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How To Identify Leaks or Water Damage in Your RV

How To Identify Leaks or Water Damage in Your RV

Part of owning an RV is understanding how to evaluate it for certain types of damage so you can keep it in pristine condition. Sometimes this means knowing when you’re due for an oil change. However, it also means inspecting primary features for signs of damage or harmful leaks. Explore some of the standard methods you can use to identify water damage in your RV.

Check for Common Signs of Damage First

RVs are sizeable vehicles with numerous features. Inspecting every inch of one for issues can seem like a daunting task. After all, there are various ways water can impact your mobile home. So, when you’re trying to figure out how to identify leaks or water damage in your RV, it’s best to start small. Check for the common indicators of an issue first. Below are some steps to follow.

Step Number One: Trust Your Nose. If you get hit with a mildewy or moldy odor, don’t ignore it. Unpleasant smells coming from your vehicle are generally a strong indicator of water damage. Once you identify the smell, further inspection will be required to find the specific problem and fix it properly.

Step Number Two: Assess Your Seals. A seasoned RVer will tell you that if you suspect leaks or water damage, you should assess the sealant or caulk on your vehicle first. This is because seals damaged by water will often demonstrate accelerated deterioration. Investigate for some of the most typical indicators of this deterioration, which include:

  • Cracks

  • Thinning

  • Worn spots

Evaluate each seal carefully, especially on the RV’s most significant features. Check the roof, window seals, molding, vents, doors, skylights, and roof seams for damage. Additionally, keep in mind most water damage or leakage originates from the outside. For this reason, it’s prudent to take note of any issues on the inside. Then, inspect the same areas from the outside. Doing this will help you identify how the water is getting in.

Step Number Three: Evaluate Your Flooring. Your RV’s flooring says a lot about whether or not you’re dealing with leaks and water damage. It’s not uncommon for RVs to have plywood or laminate floors. And when water starts to build underneath these materials, they can become soft or misshapen. Take a moment to walk around your RV. Do you notice any weak spots or indentations as you walk? If so, your floors are likely damaged by water.

Inspect All Water Appliances

If you assess the common areas of your RV and don’t find a reason for concern, the next step is to carefully evaluate your water appliances. Doing this might help you see where the problem originates from. Start by locating each of your water appliances externally. Pinpoint any systems in your RV that use water and prioritize the most prominent ones first:

  • The Water Heater

  • The Outside shower

  • The Water Pump

  • Kitchen and Bathroom fixtures and plumbing

  • The toilet

  • Holding tanks and drain lines

  • Refrigerator (if it offers water).

  • Dishwasher and / or Washer

To illustrate, perhaps you examine your black tank’s dump valve and find that your RV dump valve heater is sopping wet. Upon further investigation, you find that there’s a large crack near the opening of the valve. If so, it’s a strong indicator there’s a leak in your tank’s valve causing water to spill out.

Once you locate these features externally, when applicable, go inside, and find them internally. Then, evaluate each of these features for signs of leakage, wear, and water damage around their openings. Doing this allows you to better understand precisely how the water is getting in and where from.

Look for Soft Spots and Discoloration

Most of the time, leaks and water damage will create soft spots and discoloration throughout your RV. Ergo, it’s good to inspect even the more unlikely features of your vehicle for these tip-offs to a problem. Open all of your overhead storage compartments. Then, inspect the top corners where the walls meet the ceiling for discoloration or soft spots.

Look for any discoloration or wrinkles in wallpaper (if you have it) and feel for any soft spots around windows, doors, and slide-outs. Do the same for roof vents, air conditioners, plumbing vents, and even your overhead bed areas. If you find soft spots or discoloration, it typically means water is finding its way into your RV through these openings.

Check for Indicators of Delaminating

Understanding the signs of delamination is critical when you’re learning how to identify leaks or water damage in your RV. Delamination is the process of water getting between the exterior fiberglass and the sidewall. This typically happens due to water coming through an opening on your sidewall. Inherently, this causes the layer of fiberglass to separate from the sidewall of your RV.

Check for this issue by standing at the front or rear of your vehicle and looking down its side. Look for noticeable ripples or bubbles. Press on the sidewalls, and if you feel the fiberglass moving as you push, it’s delaminating. This kind of problem can do severe damage to your RV’s structure. If your exterior is delaminating, address it immediately.

Don’t Skip Maintenance and Annual Inspections

Properly assessing and fixing water damage means staying on top of maintenance. Ensure you’re evaluating your RV’s condition regularly, even if there’s no apparent reason for concern.

Yearly RV inspections can also offset the chances of severe water damage and leakage. So, take your RV to a mechanic for a comprehensive examination once a year. Mechanics have the training and knowledge to tell you if there is an issue, how much it will cost to repair what they find, and how to prevent it from happening again.

Leaks and water damage negatively impact the quality, durability, and overall lifespan of your RV. For this reason, it’s best to equip yourself with the right tools to assess these issues with accuracy and insight. Hopefully, this comprehensive guide provided some valuable information so that you know how to examine your RV when you suspect there might be an issue.

How To Identify Leaks or Water Damage in Your RV

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