Last Updated on May 5, 2022 by Jessica Lauren Vine
Are you trying to figure out how to fix a leaky roof on a pop up camper?
There are few things more frustrating as an RVer than finding out that your roof leaks in the middle of a thunderstorm. This is especially bad for those with pop up campers, as they’re usually smaller, and you don’t have a dry space inside the camper to move to. Whether you’ve recently fallen victim to a roof leak or just bought a camper and want to educate yourself, this article will look at fixing a leaky roof on a pop up camper.
What Causes a Leaky Roof on a Pop Up Camper?
Pop up campers come in all shapes and sizes. Some have canvas roofs and are more prone to leaks, but others are solidly built and should never leak. Regardless of the type of roof or pop up camper you have, they’re all prone to the occasional roof leak. Your roof is especially vulnerable if part of it is made of canvas and you have a slight rip or tear in the fabric.
Leaky roofs happen for various reasons, but they’re most common with older campers with old seals. Most manufacturers recommend checking their seals every three months or as needed, but most people neglect to do this. With proper maintenance and service, you can avoid most roof leaks. If, however, you bought a used camper with an existing leak or have neglected to check your seals, this article will explore a few ways to remediate your leaky roof.
Different Ways to Fix a Leaky Roof on a Pop Up Camper
Now that you know that leaky roofs are often inevitable with pop up campers, it’s time to learn how to fix them.
Start by Finding the Source of the Leak
First and foremost, you’ll have to find the source of the leak. This can sometimes be more difficult than it sounds. Leaks in canvas roofs are pretty easy to see, but leaks on the fiberglass portion of your pop-up camper roof are more complicated.
Check the Interior
Leaks on fiberglass roofs are tricky because the leak isn’t always where the water is dripping into your camper. You might have water puddling somewhere in the middle of your camper, but the leak is on an outside seam. This happens because most of your interior roof is sealed, so water can’t drip through it.
Instead, the trickle of water will follow gravity until it happens upon an opening inside your roof. However, depending on how your roof is set up, you can follow the trail of water back to its origin. This only applies to roofs that don’t have a gap between the interior and the exterior and applies to most pop-up campers.
Check the Exterior
If you’re able to track a water trail on the inside of your roof to the source of the leak, great! If you’re not able to do this, you’ll have to make your way to the top of your camper and search for the leak there. Doing this in the middle of a rainstorm is dangerous and inconvenient, so you’re better off putting a bucket under the leak and waiting until the rain stops.
You should check the canvas portion of your roof and the fiberglass portion for leaks when it does. Leaks in the canvas are hard to see from above, but they will be evident from an interior inspection. You should be able to trail the leaking water back to the hole or tear in the canvas from the inside.
Roof leaks in the fiberglass portion of your roof are also tricky to spot from the outside. There often won’t be a noticeable gap or hole in the ceiling because the leak usually occurs along the seams between your roof and sidewalls. Your best bet is to check anywhere that there’s silicone, caulk, or sealant and make sure it’s intact.
If the sealant appears old or worn, it should be replaced whether it’s causing the leak or not. Roof sealant on pop-up campers has a definite lifespan and won’t last forever. You should take pre-emptive measures and redo the bond before another leak happens.
Start With a Temporary Fix
Once you know where the roof leak is, it’s time to apply a temporary fix until you can find a permanent one.
Temporary Fix for Solid Roofs
Fiberglass, vinyl, or rubber is the most common roofing material for solid roofs on pop-up campers, and you can use the same methods for permanent and temporary fixes on either of them. Roof leaks on solid roofs are most common around seams, things sticking through the roof, and holes in the roof.
- Leaks along seams
It’s important that you know that the roof and walls of your camper are composed of two different pieces of material. In other words, it’s not one big piece of structure. Wherever the roof meets the sidewalls of your pop-up camper, silicone or sealant is used to seal the gap. These gaps where the silicone is old, worn, or damaged, are prime areas for roof leaks to manifest.
The best way to repair leaks along seams is to remove the old sealant altogether. Once it’s cleared away, apply a new layer of silicone sealant that is durable, waterproof, and strong. This should take care of your roof leak.
- Leaks around fixtures
The most common reason for roof leaks in all campers is gaps or damaged seals around roof fixtures. If you have a rooftop air conditioner, bathroom vents, or anything else going from inside your camper through the roof, it’s a possible leak point.
The only way to properly repair this type of roof leak is to remove the thing sticking through the roof, remove the existing sealant, and reapply a new layer of silicone or sealant.
- Holes in the roof
Random holes in the middle of your roof aren’t overly common with vinyl or rubber roofs. However, they can happen with fiberglass roofs and are extremely inconvenient. The best temporary fix is to apply a layer of Flex Seal, waterproof Gorilla Tape, silicone, or Bondo to seal the hole and stop the leak. Ensure the surface area that you’re applying the sealant to is dry so that the tape, silicone, or Bondo will adhere to it.
How to Fix a Leaking Pop Up Camper Roof – Temporary Fixes for Canvas
Water leaks in your pop-up camper’s canvas roof are slightly different from leaks in a solid roof. Leaks can occur in either the seams of your canvas roof or through holes, rips, or tears. Small holes in the canvas usually happen because of sun damage, wear and tear, or branches or debris piercing the fabric. If the hole is small enough, you can purchase some handy dandy canvas roof patch kits to fix the problem.
However, for larger holes or tears, you’re probably better off replacing the entire canvas rather than trying to patch it. If leaks happen around the seams where the canvas meets the solid roof or sidewalls, a good sealant or waterproof tape should do the trick. The risk of using adhesive or tape on canvas anywhere besides the seams is that it could tear the fabric when you raise or lower the roof.
Apply a Permanent Fix for the Leaky Roof
Most of the above temporary fixes will actually last for a long time, and you may not need a permanent one. However, if you’re worried that the problem will continue, here are a few permanent fixes for both canvas and solid roofs.
- Replace the entire canvas roof or use a patch kit for small holes and tears.
- Reseal all the seems where the canvas meets a solid structure.
- Replace your fiberglass roof with a new one.
- Apply a layer of Bondo for small leaks and cracks in the fiberglass.
- For larger holes or gaps, apply a layer of marine fiberglass cloth.
- Use epoxy or polyester resin for leaks in rubber, fiberglass, or vinyl roofs.
- Remove old sealant and reapply a fresh layer if the leak happens along a seam.
What Can I Use to Patch Roof Leaks on Pop-Up Campers?
Depending on where the roof leak is located and how bad it is, you can use Flex Seal, Gorilla Tape, Bondo, Epoxy Sealant, Silicone, BlackJack Roof Sealant, Liquid Rubber RV Roof Coating, Solar Reflective Sealant, and more. These items can be applied to seams, cracks, holes, or gaps on a solid roof.
Leaky Pop Up Campers Frequently Asked Questions
Can a pop up camper collapse?
Yes. You should always make sure that everything in your pop up camper is working properly.
Can you prevent leaky roofs on pop up campers from happening?
Luckily, most roof leaks on pop up campers are entirely preventable. Leaks often stem from a lack of maintenance, which means that regular inspections of your roof should be a priority. This applies to the canvas portion and the solid portion of your pop-up camper.
The only time that you can’t prevent leaks is when a tree branch or another object falls onto your roof and damages it. When this happens, you should be thankful that a roof leak is the least of your problems and have the roof replaced by a professional.
What is the best way to fix a pop up camper roof leak?
The best way to fix a pop up camper roof leak is by using a product like silicone or another type of RV roof sealant.
Roof leaks on a pop-up camper are annoying and troublesome, but they’re not the end of the world. You can repair most roof leaks without hiring a professional, but it’s vital that you catch them early. A roof that’s been leaking for a while could mean internal water damage, mold, or a total roof replacement. As long as you stay on top of your camper and give it the attention it deserves, roof leaks can be held to a minimum.
Don’t miss out on the other articles that can help you. Check them out here: