Every year this question is posed repeatedly, whether from brand new campers or seasoned veterans, we all have the same concerns.
When we purchase an RV through a dealer we are given a nickle tour, most of the time, that is supposed to be our training course for camping. One to two hours later our heads are spinning, towing this new to us behemoth down the highway with a blank stare on our face, trying to remember just what that young kid said who was giving the walk through. We can figure out the light switches and the thermostat for sure, the radio and TV are easy…what was it they said about the roof? It needs to be inspected when?
Each manufacturer will list out something in the maintenance section of the owners manual that will tell us what needs to happen. Forest River for instance says to inspect the roof at least twice a year. I recommend that the roof and sidewalls be inspected twice a year, also any time we think we scraped a branch or a branch fell on the roof. This works similar to changing the batteries in our smoke detectors along with the time change. When we winterize the unit and de-winterize the unit an exterior inspection should be completed. “This is all well and good but what am I looking for?”
The picture of the skylight is a great example of what to look for. You can see the cracks in the sealant and even a hole next to a screw head. We definitely want to cover up these cracks! Personally I go to the extent of covering “stretch marks” if you will. You will know them when you see them, not a crack but sure looks like it.
“So do I remove the existing sealant?” Short answer is maybe…it will depend on the layers of sealant already in place. Typically I will remove (peal and seal) the old sealant once there are 2-3 layers of sealant already in place. Up until then I subscribe to the less is more rule. Unless 50% or more of the sealant needs to be gone over I “spot seal” the roof. This is not the prettiest but lets face it we don’t look at a roof and see beauty, we see protection from the elements. if there are cracks and stress marks in over 50% of the sealants then I cover all of the existing sealant. Don’t be stingy! Most roofs will take between 12 and 18 tubes of self leveling sealant to do a full re-seal.
So now what RV roof sealant should be used? The one thing we never want to do is use a product from the local hardware or big home store unless it is specific to RV roofs (I stick with products made by the manufacturers of the roofs on campers). Just because it says it works on rubber does not mean it will adhere properly to your RV let alone not damage the surface. I have included a list of the sealants I recommend for each roof type below. All of these can be purchased or ordered through your local dealer or parts supplier.
As always if this is something you would rather just have someone else handle just give us a call! Bill
Rocky Valley RV Recommended Roof Sealants
- EPDM/Rubber Roof, smooth chalky – Di-Cor or XTRM Ply brands
- TPO normally has texture to it and feels thin- XTRM Ply or Alpha
- Aluminum/Fiberglass- Nuflex 311
- Please note the above are my personal opinions based off of products I have used and liked the results of over my career.