Home About The Autens The Roof Is A Leak In My Heart

The Roof Is A Leak In My Heart

written by Christine Auten September 17, 2016

I can’t say for sure what RV ownership in other states is like but in Texas you are going to see a lot of rain mixed with godless heat followed by rain and more rain. And heat. And maybe winter but, no, not really.


I can’t say for sure what RV ownership in other states is like but in Texas you are going to see a lot of rain mixed with godless heat followed by rain and more rain. And heat. And maybe winter but, no, not really. This weather is fucking hard on an RV.  Motorhome and RV Manufacturers, for the most part, do their best to build weatherproof RVs.  But the RV is a thing that exists at cross-purposes.  Longevity vs. weight vs. safety vs. cost vs. effectiveness vs. mobility vs. earth.

After the initial purchase of our 2007 Fleetwood Jamboree 26J, the rig sat in our driveway for a few months, enduring the Texas weather, as we decided what to do with anything. It really took us a while to get comfortable with this massive beast of a monster sitting our driveway. Once a week or so, we’d spend the evening in our rig watching a movie or getting though a bottle of wine. The whole unit seemed pretty watertight and weatherproof. After a particularly nasty storm I found water on the floor underneath the A/C unit as well as wet ceiling around the A/C. I knew that water is death for an RV and I set about finding the source of the leak.


In this case, the first and most obvious culprit was the huge rubber gasket that seals the air-conditioner to the roof.

 

 

 

 

 


In this case, the first and most obvious culprit was the huge rubber gasket that seals the air-conditioner to the roof. A visual inspection didn’t reveal any gaps but the four bolts that secured the A/C to the roof seemed a little loose so I tightened the whole shebang down and waited until the next rain.

More leaks. This leak wasn’t going to reveal itself so easily. So, I headed to the roof.

A very thorough inspection of the roof revealed no obvious holes, tears or gouges. The skylights, vents and TV antenna seals looked great but I globbed on a fresh layer of RV sealant at any potential leak site. Still, after subsequent rains, the roof still leaked around the A/C.

All I could figure was there was some defect in the A/C gasket that I couldn’t see. I got a new A/C gasket at an incredibly inflated price  at Crestview RV in Austin (65 bucks vs 15 dollars at most places – I didn’t know better). Still, I figger anything is cheaper than a ruined roof, including a 65-dollar A/C gasket.


As soon as I had the old A/C off the roof I found a weird little tear in the roof a few inches underneath the A/C cowling.


As soon as I had the old A/C off the roof I found a weird little tear in the roof a few inches underneath the A/C cowling. Without removing the A/C, I would have never seen this hole.

Water is a tough, brainless and indefatigable. Water goes where it goes. The water found a little cut in the roof and went all ape-balls onto the cut. I can only guess that the damage happened as the RV passed through a whipping gauntlet of tree branches or, maybe, a flock of stabbing mechanical mega-birds from a genetics laboratory. But I can’t begin to guess why the leak manifested after being parked in our driveway for a few months.


SOLUTIONS?


In this instance I cut the AC unit off the roof and replaced the original roof seal with a kick-ass new seal, and a roll of Eternabond tape bolstered by generous amounts of clear RV sealant. The roof has since been very watertight, except for a massive leak on the slide (more about that later).

Do you have an RV roof leak? How will you deal with this? Once you have looked at all the obvious culprits, look at the REALLY obvious culprits. Water is dumb and lazy. It seeks the path of least resistance. If you are getting water in your coach there IS a reason. Any and all seams, gaskets, skylights, vents, antennas and marker lights are suspect. Don’t be afraid to use plenty of Eternabond, sealant and suspicion.


BONUS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


I removed all of the original existing A/C venting material.  You can see in the photos that the venting is achieved by some  poor-fitting bits of yellow foam insulation.   I replaced the old stuff with nice sturdy purple insulation foam sealed with Eternabond tape.  The result has been VERY excellent air conditioning even in the insane Texas summer heat.  Worth the effort.  Also – KEEP YOUR FILTERS CLEAN.

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