Spring is the time Northwest RVers begin preparing their RVs for the upcoming camping season.

Part of your spring preparation check list should also include inspecting the seals and sealants on your RV to prevent water intrusion. Note: Some RV manufacturers will void your warranty if you fail to inspect and maintain the seals on your RV.

This Awning Foot Needs to Be Removed - New Putty Tape Put in Place and Reinstalled

Your RV is subject to all sorts of twisting, flexing and vibrations as it goes to and from each camping excursion, which is tough enough on your RV’s seals and gaskets, but then add the afflictions of winter such as wind, dropping debris on the roof of your RV, snow and extended freezing temperatures (contracting and drying out seals and sealants) and it is more imperative than ever to give your RV a thorough inspection before hitting the road for the first time this year.

This Hole Should Be Cleaned and Resealed

When it comes to making sure rainwater doesn’t find its way into your RV, the first place to inspect is the roof. If you can safely and comfortably do so, and your roof is designed to be walked on, get on your RV’s roof and inspect the sealant around vents, seams, antennas, etc for cracks that would allow water to enter the RV. If you find any, thoroughly clean any debris out of the crack and reseal it with the proper sealant for your roof material. The next roof item to inspect is the roof mounted air conditioner. However, to inspect the gasket that seals the air conditioner to the roof (more importantly the bolts that keep pressure on the gasket) you will need to go inside your RV and drop the plastic panel from the ceiling of your RV. Click here for a good article on how to do so, what to look for and how to tighten the bolts.

Once you have finished with the roof, it’s time to inspect the side walls. When inspecting the side walls you will want to look at all areas where something has been cut or screwed into the side walls such as window openings, entry door, baggage doors, side vents, clearance lights, taillights, water fill, cable TV hookup, power cord hatch, etc. followed by the corner moldings where the front, rear and sidewalls meet.

This Side Molding Needs Attention

Many RV manufacturers use a butyl “putty” tape to seal the areas just mentioned. When applied, the tape is very pliable and tacky (on both sides), it obtains its sealing power in part by adhering to the two mating surfaces and more importantly, the pressure placed upon it when the window, door, etc is fastened onto the body of the RV. The pressure of the installation forces the tape into crevices, uneven surfaces, etc. forming a strong, water-tight, flexible bond. Excess tape that squeezes out during the installation process is easily trimmed off leaving a finished look. However, over time, the butyl tape will begin to dry out, become less flexible and crack, allowing water the opportunity to enter the joint. Cracks and shrinkage is what you will be looking for when inspecting the sidewalls and corner moldings of your RV. When you find areas that look suspect, you will have two choices on how to “fix” them. The first and most reliable is to remove the door, window, molding, etc, clean off the old putty tape, clean the mating surfaces, install new butyl tape and reinstall the item. Click here to watch a video on the process.

This Window Needs Attention

Unfortunately, this is very time consuming and while it is the best long term solution it is not always necessary. The next best option is to trim off any excess butyl protruding from the joint, thoroughly clean the two surfaces and apply a bead of appropriate caulk. Click here for a video showing what to look for and how to caulk the joint.

By inspecting and maintaining the seals and sealants on your RV on a regular basis you can expect your RV to withstand the moist Pacific Northwest weather without any watery surprises.

Dave Helgeson
Author: Dave HelgesonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Dave Helgeson is the MHRV Show Director. He and his wife love to travel across the west in their RV. Dave writes about all things RVing but loves to share destinations and boondocking advice.

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