By the very nature of their use, RV's are out in the elements. They are exposed to a variety of weather conditions which can be extreme at times. We park them and camp in an environment that belongs to wildlife and insects who will seek to make themselves at home in the RV if we do not take measures to keep them at bay.
RV's are 'holey', not in the sanctified sense, but more like swiss cheese. Most of the RV's today have access holes by design for electric, water, and sewer hook up. Many have slideouts, which while providing expanded interior living space, provide challenges to maintaining a sealed opening when the slide is extended and/or retracted.
In addition, most RV bodies are assembled with a variety of sub-assemblies: Front Cap/wall, Rear Cap/wall, Curbside and Streetside sidewalls and a roof assembly. There are also cargo doors and access panels, entry doors, and windows. All the joints and seams where these sub-assemblies join together present potential openings that can allow unwanted intrusion of water and/or insects/vermin into the RV living and cargo space.
This BLOG article will discuss two categories of intruders: water, and insects/critters and measures that we can take to keep them out of the RV.
If there is a hole, no matter how small, water will find its way in and it can cause serious damage. Left uncorrected, a persistent water leak will cause wood rot, stains, rust, structural damage, and mold and mildew growth.
RV Roof Rot
RV Rear Cap/Wall Delamination due to water intrusion
RV Mold and Mildew
The RV joints and seams are sealed at the factory. This sealant degrades over time and through exposure to UV rays from sunlight. RV sealants require periodic inspection and corrective maintenance in order to keep water out. It is recommended that the roof seals be inspected on an annual basis at a minimum. Many RV insurance companies will not cover water or wind damage to an RV whose roof has not been maintained so it behooves us to make sure this preventative maintenance task is accomplished regularly.
If you are not comfortable with safely accessing your RV roof, you can hire an NRVTA Certified RV Technician or take your RV to a dealership/maintenance facility to have the work done.
NRVTA Certified Mobile RV Technicians can be found at https://rvtaa.org/
If you do access your RV roof, it is recommended that you stay on your hands and knees and remain mindful of vents and other items that protrude which can pose a trip hazard. Some examples of what to look for when inspecting your roof are:
Trim Rails on the Curbside and Streetside as well as the Front and Rear Cap Seam Sealant cracks, voids and separation.
This is a photo of a front cap sealant that has degraded and pulled away from the seam between it and the roof.
Sealant Cracking on all vents, air conditioners, skylights, etc.
Void in Factory Sealant - This was a new RV direct from the factory.
Cracks in the roof membrane. This can be a fiberglass sheet or rubber roof material.
RV manufacturers typically have their preferred or recommended roof sealant to use to effect repairs of issues found. Check with your dealer service department or the manufacturer directly to identify and purchase the correct sealants. The roof will use a 'self-leveling' sealant while the sidewalls will use a silicone type of non-sag sealant.
I recommend keeping a roll of Eternabond tape on hand to make emergency repairs 'in the field' if and when you experience a leak while camping.
Eternabond Tape for emergency and permanent repairs
Large Slideout without a slide topper. Note that the blade seal to the left is the only thing preventing water intrusion from a driving rain from entering the RV living Space.
I highly recommend adding the slide topper option to your RV slideouts. Debris from trees etc. can and will accumulate on the slideout roof and if not cleaned off prior to retracting the slides can damage the blade seals across the top. If your RV is slightly off of level, without a topper, water can pool against the blade seal and eventually find its way into the RV living space. Again an NRVTA Certified Mobile service technician can provide the topper installations or you can take your RV to a qualified dealer/service center.
Insects and Critter Intrusion
In spite of best efforts, the square hole in the sidewall of the RV will have voids exposing the interior to unwanted intruders. If you can see daylight from the inside of the RV around the perimeter of the slideout when it is extended, then there is an opportunity for intrusion by insects and vermin. Typical trouble spots are where the gear rail is attached to the slideout sidewalls and/or the bottom as well as the corners where the vertical and horizontal blade seals meet.
The vertical Blade seals as well as the corners and bottom of the slideout present opportunities for insect and other undesirable critters to invade the interior of the RV.
Mud Daubers and wasps like to build nests behind the access panels to the Refrigerator, water heater, and furnace.
Insect nest in refrigerator compartment
Insect Nest in Water Heater Compartment
Dauber nest in Furnace Duct
These insect nests not only can hinder or prevent the proper operation of the appliance they can also present a fire hazard. A dauber nest inside the furnace chamber is expensive to extricate if it can be accessed at all and may even require a total furnace replacement.
The best solution is prevention by installing dauber screens over the openings to the furnace, water heater and refrigerator access panels.
These Dauber Screens will fit most Duo-Therm and Suburban RV Furnace Vents.
Verify your brand and size to order the correct fit dauber screen for your RV
This dauber screen will fit Atwood 6 & 10 Gallon and Suburban 6 Gallon water heater vents.
Verify your brand and size to order the correct fit dauber screen for your RV
These dauber screens fit the Dometic Refrigerator vent.
I had to trim them to fit the access panel on my RV.
It is important to note that some appliance manufacturers will void the warranty on your appliance if they know that dauber screens were installed.
The last unwanted intruder to deal with are ants and rodents. Many of the access holes for sewer, water and electricity are large enough to allow ants in as well as mice.
The judicious use of foam insulation tubes around wires and hoses can temporarily seal openings while you are camping.
Openings and voids in the undercarriage and underbelly of RV's where low point drains and other protrusions extend through can be sealed with expanding foam like Great Stuff.
Another good practice is to spray the grounds around the RV campsite with an insecticide to help keep ants away from the RV.
I keep a bottle in the RV to spray the campsite grounds where the patio rug will be and around the tires and where hoses and cables will be on the ground to keep ants at bay.
Just hook up the black water tank flush water hose (do not use your potable fresh water hose) and spray the area.
I hope you have found the information in this blog useful. If you need an NRVTA Certified RV Service Technician to help you with any repairs or preventative maintenance on your RV, you can find one near you at: https://rvtaa.org/
If you are selling your RV and want to facilitate a quick sale it is good to have a recent Independent NRVIA Certified Inspection report on hand to share with prospective buyers.
If you are buying a new or preowned RV, be sure to hire an independent NRVIA Certified Inspector to give you the knowledge of the true condition of the RV before you buy.
You can find an NRVIA Certified Inspector near you through the NRVIA web site locator. http://www.NRVIA.org Our primary objective at Sherlock RV Inspection Service, LLC is to serve you by making sure your RV is safe to occupy and all major systems and appliances are functioning as intended.
We are a mobile RV Inspection Service and will travel throughout the Southeast and beyond as needed. (subject to travel and per diem costs) Check out our web site to get to know us better and for the inspection details and sample reports for review.
www.rvinspectpro.com Safe Travels! Ron Francoeur Sherlock RV Inspection Service, LLC Office: 352 – 224 – 9477 Cell/Text: 678 – 360 - 6883