What do you think is the most overlooked system in or on a Recreational Vehicle? If you said “the Roof” you would be correct. The most probable reason – out of sight out of mind.
For the most part we are visual creatures. If we see it or hear it we respond accordingly. But if we have no interior questions we generally don’t pay attention. Besides the roof is way up “there” and one would need to be pretty nifty on a ladder just to see it.
So if you did manage to get on your RV roof would you know what to look for? My experience is, no. One in ten of our clients actually understand their roofing system and how to inspect it. That means 90% of RV owners don’t. Unfortunately for them, if no one inspects it for them, they are likely to have water leaks over time and possibly large problems later.
If your roof is over 3 years old and has not been serviced, chances are it has some leaks. And believe me, you need a zero leak tolerance in an RV.
You see RV roofs are not designed to last forever. (There is no answer as to how long your roof will last since there are numerous variables that come into play) If you own a modern RV it probably has a “membrane” type of roof. This is most cases is some type of manmade rubber. These membranes lay out nice and are flexible and waterproof when they are in good condition. The main problem is not in the membrane itself but in the holes that are cut into them to accommodate: vents, skylights, antennas and the like.
Whenever a roof penetration is made that area needs to be water tight yet flexible. Considering the large amount of expansion and contraction that can occur between the dog days of summer and the frigid winter, there can be up to a quarter inch of movement at each and every joint, seam or opening on the RV’s roof.
The average RV may have 5 or more different types of materials on its roof. Because each of these materials is of varying types and thicknesses, each has a different degree of reaction to the weather. This is the major reason why leaks happen. There are even more forces at work then I will detail here but it is safe to say that bouncing down the highway at 55-65 mph and the suns constant bombardment of ultra violet radiation or even a tree’s litter, don’t help things one bit.
Most leaks start small as either pinholes or small cracks. If you added all of the pinholes or tiny cracks together they might make up the diameter of a small pipe. If you turn on a water facet in your bathroom sink left it at a drip level and let it go unattended for months (like and RV sitting in winter storage) how long do you think it would take before the cabinets, carpet, sub floor and counter would be soaked, mildewed and rotten? (Maybe a couple of weeks at best.) So you can imagine the damage on RV can suffer if left with even the smallest leaks for months on end.
Unchecked water leaks can take the fun out of your RV in short order. Whether it is a soggy carpet, bed or, just the wet dark smell of mildew. It’s no fun.
Because the average motor home is stored more than 50% of its life, (and most folks store their RV somewhere other than in their driveway) It’s easy to understand why this type of damage is so prevalent.
So what can be done about preventing roof damage? Inspect, Inspect, Inspect. Then seal, seal, seal! There is no short cut about it. This just has to be done. If you have been trained on how to make things watertight then you might be able to do the inspections yourself. If not, then have your roof inspected by an RV professional.
Sturken’s RV and Auto recommends inspecting your roof twice a year at the minimum, once at the beginning of the season and once at the end. A bad roof on your RV is probably the most expensive replacement item that you can undertake in an RV. But, it does not have to be that way… Remember that Preventable maintenance is always cheaper then repairs.
Call us today to schedule your roof inspection!