RVs are always at the mercy of the elements
Over time rain, wind, and the sun can cause damage to the roof, windows, and siding. If you’re
not careful, you could find yourself at the mercy of the elements due to leaks and water
damage. Any moisture that seeps into the seams, wall panels or insulation can damage the
framework and lead to mold forming. Fortunately, regular maintenance can help you avoid
costly repairs and keep your RV in prime condition for a long time.
Here are five maintenance tips to protect your RV’s roof and windows
1. Perform regular inspections
No doubt, you inspect the roof and windows on your permanent home. An RV is no different
and requires the same type of diligence. It’s a good idea to perform an annual inspection of the
entire vehicle, especially the roof and windows, which are the most vulnerable areas. Make sure
to inspect the rubber membrane, which is designed to protect against leaks. Of course, if your
RV is ever struck by anything, such as a tree branch, rocks or debris be sure to investigate
immediately to ensure there has been no structural damage.
2. A clean roof is a strong roof
Your RV is covered by a clear membrane that protects it from leaks. Over time, a chalky
substance can build up and cover the membrane. In some cases, the buildup can affect the
roof’s thickness. To keep your roof strong – and remove the visible white stains – you should
clean the roof four or more times a year, depending on where you park your RV. It’s important
to use a special type of cleaner. Mild dish soap (like Dawn) will also do, but be careful to follow
the manufacturer’s guidelines as some cleaners can do even more damage than water. Cleaning
products that contain petroleum solvents, harsh abrasives, or citrus ingredients can
permanently damage rubber or vinyl roofs.
A note about cleaning your roof! Before doing any repairs, make sure the roof is strong enough
to support your weight. If there isn’t a ladder attached to the back of the RV, it probably isn’t.
Instead, lay some plywood across the roof to distribute your weight more equally.
3. Repair any damage to the roof
Accidents can happen on the road. You could hit a low-hanging tree branch or misjudge the
height of an overhang, for instance. If you do sustain any roof damage, make sure to get it
repaired immediately. If the damage is minor, it’s possible to do the repairs yourself using a
specialized roof repair kit. Again, make sure to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines regarding
the type of repair kit you should use or avoid.
4. Inspect all the seals and seams
A seam occurs anywhere two pieces of your RV come together, including the roof edges at the
back and front. Sealing caulk covers these seams, but it can erode over time. Be sure to inspect
all the seams and look for any signs of damage. You also want to check the seals on the vents
RV roof cleaning and repair checklist:
- Remove dirt particles.
- Scrape off any debris. (NOTE: Be gentle as it’s easy to elongate a tear or put a hole in the roof.)
- Use rubberized lead stopper to seal cracks and crevices.
- Seal anything that sticks through the roof such as antennas and vents.
- Coat all seams well, even if they don’t look damaged.
- For fiberglass roofs, use fiberglass repair tape for rips or tears.
- Use EPDM (durable synthetic rubber roofing membrane) and Dicor coatings to clean
rubber roofs. You can also buy rubber roof cleaning kits.
- Use a self-leveling sealant to seal roof joints and touch up any cracks.
5. Protect your RV from sun damage.
We’ve talked a lot about water damage, but the sun (specifically UV rays) can also cause a
rubberized RV roof to break down and degrade over time. This can also lead to leaks. Cleaning
your RV roof will help protect your roof as dirt can contain harmful acids and pollution.
By being diligent about maintenance and keeping your RV clean, you can ensure you get to
enjoy your RV for years to come. These tips will help you keep your “home away from home” in
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