The Most Common Causes of RV Roof Leaks

When you buy an RV, chances are good that you’re thinking about things like fuel economy, engine performance, towing capacity, the number of beds and seats provided, and other considerations. It’s pretty unlikely that you’re thinking about the roof, or the possibility that it will leak. However, RV roof leaks are not uncommon, and they become much more likely as the roof ages. Here are some of the more common causes of RV roof leaks to bear in mind.

Leaking Caulk

A number of vents, skylights and other elements actually pierce the roof of your RV. Where these meet the roof, you need to have a watertight seal. This is usually done with caulking. However, over time, caulking dries out. It can dry and shrink, pulling away from the very seams and edges it is meant to protect. If left untreated, it will eventually crumble away. It’s highly recommended that you reapply caulking once per year or so on the roof of your RV.

Roof Racks

While not all RVs have them, roof racks are handy. They allow you to store extra items, extra equipment and more. However, because these are attached directly to the roof of the RV, there’s the potential for leaking over time. RV roof leaks from roof racks tend to be located around the screws that hold the rack to the roof, and usually coincide with caulking degradation or seal failure.

Ladder Mounts

Most RVs have a ladder that grants you access to the top of the RV. While important and definitely more convenient than carrying a ladder with you at all times, the ladder’s mount points can become the source of RV roof leaks. There’s also the potential for leaks on the back of the RV where the ladder is located (where it attaches through the side to the frame).

Physical Damage

One of the more common causes of RV roof leaks is damage to the roof itself. Falling tree branches are a good example of this, but such damage can be caused by any number of other things that come into contact with the roof. Even something with enough weight that just sits on the roof for an extended period can eventually cause damage.

Aging

The aging process, combined with exposure to the elements, will eventually weaken the roof of your RV all by itself. Over time, this can lead to leaks through damaged roofing material. Sunlight, freezing temperatures, and precipitation will all take their toll.

Repairing RV roof leaks can be a time-consuming process if left until the leak has caused significant damage. In a worst-case scenario, you might be looking at having the entire existing roof torn off, as well as damaged parts of the siding, and then replaced. It’s a better option to take a proactive stance and use a product like Liquid Roof to handle RV roof leaks while they are still relatively minor.

Understanding Rubber Roof Coatings and Their Benefits

Repairing roof leaks, or even replacing the entire roof is something that every homeowner will need to face eventually. While investing in a high-quality roofing system at the outset will help stave that time off, it will happen sooner or later. When it does, it pays to know the right repair or replacement option. You can certainly repair or replace your roof with the existing materials, but more and more people are turning to rubber roof coatings for their many benefits. What should you know?

What Are Rubber Roof Coatings?

If you’re like many homeowners in the US, you might think that rubber roof coatings are really only applicable for businesses with flat roofs, or those with cement underlayment that needs to be protected from ponding water. While these coatings certainly do play a significant role in commercial roofing projects, they are also good fits for residential needs.

Really, rubber roof coatings are exactly what they sound like. They consist of a bucket of liquid rubber, which is usually mixed with a catalyst to incite the curing process, and then applied to the roof of your home. Depending on the actual product you’re using, you may need anywhere from one coat to three coats or more. Liquid Rubber allows you to apply just a single coat, saving you time and money.

Are Rubber Roof Coatings Really Waterproof?

Yes, rubber roof coatings are waterproof, although the time it takes for them to become so varies from one product to another. Liquid Rubber roofing is waterproof as soon as it is applied, but others on the market are not. Liquid Rubber is actually a liquidized version of EPDM, the same type of rubber that you’ll find under the hood of your car, in the shape of radiator hoses, or sealing water away inside your refrigerator, in the form of gaskets. It is high-performing, and 100% waterproof as soon as it is applied. Water-based systems cannot offer that.

What Types of Roof Can Benefit from Rubber Coatings?

Really, just about any type of residential roof can benefit from rubber roof coatings. However, depending on the type of roofing material yours uses, you may need to apply a coat of primer before applying the rubber roofing. Metal roofs with the exception of sanded stainless steel will not need primer, but conventional asphalt shingle roofs will need primer applied. You will also need to ensure that any rips, cuts or tears are cut away so that there are no cracks in the primer prior to applying the Liquid Rubber.

While there are plenty of competing rubber roof coatings on the market, only Liquid Roof offers immediate waterproofing. In addition, it is the only product that can be applied with only a single coat, saving you both time and money. In fact, it is so simple to apply that many homeowners choose to do it themselves and save money rather than hiring a professional.

What You Should Know about RV Roof Coatings

What would you say is the most critical part of your RV? Is it the engine? Maybe it’s the HVAC system. Perhaps it’s the size of the fresh water and waste water tanks. All of these are certainly important, but the roof is even more so. If the roof is in good shape and prevents water from leaking in, you’ll enjoy a comfortable trip no matter where you might be bound.

However, if the roof is aging, or already suffers from leaks, it’s a different story. RV roof coatings can be used to breathe fresh life into your existing roof, sealing leaks and giving you years more enjoyment out of the vehicle. Of course, they’re not all the same.

Compatibility with the Existing Roof Material

One of the most important considerations when comparing RV roof coatings is compatibility with the original material used to construct the RV’s roof. Manufacturers use several different materials, and not all coating products are compatible with each type. While you have plenty of options, Liquid Roof is one of the few that can be applied to just about any existing roofing surface with a little bit of prep work.

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When Does It Become Waterproof?

One of the most widely used RV roof coatings in the industry is a liquid acrylic elastomer product. Lightweight and relatively durable, these products offer some benefits. However, they are not immediately waterproof. This means that any exposure to moisture during or right after application can cause serious problems. Liquid Roof does not have this issue, and is waterproof as soon as it is applied to the roof of your RV.

Strength and Durability

It is important to realize that while you can find a broad range of RV roof coatings on the market, not all of them offer the same strength and durability. You’ll need to make sure that the product you choose offers good resistance to standing water/ponding, and that it is able to hold up well to the following:

  • Freezing temperatures
  • Severe precipitation
  • High heat
  • Direct sunlight
  • UV exposure

Does It Shrink?

Some RV roof coatings on the market are applied easily enough, but they shrink as they cure. This can complicate matters, meaning that you need to apply more of the product than you would with another option. Liquid Roof does not shrink as it cures, ensuring that the areas to which it is applied remain protected even after it has finished drying. It can also be applied in just a single layer (called a ply), which reduces the amount you must use.

Flexibility Is Important

Finally, make sure that any UV roof coatings you’re considering maintain their flexibility after they have dried. Liquid Roof maintains its flexibility, but other products can become stiff and brittle after curing. This makes them much more easily damaged, and can reduce the lifespan of your roof.

As you can see, Liquid Roof is one of the best options for anyone considering RV roof coatings to repair or replace their existing roof.

How to Check Your RV for Leaks

Water damage to your motorhome can cost thousands of dollars to repair. Prevention is simple, you think, right? Once you see water dripping through into the interior, you get up on the roof, apply some Liquid Roof to the trouble spot, and all is well again. Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple.

When a leak develops on your RV roof, the water may travel unnoticed in the area between the roof and the ceiling, dripping down into the walls and causing damage which may not be detected until you’ve got a very expensive problem on your hands. Inspecting the roof isn’t enough – you’ve got to go through the entire motorhome to see if there are any areas which show signs that water is getting in. Then you’ll be able to trace it back to the source and treat the roof with liquid roof to prevent further problems.

How to look for water damage in your RV:

Inspect the roof – Visually inspect all the seams, flashing, and areas around protrusions like antennae for cracked or damaged caulking and other gaps as well as soft spots or discoloration. Any problem areas can be cleaned and fixed with repair tape and liquid roof.

Check inlets – Examine the areas where the furnace, shower, water inlet, etc. come into the inside of the RV and make sure there are no signs of water damage.

Inspect the walls – Check for soft spots, discoloration, or wrinkles on the walls, particularly around doors, windows, slide-outs, and vents.

Inspect inside cabinets – Pay special attention to the area where the top inside corners of the cupboards meet the ceiling.

Check the cab-over – This area is often vulnerable in Class C motorhomes. Be sure to feel underneath the mattress for any soft spots.

Check for delamination – Stand at one end or the other on the outside of the RV and see if there are any ripples or irregularities in the shape of the fiberglass along the sides. This can be an indication that water has gotten between the outside of the motorhome and the walls.

Don’t forget storage – Inspect the insides of the exterior storage compartments for signs of water damage.

Once you’ve conducted a thorough inspection of your RV, you’ll need to address any issues by locating the source of the leak so that you can repair the roof damage with liquid roof.

In order to locate the leak, you can have an RV shop perform a smoke test, or you can conduct an air pressure test at home. This is achieved by blocking all vents and other places where air can escape and creating a pressurized environment inside the motorhome using fans or other equipment. You then apply bubble solution to the suspected problem areas on the roof to see if bubbles form.

Once you find the problem, liquid roof can be used to create a waterproof seal. Liquid roof – or EPDM – can be used for patching, or to apply a new surface to the entire roof. Just be sure to check the instructions to make sure you have a kind of liquid roof which is compatible with your roof material.

How to Deal with RV Roof Leaks

There you are, minding your own business, relaxing with your family in the comfort of your motorhome, listening to the soothing sound of the rain falling outside. Then it happens – drip, drip, drip. The dreaded sound of water inside your safe haven, right where it’s not supposed to be. RV roof leaks are no fun, but you don’t need to panic. Unless something has fallen on top of your motorhome and created a gaping hole, it’s likely that you can deal with the situation yourself. The most important thing is that you don’t put off doing something about the problem, as this is sure to lead to much more expensive repairs than a simple roof patch.

Finding RV Roof Leaks

Locating the source of the issue is typically the most difficult part of the task. It’s important to understand that in a motorhome, water from a leak often travels throughout the area between the roof and the interior ceiling before finally dripping down into the room. This means that wherever the water is dripping on inside of the rig may very well not be the place from which it’s actually originating.

You have a couple of options when it comes to finding the source. You can take your RV to a shop that deals with repairs and pay them to smoke the rig out. This involves the professional blocking off all possible exits such as vents and pipes, and filling the unit up with smoke to see where it’s escaping out of the roof.

Or, if you’re so inclined, you can attempt to perform a pressure test yourself. Making this method work involves creating enough air pressure, possibly through the use of fans, to create a pressure differential between the outside and the inside of the rig (of course blocking all vents and drains first). You then apply bubble solution to the suspect areas of the roof, such as seams and protrusions like skylights and vents, and see if any bubbles form.

The important thing to remember if you’re doing the leak test yourself is not to create so much internal pressure that you cause damage to the RV, although this is unlikely when using air sources found around the house. It’s a good idea to either cobble together a makeshift manometer, or use a real one, in order to monitor the pressure differential between the inside and outside atmospheres.

Fixing RV Roof Leaks

Once you’ve determined the location of your RV roof leaks, you’ll want to thoroughly clean the areas, and cut or scrape away any damaged caulking or liquid roof patching material. Next you can apply a repair product like EternaBond tape, or in the case of a tear or thin area in your roof’s rubber membrane, patch the area with a product like Liquid Roof.

Fixing leaks in your motorhome’s roof can be a project, but with a little persistence and some good luck, you can get the problem under control and prevent any extensive interior damage to your ride.