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If there is a way to get into your RV, the water will find it. Water leaks in an RV can cause extensive damage and can be extremely expensive to repair. When I worked at an RV dealership I saw the damaging effects that water can have on an RV over and over again. I learned my lesson the hard way. I appraised a unit that was being traded in and failed to identify extensive water damage resulting in $1,000 worth of repairs. Hindsight is 20/20 and I quickly learned how to inspect and identify potential water damage on RVs. My recommendation is that you inspect for possible water leaks at least twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring.

Every seam in your RV and anywhere the manufacturer has put a hole in your RV has the potential to allow water ingress. To protect your investment and your wallet, take the time to REALLY inspect all of these seams and sealants. Water damage to an RV is similar to progressive damage to a tire. The outside of the tire looks good, but internal damage over a long period of time causes the tire to fail without warning. The exterior of your RV looks nice, but internal water damage over a long period of time can cause your entire roof, floor, or wall to rot without you even knowing it. Here are some things to look for during your inspections.

Always keep safety in mind when working on the roof of your RV. You can be seriously injured if you fall! A reader of mine suggests that I use 2 pieces of 1/2″
plywood, 2 feet by 4 feet, to move and distribute your weight over the
roof beams.

* To stop a leak before it starts, thoroughly inspect all roof and body seams. Check with your RV dealer for sealants 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 vents, and any other openings that have been cut into the ceiling.

* Look for any discoloration or wrinkles in the wallpaper, and feel for any soft spots in the walls around all windows, doors, vents, sliders, or any other openings that have been cut into the side walls.

* Identify the location of items such as the water heater, furnace, outside shower, drinking water fill, and city water inlet on the outside of the RV and then access those areas from inside the RV and search any indication of water damage around these. openings

* Open all upper cabinets and look in the top corner where the walls meet the ceiling for discoloration or weak spots. This would indicate a leak at the junction where the sidewall and roof meet.

* Check all exterior storage compartments for any indication of water leaks or water damage.

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

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

* Look and feel on 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 exterior fiberglass separates from the RV’s sidewall. You can stand at the front or back of the RV and look down for noticeable ripples or what looks like a bubble. You can also press on the side walls. If you feel the outer fiberglass move, it is delaminating. Delamination often begins around an opening that was made in the sidewall.

Don’t just inspect your RV for water damage; REALLY inspect your RV for water damage. If you do this regularly, you can locate and repair the source of any water damage before it has a chance to do major damage. I think I’ll start checking our RV more than twice a year.

happy Camp,


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

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