Tips To Prevent Water Damage In Your RV

Tips to Protecting Your RV  From Water Damage

Water always seems to find its way into your RV and with that comes huge problems that are extremely costly to repair. When water damage goes unrecognized the damage can be detrimental. Not only does it effect your living conditions, but it can cause your RVs trade value to plummet. As a dealer we see this happen often, and it’s usually due to the customer not know how to identify water damage. So before we begin talking about preventing water damage, lets take about how to identify water damage in your RV.

How To Check For Water Damage

As part of the buying process, you need to evaluate your current trade. At Meyer’s RV, our sales staff will ask a series of questions about your current camper’s condition and this ultimately affects the trade value of your camper. Many times when a customer drops off their trade at one of our locations, our experts will find water damage that went unrecognized. This causes their trade value to drop and then they have to pay the difference out of pocket. It’s unfortunate, but usually is due to a customer not knowing what water damage is, so let’s talk about it!

  • Thoroughly Check All Seals 

Checking for water damage isn’t as obvious as a warped wall or sagging roof (although it can be that bad!). Start with all the seals in your camper. Run your hands along every door jamb, window seal, and slide-out seam, both inside and outside. Also, check the seals around your RV’s roof. Press gently with your fingers to see if you can find any soft spots, holes, or anything that seems unusual. Even a seam that looks fine might seep water in small amounts.

    • Open all overhead cabinets, and look in the top corner where the walls meet the ceiling for any discoloration or feel for any soft spots. This means there is a leak at the seam where the sidewall and the roof attach.
    • Check for any discoloration and feel for any soft spots on the ceiling around roof vents, antennas, plumbing vents, air conditioners, and any other openings that are in the roof.
    • Check for any discoloration or wrinkles in the wallpaper and soft spots on the walls around all windows, slide outs, doors, vents, or any other openings that are in the side walls.

On the outside of your camper, its easy to see a bubbly or a warped wall. Just don’t get it confused with a hung-wall which many RV’s today have, and there is nothing to be alarmed about there. It is also important to note that an RV could have water damage on the inside and not show on the outside (or vis versa).

You regularly should check your RVs roof. But don’t walk on a roof if you know there’s damage! However, a roof is a great place for water to get into your camper, especially if it hasn’t been resealed. 

To trace the source of a leak look for

    • metal items that have rusted
    • damp areas on carpets
    • discolored areas on ceilings
    • moldings that have come loose
    • rust colored stains around windows and skylights
    • spongy areas on roofs
    • indentations on side walls
    • any type of discoloration or bubbling

How To Prevent Water Damage

  • Stay On Top Of It

Checking your camper for water damage should be part of your regular schedule. A great time to do these checks are at the beginning and end of every camping season. Or even before and after an extended trip. A leak can happen at any time – so always be ready!

Common Sources of Water Damage

Water damages recreational vehicles in a number of ways through

    • leaks
    • condensation
    • high humidity
    • improper use and storage
    • improper construction
    • flooding

Know the locations of your water heater, furnace, outside shower, potable water fill and city water inlet on the outside of the RV. Then access those areas from the inside of the RV and check for any indications of water damage around these openings.

Slide rooms are one of the most common spots prone to water damage. Looking at the wall structure of an RV that has slides, there is a large, U shaped area has been cut out to allow room for the slide that is covered with heavy gaskets. If not properly maintained and regularly checked, gaskets can loosen and eventually leave openings through which water can find its way in. They also can dry out and develop cracks through which water can seep in.

    • If it is raining heavy enough, these things can actually flood small portions of your RV
    • If an RV has numerous slides, then the problem can duplicate

To trace the source of a leak look for

    • metal items that have rusted
    • damp areas on carpets
    • discolored areas on ceilings
    • moldings that have come loose
    • rust colored stains around windows and skylights
    • spongy areas on roofs
    • indentations on side walls
    • any type of discoloration or bubbling
  • Always Be Prepared

With RVs come continued maintenance. Water leakage is usually pretty common in any RV. So, it’s a good idea to get comfortable with doing minor repairs yourself and always having the right tools handy. Its important to know what kind of material your RV’s roof is made of. Knowing this allows your to utilize the proper and compatible chemicals, repair materials, and sealants. Your roof might be made of fiberglass, aluminum, or one of several different types of rubber – always check your owner’s manual to be sure!

Having the right tools handy is always a good idea! A leak can come at anytime in any place. For example, you could be on a week long camping trip and find a leak in a window seal. You can’t leave the leak unattended so a quick patch job will keep it at bay till you return home.

  • Avoid Elderly RVs

We understand for financial reasons a pre-owned RV is a better option. There plenty of great pre-enjoyed RVs out there, but its important to know what to avoid when looking into this option. And remember, the older an RV gets the more it is prone to water damage. As said early, many RVers don’t know how to identify water damage. So, some buyers see a great deal on an older model, but doesn’t see the issues with it. This is a common problem for private sellers and buyers on sites like Craigslist and Facebook. If you choose to purchase a RV that’s seen more than a decade of life on the road, you’re guaranteed to run into some water damage repair costs, whether the leaks are pre-existing or they pop up during your journey. 

  • Improper Storage Can Cause Water Damage

Yes, if your RV is not stored properly from the elements it can cause water damage. We understand that proper storage can be difficult for some, so try and do everything you can to keep moisture out of your RV.

Store properly by following these tips:

    • Keep the air moving by opening windows slightly and using fans or your air conditioner (not in cold weather)
    • Insulate single-pane windows during extreme weather to reduce condensation
    • Store your coach on gravel rather than dirt
    • Park in the sun rather than in the shade whenever possible
    • If possible store indoors or use a cover in the winter elements 
  • Always Check Appliances

Keep a close eye and regularly check all appliances for issues. It can be a simple fridge failure that can cause a detrimental leak and damage to the wall or floor of your RV. This can be common in aging appliances. 

What To Do With Common Mistakes

  • Little Mistakes That Cause Big Problems

Its easy to forget little details that can cause flooding in your camper. Something as simple as forgetting to turn the facet off completely or opening a grey water tank at the wrong time can cause a flood. Water damage issues can also be caused from using a water pressure regulator – so avoid this!

To deal with the damage from water pressure issues:

    • turn off the water in the entire coach
    • find the source of the problem
    • correct it before cleaning up the mess

Do not turn the water back on until you know the issue has been solved.

  • What To Do When Flooded

If a heavy storm comes in and your roof starts leaking – you have to act fast!

    • mop up the water with a sponge or shop vac
    • turn on a dehumidifier and your AC
    • allow all wet surfaces to dry

However, if the water has gone too far, you will also need to

    • mop up as much of the damp as possible with sponges and towels
    • lift the edges of the carpet where possible to allow air to circulate

If the carpet is soaked, you will also have to dry out the underlying pad and sub floor.

Camp Smart And Stay Dry!

Keeping on top of your RVs maintenance will make your RV more enjoyable for vacations and will also help it to maintain its value. You should always be aware of your surroundings and check your clearance when driving and avoid low hanging signs/branches. Those scratches in your paintwork might just be cosmetic, but over time, they could add up to a less effective roof and leaky ceiling.

Avoid parking under sappy trees, which can cause your paint work to chip off. Stay updated with the weather! If there is a huge storm rolling in with a chance of hail, drive you and your rig somewhere safe from the elements. 

If you have a flood, do what it takes to dry your camper out. If its hot enough outside, you can drive around for several hours, this works because the heat from the hot road will do most of the job for you! Unfortunately, the fix isn’t always that easy so refer to our tips above.

Just remember to be diligent and prepared! Make sure to check over your camper regularly for leaks and damages, and act quickly to make repairs. Your RV is your home on wheels so make sure to take care of it because it takes care of you!


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