Bummer, we have leaks

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merlinmurph

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Apr 27, 2016
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Hopkinton, MA
Bummer, it looks like we have a water issue.

We're in the middle of a trip to the Asheville NC area (currently in Swannanoa), and if you've kept up with the news, we had a bit of rain. Nothing really bad here, just a lot of rain and some wind. All is quiet now.

Yesterday, while things were at their heaviest, we saw a leak coming from the bedroom window, dripping down the outside of the wall. Then, another leak from the same window, inside the wallpaper(?) that formed a bulge. I made slits in the wallpaper to release the water. Ugh. We put towels down on the carpet to sop up the water streaming down the wall.

The window is about 3' wide by 2' tall. Above the window is an outside speaker. Right next to the window is one arm of the awning.

First, what can we do right now to minimize the water damage from the storm? We're doing our best to dry things up now and are going to get a fan to help that effort. Should we rip the carpet up? How about the wall?

Next, how do you fix this? More specifically, how do you find out where the water came in? I looked at the window and the caulking looks good, same with the speaker. Do you just remove them and re-caulk them anyway? I guess the water could also be coming in from above, somewhere on the roof.....


But wait, there's more...

Last week, I noticed the back of the trailer is bulging in a few places. Great. This piece has a small window, the fridge, power outlet, running lights, and the roof seam. I'm up on the roof every once in awhile, check the caulking on that seam, and have put caulk down in questionable areas. Again, how do you tell where the water came in?  Problem is, this looks bad and won't be as simple as repairing a leak. I'm guessing this whole panel will have to be removed? Who does this stuff?


On a side note, yesterday morning (Sunday), it was pretty messy out and we had to get out of the trailer for awhile, so we found a great breakfast place in Black Mountain called Louise's. Going thru RVForum, I noticed that Gary_RVWizard lives there!

Anyways, any suggestions would be helpful. We'll be home in a few weeks and I can address the issues there.

Thanks and safe travels,
Dan Murphy
 

darsben

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Central NY in summer beautiful Casa Grande AZ in w
Recaulk the window and the speaker with butyl caulk if that is what was originally installed. Then see where you stand as far as a leak in that area.

Can seam on the roof be reworked with Eternabond and then Dicor caulk at edges. That should lessen the chance of leaks. Clean area remove any loose damaged caulk.

As for the back  Are the bulges above or below the small window, the fridge, power outlet,  and running lights??
Anything above the bulges needs recaulking with butyl tape.
When I had a small bulge in the side of my motor home it was caused by delamination. I drilled a few small holes in the bulge at the top and injected the repair material then clamped using 2x4's Afterwards I filled the holes with BONDO and painted.
Another option would be to figure a way to make a slit at the top of the bulge(s) and find a piece of trim like a rub rail or chrome to cover the slit after the repairs are made.


Please no silicone it is a poor repair material
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Hi - I'm just up the road from you at our summer cottage in Black Mountain!

Where it comes from is educated guesswork plus a certain amount of trial & error.  I would completely remove both the window and the speaker and clean & re-seal.  Butyl caulk tape is what is usually used behind the window frames, with a bead of silicone or similar caulk around the edges once re-installed.  We can discuss the details further when you are ready.

Similar for the rear bulges. Re-examine every seam above, plus any protrusions through the roof. Water can run a long way, especially since RVs are rarely perfectly level.


I wouldn't tear into the walls unless there is a lot of water inside, but taking up, or at lest loosening, the carpet to get better air circulation is usually helpful. Maybe you can slit it along the wall and just peel it back a little?  And do use fans.
 

merlinmurph

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Apr 27, 2016
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Hopkinton, MA
Thanks, folks. Pics are coming, we have to move to another site right now.

Quick reply: the back panel seems to be delammed all the way up, so it would be the roof seal or the running lights. The window is in the middle and there are bulges above it.

We have to move now and then will go get a fan. I'll get back after that.

Thanks,
Dan


BTW, Black Mountain is wonderful.
 

merlinmurph

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Apr 27, 2016
Posts
108
Location
Hopkinton, MA
Some pics

1. A view from the outside of the area that's leaking

2  & 3.  A view from the top of the back of the trailer.

4. The bulge in the wall where I cut slits to let the water out

After the storm, it was a challenge finding a fan

Thanks,
Dan
 

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merlinmurph

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Apr 27, 2016
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Hopkinton, MA
One more question: What's holding down this carpet?

We have a wood-ish floor, and the carpet starts in the bedroom. I'm sure it's applied right to the same floor, but I tried to pick up the edge and failed miserably. Maybe a younger man could have done it.

And an update.
I have a mobile RV repair guy coming tomorrow AM to look at the window and potentially remove and re-caulk it, along with the speaker. If I were home, I might have tried this myself (with your help), but I really want to get this done NOW.

Thanks again,
Dan
 

merlinmurph

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Apr 27, 2016
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Hopkinton, MA
OK, I want to make sure I understand the process. It seems like there are two steps to installing the window.

1. Use butyl tape on the window frame to attach the window to the unit.

2. Then, seal around the edges. No silicone here, either?

Q: Just in case he tries to use silicone and I need to sound semi-intelligent about this, why is silicone bad?

Thanks for your patience,
Dan
 

keymastr

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Jun 26, 2014
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Silicone will not stick to some things but mainly nothing will stick to it, even more silicone. So if you ever want to touch up with more caulking you would need to completely remove the silicone and then scrub the area with denatured alcohol to get anything else to stick.

If you use Dicor caulking you can simply wipe it down with the alcohol and re-apply another bead right over the first. Makes maintenance MUCH simpler.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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The above comments about silicone are accurate, but are largely irrelvant for window frames.  Many RVs employ a silicone bead externally around the top and sides of the window frames and often that's what the factory installed.    Unlike roof seams and openings, window frame caulk is not subject to much stretching and rarely ever needs to be touched up, so silicone is fine.  If it does ever need repair, though, it should be removed (a simple putty knife peels the small bead off easily enough).

The only place where pure silicone is a real no-no is on roof seams and openings. Those areas are subject to a lot of movement and weathering and often need touch-up repairs.  Scraping & peeling  the large blobs of sealant from a roof and is real pain and best avoided. Use a non-silicone lap sealant designed for the job and it can be touched up almost indefinitely.

That said, these are other clear window and door caulk products available these days and you can avoid the pure silicone if you wish. Geocel Proflex, for example, is a non-silicone that performs well in many applications.  There are also window & door caulks that are silicone blends and those are usually OK as well, e.g. acrylic-silicone belnds.  If the sealant product says it is paintable, you can be confident you can apply additional layers over top of it, even if silicone is one of the ingredients.
 

merlinmurph

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Apr 27, 2016
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Hopkinton, MA
OK, an update. In short, things are looking good.

Yesterday, Phillip from Keep Camping Mobile RV Repair showed up. I showed him the window on the inside, the area on the outside, and he went up on the roof to take a look. The roof looked good, and while up there, he took a look at all the caulking on the roof and said it looked good.

His suggestion was to just seal the edges of the window frame, plus the speaker and a floodlight that is just off to the right a bit. He trimmed the old, excess butyl stuff that had oozed out when installed, cleaned the area, and applied the sealer around the frame. We had the silicone discussion and he said that for this application, silicone is good, like what Gary explained above. He also took the time to explain his process of applying it.

1. he applies a bead around the frame
2. he sprays soapy water where he applied the caulk
3. he sprays soapy water on his finger
4. he runs his finger around the frame removing the excess caulk and ends up with a smooth layer of caulk

Then, I asked him about the rear panel that had the bulges. He immediately said don't worry about it because it's a floating wall and not attached to anything. He was familiar with the manufacturer and even had a good story. He used to work at a dealer and sent back two trailers because the rear panels had bulges and had to have been delaminated. The trailers got sent right back to him with the explanation that they changed the rear panel to a floating wall. That was a huge relief to me.

End result is that he was there for about an hour working out to $130. He was a great guy to work with, seemed to know his stuff, and I would highly recommend these guys. I learned a few things and have peace of mind.
.
When we get home, I'll do the same thing to the other windows.

So, thanks everybody for your help. I felt better talking to the repair guy knowing what you told me.

Safe travels,
Dan
 

tc tom

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Jun 19, 2010
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What exactly is meant by floating wall that is not attached to anything. Not to discredit your serviceman but that answer makes no sense to me, but it could just be me.

Tom
 

merlinmurph

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Apr 27, 2016
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Hopkinton, MA
My understanding is that the back piece is separate and not laminated to a wall. It is attached to the unit only along it's edges and at various points like the fridge, a window, and the power outlet. Again, that is just my perception and if makes no sense, I'd love to know. I have very little understanding how these things are built, i. e. what is behind the walls.

Thanks,
Dan
 

tc tom

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Jun 19, 2010
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218
Hi Dan,
My first reply sounded a little mean and that is not my intent. I just want to be sure there are no more leaks on your coach. Here is where I'm coming from. The large majority of RV's today are made from structural panels. The outside of the wall is Filon laminated to  ridged foam. Inside there is another laminate used like wall papered 1/8 inch plywood. So the foam core in encapsulated between to laminates. The wall gets some of its strength because of the lamination's being bonded to the foam. The main reason things start to delaminate on RV's is water intrusion. I don't want to alarm you I just want to be sure you received the right answer. Please go on line and look up RV wall construction. Hopefully some others will chime in and give you some other opinions.

Tom
 

merlinmurph

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Apr 27, 2016
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Hopkinton, MA
No offense taken at all. I thought it was a great question and it got me thinking. And as I said, I know nothing about how these things are put together, other than "as quickly as possible".

His story about sending the trailers back convinced me. Any time we have someone do work for us (plumber, electrician, mechanic, RV repair, etc.), we make judgements about that person and determine whether we want to continue doing business. This guy didn't seem like a con artist at all. He was pretty laid back, just a guy doing his job. Maybe I was snookered, very possible, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt until I find otherwise.

Maybe it would be a good idea for me to check with the manufacturer.

Thanks for your input,
Dan
 
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