How To Deal With RV Water Damage [5 Simple Steps]

One of the most significant kinds of damage that any recreational vehicle can suffer is water damage. Staining and discoloration are two major signs of water damage. Luckily, fixing the issue isn’t as involved as you think. We have researched the steps you can follow to fix the water damage and prevent further problems such as the growth of toxic black mold.   

Once you’ve identified the magnitude of the water damage, deal with the problem using the following simple steps: 

  1. Get your RV in a dry spot for the entire repair process.
  2. Find out where the water is coming from.
  3. Get rid of any decayed component.
  4. Restore all the damaged components with dry ones.
  5. Protect all the replacements from future damage.

These are pretty straightforward steps to follow. If you still need a little more explanation on each point, don’t worry; we got you covered. Besides expounding on the points above, we’ll also elaborate on other topic-related issues we know you’ll find super useful. Let’s start with the basics, shall we?


A motorhome near a mountain and a river, How To Deal With RV Water Damage [5 Simple Steps]

How Do You Know If An RV Has Water Damage? 

RVs are regularly exposed to a variety of weather elements such as rain, ice, or snow. If you travel through moist conditions such as these in your camper or RV, you must check for any signs of long-term water damage. Not sure how to do that? Just check for any of these tell-tale signs:

  • Staining of soft spots such as overhead cabinets.
  • Discoloration of cloth, paper, and wood materials. 
  • Growth of mold in corners and other areas within the RV.
  • Certain areas on the roof are somewhat spongy.
  • The bed area has traces of dampness and leaks.

When you spot any of these, pinpoint the source and work on it as soon as possible. This will help you minimize the repair costs and prevent the problem from spreading further into other parts of your self-contained RV. 

Looking to get yourself a self-contained RV? Get all the info you need about it on What is a Self-Contained RV (And Do You Need One?)

The next point highlights the most measures you can take to control the damage and decrease the likelihood of contracting severe health complications. 

How To Deal With RV Water Damage

Step 1: Get Your RV In A Dry Spot For The Entire Repair Process

If possible, pull your RV into a dry storage unit, such as a garage. Since you’ll need to get into your RV’s internal structure, you don’t want any rain or ambient moisture causing further damage. Later on, we’ll look at how to know if your RV is water damaged and how you can fix it.

Step 2: Find Out Where The Water Is Coming From

Take your time to find the source of the leak and seal it immediately. If it’s coming from one of the pieces of machinery, shut it down and remove it. Water damage typically spreads outwards from where the leak originates. Feel for areas where the roof sags the most, or the floor is the spongiest. 

Step 3: Get Rid Of Any Decayed Components

If the rot has spread deep into the structural wood, unfortunately, you may have to cut it away. Don’t hesitate to do away with anything that has a sign of rot in it. If you need to cut out the integral beams, make sure the structure doesn’t accidentally collapse on you.

You can install temporary supports to hold back the weight in the absence of the structural wood. 

Step 4: Restore All The Damaged Components With Dry Ones

Once you’ve cleared all the rotten bits, start replacing them with dry ones. At this point, you should be able to screw or nail together all the components. You can also get rid of any decayed remnants along the way. 

Ensure that all the new parts are solidly nailed or screwed back together before moving on to the next step. 

Step 5: Protect All The Replacements From Future Damage

You’ll never know when another incident could take place. Therefore, protect your new components with disinfectants such as bleach or sanitizer. This will ensure that all the mold is permanently eliminated. Apply a fresh coat of Kilz or any other latex primer for extra protection from mold growth or moisture. 

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A bonus step is to ensure that all the exterior gaps, joints, or crevasses are sealed with non-cracking sealant or caulk. Either of these adhesives should be of high quality and good enough to last long. Your roof liner should also be void of any holes or tears.  

How Do You Fix A Water Damaged RV? 

Once you’ve contained the water damage situation, don’t be quick to call a professional. With the following steps, you can avoid the hefty repair costs and get the job done in the fastest time. Here’s a couple of things you’ll need for the job:

  • Eternabond tape 
  • Breathing mask
  • Wood filler
  • Wood hardener
  • Putty knife
  • Fine grit sandpaper

1. Stop The Source Of The Leak

Pipe leaks mostly cause water damages. Check to see if all your pipes are intact. If any of them has issues, grab your wrench, and tighten any loose ends. If there’s a tiny hole on the pipe, seal it tightly with Eternabond - a waterproof tape that creates an effective barrier against leaks. 

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2. Soak Up The Excess Water

Use a dry rag or mop to soak up all the water on the RV floor (more on this later). Ensure you dry all areas where the water may have left its trail of destruction. 

3. Apply Wood Hardener To Damaged Wood

Apply a fresh coat of wood hardener to wood that may have come into contact with the water. You can do this by spraying or painting, depending on your choice of hardener. Wear a breathing mask throughout the process and make sure that all windows are open for ventilation purposes.

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Allow at least 24 hours for the wood hardener to dry completely. The hardener will, as the name suggests, keep the wood hard for longer, aside from preventing wood rot. 

4. Fill The Cracks Or Holes With Wood Filler

Use the putty knife to apply a sufficient amount of wood filler into any visible cracks or holes. Give it about four hours to dry completely. 

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5. Smoothen Out The Dry Wood Filler

Once the wood filler dries, it will have a rough look and texture; here’s where the fine-grit sandpaper comes in. Sand out the wood filler patches to level the surface and restore it to its original form.

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From there, feel free to repaint or cover the repaired wood with new wallpaper.

How Do You Dry Out A Flooded RV? 

We mentioned, “Dry out your RV” as the first step to fixing a water damaged RV. Here are a few ideas on how to dry up the water on the floor:

  • Use a portable fan: Adjust the fan accordingly based on the extent of the damage. Place it at a safe distance from the area you’ve cleaned and leave it on until it dries. 

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  •  Use a dehumidifier: Place a dehumidifier close to the wet area and let it sit until it dries completely. Dehumidifiers also help prevent mildew and mold by decreasing the level of condensation. 

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  • Use a blower: There are areas where neither a fan nor dehumidifier can reach. That’s where a blower comes in. Although it dries the wet areas relatively fast, you may have to hold it up the whole time.

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How Do You Get Water Stains Out Of An RV Ceiling? 

Water stains can be such an eyesore. These dark spots are often caused by water drops that stay on the ceiling for way too long. Fortunately, there’s a way to rid your roof of these stains and keep it looking good as new!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Chlorox bleach
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Sponge
  • Hand gloves

Start by measuring sixteen ounces of water. Pour the water into the bottle and add just one tablespoon of Chlorox bleach. 

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Next, cover the bottle and shake it vigorously until it mixes thoroughly. 

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Now, wear the gloves and grab the sponge in one hand and the spray bottle on the other. Spray directly on the stain and pat it with the sponge until it disappears. Do the same for any other stain until the ceiling becomes spot-free.

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How Much Does It Cost To Fix Water Damage In A Camper? 

Water intrusion is one of those problems that RV owners never expect. Sadly enough, RV insurance rarely covers water damage (more about this in the next point). The best you can do for your beloved motor home is to set aside at least $2,300

Most repair agencies charge approximately 800 bucks for water damage repair alone and $1,500 for leakage repairs. These costs are inclusive of manual labor and the different tools and equipment required (sealant, fillers, or, in some cases, part replacements.

This figure may go higher or lower based on the level of water damage as well as the class/model of your RV. Some are given more consideration more than others. 

Want to know how many RV’s are out there? Read 7 Types of RVs You Simply Must Know for more helpful information. 

Will My RV Insurance Cover Water Damage? 

Since RVs spend a massive chunk of their time on the road or in the outdoors, water damage is pretty inevitable. That’s where insurance comes into play. Unfortunately, though, most insurance companies offer vague answers to the question of RVs and insurance. 

The closest form of insurance you can get in regards to water damage is comprehensive coverage. Other types of RV insurance include collision, contents, and medical payments coverage.

The comprehensive coverage option shields you and your recreational vehicle from issues that aren’t accident-related. Such problems include water damage, hail damage, and even fire damage. The tricky part is that you need to find yourself in two or more of these issues for the coverage to take full effect. Water damage isn’t covered on its own. 

It helps to consult your insurance agency and find out if they offer such a policy. 

And That’s A Wrap!

If you notice any sign of water damage early enough and act on it soon enough, you can save yourself $2,300+ worth of repair costs. As you can see, water damage repair is nothing to be afraid of. Use the steps outlined in this post to repair your RV and relish your next outdoor trip in a dry and cozy interior! 

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