RV water leaks

If there is a way to get into your RV, water will find it. Water leaks in a motorhome can wreak havoc and can be very expensive to repair. When I worked at an RV dealership, I saw time and again the harmful effects that water can have on a RV. I learned the lesson the hard way. I appraised a unit that was traded in and did not identify the extensive water damage resulting in repairs worth a thousand dollars. In hindsight it’s 20/20 and I quickly learned how to inspect and identify potential water damage to RVs. My advice is to inspect for possible water leaks at least twice a year, once in the fall and again in the spring.

Every seam on your RV and anywhere the manufacturer has made a hole in your RV has the potential to let water in. To protect your investment and your wallet, take the time to REALLY inspect all of these seams and sealants. Water damage to a motorhome is similar to progressive damage to a tire. The outside of the tire looks fine, but the internal damage over a long period of time causes the tire to fail without any warning. The outside of your RV may look fine, but the internal damage caused by water over a long period of time can cause the entire roof, floor or wall to rot without you even knowing it. Here are a few things to keep in mind during your inspections.

Always keep safety in mind when working on the roof of your motorhome. You could be seriously injured by a fall! A reader of mine suggested to use 2 pcs 1/2″

plywood, 2 feet by 4 feet, to move on and your weight over the

roof trusses.

* To stop a leak before it starts, thoroughly inspect all roof and body seams. Consult your RV dealer for sealants that are compatible with different types of roofing materials.

* Look for any discoloration and feel for any soft spots on the ceiling around roof vents, air conditioners, TV antennas, plumbing drains, and other openings cut into the roof.

* Look for any discoloration or wrinkles in the wallpaper and feel for soft spots on the walls around any windows, doors, vents, pull-outs or other openings cut into the sidewalls.

* Identify the location of items such as the water heater, furnace, outdoor shower, drinking water refill and city water inlet on the outside of the RV, then access those areas from the inside of the RV and look for evidence of water damage around these openings.

* Open all wall cabinets and look in the top corner where the walls meet the ceiling for any discoloration or feel for any soft spots. This would indicate a leak at the seam where the sidewall and roof are attached.

* Check all external storage pockets for signs of water leakage or water damage.

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* Check for any soft spots on the roof itself, especially around the roof seams at the front and rear of the motorhome. Thoroughly inspect all sealants on the roof around each opening.

*Some Class C motorhomes are notorious for leaks in the cabin above the bed. Look for signs of discoloration and feel for soft spots. Reach under the mattress and feel for water.

* Look and feel the exterior of the motorhome for signs of delamination. Delamination is caused by water getting between the outer fiberglass and the sidewall. When this happens, the outer fiberglass separates from the sidewall of the motorhome. You can stand at the front or back of the RV and look down the side for noticeable ripples or anything resembling a bubble. You can also press on the side walls. If you feel the outer fiberglass move, it is delaminating. Often the delamination starts at an opening made in the sidewall.

Don’t just inspect your RV for water damage; REALLY inspect your RV for water damage. Doing this regularly will help you locate and repair the source of any water damage before it has a chance to do much damage. I think I will be checking our motorhome more than twice a year.

Happy camping,


Copyright 2006 by Mark J. Polk Owner of RV Education 101