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Do RV Covers Cause Mold? (Maintenance Guide)

Mold is one of the most damaging elements that may affect RVs. It’s most harmful to RVs during the fall and winter months when it’s at its worst. The good news is there are things you can do to prevent molds from attacking your RV, and one of those things is utilizing an RV cover. However, there has been much debate over the last decade about whether installing an RV cover prevents mold or causes it. In this article, we will find out. 

In reality, RV covers that are of high quality, made of breathable material (like polypropylene or polyester), particularly ones that have vents that allow a bit of circulation under the cover, and are coated with a water-resistant material, DO NOT cause mold. In order to prevent mold and mildew growth (both on your RV and on the cover itself), a high-quality cover is designed to let any trapped moisture evaporate and dry out as soon as possible. As a result, it prevents mold and mildew from growing and causing damage to your RV. Mold will only grow on RV covers if there’s insufficient ventilation or if the covers are left unattended for an extended period of time (more than a few months).

That being said, let’s take a closer look at why RV covers are so important for keeping your RV in good shape.

What Causes Mold to Grow?

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Mold is created when mold spores, which are normally present in our environment, discover a damp and dark spot in which they may develop and reproduce. Because RVs are commonly closed up and stored for extended periods of time, they are particularly ideal incubators.

Rain and snow are the most important sources of moisture. Because of the climate, an RV has a greater propensity to develop mold if it’s left open to the air without the appropriate cover. The process of mold transmission cannot be seen by the naked eye. Putting a cover on your RV is the most effective way to prevent mold from damaging it over time.

How Do You Keep Mold from Invading Your RV?

  • Check the pipes that are located under and around the sinks, as well as the shower and the toilet, for leaks. Any leaks need to be fixed ASAP. 
  • Conduct a thorough inspection of the RV’s roof. Make sure there are no damaged seams, dry or cracked caulking, tears, or holes in the surface. Caulking should be redone if necessary, and any tears, holes, or seams should be patched up.
  • To improve air circulation in your RV, open the windows and turn on the fans whenever they are used.
  • Install a dehumidifier in your RV if you experience issues caused by high humidity. Make use of a dehumidifying machine to remove moisture from the air. 

What is an RV Cover?

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RV covers were designed for those who don’t have a garage or any enclosed space to keep their vehicles while they’re not using them but still want to keep them protected from the outside. RV covers provide security without the need for a spacious garage or the financial burden of renting a storage facility.

RV covers protect the RV’s paint and finish windows, and rooftop appliances (including air conditioners and vent fans) from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, snow, ice, hail, as well as debris such as small tree branches. These covers are made of a fabric that is strong, durable, and resistant to water, such as polypropylene or polyester.

What are the Other PROS of Using RV Covers Besides Mold Protection?

  • Keeping Black Streaks and Stains at Bay

When being left over time, the RV accumulates dust, which causes the RV to rust when exposed to heavy snow or rain. Not to mention that dirt and bird drops cause damage to the RV exterior when left uncovered.

While regular washing helps to maintain and remove dust, dirt, and bird drops from your RV, continual washing of your trailer causes black streaks. The black streak reduces the beauty of an RV’s exterior, especially when it becomes obvious.

With RV covers, you can limit washing your RV to avoid paint color changes and keep it protected from dust, dirt, and bird droppings when it’s not being used.

  • Additional Protection for Your RV Roof

Constant exposure to sunlight damages an RV’s roof. The materials used for RV roofs easily wear down when they are exposed to too much sunlight. Heat causes the caulking used to seal the vent to lose its strength, then the paint will start to peel.

An RV cover helps protect your RV from streaks that could make it look dirty and old. While repainting the body of your RV, especially the roof, is unavoidable, RV covers make the paint last longer compared to when your RV is left uncovered.

  • Protection from Snow, Ice, and Water

The wintertime is not the best time of year for RV trailers. Even a thin layer of snow that has piled on your RV for only a few inches can cause significant damage. It’s especially problematic if there are a few brief periods of thawing and freezing throughout the course of the season.

If you live in an area where snow, ice, heavy winter rains, and wind are typical, investing in an RV cover is essential to preserving the condition of your RV during the long months when it’s not in use. A high-quality RV cover will protect the seals surrounding the windows of your RV from dry rot and the effects of thaw-and-freeze cycles. This will also cover all of the windows on your RV.

IMPORTANT NOTE: When exposed to the weather in the winter, fiberglass surfaces do not do well. It’s possible that the fiberglass will deteriorate, giving the RV a dull and uninteresting appearance.

  • Lower Storage Costs

Owning an RV can be challenging if you don’t have an appropriate storage facility. The majority of garages are not large enough to accommodate one, which might pose a problem during the times of the year when you don’t need it. Although there are now facilities available for storing your RV, this storage does not come cheap.

Purchasing a cover is a much more cost-effective choice than renting a storage unit for several months.

What are the Cons of Using RV Covers? 

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  • High-Quality RV Covers Don’t Come Cheap 

Using a cover of poor quality can end up doing more harm than good. Using tarps to keep your RV dry during the rainy season is not an option. Because tarps are not made of a material that allows air to pass through, leaving anything covered with one for an extended period of time would almost certainly result in the growth of mold and mildew.

Not to mention the fact that if you use a tarp, there’s a 100% chance that it won’t adequately fit your RV. It won’t take much more than a gust of wind for the tarp to rip straight off your vehicle.

The price of a cover of decent quality often ranges between $200 and $300 without taking into account taxes and delivery fees. While this is a one-time cost, it can be a little bit pricey for some RV owners. 

  • RV Covers Often Don’t Cover the Tires

Although RV tires are designed to have a longer lifespan than standard automobile tires, this does not mean that they are indestructible. Depending on how well you take care of them and where you use your RV, each tire on your RV can last anywhere from three to six years on average.

RV tires can have a shorter lifespan if they’re not properly maintained. For this reason, it’s important to cover the tires as well during the months when you don’t use your RV so that you can provide further protection against the weather. Sadly, almost all RV covers do not come with tire covers. 

  • RV Covers are Hard to Put On and Take Off

RV trailers are much bigger than regular cars, which is why it does not come as a surprise that RV covers are much bulkier than regular car covers. These heavy covers are not easy to put on an RV because of their size and the size of the RV as well. It usually takes more than 1 person to put it correctly, even in a regular-size RV.

Taking the cover off and folding it up is an equally challenging process.

Do the Pros Outweigh the Cons? To Cover or Not to Cover? 

Even though RV covers can be expensive and difficult to install, it’s still a better idea to use one than to leave your RV exposed to the weather. If you leave your RV exposed to the weather for an extended period of time, the cost of repairing the damage it sustains will be far higher than the cost of purchasing a cover of adequate quality and installing it. That is to say, when you come to check on your RV, it’s still repairable. It will cost you a great deal more to replace it entirely as opposed to merely replacing certain components or purchasing a cover instead.

You can avoid all the drawbacks of using an RV cover by simply purchasing the appropriate cover!

How Do You Cover an RV? 

  • It’s recommended that you clean your RV before covering it. Cleaning will remove any debris and grit that could potentially retain moisture or abrade the surface of your RV. Additionally, a clean RV will prevent any dirt transmission to the cover. This is especially important when installing a new cover for the first time. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Any RV cover can’t be returned if you have gotten it dirty or stained.

  • It’s best to cover your RV on a sunny day. The cover will absorb excess moisture, which can cause the roof of your RV to become extremely slick and hazardous on rainy or snowy days.
  • Check that your RV’s temperature has cooled down. An RV cover’s durability can be significantly compromised by the engine’s exhaust, an exhaust from a refrigerator or a water heater.
  • Make sure that all “pokey areas” like side views, rain gutters, riveted edges, and awnings are padded.
  • Any extended mirrors should be folded in.
  • Unpack the RV cover on a large clean flat surface like the driveway. Remove any weights or weight straps from your cover, as well as any buckles or snaps that it may have.
  • Position the cover such that the outside of the roof part is pointing in the upward direction. This will help you identify the front of the cover. Fold the RV cover’s sides towards the center of the roof area.
  • Roll the cover from back to front. Place the rolled-up cover on the roof of the RV’s front portion.
  • Unroll the cover toward the rear of the RV while keeping it folded up towards the front of the vehicle. Unfold the sides of the cover and position them so that they droop over the sides of your RV if they haven’t already started falling down.
  • Once the RV cover is in place, secure the straps, snaps, and buckles according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Cleaning and Storing RV Covers

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  • Clean Before Storing

Before you put it away, give the cover of your RV a good cleaning. Place your RV cover on a broad, level surface, and then give it a quick rinse with the garden hose. In a bucket, mix together some mild dish soap and water to make a cleaning solution. Scrub the RV cover gently with a gentle bristle brush, dipping it in the pail of soapy water multiple times as you go. Run the cover under the water from the garden hose until it’s clean.

Allow the cover of your RV to dry completely. Any moisture that becomes trapped in the folds has a high risk of developing into mold or mildew.

PRO TIP: While putting your RV cover on a wide flat surface is effective, cleaning your RV cover before removing it is also effective and much easier. When you clean it while it’s still installed on your rig, it’s much easier to see all of the dirt and grime. Additionally, leaving it on the RV allows the cover to completely dry out, particularly on a hot sunny day.

  • Inspect for Damages

It’s normal for your RV cover to show signs of wear and tear, especially if it’s been in use for several months. Inspection and rapid repair of problems such as tears, holes, splitting seams, worn grommets, and so on will guarantee that the situation does not worsen. Not to mention the fact that it will extend the life of your RV cover.

  • Fold and Store 

The majority of today’s covers come packaged with a storage bag and instructions on how to fold them. If there are instructions available to you, make sure you follow them. However, if you don’t have the manual and the storage bag anymore, the most effective technique to fold your RV cover is to start by making two parallel folds along the length of the cover. This will allow you to reduce the breadth of the cover to one-third of its initial size. After that, fold the cover’s lengthwise edges using a succession of z-folds until the cover is folded down to a size that can be readily handled.

After it has been washed and dried, the RV cover should be stored in the storage bag that comes with it as storage bags provided by manufacturers are usually designed to help the cover breathe and not trap moisture. But if you no longer have the storage bag, you can use a big ventilated bag. You can also use a huge plastic garbage can as long as you convert the trash can in such a way that it includes breathing holes that allow moisture to escape through the openings.

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