How to Fix Your RV Roof [Here’s What Could Go Wrong]

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  • Post last modified:September 29, 2020

How often do you check on your RV roof? Well, many people forget ever to check if the roof is still intact. This could result in severe consequences if it turns out that your roof has unnoticed damage. Water leaks can severely damage your RV if you are not careful to regularly check if your RV roof has encountered any rupture or punctures. We have researched this topic in-depth to help you understand everything that could go wrong, as well as how to fix it!

There are several kinds of damages that RV roofs can incur:

  • Shrinkages of the Rubber EPDM roof
  • Cracks on the surface
  • Ponding
  • Rust and Corrosion
  • Scratches and punctures
  • Fading Paint 
  • Leaking

The type of roof that your RV has can be a leading indicator of what damages would befall it. Keep reading for all of the details on each roof type, the damage type, and how to repair each!

A RV with camping gears set up outside of the car, How to Fix Your RV Roof [Here's What Could Go Wrong]

Types Of RV Roofs

There are four types of RV roofs, and each of these roofs incurs different kinds of damages and, therefore, has different repair methods. They include; 

  • Rubber EPDM roof, which is a membrane-type rubber used for flat roofs. 
  • Aluminum roof, which is made from metal sheets. 
  • Fiberglass roof a reinforced plastic fiber covered with a resin. 
  • Rubber TPO roof

Understanding the kind of roof that your RV has is critical when deciding how to deal with any damages it might have. 

What can damage an RV Roof?

Ruptures, rust, and holes on the RV roof can cause massive damage to your RV. They result in water leakages that severely damage the roof of your vehicle, and if not detected in time, can also damage the interior of the RV.

A leaking roof will attract mold with time, and start to cause breathing problems to those living in the RV. Some of the common causes of these damages include;

  • Aging 
  • Lack of Maintenance
  • Physical Damage

When purchasing RVs, most people only think about the cost, fuel efficiency, towing capacities, and engines, but the idea of checking the roof of the RV is commonly never considered. 

Aging 

When you buy a new motorhome or a camper, there are only a few things to worry about: basic maintenance, oil changing, and cleaning the vehicle to protect the paint. The heat from the sun and cold temperatures during winter slowly weaken your RV roof, and after a few years, the roof might start leaking or developing rust. 

Physical Damage

Physical damages are common to RV roofs due to their heights and lengths. Take, for example, driving through a narrow road in the forest full of tree branches. Your RV will likely incur some damage like scratches or even develop holes due to the friction. If you are not careful to regularly check on your roof, then these damages will get worse with time, and your roof may end up getting damaged. 

Lack of Maintenance

Suppose you fail to regularly check on your RV’s roof and do the necessary maintenance procedures as advised by the manufacturers. In that case, your RV is likely to suffer some severe damages. Remember that your RV roof is not one solid material, there is stuff such as the air conditioning unit, ventilation pipes, and ladder mounts mounted on the roof of the vehicle. If their seals are not regularly checked and repaired when damaged, they will result in leaking water inside the RV and therefore damage the roof as well as the interior of the vehicle. 

How Do I Repair My RV Roof?

Like we mentioned earlier, different roof types have a different mode of repairing them. You need first to understand your roof type to determine which method is fit for repairing your RV’s roof. But don’t worry, we have gone a step ahead and prepared some guides on how to repair various roof types.

Before you begin to repair your RV roof, take some time to evaluate if you are capable of doing the repairs by yourself or whether you will need to seek professional help to get the job done. An individual can do minor maintenance by following our guides, but when it comes to repairing large portions of the roof or the entire roof, we advise that you seek a professional’s help. 

Repairing Scratches And Punctures On EPDM Roof

If you are doing just a small portion repair of your roof, you will need to clean and sweep off any dirt or oxidation contamination. We recommend using a Scotch-Brite pad to wipe until you have a clean surface.

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Once the surface you need to repair is clean and dry, remove any sealants and any silicone caulking. When completed, re-caulk any of those damaged areas with non-silicone caulk under the regions where the EternaBond tapes will go. Glue the loose EPDM areas using EternaBond Double stick and fasten to reinforce the repair area. You can also use webseal reinforced EternaBond.

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Repairing Cracks On Fiberglass Roof

You will need to clean the area with the crack/cracks enough to expose the gel coat under to get to the actual glass. Clean the area thoroughly with acetone and be sure the area is dust-free. Then read the instructions carefully and follow the directions on the package when mixing the resin.

Fill the crack with the mixture you made. Remember that the combination generates heat as it hardens. Therefore, be careful as it may start a fire if it doesn’t let off enough heat. 

As soon as the filled crack hardens, smoothen and clean the area with acetone. At this point, tear a piece of fiberglass fabric, but make sure its larger than the damage so that it can overlap and wet the surface with the epoxy mixture before you lay the piece of fiberglass fabric to cover the crack.

Let the fabric get stuck and remove any bubbles that may form. Clean the area with acetone again, and once it dries up, you can sand it and apply paint.

You can view this process here.

How To Repair Rust And Corrosion On Your Aluminum RV Roof

Rust and corrosion can damage your RV roofing, especially the aluminum roofing made from metal sheets. Commonly these rusts result from water leakages, especially at points where the ladder is mounted, the ventilator pipes, or areas with loose screws. Repairing these damages will require that you follow the following steps;

  • First, you will need to thoroughly inspect your RV roof to find all the spots with rusts. To perform the repairs, you will need a few items such as sandpaper, masking tape, paper, high-quality metal primer, and paint. Remove all the rust carefully using the sandpaper.
  • Remember that if you do not remove the rust before applying paint, the rust will eventually eat through the paint and come to the surface.
  • Once all the rust is removed from the surface, clean the area.
  • Use the masking tape to cover the areas that you do not want to paint.
  • Apply primer paint to prevent the surface from developing rusting in the future, and be sure to use the best quality primer.
  • Finally, apply paint to the area the same way you did with the primer and leave it to dry.
  • You can watch the process in this video.

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How Do I Protect My Camper Roof?

Cleaning your RV’s roof is the ultimate protection to the roof. You should regularly clean at least three to four times a year, depending on where you store the vehicle when it is not in use. 

Always remember to regularly inspect the seams and sealants on all the openings on the roof. This will help you to detect any loose openings that need repair before water finds its way and starts to leak inside the RV causing damage to the interior.

Cleaning should never use any citric, petroleum, or any abrasives because they will cause permanent damage to your RV’s roof. You can use warm water and not very strong detergent to clean your RV or use the specific rubber roofing cleaners designed for cleaning rubber roofs.

For more information, check out our post on How to Effectively Clean Your RV Roof.

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It is in the best interest that you should store your RV under a roof. This will help protect your RV from getting damaged, primarily if you cover your RV roofing with the standard RV covers. These RV covers prevent elements from reacting. They also cover your RV from moisture, ultraviolet rays from the sun and dirt, and in return, oxidation of the RV roof will not occur. Always check on your RV even if you have a roof cover on it to be sure. 

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If possible, store your RV or camper under some protection from the sun. Remember that the sun emits powerful ultraviolet rays that can damage your RV’s roof, especially the ones made of EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer).

How Often Should RV Roof Be Resealed?

We recommend that you check on your seams annually. EPDM rubber roofs are attached to the top with glue. It means they require regular maintenance because they can start to wear off. Also, these roofs experience shrinkage due to the climate changes, and as a result, they begin to pull away from balustrade walls and start leaking. We also recommend that every time you clean your roof, you ensure that the seams are intact, and if any repairs are required, they get sorted within the shortest time possible. 

Does RV Insurance Cover Roof Leaks?

Insurance companies do not cover roof leakages because they are failed maintenance. You must take your time to read your insurance policy with your insurer and seek any legal advice where you don’t understand. Insurance companies will only cover for damages incurred through collision, including collision with a building, tree branches, hanging signs, and any other obstacle that may hit and tear your RV roofing.

It is also important to note that insurance companies do not cover caulking-related damages, exposed screws, or cracked skylights. These are considered to be a lack of maintenance damages, and therefore you are liable for such repairs. 

In Summary

RV roof repairs cannot be entirely avoided; at one point in time, you will have to do them, and therefore you must familiarize yourself with how it’s done. For some people, it can be easy, while it can be challenging for others. Replacing the entire RV roof is expensive and would cost you between $13,000 to $15,000 to get it done.

Therefore, it is good to regularly check on your RV roof and make the minor repairs needed in good time before your RV is entirely damaged. Remember that the insurance company will not cover damages incurred due to poor maintenance of the RV; therefore, you will have to incur the total cost from your wallet. 

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