Sammy FairclothSee other Advice articles filed in ‘General motorhome advice’ written by Sammy Faircloth
Selecting a reputable workshop or service engineer to carry out your motorhome’s annual habitation service can seem to be a bit of a minefield.
Fortunately, collaboration by the National Caravan Council, The Caravan and Motorhome Club and The Camping and Caravanning Club has resulted in the creation of the Approved Workshop Scheme (AWS).
To be part of the scheme requires the fixed or mobile workshop to pass a rigorous annual inspection carried out by an independent inspector, and to comply with strict standards.
The technicians must have formal qualifications and comply with the industry’s code of practice.
With this in mind, the customer (you) will have peace of mind that the work is carried out to a high standard – search here.
Who does the work?
The first step is to establish whether you wish to use a mobile service engineer or a fixed workshop.
Here are some thoughts to help you make your decision:
- Work can be carried out in a workshop regardless of the weather conditions;
- They will have space to keep items in stock;
- Some dealers send out yearly service reminders;
- It is your responsibility to deliver your motorhome to the workshop, and this may not necessarily be particularly near you.
Mobile service engineer:
- Mobile service engineers can come to your home or storage facility (but check with your storage provider before booking a mobile technician);
- The engineer will need at least one metre of clear space around your ’van;
- There’s no need to drive your ’van to a workshop making this convenient and fuel-efficient;
- This is also time-saving, because there’s no trip to and from the workshop.
But what is a habitation service, also known as a motorhome habitation check?
A basic service can cover about 50 individual jobs, generally divided into the following areas.
All internal and external lights are assessed to see if there are any faults.
Sockets are tested using a loop check, which sends a signal down to verify that it is wired correctly.
Included in these checks are fridge operation, the consumer unit, the TV socket, the battery and anything that requires electricity.
A residual current device (RCD) check involves making sure the RCD trips within a set time.
In addition, the miniature circuit breakers are checked to ensure that they are correct for the appliances in the vehicle.
A manometer is used to check for leaks in the gas supply system.
All gas appliances – such as the oven, the fridge, the heating system and the water heater – are turned on, to check they are working properly.
All vents are checked to see they are clear. Then all appliances are turned off at the gas isolator taps.
The flame-failure device should cut in, meaning the test has been passed.
A second test is the CO room test, where all gas appliances are turned on and a flue gas analyser runs for a minimum of 15 minutes with all doors and windows closed.
All taps are individually checked for leaks, and the motorhome’s waste-water outlet is observed for blockages.
The toilet is inspected to ensure the valve seal is well lubricated and the battery-operated flush is working.
If an Alde wet heating system is installed, the ethylene glycol antifreeze and water must be a 50/50 mix – this is checked using a portable refractometer.
The antifreeze mix in the header tank should be 10mm above ‘Minimum’, not at maximum.
It is recommended that the antifreeze should be changed every two years.
All doors, windows and blinds are assessed for smooth operation.
General observations are made of the whole bodywork, including a visual inspection of the roof.
A damp check is carried out around the inside of the motorhome – a reading of 0-15% means there no concerns, but 15-20% requires further investigation and a recheck within three months.
If the reading is above 20%, immediate attention is required because this highlights an area of water ingress.
The motorhome service technician should give you a damp report on completion of the service.
All of the motorhome’s rooflights are opened and closed to ensure that they operate properly.
In addition, all fixed vents are checked for possible obstructions.
Fire and safety
The smoke alarm and CO detector are tested, and checked to see they are not past their replacement date.
If you carry a fire extinguisher, the expiry date is checked. If you carry a fire blanket, the housing unit is inspected to ensure that it is secure.
What’s not included?
Before you book in for your motorhome habitation check, it’s very important to establish what won’t be included in a basic service, because some workshops or mobile technicians may not include any damp testing.
The following checks are not included in a basic service, so would require additional payment:
- In-depth servicing for individual appliances, such as the fridge;
- A solar panel service;
- An air-conditioning service.
With all of the appliances found in motorhomes today, it is more important than ever to get a regular habitation service, to ensure everything is in good working order and that your ’van is safe on the road, as well as habitable.
Sophisticated equipment requires sophisticated tools to check it, so by using an AWS workshop or AWS mobile service engineer, you can head off on your holidays safe in the knowledge that your motorhome has been serviced by a highly qualified, competent technician.
Finally, don’t forget to ask them for a service check sheet and damp report.