HABITATION SERVICING of MOTORHOMES (Author = Grizzly)
Every year you are advised to have the living area of your motorhome checked. The Motorhomes sections of the National Caravan Council (NCC) and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) publish a list of items that they expect will be covered in this check.
A habitation service is usually done by the dealer that you bought the van from. Who does the habitation check for a vehicle still in warranty is somewhat of a grey area.
There is no legal reason why you should not go to a dealer of your choice if they will accept the work BUT, life is not that simple.
If, as a result of the habitation check, work needs to be done or normally free-of-charge parts used then the dealer who has done the check should be paid by the warranty holder to do this work. If this dealer is not franchised then claiming these payments will take time and might not be straightforward. Because of this many dealers will not undertake to service or to do warranty work on any van for which they do not hold the franchise.
The best advice seems to be to do your research well before you buy a van, to choose a dealer with a good reputation - bearing in mind that cheapest is not always best in the long run- and to go back to that dealer for servicing and warranty work.
As mentioned below, for water ingress checks, it is best to go to the franchised dealer.
The service should be documented by the dealer who does it, in the place provided by your manufacturer. There is no legal requirement to have it done on a van that is out of warranty but, if your van is still within warranty then this might be invalidated if you do not have it done.
Costs vary and range from £100 to over £250. This figure might or might not include consumables.
It is possible to do parts of it yourself but there are good reasons for having the service done professionally:
The warranty issue mentioned above.
Your van will be more saleable if it has had regular professional checks.
Some of the checks require specialist knowledge and equipment and should be done by people who know what they are looking for. This is especially true of gas safety checks. These are done by technicians who have been regularly trained and have kept up to date with the latest appliances and safety devices.
There are safety issues involved and your life and that of others could be at risk. Motorhomes lead a hard life and many of the parts involved have to work in extreme conditions.
The damp ingress warranty lasts for a longer period than the full habitation warranty on most vans ( eg 6 years). In order to maintain the validity of this warranty a damp check must be carried out by a dealer who has all the proper equipment and can provide the all-important certificate. For reasons mentioned above, it is usually simpler to have the service done by a franchised dealer who sold you the van. If there is damp then he has access to everything necessary, including the funds, to get it sorted out.
Most vehicles manufactured after 2003 will be fitted with a bulkhead (wall) mounted regulator this will be set to 30mb, where fitted this regulator is compatible with either Propane or Butane cylinders, there should also be a warning notice within the gas locker advising the pressure setting of the gas equipment fitted.
It should be noted that some older vehicles (especially those of German manufacture) will be fitted with a 50mb regulator, where this is fitted, should a replacement be required only one of the same rating should be used.
When fitting a replacement ensure that the regulator is correct for the appliances fitted to the vehicle.
This is the document published by the NCC and SMMT:
Recommended Annual Habitation Service Check
There is much confusion over the annual habitation service or check for motorhomes, with widely varying prices and standards of work. However a 'standard checklist' is used by many dealers when carrying out this work, but it seems that many owners are not aware of this, or of what checks should be included. We suggest that owners should ask for the 'SMMT Annual Habitation Service Check' to be carried out. Competent owners may wish to use the published checklist when carrying out their own maintenance.
The following guidelines for the checking and servicing of a motorhome's habitation area are taken from the guidance booklet published by the Motorhome Section of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and the Motorhome Division of The National Caravan Council (NCC).
The checks do not cover any part of the base vehicle, although there may be minor overlapping (such as tyre pressures, cab seats, internal lights, battery and windows) in a van conversion. The base vehicle must be serviced in accordance with the chassis manufacturer's instructions.
Reference should also be made to:
1. Any owner's manual or equivalent supplied with the vehicle by the motorhome manufacturer.
2 Appliance manufacturers' leaflets.
3. Driver s handbook or equivalent supplied by the chassis manufacturer.
A vehicle is accepted for service at the dealer's discretion.
Any defects, repairs, adjustments, cleaning or lubrication required will be noted on the check list.
The customer's approval will be obtained before any work is done.
Not all of the equipment mentioned in this manual is fitted as standard to every motorhome
Any work carried out following the check, and the sufficiency of the work in the check itself, is subject to the contract between the customer and the dealer. The National Caravan Council (NCC) & SMMT and their member companies are not part of this contract, and accept no liability in contract, tort or otherwise, other than death or personal injury due to negligence on their part.
1.1 BODY TO CHASSIS
Examine all fixings retaining the body to the chassis - this may be direct or through a sub-frame.
Where practical, all fittings should be checked to ensure they are all present and correctly secured.
1.2 BODY TO CAB
Examine joint between body and cab for signs of movement and soundness of sealing media.
1 .3 BODY RETENTION (Dismountables)
Check serviceability and tightness of body retaining gear.
Check serviceability of body support struts and mountings.
(Note - whether it will be necessary to demount the body to check the
body supports must be agreed between dealer and customer).
Check window glazing rubber or sealing for cracks and general condition.
Check for satisfactory opening and closing.
Check fixing of top hinge rail on top hung windows.
Check for good weather seal when window is closed and latched.
Check catches and stays for satisfactory operation.
3.1 EXTERNAL DOORS
Not including base vehicle doors.
Check that hinges and catches are satisfactory and that, when latched, doors are held securely shut.
Check that keys or internal latches lock the doors correctly.
Check that any device fitted to hold a door in the open position is satisfactory.
Check all door seals for cracking and general condition. Check correct closing to give a weather-tight seal.
3.1.3 CHILDPROOF LOCK
Where a door is fitted with a childproof lock, check that an appropriate warning notice is fixed adjacent to the door.
Appropriate warning notices are available from motorhome manufacturers.
3.2 INTERNAL DOORS
Check that hinges and catches are satisfactory and that, when latched, the door is held securely shut.
Check that any device fitted to hold a door in the closed position can be operated from both sides to open the door in an emergency.
ATTACHMENTS TO CHASSIS OR UNDERBODY
4.1 CORNER STEADIES
Check that attachments to chassis are secure. Ensure steadies work freely and satisfactorily.
Lubricate screw to ensure correct operation.
4.2 FOLDING/RETRACTABLE STEPS
Check that step pivots are satisfactory and not worn. Check that, when closed, the retaining mechanism holds the step securely. If fitted, check warning device is working.
4.3 UNDERFLOOR WATER TANK MOUNTINGS
Check mounting frames are secure to body. Any fastenings that require releasing to remove the tank should be free of rust and operate freely. (Removal, flushing, cleaning and replacing of tanks will be carried out at the prior request of the customer or will be done subsequently with other work).
4.4 SPARE WHEEL
Remove spare wheel. Check for damage. Check tyre pressure.
Check mounting frame for security to body and for secure retention of
Check for damage, corrosion, water seepage, signs of tyre rubbing.
ATTACHMENT TO BODY EXTERIOR
5 1 ROOF LIGHTS
Check security, general condition, and that sealing has not deteriorated.
5.2 ROOF RACKS AND LADDERS
Check security to body and general condition.
Check roof for damage adjacent to rack.
5.3 MOULDINGS, TRIMS
Check security. Check sealing has not deteriorated (see section 6).
5.4 FLUE TERMINALS, AIR VENTS
Check security. Check sealing has not deteriorated.
Check that these are not blocked.
6.1 BODY SEEPAGE CHECK
Examine for moisture/water staining of areas under windows, at side of roof and at corners which could indicate water seepage problems.
A moisture meter should be used where appropriate.
Check furniture is securely fixed.
Check door hinges, catches and stays for satisfactory operation.
6.3 DINETTE SEAT/BEDS
Check seat bases for security of fixings and for damage.
Make up beds according to manufacturer's instructions and check for
rigidity and safety.
6.4 UPPER BUNKS
Check there is a secure means of access to upper bunks and that, where applicable, protection against falling out and entrapment is provided.
Check track is secure and curtains draw freely without snagging.
Check blinds and/or nets for correct operation.
Check flyscreens in roof lights and air vents.
6.6 CAB SEATS
Where cab seats form part of the living area and/or bed layout they should be checked for security of attachment, smooth and easy operation of seat slides, swivels and seat back operation.
6.7 FIRE EXTINGUISHERS
Check condition and expiry date. If an extinguisher is not fitted, inform the customer of the advisability of such equipment.
6.8 FIRE BLANKET
Check position (should be near cooker).
If one is not present, inform the customer of the advisability of such equipment.
6.9 ADVICE TO OCCUPIERS WARNING NOTICE
Check presence and condition and advise accordingly
The wording and the layout of the notice should be set out as follows:
ADVICE TO USERS
NO NOT OBSTRUCT THE VENTILATORS WHICH ARE FITTED; YOUR SAFETY DEPENDS ON THEM
IN CASE OF FIRE
1. GET EVERYONE OUT
2. TURN OFF OUTSIDE GAS VALVE OR OIL VALVE (IF FITTED)
3. DISCONNECT THE MAINS ELECTRICITY SUPPLY
4. RAISE THE ALARM AND CALL THE FIRE BRIGADE
5. TACKLE THE FIRE IF SAFE TO DO SO
CHILDREN: DO NOT LEAVE THEM ALONE
MEANS OF ESCAPE: MAKE SURE YOU KNOW THE LOCATION AND OPERATION OF THE EMERGENCY EXITS, KEEP ALL ESCAPE ROUTES CLEAR
COMBUSTIBLE MATERIALS: KEEP THEM CLEAR OF ALL HEATING AND COOKING APPLIANCES
FIRE FIGHTING: PROVIDE, AT LEAST, A 1 KG POWDER FIRE EXTINGUISHER, THAT COMPLIES WITH BS 5423 BY THE MAIN EXIT DOOR, AND A FIRE BLANKET NEXT TO THE COOKER. MAKE YOURSELF FAMILIAR WITH THE INSTRUCTIONS ON YOUR FIRE EXTINGUISHER AND THE FIRE PRECAUTION ARRANGEMENTS ON THE CARAVAN PARK.
6.10 PORTABLE OR OPEN FLAME HEATING EQUIPMENT
Check for its presence. The customer must be advised against its use.
7.1 LIFTING MECHANISM
Gas struts or spring struts should be checked for corrosion (particularly on the piston rods of gas struts), smooth operation when operating roof up and down and to ensure that they support the roof when fully up. Check attachment points of struts to body and roof.
7.2 CANVAS SIDE WALLS
Check for satisfactory attachment to body and roof.
Check for splits or holes, particularly at fold lines.
Check that the canvas stows satisfactorily when roof is lowered.
(A waterproofing check will be done at the prior request of the
7.3 SOLID SIDE WALL
Check sides and end panels fold up and down correctly, that they seal against each other where appropriate and that retaining mechanisms are satisfactory.
Check all hinges for security and freedom from strain.
7.4 LOCKING OF ROOF
It is important to ensure that when the roof is in the travelling position, it is safely and positively locked down. Any locking retaining mechanism should be carefully examined.
8.1 CYLINDERS AND REGULATORS
Establish that the cylinders and regulators are compatible. Butane (blue) cylinders should have a regulator stamped with the pressure 11" WG (28 m bar) and propane (red) cylinders should be stamped 14" WG (37 m bar). Check that the regulator is controlling the gas to the correct pressure for the type of cylinder fitted.
Check cylinder compartment vents and gas drop hole in the floor are free from obstruction.
Check seals on internal doors.
8.2 HOSE AND PIPING
Check any flexible hose is of an approved type. Check its condition and for any evidence of cracking.
Check piping for condition, damage and correct support.
Carry out an overall leak test.
In general, the checking of gas appliances can be divided into the following:
2. Operation of controls
3. Correct flame structure
5. Flame failure device
Where appropriate, remove cover(s) to gain access to heat exchanger.
Clean away any fluff or foreign matter. Reassemble and test.
Clean flame viewing window.
Check that all knobs etc. work smoothly and are secure on their spindles.
If gas taps require greasing to ease stiffness, use only approved LPG grease.
Check that appliances can be brought into service using the normal controls.
8.3.3 CORRECT FLAME STRUCTURE
Check that all pilot flames burn quietly and clearly.
Refrigerator: With the refrigerator gas control turned to maximum, the colour of the flame should be predominantly blue.
Instantaneous Water Heating: The main burner flame should be of even height and blue in colour. A flame burning yellow will allow sooting to occur.
Ovens: The oven flame should burn quietly and be of even height, mainly blue/green in colour. If the gas is propane, the flame will normally develop yellow tips as the burner heats up. If the gas is butane, a small amount of yellow tipping will be seen immediately after lighting, increasing as the burner heats up.
Grill Burners: It is normal for the flames on this type of burner to develop yellow tips as it heats up, particularly on butane.
General: A flame lifting away from the burners is an indication of too high a pressure, although it may happen with grill burners whilst the frets are heating up.
A yellow flame will cause sooting and is an indication of too low a pressure.
Providing the regulator and piping have been checked and found satisfactory the above faults should not appear.
Flues should be examined for security of fixing and for correct attachment to appliances and flue terminals. They should be free from damage and corrosion.
Check for leakage of flue gases into the vehicle.
8.3.5 FLAME FAILURE DEVICE (FFD)
Where fitted, the FFD should be checked to ensure satisfactory operation. After the appliance has been successfully checked, allow time for the thermocouple to cool.
Attempt to relight the appliance by turning it on without pushing in the gas control knob. (Do not override the FFD). If appliance does not light, FFD is satisfactory.
Check appliance is securely fixed to the vehicle/furniture and will be free from rattles. Where applicable, check that water pipes are satisfactorily attached with no sign of leakage
8.3.7 PROTECTION OF ADJACENT SURFACES
Check that surfaces adjacent to open flame cooking appliances have adequate protection.
It is recommended that inspections are carried out by a qualified fitter
trained to, for example, CORGI (Confederation of Registered Gas Installers) or Calor standards.
Before operating the water system, a visual check of the following items may show up an obvious leak source.
9.1 FRESH WATER TANK CONTAINER
Check condition, fill tank and check for leaks.
Check the external filter and filter pipe to tank.
Check for satisfactory venting.
Check condition and presence of filter cap.
9.2 WASTE WATER TANK
Check drain tap is clear and working.
Check condition and presence of drain hose. (The water tank will be drained, flushed, cleaned and charged with a measure of toilet fluid/disinfectant at the prior request of the customer.
9.3 FILTER PUMP
When applicable, remove filter and replace.
Check the in-line pump for security and condition. Remove the
submersible pump from tank, check condition.
Check pump inlet and outlet are clear and not obstructed.
Check delivery hose and electric cable are secure and satisfactory
Operate pump. Check all piping for leaks.
Operate taps and shower. If a hot water system is fitted, it can be checked for leaks etc. using cold water.
(Note - Aerated water from tap could be due to a leak on the suction side of the pump).
With water running through the drain pipes, check for leaks and satisfactory draining of water from sinks etc.
9.6 COUPLINGS AND FLUIDS.
Check that the appropriate markings are used - blue for fresh water, grey for waste water. Ensure a sealing off cover is supplied for each coupling. Check that filler positions are designated "petrol", "diesel", or "water" as appropriate.
9.7 TOILET WASTE TANK
Check that any fixed tank intended to receive discharge from a toilet is fitted with either a level or full indicator.
10.1 EXTRA LOW VOLTAGE 12 VOLTS (excluding vehicle)
Check battery/ies for condition.
Check connections, wires, fuses and relays appertaining to the habitation electrics.
Examine all visible wiring.
Check all connections and joints are sound and satisfactory
10.1.3 FUSES/FUSE HOLDERS
Ensure that fuses and fuse holders used to protect the habitation electrics are satisfactory and that fuse ratings are compatible with the circuit appliances being protected.
Inspect all appliances for damage, signs of overheating and secure fixing
Function test all appliances.
10.2 MAINS 230 VOLT SYSTEM
It is recommended that the inspection and certification of the 230 volt system be carried out by a qualified electrician who is an approved contractor of the NICEIC (National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting) or in membership of the Electrical Contractors Association.
11.1 HIGH LEVEL
Check all high level ventilators, including roof lights, are free from obstruction and allow a free flow of air.
11.2 LOW LEVEL
Check all low level ventilators are free from obstruction and allow a free flow of air.
If the ventilator is manually adjustable then ensure mechanism is free and operating correctly
it is also a good idea to check gas regulator washers and O rings on gas filler adapters as they are liable to crumble. They cost a few pence and are not always routinely checked by dealers at habitation service.