RV’s, like all equipment, develop issues with use and one of the most common is leaking windows. Leaking windows can cause significant damage to your RV and never happens at a convenient time. Don’t panic! There are several simple things you can troubleshoot before heading to the dealership!
If you have a leaking RV window, first determine the type of window you have. A framed window has a plastic frame on the outside that seals against the skin of the RV. A frameless window has a hidden frame that fits into the interior of the wall of the RV and is held tight from the inside by screws and adhesive.
Here are some general guidelines when dealing with window leaks.
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- If you have framed, sliding windows, check the weep holes at the bottom of the frame on the outside.
- With frameless windows, make sure the interior screws that hold the hidden frame of the window flush to the skin of the RV are tight.
- If you’re dealing with a door window, inspect the gasket on the outside of the door for any signs of breakdown or gaps between. Some might have interior screws to check as well.
These are the first steps for you as you investigate leaks. Let’s break them down in more detail and discuss some alternative things to consider with your window leak.
Framed Sliding Windows
With this type of window, the panes sit within a frame and slide along with that.
Weep Holes Issues in RV
The number one culprit of leaks with framed sliding windows is blocked weep holes. These holes are located on the bottom of the frame and can be seen from the outside. They’re horizontal slots, usually about an inch or two long.
To unclog the weep holes, first, remove any visible debris from the hole. Next, you’ll need a length of sturdy wire like a thin wire hanger. To judge the appropriate length, measure from the weep hole to the corner of the window. Typically, the blockage will form in the lowest part of the tract. Gently slide the wire into the weep hole and work it back and forth, breaking up any dirt and grime. Clear all the holes for the window and pour water over the top of the window. If the blockage is gone, you should see water and grime come from the weep holes. Go slowly at first, just in case this wasn’t the issue. If the weep holes are flowing freely, and you still have a leak, then you’ve got a bigger problem.
Frame Seal Issues
If weep holes aren’t the issue, then the seal that holds the frame against the skin of the RV has broken. To fix the seal itself, you will need to remove the entire window and clean and reseal the window. This is a big job that may require the assistance of a professional.
However, there is a stop-gap measure, particularly if your RV is out of warranty or you’re a long way from anywhere. A bead of clear silicone caulk around the outer frame of the window should seal the frame to the skin of the RV.
When applying caulk, clear silicone is preferable. Make sure you take your time, clean the surfaces thoroughly before applying, and allow it to dry completely. For a detailed step by step guide, click here.
This popular type of window creates a cool sleek look but comes with its own set of potential problems.
There are no weep holes on frameless windows since there is no plastic frame to catch water on the outside of the RV. However, just like with the framed windows, these windows leak because the seal has been compromised.
Inspect the Seal
Look from both the inside and outside of the RV for any obvious gaps between the window and the skin of the RV. These windows are sealed with a double-stick adhesive between the window and the RV. This adhesive can breakdown over time. If it isn’t actively leaking at the time, use a garden hose to trickle water along the perimeter of the window to help discover the trouble spot.
Check the Screws
From the inside of the RV, locate the screws that hold the internal frame of the window to the RV. Make sure none of them are loose. Don’t overtighten but use a screwdriver to make sure they are all snug.
If tightening the screws solved your problem, you’re good to go, but if your trouble lies with a broken seal, the best bet is to take it to the dealership to truly fix the problem, you’ll need to take the window out completely and reseal it. This is a huge job and if done improperly, will leave you with a bigger mess.
If you’re in a bind and the seal is broken, caulking can fill in the gap and keep you moving. It’s the last resort since the caulk will eventually have to be removed to reseal the window, which means extra labor and headache. See the discussion above about applying caulk.
Door Windows in your RV
These windows typically have a rubber gasket around the outside or are frameless. Either way, if it is leaking, the seal is broken. Troubleshoot frameless door windows the same way as any other frameless window by checking the screws and seal. If you’re working with a gasket, you’ll need to replace the gasket, which might involve removing the window.
Door windows are typically small, and this is a much more manageable task than a large side window. Even so, make sure you have a second set of hands to help. Caulk is a last resort. Caulk will never look as nice as a proper gasket or frameless window, and this is a place where looks matter. It will, however, get the job done if you’re out of options.
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
Don’t let leaking windows take the fun out of your RV’ing experience. Monitor for leaks often, especially if your RV sits idle for long periods. Keep your weep holes clear if you have framed windows and make sure you’ve got a tight seal with frameless windows. If you do, you’ll be able to hit the road with confidence and enjoy the freedom of your RV!
We've covered other RV malfunctions issues in the blog. Hopefully, you're not facing any of them right now but we thought you'd like to know they're there and maybe bookmark them for future reference -