For many people who own an RV and enjoy RV camping trips, their vehicle is their pride and joy. You love the feeling of packing everything in and hitting the road and you want to make sure your RV stays in good condition.
If you take proper care of your RV, you will do regular maintenance on the roof. However, even when you look after your RV, it is likely that the roof will at some point spring a leak. When the inevitable happens, it is imperative that you stop the leak before the damage becomes irreparable.
Here is my guide on how to do running repairs while you’re out on the road as well as how to find a more permanent solution when you get back home and have more time to do a proper job on that RV roof leak repair.
How To Do An RV Roof Leak Repair That Will Last And Won’t Cost A Fortune
What You’ll Need
If you are an RV owner, I recommend that you invest in the following items before you need them. You don’t need to carry them all with you all the time. Some should be taken with you at all times for emergencies, others can be left back at home for when you have more time to do a proper fix.
You may need the following:
- Sealing tape such as Eternabond® roof repair tape or aluminum duct tape
- Patching material (e.g. rubberized leak stopper or tar)
- Cloths for washing and drying
- Hair dryer/heat gun
- Fiberglass repair tape
- Caulking and caulking gun
- Cover (e.g. paint)
- Protective clothing and gloves
How To Do It
1. Emergency Fix
Any RV should always be equipped with a roll of sealing tape for emergencies. This means that if you spring a leak while you are on the road, you will be able to do a quick fix job that will allow you to enjoy the rest of your trip and protect your RV until you get home.
The first step is to find the leak and to wash the site with a cloth. You can then dry it with another cloth. Once the site is clean, you should apply the sealant tape in a way to temporarily prevent more water from finding its way in.
Some sealant tapes such as Eternabond® are available that claim to provide a permanent fix. You may decide this is all you require to fix the leak and take no further action.
If you don’t want to purchase such expensive tapes or if you decide you prefer a more robust solution, when you finish your trip and arrive home, you can move onto step two.
2. Clean The Site
When you have time to do a proper repair, the first thing you need to do is make sure the site of the leak is properly cleaned. Again, using cloth, wash around the leak. If there is any previous sealant on the leak, you should pick it off with a knife, taking care not to damage the roof further.
If you need to remove Eternabond that is already on the roof, you can use a heat gun or a hair dryer. Heat the Eternabond and it will peel off easily. If you need to remove the MicroSealant, heat it with the dryer or heat gun and scrape with a knife.
Once the area is perfectly clean, dry it off with another cloth.
3. Seal The Leak
If the leak is not too big, you can seal it with a sealant product. Before you start, make sure you are wearing protective clothing and gloves. For this step, you simply apply the sealant liberally and evenly to the leak using a brush.
You shouldn’t overdo it with the amount you use but make sure the sealant is spread widely around the leak. Leave the sealant to dry
Note: Silicone sealant is not paintable.
4. Seal A Hole With Fiberglass Repair Tape
If the hole is too big to seal using sealant alone, you can patch it up using fiberglass repair tape. First spread sealant around the hole as in step 3 above. When this is done, place some strips of fiberglass tape over the hole.
When the fiberglass tape is in place, spread more sealant over the tape. This will hold it in place and ensure the hole is properly sealed. Leave the sealant to dry as above.
5. Caulk If Necessary
If the leak was in a joint, you may choose to protect the seal further by applying calking. This will mean that the sealant that is doing the job of sealing the leak will last longer.
Take the calking gun and apply calking evenly along the joint and leave it to dry.
Using paintable caulk to cover the sealant will also help you paint your RV roof easily.
6. Coat Your Work
We all know how much you love your RV and you probably don’t want it bearing great dirty scars from you DIY repair job so you’ll want to cover it all over to make it look presentable again.
Aesthetics is not the only reason for this step, however. As important as it is to leave your beloved RV looking the part, it is also important to coat the seal to protect it from weathering, potential rust damage and to make sure the repairs will endure.
You need to decide which kind of coating you wish to use. Painting is the simplest and cheapest and will do the job. If you wish to paint over the seal, simply select the paint you wish to use and apply to the seal and the rest of the roof with a brush as you see fit.
Some other options are to use elastomeric products which will provide more protection and also give you some insulation, or you can even elect to fit vinyl sheeting although this last option is the most expensive.
The best way to stop a leak in an RV roof is to prevent it from happening in the first place. This is why proper maintenance is key. I recommend you physically check the roof of your RV before you leave on each trip and once again when you get back. This way, you can spot it early.
If, despite all your efforts, you still find you have a leak, it is vital to act quickly. If you don’t deal with even a minor problem promptly, the water slowly trickling into your RV will cause serious damage that may end up being prohibitively expensive to repair. As they say, a stitch in time saves nine.
For this reason, as I mentioned before, you should always have a roll of suitable repair tape stored in your RV which will allow you to make running repairs without spoiling your trip and allowing you to get back home where you can make more permanent repairs.
Following your trip, you should try to find a more permanent solution at the earliest possible opportunity. Then it is up to you whether you are happy with just a strip of tape or whether you prefer to choose something a bit tougher like a sealing product.
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What are your experiences of leaking RV roofs? How do you keep up proper maintenance for your RV to prevent leaks from happening? And what techniques do you use if the worst happens? If you have any other ideas about how to patch up an RV roof, I’d love to hear your comments.
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