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Long Term RV Living – Outside Insulation

September 8, 2010

I already wrote about putting insulation on the roof of the RV under a covering. I also wrote about insulating the inside as much as you can. It is also good to insulate the outside walls if you can. Every little bit helps.

We tried using bales…which did make a HUGE difference. However, using bales can be tricky. You definitely do NOT want to do it the way we did it. If you are going to use bales, lay plastic down. You want a piece of plastic that will go up at one or two bales, under the bales and then all the way up the outside over the top of the bales and onto the roof of the RV. The idea is to keep the rain off the bales. We tried bagging each bale, but that did not work that well.

Then stack the bales tightly in place. Bring the back piece of plastic up and tuck it in between the first and second or second and third bale. When you are done stacking the bales, bring the plastic up and anchor it on the roof so that no water can get between the walls and the roof. You also want to cover the sides of the bales that are exposed. We are talking a lot of plastic and a lot of thinking about how you are going to do this…especially since you need to allow for doors and windows.

Everything you do helps. You may have pockets where the cold and heat can get through, but it really does make a difference. Here is a picture of our RV one winter when we started baling it. Bagging each bale worked for about a year, but then the bales started to break down because holes punched through the plastic bags, which allowed rain water to get in…but not out.

Here is a side view. Each side had it challenges. On this side we needed to be able to switch out the propane tanks just to the right of the door. On the other side, we had to work around the water coming in and the dump valves going out.

This is from the front side again. We never did get the whole thing done, but what we did made a huge difference in both winter and summer. Almost all of it is done, but we could not get the top part over the cab and over the windows done. For that, we would have needed to build some kind of wooden structure to hold the bales.

Our RV has a fiberglass body. However, the cab is metal. That is one place we had a lot of heat and cold transfer. That is why you see the front part so well packed in. On the inside, we put towels and blankets…all we could get…into plastic bags (to protect them from mold) and stuffed then down inside the cab. We filled every nook and cranny we could.

On the inside of the windows, we taped the silver insulation bubble stuff. Then we taped blankets of that. That is how we sealed the inside of the windows over the cab. The problem with that is that it kept the light out, too. Plus, moisture still got inside somehow, so we could never really open it up again without it being a bit of a health hazard.

That is one thing about insulating…especially in colder weather. You have to watch out for mold and mildew forming where the cold walls meet the warm air inside. It gets a bit tricky. One of our overhead hatches also leaked a bit and we don’t dare take out the foam that we have sealed in place with packing tape.

Once we move out of the RV…which will hopefully be within a month…it will need to be junked. It is not really fit for living in anymore…not even on camping trips. There would have to be a lot of renovation as mice have chewed through quite a bit of wiring. There are too many things wrong with it to make it worth trying to clean it. Another factor is that the engine has been sitting for over four years now with gasoline in it. We neglected to put an additive in the engine as we did not think we would be living in it for this long. It is better to put in an additive and not need it, than to not put it in and then not be able to.

I am going to be sad to see it go.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Dave permalink
    May 20, 2015 7:30 PM

    I am thinking about building walls around my camper with a deck and all.?

    • May 21, 2015 8:37 PM

      That is a possibility. I have seen people do all kinds of things.


  1. Ice Dams Again & Whoa, Nelly, It’s COLD Outside! « Little RV on the Hillside

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