Without a doubt the largest threat to the well being of your recreational vehicle is the intrusion of water and condensation. In most cases, this damage comes about as quite a surprise. In fact a very familiar scenario in spring time, is “Hey, I never noticed this water stain before!”
Very often, water leaks can take weeks or even months before they?re discovered. The results of a long-term leak can be a rotten wood structure, delaminating of hard sidewalls, soft floors and ceilings, and corrosion to electrical circuitry. The common denominator to these problems is a very high repair bill. So, let?s look at some ways of preventing this kind of misery.
If your RV has a ladder on the back, use it for periodic roof inspections. Low building structures, and unsuspecting branches can puncture metal roofs, and tear or snag rubber ones. Get down low and visually comb the entire roof, small holes may be tough to detect.
The roof sealant also needs to be inspected for cracking and lifting. Make sure to use the right product to reseal the roof; the wrong product on a rubber roof can result in damaging the roof itself.
EPDM rubber roofs require a self-leveling sealant that is usually available in 12 oz caulking tubes. This type of compound has a catalyst inhibitor which virtually melts into the rubber. Anything less than a product made for EPDM rubber will fail.
For metal roofs, use liberal amounts of plastic-based flexible roof coating. Use a trowel or paint brush and apply it to all roof fixtures and seams. Never coating the entire roof with any sealer!
The side of your coach is equally vulnerable to water leaks. In fact the seams and corner mouldings of the walls are susceptible to flex, which results in broken seals.
Grab a screwdriver and dig out some of the old putty sealant from behind the moulding; if it?s starting to become brittle it could be a clay-base sealer that has lost its flexibility. Remove the moulding or fixture and replace the putty with a long lasting butyl-base sealer.
To avoid this type of problem from the start, purchase the right unit to begin with. If you?re looking at new coaches, stay away form “entry level” no name brands. Check how long the manufacturer has been in business. Ask what the manufacturer does to ensure their units won?t leak. If you are buying used, be doubly cautious; examine the unit thoroughly, or even better, have a qualified repair shop do an inspection.
Another wise idea, have an air loss pressure test done on the entire unit.
A small inspection fee now can prevent a big bill down the road.
by Rod Thiesen