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1994 Cobra Monterey
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Annual Habitation Service Check


Annual Habitation Service Check

motorhome habitation service Confusion reigns as to what is actually tested during a motorhomes habitation service, our article below intends to demystify the process and show why habitation services are a 'must have' for your motorhome.

Motorhomes are unusual beasts in that compared to their automotive cousins they not only require annual preventative and reparitive servicing to the engine and associated mechanical parts such as brakes, exhaust and suspension but they also need professional testing of the household aspects i.e. gas boiler, electrical charging circuitry, water system and damp proof testing. The latter is most important to allow early detection and rectification thereby avoiding potentially costly repairs

Warranty conditions also usually stipulate the requirement of annual damp checks to ensure validity of water ingress damage protection.

Who is authorised to perform habitation servicing ?
Habitation Service approved workshop National Caravan Council

With so many individuals and dealerships offering habitation tests, who can you trust to fully test your pride and joy ?

The NCC (National Caravan Council) is the definitive authority on habitation servicing and offers via its spin off site of http://www.approvedworkshops.co.uk/ a database of workshops within the UK who follow the checklists provided by the NCC and adhere to their code of conduct. You can also search for an approved workshop on their website.

We used Chelston Motorhomes based in Taunton, who are not only an approved NCC Workshop but also are an accredited Fiat Professional workshop.

What is tested during a Habitation check ?

 

The full NCC recommended series of tests for a habitation service is available as a PDF Document here
basically this covers basics from checking seals, catches, cabinet doors all the way through to more advanced tests i.e. full gas pressure testing, damp checks and electrical charging functionality.

What duration should i expect for a habitation service ?
A full motorhome habitation service can take as much as 3 hours so ensure sufficient time is allocated to allow for this.
How much does a habitation service cost ?
Habitation servicing costs vary significantly nationwide as there are no fixed costs set by the NCC and it therefore pays to shop around. Use an authorised workshop where possible. A little internet research shows some mobile motorhome engineers are offering up habitation servicing at sub £100 costs. Always ensure whoever performs the work on your vehicle is qualified, and insured. Some dealers are now offering special deals on habitation servicing costs and offers of 5 years habitation servicing thrown in with a purchase of a new motorhome. A fully fledged habitation service requires some specialised equipment and the costs of purchasing these are obviously passed on to customers.
Our View of a Habitation Service  

I arrived at Chelstons service centre building in the morning ready for a day of servicing. Our Swift Loan review van was booked in for a Fiat Annual Service (Chelstons is a Fiat Professional) and a habitation service.

Chelston motorhomes

An intro discussion revealed what was to take place during the day and after the engineer had donned his blue protective gloves and carefully placed seat protector covers on the drivers seat he drove it up to the servicing bay.

The bay did not have the usual double ramp affair that we usually see in garage photos but instead had what at first glance appeared to be stubby diagonal arms. These extended out and were placed below jacking points on the van front and rear. The engineer then carefully engaged the hydraulics and 4,000Kg of van was gingerely lifted into the air.

Swift Kontiki lifted up high

The Fiat Annual Service procedure then took up the next 3 hours (Admittedly with me asking questions and interrupting the natural flow) More information on the Fiat Service will be in a later article.

On completion of the mechanical servicing the van was road tested and passed over to a habitation engineer for the habitation aspect of the day. The van was moved to a habitation servicing bay.

Chelstons have a split format servicing building with one side dedicated to mechanical type servicing and a middle parts section and the opposite side used for habitation servicing and bodywork repairs (with a dedicated smartbay spray container)

The Habitation service was surprising in its depth and duration. Each and every lock was inspected, tested and lubricated. Blinds were operated and lubricated if necessary. All windows / rooflights were opened and adjusted. Seals for doors were inspected. It is actually very useful to have a fresh set of eyes checking out each and every item as a couple of trivial issues were noted and rectified during the checks. A full habitation service checklist employed is shown below and a habitation damp report

The Gas system was pressure tested to ensure no gas leaks were present. Carbon monoxide levels were checked and a small adhesive carbon monoxide detector was installed for safe and quick ongoing checks.

The electrical sub system was checked including ensuring the charging system was actually charging to the correct degree. All the internal mains sockets were tested for safety and the RCD was tested.

Lighting was tested throughout the van

Finally the all important damp test was performed using a standard hand held tester, there are many types of damp testers but Chelstons engineer had one with an extension cable leading to prongs rather than the damp testers that have two prongs sticking out of the tester, the formers advantage being that it allows access to smaller / tighter spaces when testing for damp. The small prongs are inserted into non visible areas (if possible) as the prongs leave miniscule indentations. The areas tested are those that would initially indicate leaks such as around window frames, Hekis and similar and then other areas to ensure a thorough damp test throughout. Obviously the MHF Loan Kontiki is only just over a year old so all readings were down in normal ranges but the presence of a higher reading would indicate an issue and further investigation would be required.

Summary of Habitation Servicing

A proper thorough Habitation Service should take a few hours and requires some specialist equipment to test gas pressure steadfastness, damp and electrical charging. Taking into account the equipment required, time taken and skills of the engineer involved I have a better appreciation of where the variation in costings can come in, some corners might be cut in order to ensure a quicker service and hence a lower cost. MHF Recommendation would be to use one of the NCC Authorised Workshops to ensure a standardised habitation service.

motorhome habitation service checklist
Download the NCC Habitation Service Checklist

motorhome habitation service damp report
Download the NCC Habitation Service Damp Report Form

More information written by our members on the subject can be found by clicking the following link: Habitation Servicing of Motorhomes

Many thanks to Chelstons Motorhomes for allowing us to take photos whilst our loan Swift Van was in for its annual Habitation service.

Note: Our sister show of Outdoorbits now carries out habitation checks at their East Devon premises. See Outdoorbits habitation service page for more information.

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