To DIY or not to DIY, that is the question! I am a firm believer in ‘Do It Yourself’ and always have been, but with one essential proviso – whatever the job is, it has to be within your skill set. You need to be aware of your limits before you start some DIY on your motorhome.

Tackling motorhome maintenance without the appropriate knowledge and skill is a recipe for disaster. I saw one such DIY job recently that perfectly illustrates this point. The motorhome was a mature ’van, and the owner had retrofitted a diesel-fuelled heater to supplement the Truma gas-fuelled one.

To be fair, many owners do this themselves and usually do it well – but less so in this instance.

Insecure fixings

We all know the important role motorhome heating systems play in enjoyable touring during the colder months. Here, the heater had been mounted under the floor amidships, which should be fine, except for the method of mounting. It was ‘fixed’ with strips of thin metal, strung out like tentacles and secured with self-tapping screws, which meant the heater was bouncing about all over the shop.

Added to that was the fact that the recirculating air intake was not ducted from inside the vehicle. So the heater had to heat ambient-temperature air before blowing it into the ’van, when it should be taking already warm air from inside the vehicle and reheating it before blowing it back into the ’van. We explained the customer’s mistakes and they have promised to try harder.

This is the kind of thing that I see all too often with home-converted vehicles. But don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with people converting a van into a camper; I’ve converted a few myself. My issue is with people doing electrical or gas work when they quite obviously have only the lightest grasp of what they are doing.

This can result, for example, in refillable gas system fill points fitted into the main bodywork, so that internally it is into an almost sealed void – perfect for catching any gas that might leak from joints, and potentially extremely dangerous.

Electrical issues

Other examples include electrics done using the wrong type of wires. Domestic twin and earth is not suitable, because the single-core wire will work-harden with vibration and eventually fail.

And how about no earth connection to the van chassis? This is potentially lethal if a live wire chafed through to the bodywork, making it live at 240V. Stepping out of the camper, you’d complete the circuit to earth – and would be dead very quickly.

Or 12V systems wired with an inadequate gauge of wire for the load on that circuit? This would at the very least cause equipment to malfunction, and could at worst cause a fire.

Before carrying out any DIY, you’ll also need to make sure you have all of the essentials for your motorhome tool kit – our expert is sharing his top recommendations for the must-haves.

Lead image: Getty images

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