RV Tips and Tricks RV Rubber Roof Maintenance and Repair

RV Tips and Tricks RV Rubber Roof Maintenance and Repair

Monday, January 24, 2011

RV Rubber Roof Maintenance and Repair

Alot of people ask me how to maintain and repair their roofs. A lot of these people have RV’s that are older than ten years and some as young as 5 years. A standard RV roof is guaranteed to last at least ten years. This does not mean that in that ten years it does not require the owner to maintain and repair it. The rubber will last a very long time but it deteriorates. Over this period, depending on outside conditions, the roof naturally breaks down. The roof will form a chalky coating that will come off if wiped with one’s hand. This chalky residue is the number one reason for black streaks. We all know about those. They are those very hard to remove black markings that run down the side of the trailer that are both an eyesore and difficult to remove (look for my secrets on how to get remove these easily in a later blog).

Most people do not care for their roofs properly. Out of sight our of mind is the common error. The roof, however, is the most important area on your RV to be concerned with. It should be inspected at least twice a year and more if you are a full timer or the coach is on the road often. The seals the surround all the vents and roof moldings need to be especially checked. These are where the first signs of water leakage occur and account for the number one reason for roof damage and interior ceiling and wall rotting. This can be catastrophic to an RV. Usually the damage is done before it is even noticed. Prevention is the key. At the beginning of the season and at the end of the season (spring and fall) inspect the roof. Look for tears in the rubber roofing material as well as cracks in the sealant. I recommend buying a tube of dicor every year and spot sealing a roof even if it doesn’t look all that bad. The extra sealant never hurts are you are better guaranteed against a future leak. You can be generous with applying sealant and you should only use Dicor self leveling sealant or something very similar. Dicor is preferred since that is what the manufacturers use and all I use in our local service. Inspect the roofing material closely as well. Wipe your hand across it. If you are getting a large amount of chalking or black is showing through in areas then it is time for a re-coat which I will explain in a moment. If you have not done any resealing on your coach and it is 5 years older or more you may want to do a full reseal. This is simple and just requires one to clean the seals off by wiping with a towel and mineral spirits and then covering the old seals up completely with a coat of new Dicor. It doesn’t have to look pretty at first because it will self level. I always do a full reseal whenever I do a re-coat. When inspecting also look for soft spots. These are areas most likely near the ends, corners, vents, and a/c’s that have rotted out because of water leakage. The wood gives way and becomes dry rotted. Worse case scenario is this rots the interior walls and ceilings too. These areas need to be addressed immediately and the rv needs to be covered until then to allow the areas to dry out. Sometimes this even requires cutting and peeling back the rubber or removing a vent to all the wood to dry. If lucky the damage is minimal and the wood becomes solid again once dry. If not it has to be replaced which is explained further down.

The next thing to do after inspecting is to wash the roof. The roof should be cleaned at least twice a year as well and once cleaned a conditioner applied. There are a few great products out there just for this. The conditioners contain chemicals to protect against the sun’s powerful rays that cause the chalking to occur. If this is done from the day of ownership you can easily make the roof last ten years without even having to re-coat.

So you have inspected the roof and washed it and can definitely see you need to re-coat. What do you do now? A re-coat should take anywhere from one to two days depending on which product you use and the time you start in the day. The very first thing to do before coating is to prep the roof. This is done by using a degreaser such as Purple Power which can be found at any Lowes or Home Depot across the U.S. Soak the roof with it and while soaking sprinkle some granular detergent such as dish soap or Tide. Then scrub and rinse. Make sure you clean and rinse the side of the coach after this too or you will have streaks all over the side. This cleaning combination should leave the roof white and without any chalky residue. Next comes the coating. Dicor makes a great two part product as well as Heng’s. They are both excellent and come with warranties if applied per the instructions. These systems can use a primer as well but isn’t always necessary. If the roof is cleaned properly and does not have dips or low points where water collects the primer is not necessary although it is recommended because it does increase the related coating’s bonding ability. Another product out there is made by Koolseal (63-900). It is an all in one product with no mixing required. It too specifies using a primer under certain conditions. All are right around the same price and will cost you about $3-400 to renew your roof. They are all easily applied with just a roller. Another advantage of the Koolseal is water soluble until set which means easy clean up. This is great in the event some runs down the side of the coach by accident. All these products come with warranties and are easy roll and brush on. You paint the roof just like you would paint your house. The disadvantage of Koolseal is that is requires at least two coats which means you either start early or complete in two days. Now here’s a secret that I share will all my customers. Something we even do when we service our local market too and will save you lot’s of money although it takes at least one extra step. Koolseal makes another product called the 63-600. It is chemically identical to the 63-900 top coat but with only an 8% less consistency of acrylic elastometric resin in it. What this means is that it will require an additional coat but at almost half the price of the top coat. We have a video coming out soon the details how to renew your roof using one of our roof renew kits which will renew any RV roof up to 40ft. using the 63-600. Look for that link in a later posting once I am done editing it.

What do you do if you have a tear or worse, water damage? These are both similar repairs. Water damage is critical to repair as soon as possible. The very first thing to do is get the rv out of the contact with elements. This can be done by covering with a tarp or ideally pulled into a garage or pull barn. If the wood is very wet you will want to remove some moldings and/or vents and peel back the rubber to expose the problem area. Let the area dry for awhile. Sometimes this can take a week or more. Wait till it feels dry and solid again. This is important because any moisture left in the wood with cause rotting and mildew once the roof is resealed to be water tight once again. Once dry you can reglue the rubber back down with approved dicor roof cement and reseal. If the wood has rotted and is breaking apart it should be cut out and replaced. All this can be done by oneself if you have a little carpentry ability and some time.

If you have a tear what do you do? Dicor makes a great roof repair product to fix small tears up to a foot. Very small tears can be easily covered with some Dicor Lap sealant. If the tear is very large a combination of the dicor lap sealant and the roof repair may be used and even Dicor’s seam tape with the Lap sealant works great. Rarely does a roof need to be replaced because of a tear no matter what size it is. Large holes in the rubber can even be repaired with the Dicor roof coating or the Koolseal. Both products can be used to cover bare wood and work great to seal problem areas. We also supply remnant pieces of rubber roofing material to accommodate larger patches. These are glued down overlapping the good rubber. Then Dicor is used to seal the edges. A six to ten inch overlap is perfect for a good water tight seal. If you would like advise on what would work best in your situation please give me a call. The call is free as well as the advice. You can even email me if you like.

RV Tips and Tricks RV Rubber Roof Maintenance and Repair

All of the products you need to both maintain, clean, and repair one’s RV roof can be found in our store. We carry every product available for the after market RV’er and all are at wholesale pricing guaranteed to be the lowest in the nation. Advice and support is always free and available. I personally answer all technical questions and am RVIA master certified. I have repaired and replaced hundreds of roofs. Roof damage or leaking is one of the number one service related issues. Damage can easily be prevented by following the steps detailed above. If you have any suggestions of topics you would like me to cover please let me know. I would be happy to put together instructions to do just about any RV repair. I will be adding ones as I can on my own but if there is a need for a particular thing just let me know. I hope this blog is of assistance to you. If you have any suggestions to make the info better or have something to add please share. Thank you and god bless!

Michael Puckett

Expressway RV Inc. / www.RvPartWholesaler.com


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