By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Face it: RV maintenance does mean work. For many RVers, this means an exercise in do-it-yourself. Happily, most of this maintenance is not out of the realm of the self-doer and, when kept up, is not expensive.
While allowing some things to “slide” or fall into the category of deferred maintenance makes for simple inconvenience, other stuff you “let go” can lead to a disaster. In the latter area, you simply can’t afford to let up on keeping moisture at bay. A leaky door or window seal isn’t just inconvenient: It can destroy your RV in a hurry.
One RVer opened the door of his stored-in-Washington fifth wheel only to find a crop of mushrooms growing in the middle of his living room floor. It seems the sealant around the door had given up its job, allowing the perennial rains to soak the carpet.
Upstairs in the bedroom, a sealant problem in a bit of corner trim had allowed moisture intrusion and while not growing mushrooms, the wall near the bed was coated with black mold. Some molds are toxic and their inhaled spores can cause serious health problems.
After considering the age and overall condition of the rig, the new “RV farmer” decided it was time to scrap the old fifth wheel after many years of otherwise-happy service — a financial and emotional loss, all due to water intrusion.
Water leakage damage doesn’t end with molds and mushrooms. Many RVs have framing members and paneling constructed with wood. Penetrating water leads to dry rot, and dry rot to structural failure. Repairing dry rot is often out of the expertise of the do-it-yourselfer, and RV repair facilities charge a horrendous amount for dry rot repair — if it can even be done.
Prevention is the only sure answer. Inspect your RV roof annually — more often is better. Check for damage to the roof and failure of sealing material around anything that penetrates the roof: skylights, plumbing vents, TV antennas. Many RVers do follow-through on roof inspection but fail to keep up with sealants around windows and doors. RV manufacturers list periodic maintenance of window and door sealants as a requirement to keep your warranty valid. If you’re not sure about how often you should pop the windows and doors to reseal them, check with your RV’s manufacturer.
Keep the water out — you’ll be a much happier camper.