Among the pet peeves of one very busy RV technician: customers who bring him an RV with a roof leak. No, he’s not upset because the roof developed a leak. That kind of thing can happen.
Rather, it’s the customer. He or she recently bought the RV only to “discover” that the roof is incontinent. In many cases, the client bought it from a private party who swore up and down that the roof was just fine, no leaks.
RV roof leaks are a huge problem. In many cases, leaks can cause serious structural damage. Serious as in “thousands of dollars to repair.” So if you’re shopping for a used rig, BEWARE of any RVs with hidden leaking issues.
How can you protect yourself from a leaker?
Look for them—they frequently leave tell-tale signatures.
If you see discoloration on the ceiling, often a brownish stain, look out. And always open the upper cabinets and look inside at the ceiling area. Leaks often develop at the edge of the unit, along a seam, and manifest themselves close to an inside wall.
RV types often have their own areas of susceptibility.
Looking at a motorhome? Class C units often leak at the cab-over area, and near slide-outs. Class A units are said to have the lowest leak rate, but when they do, it’s often near slide-outs.
Towable rigs with an “end cap” at the front or rear of the rig are more prone to leakage near the cap. In any type of RV, look closely around roof vents, and especially skylights—that’s a common leak point.
Don’t limit your inspection to the ceiling. Windows can leak, as well as any other area where the skin is opened up for a passage. Open lower cabinets, look closely at walls. Watch for the tell-tale signs of corruption: discoloration. Warped wall paper can also indicate water infiltration. Examine the floors, too. At floor level you could find signs of damage from plumbing leaks.
While your eyes are helpful in leak checking, your nose can literally “sniff out” a leak. If you open the RV door and get the scent of mold or mildew, run away quick. Mold or mildew is a huge clue of leakage, and probable serious damage.
If you find evidence that the rig has leaked, the best advice is to run the other direction. But if you have just “fallen in love” with the unit, then spend a bit of your own money and hire an RV technician to evaluate the rig and give his professional advice as to what it might cost to really put the rig to rights. In the long run, you may save BIG bucks.