Water is essential for life, but unless it’s in a sink, toilet, or container, we’d prefer it stay out of the RV. Unfortunately, water damage is a common issue for RV owners. Thankfully, if you stay aware, you can find and fix water damage quickly before it becomes a major issue.
Q: Where does water damage happen?
A: Water tends to accumulate, and cause the most damage, in areas compromised by breaks, such as holes, seals, and seams. You can commonly find water damage on the ceiling because of seals around vents, fans, air conditioning units, and antennas, but the floor and walls can be affected, too, because of leaks in pipes or water seeping in due to exterior damage. An example of exterior damage is scraping the paintwork on the roof of the RV because you didn’t clear a tree branch. Sap can also pull off paint and surfacing, so try to avoid from camping or parking under trees during the time of year when they are dropping sap.
Q: How can I tell if a used RV has, or has had, water damage?
A: This is a tricky one. For starters, the owner should be up front about any issues or maintenance they’ve had to complete on the RV during their ownership, including if they had to fix ay water damage or experienced any leaks.
During your personal inspection of the unit, you should check several areas for signs of water damage, including door jambs, slide-out seams, weather-stripping, roof seals, skylights, body seams, and window seals – both inside and out. Check the storage and electrical compartments.
Look for any staining or discoloration, mold, or rust, soft spots; be aware of any musty smells or squishy spots on the floor and roof; and check for any bumps or bubbling in the wall panels using your eyes as well as your fingers to press into the walls and around the windows. Speaking of which, closely inspect the condition of all the seals or caulking around windows. It’s normal for seals to break down over time or have had to be replaced, so older models should be inspected more closely.
Cabinets are another common spot to find water damage that can be overlooked. You should also check under sinks and around toilet bowls for signs of leaking. Pipes and water lines can cause leaks just as well as a sticks and bricks house.
Q: How can I prevent moisture build-up and water when I’m using the RV?
A: Air flow is the number one thing you can do. An airtight RV can be an unhappy RV. So, open those windows. Run exhaust fans when you’re using the bathroom or cooking; wipe excessive moisture from sinks, showers, and windows; hang wet clothes outside on a clothesline; keep awnings open during rain to help protect your RV’s exterior and only put them away when they are dry. Moisture is a common and necessary byproduct of many activities, but you want to minimize its impact in the RV.
Q: Does storage matter?
A: Yes! How an RV is stored makes a difference. Bad temperature management can cause excessive condensation, which can cause mold and corrosion. An RV should be sealed and stored properly based on the type of unit. It should not be covered by a tarp, which doesn’t allow airflow, and ideally it should be parked above concrete or gravel, not dirt. Also, always dry out an RV after rain, especially if you have slide-outs or a soft-sided camper such as a pop-up. Putting away an RV when there is still water on the exterior can cause mold, mildew, and water damage during its time in storage.
Q: How often should I check for signs of water damage?
A: As often as you take the RV out for a camping trip, both prior to departure and when you return. Check the RV after rainstorms, the day of and for a few days after. If you’re camping for an extended period of time, then take a look around the RV once a week.
Nip water damage in the bud! This is key to maintaining an RV, extending its life, and keeping everyone who lives in it healthy.