Leaky Camper? Tips for Finding RV Water Leaks

2017 a RV parked on the field in Hiawatha, Iowa

One of the most common issues with RVs as they age is a water leak. If not caught early, this problem can cause extensive damage to your rig that is costly to repair. Leaks can occur from the roof, under windows, inside cabinets and compartments, really – any spot that has an opening, no matter how small, to the exterior of the RV or another water source. Unwelcome moisture may damage several different areas of your unit. Early signs you may have a water leak inside your RV or travel trailer include water stains, damaged lamination, discolored wood, and bubbles in your paneling. Unchecked, you may have damage in the walls or floors, slide-outs and other mechanicals.

Common Leak Areas

The first place you want to check for leaks is anywhere seals may have deteriorated over time. Check for cracks, thinning, worn spots and other damage. This includes checking any sealants and/or caulk on the roof and around windows, moldings, vents, doors, skylights and roof seams.

Keep in mind that not all of your water leaks will come from the exterior so look at all the possibilities. Locate your water heater, furnace, outside shower, potable water fill and city water inlet on the outside of the RV and then access those areas from the inside of the RV to see if there are any indications of water damage around these openings.

Yearly Maintenance and Sealant Inspections

Of course, prevention is always the best solution so regular, professional inspections will save you money and hassle in the end. When you take your RV or fifth wheel camper out of storage each year, take some time to get it professionally inspected for leaks and prepared for the season ahead. It’s better to repair a broken seal or replace a window gasket than to replace a rusty exterior panel, replace water damaged flooring or ceiling panels. Many leaks can be prevented or repaired simply by applying new sealant, caulk or gaskets.

Locate Hard to Find Leaks

Water is sneaky and it exploits almost any opening to seep inside your RV and cause problems. Some water leaks are harder to find than others are. Just because the water damage is showing up at one spot on your rig, that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the source of your leak. If you fixed a leak once, only to have it show up again, you probably didn’t fix the original leak to begin with.

For hard to locate leaks, at Ketelsen we recommend using pressurized leak detection system called the SealTech 430R Leak TestPDF Download. This ingenious system allows us to increase the air pressure inside the rig while swabbing the outside with a liquid that bubbles at the site of the leak. Whether water is getting in around a running light, roof vent, a lap seam, a window, or just about anywhere the manufacturer cut out an opening in the RV, this test will help to identify it. At Ketelsen RV, our service department can perform all routine maintenance and inspections for you regardless of where you purchased your RV. If you have any questions about our RV maintenance services, please feel free to contact us or stop by our location in Hiawatha, IA. Don’t forget to ask about our mobile RV service options.

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