How long has it been since you’ve looked at your roof? It’s been a while you say but that’s ok because you’ve not seen any water inside? Well, I’ve got some bad news for you. I’ve seen RV’s severely damaged by water infiltration before anything shows on the inside so get a ladder and someone who can climb up there and check it out.
What to look for you say? Well there are several things.
What was that noise when you backed into that nice shady spot under the tree? Well, those nice limbs that gave you shade may have given you something else too. Did it rub on the roofing material or poke a hole? Did it crack a plastic vent cover or the air conditioner cover?
What is that stuff around the vents, skylight and on the edges of the roof anyway? Well, it’s material used by the manufacture to cover seams and screws and when it gets old it cracks. And when it cracks it leaks. And when it leaks it’s bad. Cracked seams, by far, are the most common problem cause for water infiltration. And it’s also the easiest to avoid with a little simple maintenance. We apply a product here that just covers over the existing seam sealer with a flexible material. Don’t use products from your local hardware store as that material is designed for houses that don’t move. As you RV move it flexes. If the material you put on can’t flex too it cracks and you’re right back to the same problem. So if you see cracks – have them sealed.
After we seal the seams it looks like this:
Black Areas on the Roof
We are not talking about spots here. We are talking about areas of the roof that are turning black. What causes that? Well, there are several types of roofing materials that are used by RV manufactures but the most common is a rubber roof or EPDM roof. EPDM stands for ethylene propylene diene monomer (M-class) rubber. But most people just say it’s a rubber roof. The top layer of the rubber roof is white and the bottom layer is black. Once you wear through all the white layer the black layer is exposed and action needs to be taken soon. Personally, this is one of the reasons why we don’t install rubber roofs much anymore. We prefer vinyl for two reasons, they are white all the way through and they don’t chalk and streak the camper as they wear. The vinyl we install comes rolled and is installed just like a rubber roof without the issues and you don’t have to “condition” it like a rubber roof. More on that below.
Another option is to paint on a covering over the existing roof. While this is a cheaper option I steer people away from this option if they have any chance at all of keeping the RV for more than 5 years. Sooner or later you are going to have to fix it right my Momma says…
Well, there are several things you can do to make your roof last. Cleaning and applying an conditioner certainly helps. But remember that the roof ablates (that white stuff that comes off on your hand when you rub on it) so you can shorten it’s life by scrubbing too hard too often. A brush and a non-abrasive cleaner will normally do the trick. Never use any cleaner that contains a petroleum solvent
Walking on a RV roof is dangerous. The RV will rock underneath you and people have fallen off of them even if they normally don’t have problems with heights. Also, some roofs use rather thin decking under the membrane so care needs to be taken to step on the ribs and spread your weight out on those. If you don’t feel comfortable being up there just bring your RV by and I’ll take a quick look for you. I hardly ever fall off the things…