Has your RV ever developed a water leak that caused serious damage?

It’s the nightmare of every RVer — a water leak that works its way into the innards of an RV. Catch it quickly and a repair can be minor with little expense. But if the leak is not detected, or the water intrusion allowed to continue, the results can be devastating, causing tens of thousands of dollars to repair.

So here’s this week’s question, “Has your RV ever developed a water leak that caused serious damage?” Please leave a comment.

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37 Thoughts to “Has your RV ever developed a water leak that caused serious damage?”

  1. Lee Kissell

    By some water leak detectors, money you will be glad you parted with. Amazon has them. I used them in our house and now in our motor home. They saved major damage more than once. Place one under each sink, behind the toilet and anywhere else you could have a pipe or appliance leak. They won’t help much for a roof or wall leak but are still worth the money. Also, turn you water off at the spigot when you leave for a while.

  2. Maryalice

    We purchased our first RV, a 2012 Thor Crossroads Cruiser 34 ft 5th wheel in 2014 from Camping World. Took it out for a couple of weekend trips. First “big” 7 week trip to Florida the winter of 2017, we noticed an interior wall appeared warped. Upon further inspection it also felt mushy. As the trip went on, we noticed several suspicious areas. We looked over the entire rig for what appeared to be leaking but could find none. Being “newbies”, we asked other seasoned RVers opinions. All suspected leaks, but could find no entry. So no leaking was ever visible to the interior. We called a local dealership at home, explained issue and made arrangements to bring the rig in for an evaluation and repair when we got home. By the time we arrived home the walls were starting to split open. Still thinking we were going to “just “ replace walls, we took rig to dealership for repair. Turns out, the rig had leaked so badly, the front slide floor had swelled enough to nearly make it impossible to open and nearly all walls were destroyed. Our 5 year old rig was totaled out. We had owned it 3 years. The technicians could not find where the rig had leaked either. I’m sure they quit looking when so much damage had been done. This is a rig that was covered 90 percent of the time as we had yet to have any significant use out of it until this trip. The worst part was that we lost our retirement dream. We would still love to travel by RV but are so afraid to purchase another.

    1. Maryalice

      I also forgot to mention the 3600. extended warranty covered 0. Apparently extended warranties exclude any kind of water damage.

    2. Chuck Woodbury

      What a shame, Maryalice. You did not deserve that nightmare!

  3. LindaH

    We’ve had a few water leaks but caught them before serious damage could take hold.

    1. Patrick Granahan

      Considering that this poll shows a 37%
      Water leak occurrence rate it would appear that the industry has serious quality control issues in this area.

  4. Rosemary

    We had 2 leaks in our 2007 RV we caught early enough to be repaired under warranty in AL. Front passenger sidewall was getting “popcorn” look. That was caused by outside awning attachment not being sealed at factory. Had entire wall replaced and any openings sealed. The other isssue was deep well in back closet would get wet. Turns out outside compartment on driver’s side by rear wheels was not sealed and water would get splashed in while driving during rain.

  5. Ted Raymond

    We owned a Thor fifth wheel, actually lived in it for a year with three kids and a dog in Yellowstone NP while I worked there. Returned home to Missouri and stored it in the back of the house for the winter.
    The unit had hard sides but had a seam about 8″ up joining the two hard side walls. During the winter this seam opened up (too high up to see it) and water entered the unit all winter. When I went in in Spring the entire walls and floor were covered in black mold.
    We had no choice but to scrap it for parts and in so doing did lose monies still owed. Once again, Buyer be ware.
    Oh, I have noticed since Thor does not have this seam any longer opting for a solid side wall. I wonder why?

  6. Pat

    We have a 94 Mallard TT. We have had some leaks, but thankfully we were always in the TT when the leaks occurred. We were able to sop up the water and dry everything. One leak was around the gray tank roof vent pipe. Fixed that quickly.

  7. Z Everett

    The pipes under the kitchen sink leaked and could have damaged the floor. We were lucky the pans stored under the sink caught the water.

  8. Mike H.

    A number of years ago, we purchased a previously owned “experienced” rv. It developed a water leak, very small water leak. The previous owner replaced the water heater anode rod with a” HOT ROD” electric heating element thus removing the tank protection from electrolysis. Yup, the tank failed with a pin hole leak. Note to self , never replace anode rod with heating element if the water heater was NOT designed for it. It’s only a matter of time but it will shorten the tanks life….

  9. Teresa

    Just thought I would add that living in the South…TN…humidity is a problem. I have found that buying lots of charcoal dehumidifier containers at the Dollar Tree has been a life saver for our 2017 Prime Time. It still smells new! About once per month if we are out and about or parked I go change out the containers all through the camper. I have about two in each room. It amazes me every time I change them that they are full of water!

  10. The long trip home

    Going down the road I looked in my rear view mirror and noticed the kingpin on the fifth wheel and the front cap were not moving in synch. Seemed like a lot of flex there. Later that night I noticed both night stands had pulled away from the walls. Next day noticed the side wall on the overhang was buckled. Drove the 1,200 miles home expecting to find just the king pin attached when I got there! Pulled the panel off the bottom of the overhang to find it all rotten as well as the side panels. Nothing much holding the shell of the fiver to the frame. The factory never caulked the rubber roof area where it met the front cap allowing water to infiltrate down the sides. Repairing it was not a job I would do again.

  11. Debra

    We purchased a used 2017 Thor Palazzo with 5,300 miles on it. From Camping World (sigh). According to Camping World the rig passed a water pressure test. Got the rig home and noticed a small, dripping under the rig after filling the water holding tank and doing our own walk thru/testing fixtures. We finally found the problem – the factory didn’t use plumbing glue when installing the water tank so the rig had been leaking at the valves/multiple points since the first time the tank was filled. The entire floor under the pump and holding tank (hidden beneath the vinyl cover) was rotted and the rot went up half of the wall between compartments. Thankfully, hubby is a handy guy and he completely tore out the flooring and wall , replaced, and fixed the plumbing. It took him about 12 hours of not fun labor (especially sealing the undercarriage). We also found no caulking around the shower enclosure or glass shower door, none around the under-counter kitchen sink, and about a 1/2 inch of caulking around the bathroom sink that doesn’t fit correctly. Every time we use the rig we have found one quality issue or another. We’ve replaced nearly all the plumbing throughout and found a lot of issues (loose hoses, patched hoses, different size hoses connected together to various faucets). The frustration level is off the charts but we know we’ll get it all squared away eventually.

    1. Patrick Granahan

      No shortage of RV horror stories.
      Moral of the story…” Never trust the
      folks at Camping World”.

  12. John Springer

    I’ve had 2 messes. My toilet failed to shut off completely after a flush and slowly filled up until it overflowed and ran out into the “hall”. Happened a couple of times before I replaced the toilet.
    One day I noticed some water stains on the outside near the water heater. Thought maybe the pressure vent was dripping, so didn’t pay much attention, but it did seem to be continuing. Then one day stepped into the bedroom and carpet was soaked. Turns out the water connector on the hot water heater had corroded and was leaking. It was 12 years old, which apparently around the design lifetime. I don’t know if my floor is damaged as I didn’t rip up the carpet. (It was in AZ in the summer, so dried pretty quick.)

  13. Mary L Hazel

    When I purchased my ’84 Toyota Dolphin I was aware some water damage on side walls below floor. I had some repair done but as it turned out very makeshift. This year I had the work done professionally and am so happy with results. I just recoated and caulked rubber roof. I check all windows and seams routinely. My last leak was a plumbing failure in bathroom sink that I caught quickly, still a mess but all repaired and dry again with no damage. I do keep it under cover when at home. I put a lot of miles on this little RV and it is well worth the care!

  14. Bill

    Have had leaks, but depends on what you mean by serious damage. Had to have roof replaced on 2000 Dutch Star after buying it in 2010, probably due to AC to roof seals – they need to be replaced every so often.

  15. Bob Godfrey

    After taking our 40′ Newmar Mountain Aire in to a well known Titusville, Fl. RV shop for a new awning and roof all damaged during a pop-up thunderstorm, upon retrieval of said motorhome we found the carpet and furniture severely water soaked just behind the passenger seat. Turns out the RV shop did not do all the insurance work as promised and repaired the curved metal panel between the rubber roof and sidewall rather than replacing it as quoted. As a result, we took it to another much more reputable RV shop who found the leak was a result of the screws securing the trim piece to the metal flange that was repaired rather than replaced were not properly sealed nor tightened and hence we had a terrible leak. This repair shop used to have a good reputation but when they became very busy they began to cut corners and their service work is simply terrible now. So, beware of repairs, always inspect the result.

  16. Glenda Alexander

    I had a 2000 Chinook that came from the factory without properly-sealed windows. Over time, water had seeped inside the walls. The damage was discovered by an RV serviceman when I took it in with a different issue. He discovered that the walls were spongy. To their credit, the manufacturer paid to have it shipped back and they did a very good job of replacing the walls, flooring, etc., that had been damaged.

    1. john springer

      My very first RV was a Chinook. I absolutely loved it. Gave it up when I started full-timing, but thinking about settling down. I would love to find a Chinook again. What a great RV they are/were.

  17. Dick and Sandy near Buffalo, NY

    We had a very serious rain water leak in our new 2015 HR Ambassador. During a heavy rain, rain water started to come into the rig through a ceiling light fixture in the passenger side living area slide. We fortunately caught the leak as soon as it started and prevented serious damage. We brought our unit to the Factory Maintenance Center in Decatur, IN.

    The Company had to put us up at a Motel for three days so they could remove the complete slide from the rig, build a complete new slide and install it back into the motor home. The problem was that the roof of the slide was installed up side down in a concave position instead of the correct convex position.

    We stayed at the Maintenance Facility for almost a full month so they could repair and replace many other electrical, plumbing, structural and weather sealing related issues. The factory stood by our warranty and the workers did a great job repairing and solving all issues.

  18. Esta gardberg

    We had a water leak with our rig from the tube from our icemaker which incidentally we never use. By the time we noticed it it had gone under the whole floor, lots of damage so we put in a new plank vinyl floor, $6000.00, so one year later same problem resulting in rotting platform under refrigerator, needed another new floor, $6.000.00. More and new carpet under slides. Well now a leak coming down from cap over drivers side, took 3 techs to find rusted out screws under roof edge, after we resurfaced roof and caulked everything, large drown moldings falling down while we were driving, and also mirrored closet door, all put in with staples, had enough., oh, add 3 windshields in 4 years due to not enough fiberglas in front cap.

  19. Dan

    Our first motorhome, a 91 Journey front engine diesel 35 foot (by Journey Motorhomes Inc.) We bought 12 years old and orphaned in 2003. It had a leak that took me 4 years to discover and correct. The back window in the bedroom leaked as did the fresh water tank fill pipe. The whole back wall had rotted out behind the rear cap. I replaced or used Git Rot on all the rotted wood and built a framework where the window was. I then took it to Eveland’s Inc., the Scamp trailer manufacturing facility in Backus MN to fiberglass that section. Kent Eveland, the owner, is a friend of mine and he gave me a good deal. I sold it in 2016 after getting my 04 Newmar Mountain Aire 4017. The new owners got a good, well maintained older motorhome.

  20. Jeff

    A HUGE PROBLEM was averted in our 2016 REDWOOD 5th wheel.

    While sitting in the Dining area one morning, I heard a low level HISSING Sound. Turns out the water line to the Refrigerator had sprung a leak. Now for those that have water to their Ice Makers this is a Major Problem, since the water line is made in CHINA (no surprise) and very cheap low quality material.

    Fortunately and Luckily, REDWOOD put a shutoff valve under the sink to this water line! I promptly turned it off and the HISSING stopped.

    Took the RV back to the dealer (still under warranty) along with a REINFORCED Ice maker water line, purchased from LOWES! I provided them with (2) 25 ft. pieces, with end connectors. Of course they would have to move out the refrigerator to get at the Water Nipple in the Back. They said it took approximately 27 ft. of hose to reach from the sink, under the slide to the outside and then back up into the kitchen to the Refrigerator.

    Problem solved.

    But, had I not heard that HISSING sound, there is No Telling how much damage could have been done with this leaking hose!

    Just another example of the CRAP workmanship in RV’s today!

  21. Walt Sinkhorn

    In 2013 we purchased a New KODIAK 27′ Travel Trailer. We keep our trailers stored in a Carolina Carport when not in use. After 2 successful summers of Travel, I noticed water dripping inside after a rain storm. Thinking I located the leak, I caulked several areas on the roof. In 2016 we purchased a new LANCE Trailer and decided to let a Consignment Dealer sell our two and a half year old Kodiak. This was the first time the unit sat outside. Bad decision! We live in Florida and now it’s Summer rainy season. Needless to say, our Kodiak didn’t sell during our 3 month absence. I picked up the trailer and upon inspecting the inside, beside the horrible musty smell, the interior walls (particle board) were swelled up all over the trailer. The exterior still looks wonderful, but the inside was nearly totaled. I found a repair dealer who said he could replace the damaged walls for $4,500. I asked him if he would just buy the Trailer. I got $6,500 from him. He told me that after repairs , he could sell this Kodiak for $12 to $13 thousand. Which was a fair profit for him. So for a $31,000+ MSRP piece of Crap that I paid $21,300 plus Tax = $22,791. I wind up with a cost to own this junk pile of nearly $760 per month. Thank God, we don’t finance our RV’s. Talk about a BAD Investment. Where do I VOTE for Lemon Laws?

  22. Tommy Molnar

    We were parked in a small RV park in Wikieup, AZ after attending a big RV rally in Phoenix. We bought a new toilet at the rally and then got the necessary hose and connectors at a huge RV supply store called State Trailer Supply nearby. Since there were reels and reels of different sized hoses, I asked for some help in selecting what I needed. This sales guy points to some see-through hose and states that this is what we need. I bought the appropriate length of hose, some hose clips, and off we went, back to the Rally to finish our toilet install. All went well.

    Now we’re in Wikieup, sitting in our trailer, and enjoying some downtime after the hustle bustle of the rally. We’re hooked to shore water. All of a sudden we hear a slight “pop” – and water comes GUSHING out from under the bathroom door. I run to grab the hose going to the toilet (which is split right down the side) to try to squeeze it and stop the flow. Wifey runs outside and shuts the water off. What a mess! I fixed this by cutting some NEW hose from one of our fresh water hoses (those white things) and using some automotive hose clamps (which I always carry). Problem solved – STILL. But what if we’d been out sightseeing for a few hours? Holy crap!

    The lesson here for us was, anytime we leave a campsite where we are hooked to shore water, we shut it off. And now we do the same when we’re boondocking. We shut off the water pump.

    This could have been a LOT worse had we not been in the trailer at the time of the hose failure.

  23. Nanci

    We had a beautiful custom paint job done on our aging Class A in the Elkhart Indiana area. Because the existing rubber roof rolled down the side about 6-8 inches metal shields were installed by the paint shop to extend the paint up and update the look to full body paint. Unfortunately the metal strips were not caulked or siliconed. First trip to Florida in a torrential rain caused such torrential rain inside that the ceiling was stained, everything sitting in the passenger seat side was thrown out and the bed was soaked with rain water. Too far to go back to Indiana at that point. Caulking and silicone (metal to fiberglass only) and a little green rug cleaning machine cleaned up the mess but it took weeks.

  24. Todd Larson

    I would have needed to answer yes if I had not caught the leaks in time. Within the first month of purchase, (1) I had to remove one of the outside storage doors and reseal the frame, almost no sealer used and what was used was put in the wrong place. (2) A cheap plastic PEX elbow cracked in the water system and spewed water all over the floor. Replaced with a quality brass one. The factory cut the PEX lines to the the slideout too short and when you pulled the slide in it stressed the elbow.

  25. David

    My current unit has been leak free for four years. Knock on solid wood!! I did have a class C that leaked in the cab over and rotted out the floor of the sleeping area plus destroyed the mattress. We never used it other than storage and wasn’t aware of the leak until the damage was done. Could never get the leak stopped. Repaired it best we could and sold it back to the dealer we bought it from.

  26. mikhen

    Slide roof developed a leak, but we caught it and i fixed it before any damage was done. Preventative maintenance goes a long way, and roof inspection and repair is easier than you may think.

  27. Judy G

    With my former 5th wheel, a ‘design flaw’ according to the manufacturer resulted in leaks in all three slideouts that rotted out the floors. Repair required returning to the manufacturer and staying in motels each time while the slide was removed, turned upside down, and the floor replaced [but not the flaw]. The first was covered by the warranty but not the others.

  28. Nancy Mutell

    Residential fridge ice maker water line was not properly secured and leaked under the fridge for 2 months before it was noticed. The entire slide floor had to be replaced. The drain holes in the main AC pan were not properly cleared and caused water damage to the ceiling of the coach (fortunately not a whole roof replacement). The toilet leaks where it enters the bowl…not a valve leak? We’re having it looked at soon. Whatever happened to quality control? 🙁

    1. howard king

      I would suggest that the 60 plus % of the positive responders take a closer look at their units. In my case I have found various concealed leaks in my unit. Within 4 years after purchase, the manufacturer replaced the entire front end of my unit on their nickle in their In-Plant-Repair facility in IN. I had to take it to IN for that to happen. That included structural wood and new metal and one strip of siding on the front t passenger side back to the slide out. It is very hard to detect a concealed leak unit you put your finger thru the lauan wall or the ceiling is sagging or discoloring. I bought a Moisture Meter (Amazon $15.00) and have found 3 more concealed leaks that left undetected would have resulted in major damage. The corner moldings and windows are very suspect. Water leaks are the death knell for RVs. You can’t over caulk a RV. I have been in 2 major manufacturers In-Plant repair facility’s and most of the unit in for repair was major water damage.

      1. John Springer

        The moisture meter sounds really useful! Link?? I looked on Amazon and found one for about $20, but would be interested in how use this to check for leaks and determine when stuff needs to be ripped out. Would make a good article, as it sounds like lots of people get water leaks.

        1. RV Staff

          And so do their RVs. 😀 Just kidding, John. 😉 —Diane at RVtravel.com

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