional or DIY habitation checks. Those two things are:
- Motorhome Warranty
- Motorhome Residual Value
What You Need to Know About Motorhome Warranties and Habitation Checks
If you have a new motorhome and a good value motorhome warranty from the manufacturer, you are often protected against water ingress and dampness. Which is a good thing. The crucial thing you need to note though is that the warranty comes with the strict condition that you have your tourer inspected annually by a fully qualified engineer with a certificate or some kind of official written evidence to make sure you do not void your warranty.
Therefore, if you are still within the warranty period for your motorhome and it is part of the conditions, you should have a professional run the water ingress habitation checks, at the very least.
What You Need to Know About Motorhome Residual Values and Habitation Checks
You need to think about whether or not you are looking to achieve the highest and best residual value when deciding if professional or DIY habitation checks are right for your motorhome. What is meant by residual value? The term basically means its potential value when you come to sell it in the future.
One way to look at this is how important it is for you when investing in a used motorhome how important it is that it has had professional habitation checks when deciding whether it’s good value for money or not. Likely you will agree you would not be satisfied knowing the owner had just run their own tests.
However, it’s also crucial to note that how much the value of your motorhome would be improved by having a professional habitation check depends on various factors. One of those, for example, is the motorhome’s perceived quality. Motorhomes manufactured by a company like Hymer appear to keep their strong residual value even if there is no record of annual professional habitation checks.
Now, to help you decide which is best for you, we are going to discuss both professional habitation checks and DIY options.
Professional Habitation Checks
Mobile Technician or Service Centre?
When it comes to getting a professional to perform your motorhome habitation checks, whether you want the works or just to have the electrics and gas systems checked over, there are two main options open to you. You can either call out a mobile technician or you can take your tourer along to a specialist motorhome and caravan service centre. One of the main contributing factors as to whether a mobile engineer or technician would be a suitable option is where your motorhome is kept when it is not in use.
Is it in storage or is it kept on your property? This is vital information because mobile technicians and engineers normally require at least 1-metres of free space around the entirety of your motorhome to carry out their checks and often need access to a mains water and 230-volts supply.
Generally speaking, at the time of publishing, the average cost of professional motorhome habitation checks starts from around £200. The total cost for your own vehicle will depend on how comprehensive the checks are out with the gas, electrical, damp and bodywork inspections that are carried out as a basic. For instance, solar panels are not included in a standard habitation check.
It may also be that you need a specialist to take care of any air conditioner or fridge checks.
A word of caution when looking at the price – be wary of any company or individual that offers you a quote that is considerably less than £200. Cheap doesn’t mean better and it probably means it is not nearly as comprehensive.
Full motorhome habitation checks should take roughly 3 hours and consist of more than 50 different individual checks. With that in mind, therefore, it is always a good idea to make sure you ask what is actually included in their services.
DIY Habitation Checks
Although we may be inclined to think that professional habitation checks are better in the long run, in the interest of being fair and balanced we are now going to discuss taking the DIY route. Perhaps you have owned the motorhome for a while now and it’s beyond its warranty period and you feel confident enough in your abilities.
What is a good approach? We have included some tips and suggestions to help you out.
Invest in a Good Quality Moisture/Damp Meter
This is one of those purchases you will never regret. When you have your own moisture/damp meter you have the chance to regularly check the interior surfaces of your touring vehicle for any signs of the dreaded damp. With simpler models, you may need to contact a mobile technician if you believe there is a real issue, however, with higher-spec models, you can actually identify with accuracy if there is a dampness problem developing.
As you can imagine, when it comes to dampness and the chance of mould, the quicker you identify whether there’s a problem or not and do something about it, the easier and less expensive the repairs will actually be.
Bodywork Inspections During Cleaning
If you are serious about doing the majority of the habitation checks yourself, when you are cleaning is the best time to look at the motorhome seals and bodywork for any signs of damage. Mobile technicians can only identify areas where there is potential for water ingress problems.
By regularly washing your motorhome, you have a better chance to see first-hand if the seals and bodywork are holding up or has cracks or gaps and is allowing leaks into your tourer.
Remember to Test the Carbon Monoxide Alarm Battery
Okay, so we have stressed how vital we feel it is that you hire a professional at least to run the gas system habitation checks, there is one task you can do that will help, that is often disregarded and forgotten about by motorhome owners. What are we talking about?
Checking and testing the battery in your motorhome carbon monoxide alarm. If you have any form of the gas system in your touring vehicle, you should have a carbon monoxide alarm. Even more crucial is the fact that you should not just wait for your scheduled annual checks to test it, you should check any time you are in the motorhome and especially if you are travelling in it.
Invest in a supply of spare batteries for it, to make sure you can quickly replace them when they run out.
So, now that we have discussed both options, which is best for you? Really, you need to rely on a little bit of self-evaluation, and you need to be honest with yourself before you consider taking on the task of doing habitation checks yourself.
Are you confident enough in your DIY skills? Do you know the ins and outs of what you need to look for, how parts, components, systems, and equipment on your motorhome should work and how to identify faults?
If you have any doubts about your abilities, although it may annoy you, it may be a good idea to go down the professional route. The last thing you want is your stubborn commitment to trying to save some money and do it yourself to lead to an accident.
However, if you are fully confident in your skills and abilities, the residual value does not bother you and you are out with the warranty period, you should go for it. As the owner, user, and driver, if you tick all those boxes, you really are the one that knows your motorhome better than anyone.
We hope you find this guide and post informative and helpful. If you did, you may be interested in the many other posts we have published here on Caravan Helper – check them out!