Last Updated on November 6, 2022 by Jessica Lauren Vine
Learning RV roof leak repair can save your camping trip and your RV.
One of the most common issues faced by RVers, both part-time and full-time, is the pesky roof leak. Few things kill the mood on a camping trip faster than a roof leak during a thunderstorm.
Roof leaks are a sneaky RV killer that can lead to mold and water damage if left unattended. Once a leak is discovered, the best thing that you can do is take care of the problem immediately. DIY RV roof leak repair is almost always an option, but you may need help from a professional RV technician in extreme cases.
For those who are brave and bold enough to attempt RV roof repairs yourself, this article is for you. Herein, we will look at the most common causes of RV leaks and how to fix those leaks.
Being proactive with roof leaks is vital. Whether you have a leak or not, it is recommended that you inspect all of your exterior caulk joints and other seals a minimum of every three months.
How To Find an RV Roof Leak
There are two common types of RV roof leaks. The ones you see immediately and those that go unnoticed for weeks.
The latter will usually present itself in the form of a dark or wet spot that appears on your RV ceiling. It could prove difficult to pinpoint the exact point of entrance for these leaks because they will usually be very small. There may not even be a visible hole if the leak is small enough.
The best way to deal with these types of leaks is in broad strokes. If you are using tape or caulk to repair the leak, then be generous with distributing your chosen material. Even if you can’t find the exact spot of the leak, you should be able to locate the general area and tape or caulk it accordingly.
If you are attempting a repair in the middle of a storm, it may be necessary to do a temporary patch job until you find a permanent solution.
Where Do RV Roofs Leak?
The most common RV roof leak areas will be around caulk joints and any protrusions exiting through the roof of your camper.
In the same way that a house has plumbing vent pipes, RV vent pipes also exit the RV through the roof. This is done because dangerous gases that come from your RV’s plumbing go with the flow of gravity, and that is always up.
Around the Air Conditioner
Most RV’s will have their air conditioner or air conditioners located on the roof. While this is convenient for traveling and for use, it also presents the threat of a leak. A leak is likely to occur if the seal around your air conditioner becomes damaged due to age or use.
Commonly, the only way to access the roof of your RV is via the ladder mounted at the back of the vehicle. Screws and caulking are used to attach the top of the ladder to the roof of the RV. While caulking is a valuable and practical tool, it’s also not meant to last forever and must be checked regularly.
While roof racks do not come standard on RVs, they can be added later if desired. If you choose to have roof racks on your RV, take caution to seal around them properly.
What Materials Will Leak on My RV Roof?
There are many different types of RVs with roofs made of many different materials. Each of these roofs will have another trick to properly repairing it.
Canvas roofs will be found in the popup section of popup campers. If the leak is small, it can be repaired using patch kits.
If the leak is more sizable or a complete tear, the only option is to replace the canvas completely. While this roof replacement is not as expensive as a house, it can still be costly.
Fiberglass roofing is a solid and reliable material and will not leak unless there is extensive damage to the roof. This will usually occur around caulk joints or other seals such as the air conditioner seal.
Fiberglass can also crack over the years due to aging and extreme weather, resulting in microscopic leaks. While these may seem small at first, you could begin to see molding and water damage with time. Caulking or tape will be your best bet outside of a complete roof replacement to repair a fiberglass RV roof leak.
Aluminum roofing and metal RV roofing is one of the best and most reliable forms of roofing available. It is not impermeable, however, and leaks can still occur around caulk joints and other seals. Aluminum roofs will usually only be available on campers such as Airstreams, Avions, and other specialty RVs.
Vinyl roofs are less durable than most other RV roofing materials. These will most commonly be used as a simple outer coating over the top of a wooden or fiberglass roof, and leaks are not uncommon with this type of roofing.
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There are three different types of rubber roofing, and they all have similar strengths and weaknesses. The type of rubber roof you choose is entirely up to how you’d like to install it.
Rubber roofs will often be more long-lasting than other types of roofing, but they fall victim to the same hazards as other materials. Leaks can still form around caulk joints and other seal joints on the roof of the RV.
Repair RV Rubber Roof Leak
Rubber has quickly become the most common type of material used for RV roofs. To repair this type of roof, the materials and elements that you use are of extreme importance.
For RV rubber roof leaks, the best repair material is going to be one made of rubber. This can include butyl rubber products or rubber roof coating. Never use abrasive materials, as this will only cause further damage to your roof.
What Can Be Used to Repair RV Roof Leak?
If you wonder what can be used to repair an RV roof leak, then this is the section for you. What you use to repair your RV roof leak depends on the location of the leak and the material the leak is seeping through. Roof leak fixes are not one-size-fits-all, and you should carefully research your leak specifically. Let’s take a look at some of the basics!
Some of the best RV roof leak repair materials available are roof leak repair tape and paint. Recaulking joints and seams with waterproof silicone will be an essential part of regular rv roof maintenance, but caulk or silicone isn’t always a good roof leak repair option.
RV roof leak repair tape can be an absolute lifesaver when it comes to keeping the inside of your RV dry. Eternabond tape is the most common type of roof leak repair tape and one of the best.
Eternabond is easy to install and comes in wide pieces, making it useful for small holes or cracks. However, be careful when implementing this tape as it is incredibly sticky and will be nearly impossible to remove once it is pressed down. Before applying any type of RV roof leak repair tape, ensure that the application surface is clean and dry to allow for the best sticking results.
RV roof leak repair tape is another good option for fixing your leaky roof. RV roof paint for leaky RV roofs will typically be made of rubber which is especially useful considering most modern RV roofs are made of rubber. Using rubber paint to repair your RV roof leak will make for a reliable and long-lasting repair that should survive as long as the rest of the roof does.
Will Insurance Cover RV Roof Leaks?
Whether or not insurance will cover the RV roof leak repair cost is entirely dependent upon the type of insurance you have. While most times insurance does cover damage caused by RV roof leaks, it doesn’t always.
Insurance will nearly always cover roof damage that results from weather or fire, and water is the result of rain. This should fall under the “weather” category of your insurance policy. During with RV roof leaks in heavy rain can really cause problems for your RV.
Why Do RV Roofs Leak?
It’s important to remember that RVs are manufactured, manmade products that are subject to human error. Whenever people are involved, perfection is not always attainable, and RV buyers should keep that in mind as purchasers. Roof leaks and other repairs are a regular part of owning an RV, and the best way to avoid RV roof leaks is via routine maintenance.
Being proactive is huge when it comes to preventing roof leaks in your RV. Caulk joints and other seals should be inspected every 2 or 3 months, and cracks or seams in your roof should be taped or painted over immediately. While RV roof leaks are pesky and inevitable with age and use, they can be significantly reduced with regular maintenance and proactivity.
RV Roof Leak Repair – Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about RV roof leak repair.
Can I fix my own RV roof leak?
If you feel confident, you can definitely do your own RV roof leak repair.
Is it expensive to fix your own RV roof leak?
It doesn’t cost that much money to fix your own RV roof leak as long as the leak didn’t spread and make you need a roof replacement.
Do you fix all RV roofs the same way?
Some different roofs require different fixes so make sure to check the content above.
RV Roof Leak Repair – Conclusion
Now you know more about how to do RV roof leak repair—even if you’re in a thunderstorm. It seems like that is when leaks love to pop up. Instead of worrying about whether you’re going to experience the storm inside, you now have the knowledge to make sure the rain doesn’t come inside with you.