Cleaning, Repair, Patching, Replacement, and Maintenance

RVs may drive down the road, but their construction has more in common with modular housing than with cars. They need to be lightweight, insulated from hot and cold weather, and above all else, waterproof from above and the front.

The most common cause of RVs being totaled is water damage through the roof. Since you can’t see the roof from the ground, it often gets neglected. Add to this the fact that many RVs are stored in lots outside for long periods of time, sitting in the sun and the rain and the snow.

RVs also face three other challenges that fixed structures don’t.

First – an RV traveling at highway speeds is experiencing winds at “violent storm” level (64-72 mph), or in some cases, hurricane force winds (73+ mph). Clearly, the roofing has to be secured and intact to survive this wind.

Second – a vehicle starting, stopping, turning, blowing back and forth, and going over uneven surfaces, is going to be subject to twisting and “racking.” The roof must be able to flex somewhat without cracking, separating, or breaking. Flexible membrane roofs have some advantage here.

And third – houses do not typically drive underneath low hanging branches. Anytime you inadvertently do this, you run the risk of breaking seals, components (AC, vent, antenna, etc), or puncturing or tearing the roofing material. It’s important to check after going under a low tree or other obstacle that might have scraped the top of the roof.

Before we talk about how to perform maintenance or your RV, repair, or even replacement, it’s important to identify what kind of roof your RV has.

Common Roof Types on RVs

RVs are typically covered with one of three types of material: single ply roofing, fiberglass, and metal. There are a few exceptions, such as one we saw with a gable roof complete with shingles, and of course some have been covered with tarps because they’re leaking. But aside from those strange retrofit roofs, one of these three types is generally used.

Single ply

This is the most common type of roof structure found on an RV. The materials are generally one of two types – EPDM, and TPO. We’re about to go into the details about each of these below, so grab a cup of coffee and settle in.

EPDM

 An acronym for ethylene propylene diene monomer, it’s a highly durable synthetic rubber roofing membrane. EPDM tends to be a little cheaper than TPO. EPDM comes in sheets that can be 50 or more feet wide, which means it often does not need seams to cover a surface. There are also liquid EPDM coatings available that can seal an existing roof.

EPDM material is also used in door gaskets and seals, tubing, o rings, and electrical insulation. It’s resistant to degradation in ultraviolet (UV) light, cold and hot temperatures, and against weather. While EPDM is good for sealing out water, it’s not good with other solvents or oils, especially ones with citrus or petroleum solvents.

Since it comes in larger sheets, most seams can be avoided. But when they are needed, or for flashings, seam tape is used. It can then be sealed with liquid EPDM. Someone who is adept with DIY can usually handle installing or replacing an EPDM RV or motor home roof.

EPDM does not need a lot of maintenance, as long as installation was done right. Periodic cleaning two to four times a year, and re-sealing about every five years, will generally keep an EPDM roof in good condition for decades.

TPO

This stands for thermoplastic polyolefin. It’s generally (but not always) white, which helps with reflectivity and energy savings. Staying cool also helps avoid overheating the membrane. TPO is less resistant to heat, but more resistant to cold. It also has a tendency to crack when water sits on it for an extended period of time (ponding) and can split.

TPO membrane is laminated, sometimes comes with a fleece backing on the bottom, and has a durable, wearing surface on top. Some TPO has fiber reinforcement for added strength and durability, though this also makes it more difficult to work with because it’s not as flexible.

Special tools are needed for hot air welding to form the seams, which are needed because TPO comes in narrower strips than EPDM. These make TPO less well suited for DIY than EPDM. The seams are, however, generally stronger than those in EPDM. A professional roofing contractor is generally needed for installing TPO, for example, Cook Roofing Company is a great choice in the central and southern Missouri and northern Arkansas areas.

TPO requires regular cleaning also, and regular treatment of seams to ensure they remain leak-free. Care must be taken to avoid solvents, harsh chemicals, or petroleum-based cleaners on TPO also. These products can cause a significant amount of damage.

Fiberglass

Some RVs and motor homes have a fiberglass roof. It’s not as common as a single-ply roof, due to the cost and weight of fiberglass, but some do.

Fiberglass is less easily damaged than single ply membranes. But, if it does get damaged, it’s more difficult to repair. Resin, fiberglass mat, and in some cases, also building a form or mold is necessary.

Covering how to repair fiberglass is a little beyond this article, but there’s a good writeup at https://itstillruns.com/repair-fiberglass-roof-rv-5899045.html

Metal

Other RVs and motor homes, especially older ones, have aluminum metal roofs. These are not as common anymore either, with the availability of membrane roofing. Metal is commonly sealed, and that sealant can eventually go bad and get leaks. If you need to repair or re-seal the roof, here’s a great article. http://www.money-saving-rv-repair.com/metal-roof-repair.html

Repairing Roof Leaks

Most roof leaks on an RV or motor home roof come from penetrations in the roof, like vents, or from the edge trim along the front, sides, and back. The rest come from breaks, punctures, or tears in the material covering the roof. These can happen from driving under branches that are too low, from severe hail or other falling objects, or just from old age and deterioration of the roof material.

It’s important to check the roof of your RV regularly. You might not see anything inside the vehicle, but water could be saturating the plywood deck under the roof, or structural supports, allowing them to rot and mildew. If this happens, the repairs are going to be much more extensive and costly. Again, water damage takes out more RVs and motor homes than any other cause.

While it might be tempting to goop on some more sealant onto joints and spot seal, that’s only going to get you so far. Keep in mind that your repair is going to be subjected to winds of 50, 60, or 70 mph, or maybe more. A glob of caulking adhering to old sealant which is just sitting on partially rotting coating or membrane or wood is not necessarily going to withstand those conditions.

The best course of action, if you aren’t going to install a new roof, is to apply a coating material across the entire roof, after thoroughly cleaning all the junctions, seams, and surface of the roof. This way, you can be sure you’ll have a continuous, adhered, waterproof barrier from front to back, and side to side. 

But before you can apply a coating to the roof, the roof needs to be structurally sound.

Checking the Roof Structure

This might sound obvious, but wherever there were leaks or tears in the roof, especially for a membrane roof, the materials underneath may have rot, mildew, or other damage. Before you seal things up, wet areas need to be dry. Wet wood that’s not rotting should be cleaned and then treated with an anti-microbial spray to prevent mold and mildew growth (and kill any that might have been there).

Any rotting wood needs to be replaced, of course. Sealing that up is just asking for trouble later.

Check carefully around the roof penetration areas like vents and AC equipment, pushing on the roof to check for sponginess. If there’s a leak that needs to be patched, you’ll be able to check the underlying wood for discoloration or softness. 

A common roof will have 1/4 to 3/8 inch plywood, with 1 to 2 inches of foam insulation underneath, and the framing is in with the insulation. (Some have fiberglass insulation, some have more than 2 inches.) If the insulation is soaked, that will need to be replaced also. And you should check the structural integrity of the supporting truss framing, to make sure it’s not rotting, or rusting (if metal, such as steel tubing). And make sure the framing is secure and not loose.

All the sealant around junctions, penetrations, and the trim that’s holding the edges of the roof, needs to be cleaned. It’s a good idea to remove and clean the previous caulking before re-doing the sealant. These are common areas for leaks. Unless the existing seams and joints are in really good shape, it’s a good idea to clean all this off and re-apply it, especially if you’re going to be applying a sealant coat to a roof.

Patching

If the roof membrane is in fairly good shape, but there’s just a puncture or tear in one area, you may be able to patch the damaged area without replacing the entire roof – especially if the membrane is EPDM. If it’s TPO, you’ll generally need to use heat welding tools, so you might want to call a professional roofing company.

You can, however, use EPDM rubber patch kits that are peel-and-stick with adhesive. These work well for small punctures or scratches, or even tears and cuts, as long as there’s no damage underneath.

Since it’s pretty unusual for there to be an opening in the roof and no damage underneath, it’s a good idea to check underneath.

Coating

All the roof types mentioned here can be coated with a sealer to seal cracks and provide a waterproof, continuous barrier of protection against the sun and weather.   

There are specific products designed for each type of roofing material, even acrylic fiberglass resins for fiberglass roofs. EPDM sealants are used for single-ply roofs (both EPDM and TPO). And there are coatings that bond to metal for aluminum roof restoration and sealing.

This might be obvious, but in all cases, you want to make sure that the roof is clean before using a coating. Any patches that are needed, should be completed. And any joints that need to be caulked should be taken care of first.

There are plastic scrapers used for auto body work, and then of course putty knives, that are great for removing old sealer and caulking from the roof. Make sure you pay special attention to grooves, screws, and trim, where a crack could let water in.

After scraping old sealer off, the surface should be washed with mild soap and water.

For a lot of coatings, there’s a primer that you use beforehand. This helps the coating adhere to the surface. It’s not going to help much if the coating you apply just cures and peels up.

Primer is also useful for sealing joints, seams, and flashings. After cleaning, use some primer to help the caulking sealant adhere to the surface material. Be sure to use the right primer for the surface material you’re applying it to, as there are different kinds.

Once the joints, seams, and flashings are sealed, and the surface primed if needed, coating can be applied to the roof. If you can find a shaded place to do this, it might be better – check the directions on the coating you’re using about application in direct sunlight.

https://dicorproducts.com and https://epdmcoatings.com both have products that can be used for this.

1992 Terry trailer roof replacement and framing repair – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbdGE6hc-54

2013 Heartland Gateway roof replacement – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLmQ2ZDpZGE

2009 Presidential Suites PVC with bad water damage – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fmcfqcp7390

Woodwork and Trim

Sheathing

No matter the type of covering, most larger (Class A and Class C) RVs, campers, and motor homes have plywood decking, or sheathing, on top of the roof trusses (or joists, ribs, etc). This plywood is usually ¼ to 3/8 inch thick, but sometimes can be as thin as 1/8 inch.

Sometimes the plywood is OSB (oriented strand board), which will disintegrate if it is exposed to moisture for a prolonged period of time. But even normal laminated plywood will delaminate when it’s wet. The water will dissolve and break down the glue. The lamination is what gives plywood its strength.

If RV has a ladder, it should be safe to walk on. Of course, that assumes that there’s no water or rot damage to the plywood or trusses. If you suspect water damage – and if you’ve found an obvious source of leaking, or evidence of leaking inside, you should expect water damage – then it would be wise to use something to distribute your weight across a wider surface if you’re going to walk on it anyway. A sheet of plywood might slide off, but you can glue something to the bottom of the plywood, like the rubber mesh used for cabinets or underneath throw rugs.

A better alternative, though – especially if you know you need to do some repairs – is to set up scaffolding. You can rent scaffolding from equipment rental companies, and it probably costs less than you might think.

What you should NOT do is set up a step ladder sideways to your RV, and stand near the top, and lean to the side of the ladder across the RV roof. You can almost be certain that the top of the ladder will push away from the RV, and you will end up on the ground! If you must access your roof with a sideways step ladder, have someone hold it, or find a way to secure the top to the RV, like with hooks and straps.

There are lots of videos on YouTube showing people falling off a step ladder while trying to work on their RV, or while using a pressure washer on their RV. If you’re going to try it, make sure someone has a video camera rolling!

Pressing down on membrane material is one way to check the plywood before removing the covering. You can check along the edge of vent cutouts too. And of course, if there are any tears or rips, that area underneath will be visible.

If you find wet plywood, it’s best to replace it. There are also lots of videos showing plywood decking with wood rot and delamination, and many that go into a lot of detail about replacing it. But here are some general steps.

Plywood is often secured with staples or screws, and with or without glue to hold it down on the trusses and Styrofoam. If you’re replacing the roof, and the decking, it’s a good idea to glue down the plywood to help with rigidity. This way, the RV will get some additional structural strength from the plywood, against racking and twisting. Racking can cause screws and staples to come loose, and can fatigue the roof material, joist connections, etc.

If you’re replacing a roof membrane that was fleece-backed, and they glued it to the deck, you may find that the fleece is left stuck to the plywood. In that case, to get a good bond with the new material, the plywood should be replaced.

Before you put a bunch of new plywood on your RV roof though, the framing and insulation underneath the deck should be inspected.

Structural

If you’re getting into replacing plywood decking because of water damage, you may also have structural damage to the roof framing. Sometimes these trusses are rotted. Sometimes, the walls where the trusses are supported are water damaged at the top.

Sometimes, the trusses will sag. This can be detected using a straight board or a long level across them. If they are sagging but not rotten, you can lift the ceiling using a jack on the inside. Then, a new board can be bolted into the existing truss. This will hold the old one up at the level it should be, and also strengthen it.

Make sure to check where trusses and other framing are joined, at the walls, roof opening, etc. Sometimes they are stapled and loose, sometimes fasteners have broken or rusted. Other times, aluminum welds have broken. Check all these before you seal the roof back up, and close off access for 10-20 years. If something needs to be fastened with better screws, or reinforced, now is the time to do that.

Cabinetry

If there was a roof leak, check to make sure cabinetry hasn’t been damaged. We’d like to think that the beautiful wood-look cabinets are made of oak, birch, or mahogany… but they’re often just melamine-faced chipboard or hardboard. This stuff does not hold up well to water. You definitely don’t want your cabinets to come crashing down, when you hit a pothole or speedbump.

There’s an example of a cabinet that was fastened to the ceiling of an expensive coach using screws. But these screws were over-driven, and actually pierced the top of a pop-out. Hopefully this isn’t a common occurrence, but it illustrates the importance of paying attention to the length of your screws.

Trim

The main trim to be concerned with here is the trim around the edges of the roof, and over sections of exterior paneling.

The trim, or termination bar, along the sides of the roof holds the edge of the roof membrane. Since it’s held on with screws, and there’s potential for water to get in-between this bar and the wall of the RV, it’s important to seal this trim both from underneath (using butyl tape, or sealing construction adhesive), and on the top and bottom after it’s installed. Two beads of sealing caulk or construction adhesive caulk are recommended, to make sure air bubbles don’t compromise the seal. (Air bubbles in caulk are what cause that popping sound when applying it.)

The top roof covering should tuck under the trim in the front of the roof, unless there is a termination bar there instead. Then this joint should also be sealed, both under the trim, and also on top of the joint after it’s sealed.

In the back of the RV roof, there is usually a trim piece that holds the lights and wraps around from the top to the back. The roofing material has a termination bar on top of this.

Other trim along the sides and around windows should be checked to make sure it’s still watertight. If water gets into the trim, it can rust the fasteners, get between panel seams, and cause damage in the walls. The wood framing can rot, the fasteners holding the wood together can rust out, etc. So all this trim should be checked and resealed if necessary.

Installing a new Roof on your RV

Once you’ve checked the decking and replaced any damaged pieces, and made sure the roof is structurally sound, the roof can be recovered.

Best roofing material

The cleanest, and arguably best, material for a new RV roof, is a structured TPO membrane, such as a GAF 60 mil structured. Structured means that it has a mesh or other fabric laminated in, such as a fiberglass mat. This provides rigidity and strength. The 60 mil structured material is the same material used on commercial buildings, and should last 25 years or more.

TPO is heat welded, needing no seam tape or caulking. Flashing is made from unstructured TPO, which is more flexible. Flashings around vents, AC units, and other accessories, are heat welded to the roof material, ensuring a permanent, watertight seal.

TPO is more difficult to work with, because of the heat welding tools used. Unless you have access to these tools, your best bet for covering your roof with TPO is to have a professional roofing contractor do the installation for you. It might cost a little more, but you’ll have better peace of mind knowing that it was installed correctly. If you’re looking for a roofer in the Branson or Springfield, MO area who has extensive experience with single ply membrane roofing, consider calling Cook Roofing Company. They can give you a free quote and help with any questions you may have about your RV roof.

Another good option for the roof is EPDM rubber roofing. EPDM can be a little less expensive and is a little easier to work with. Flashing is seamed with seam tape, and a liquid EPDM sealant can be applied over that to ensure the fit is watertight.

Best practice

When installing a new membrane roof on your RV, there are a few important things to do.

The roof should be smooth. Splinters, dirt and debris, fasteners, joints, knot holes, and trim edges can all cause damage to the new roof membrane. They can also reduce the adherence of adhesives to hold down membrane.

The edges of openings should be chamfered slightly. Any rough spots in the plywood decking should be sanded smooth.

Knot holes should be filled in with putty, as should any other gaps in the decking such as between sheets, or between the decking and the side shoulder trim or front and rear trim.

Screws should be counter-sunk, and both screws and staples should be flush with the decking.

Areas with screws, staples, decking joints, seams, and junctions between side trim, front and back trim, and decking, should be covered with strips of material. There is seam tape available, but strips of TPO can also be glued down over these areas. This will prevent these areas from rubbing, abrading, or puncturing the roof membrane later.

Adhesive can be applied to the back of the membrane, one half at a time, and then rolled flat. This is done by spreading out the material across the entire surface of the roof, and then folding half of it from one side to the other. After spreading the adhesive, the material can be rolled back over, and then a roller used to apply pressure to the material and get it to stick to the decking. Then the other side can be pulled back, and the same thing done with it.

With TPO, where the material has a compound curve (like where the roof might slope down halfway back on 5th wheel RVs, for example), the material can be folded, and the fold heat welded flat. This avoids cutting the material or leaving a bubble in it.

Curbs can be built around the vents, AC units, and other accessories, using 2×2 boards. These raise the junctions off the roof and make it less likely that water can penetrate them. The curbs would be covered with flashing and heat welded to the roof with TPO, or glued and sealed with EPDM. https://rvroofinstall.com/ has a lot of information about doing this.

Most installers take their shoes off when walking on the new roof, to avoid marring up the roof material.

Safety

RV roofs can be 8 to 12 feet off the ground – as high or higher than the edge of a first story house. Clearly, a fall off one of these roofs can be pretty hazardous. They are also built of lighter weight materials and can’t withstand the same kind of loads that a house roof can. Just because there may be a ladder to your roof, doesn’t guarantee the roof is a safe place to be.

The first thing to know is whether your RV roof was meant for walking on.

Class A motor homes and large trailers are often safe to walk on, when they are brand new. Class C motorhomes and smaller trailers may be, if there is a ladder to the roof. They are almost certainly built to withstand the weight of an average sized person. How much weight is that? Well, there may be a weight limit listed on the ladder. And if not, 250-280lbs is considered average. Much more than that and you just have to ask yourself if the risk worth the return. You’re risking falling through the roof into the interior of the coach, and causing significant and expensive damage, not to mention risk of personal injury.

Class B motor homes are often too small to walk on. Check with the manufacturer specs, or call the manufacturer, to ask if the model you have can support the weight of a person walking on it.

The other thing you need to be wary of is the condition of the roof. Brand new, the roof might be able to support a person with no issues. But old plywood that has leaks could be rotten and soft. Trusses and structural wood supports could be rotten and soft, and you’d have no way to see that without tearing off the plywood. If you think there has been significant leaking, it’s best not to take the chance of walking on the roof.

If you still must get on the roof, a sheet of plywood with some non-slip material glued to it, can distribute your weight across the roof a little better. This can help prevent you from putting a foot through a small weak area.

Maintenance on your RV Roof

Cleaning

Rubber (EPDM) roofs should be cleaned four times a year, if they’re exposed to the elements. If you keep a cover over it, or store it indoors, you can get away with much less frequent cleaning.

TPO roofs generally need less frequent cleaning, but still should be cleaned once or twice a year if left outside.

Fiberglass and aluminum roofs also need to be cleaned regularly. Any roof that has dirt and debris sitting on it is going to hold moisture, and that will prematurely age even fiberglass and aluminum.

Cleaning Products

There are a number of cleaning products on the market designed for RV roofs. It’s extremely important that you pay attention to the types of cleaners that are safe for the type of roof you have. Using citrus or solvent based cleaners on an EPDM roof, for example, will severely damage the membrane, and may void any warranty you might have.

There’s a great review page for the top ten roof cleaners for 2020 at rvweb.net, it has pros and cons of each, a review, and a link to them on Amazon.
https://www.rvweb.net/best-rv-roof-cleaners-reviewed/

Dawn dishwashing liquid is a popular mild soap that is generally safe for roofs. But Dawn is also well-known for stripping wax off a car before washing it. So, if the top of your RV is fiberglass, using Dawn on it would make you need to wax it again. And, as the rinse water washes it down the side of the RV, it may take some of the wax off of that, too.

You can generally use a soft bristle brush and non-abrasive cleaner (i.e. not Comet!), even on rubber roofs.

Make sure you rinse the front, sides, and back of the RV before rinsing off the roof, to make sure you don’t discolor the sides by washing the cleaner and dirt right onto the dry sides of the vehicle.

More information about cleaning your particular RV may be available from the manufacturer or a dealer, just be aware that a dealer may want to sell you their expensive, magic, proprietary, elixir blend that is the only one guaranteed not to dissolve your entire RV. You might find the exact same formula much cheaper on Amazon, or a product that’s just as good in the review link mentioned earlier. 

Termination points on your RV Roof

Termination bar

Gutter and Drainage on RV

Except for the newest or most expensive RVs, most don’t have gutters. Rainwater runoff from the roof down the sides of your RV leaks to streaks and discoloration. It also puts unnecessary amounts of water on your windows and doors.

If your RV doesn’t have gutters built-in, you can install after-market gutters. Flexible gutters have adhesive along them, so you can stick them to the side.

Make sure that the area that the gutters will stick to is very clean. Clean it with a rag and some rubbing alcohol and water.

Getting the gutter straight can be a little tricky over that long surface. You can use painter’s tape as a guide, getting that straight before sticking the gutter on.

The end of one of these gutters is going to just direct water onto the side of the RV unless you add a gutter spout. These are also available online or in RV stores and can even be added to built-in gutters. They will help with staining and preventing leaks where the end of the gutter would dump the water.

Roof Top Equipment and Accessing your Roof

We’ve discussed all about ladders and weight capacity for getting on your RV roof. There’s another reason to access your roof besides cleaning and repairing it, of course. The air conditioners, vents, antennas, skylights, pipes, and ladders are also there.

HVAC

Most RVs have at least one air conditioning unit mounted on the roof. Driving down the road, these units can become packed with bugs, dirt, cottonwood fluff, etc. that gets trapped in the fins on the condenser coils. This greatly reduces the ability of your AC unit to cool, so every so often, the cover needs to be removed and the unit cleaned.

Before opening the AC unit housing, please disconnect any external power, and disconnect battery or use the shutoff switch!

After removing the cover to the AC unit, you can use a vacuum and soft brush to get a lot of the dirt out. Be careful not to brush across the fins, they’re pretty easily bent. And you can use a flathead screwdriver to straighten any bent fins.

After a vacuum, you could either use compressed air to blow the rest of it clean, or water. There’s a product called LA’s Totally Awesome All-Purpose Cleaner, it’s pretty cheap and does a great job cleaning the fins and the drain pans.

Note that if the drain holes in the bottom of the AC get blocked, either from inside the housing or from underneath, the AC condensation water can back up and then drain other places like into the vent. So, it’s important to make sure these are clean. Additionally, if there’s a lot of dirt in there, water is going to carry that dirt wherever it runs and cause streaks.

The condenser and evaporator coils can be rinsed with water, just be careful about the opening to the inside of the RV through the vent. A tarp and some towels will be helpful for that. And compressed air is useful to help things dry faster and make sure there’s no water collected anywhere in there.

Pipe Vents

Pipe vents don’t generally go bad, but the vent cap on the roof, that surrounds the pipe vent cover, can develop a leak. It’s generally screwed down to the roof and sealed all around with lap sealant. Over time, this sealant dries out and can crack. On top of that, just like anything else on the roof, if you hit the vent with a branch while trying to maneuver under a tree, you can knock it loose.

Replacement caps are available, but in some cases, you have to get a whole new vent cap. Some of the newer caps don’t fit the older covers.

If you scrape the sealant away from the base of the vent, you’ll find the screws that hold it on. Remove these screws, and you can pry the old cover off with a putty knife. Of course, be careful you don’t puncture or scratch the roof membrane if that’s what your roof is made of.

After removing the old cover, remove the rest of the old sealant. Clean off the old residue to ensure the new sealant sticks.

Apply a base of sealant as big as the new vent cap, so that it will squish this sealant down when you install the cap and provide a nice bed for it to rest on. This will also fill the old screw holes that the old cap used.

Screw in the new cap, but don’t screw them on too tight. They should embed themselves in sealant that comes up out of the screw holes, which is just fine.

Cover the rest of the cap, edges, screws, etc. with self-leveling lap sealant. This will flatten out as it dries, and provide a smooth finish.

Skylights

Like vents, skylights penetrate the roof and so must be properly flashed and sealed to keep water out. They also tend to get yellow and get little cracks as they get older.

If you are installing a new roof, a curb can be made out of 2×2 boards to raise the skylight up off the roof a little bit. This will help keep water off the junction of the skylight.

Replacing a skylight is fairly straightforward. The edges will be covered in old lap sealant, which is covering the screws which fasten the skylight to the roof. Once you expose and remove the screws, the skylight can be pried off with the help of a putty knife. Again, be careful not to scratch or puncture the roof membrane.

Like with the vent caps, clean all the old sealant residue from around the vent opening.

This is a good time to inspect the edge of the roof around the skylight opening. If there are any signs of water damage to the roof, or the insulation, now would be the time to fix that. If it’s wet but the wood is still strong and not rotting or mildewing, at the least it should be dried before closing it back up with a new skylight.

Before installing the skylight, it might be good to tape off and cover the inside of the skylight area, and the floor inside the RV, to make sure sealant doesn’t drip down onto finished areas.

If you’re installing a curb to put the skylight on, use sealant or an adhesive caulking under the wood base. Then screw this down to the roof.

After checking the dry fit of the new skylight, apply a base of lap sealant around the edge of the opening (or on the curb). When you set the skylight onto the sealant, try to press it down evenly to ensure full coverage of the sealant underneath the base of the skylight.

Install the screws in the edges of the skylight as appropriate. After that, use lap sealant to seal all around the edges and the screws. Try not to leave a “moat” where water can pool between the sealant and the skylight.

Ladders

New replacement ladders are available at a number of stores and online. But the more common issues with ladders are 1) when the RV didn’t come with a ladder, or 2) then the ladder connections at the top are loose and leaking.

If the RV did not come with a ladder, chances are that it was not meant to be walked on. There’s an exception to this – if a ladder was an optional add-on accessory on your model, then the roof might be strong enough, but not have the actual ladder. But if the RV was not meant for a ladder, then putting on one there might just be asking for trouble. Even if you use plywood and exercise caution when you are up there, someone else might not know about that, and climb up on the roof and fall through.

The more common problem is loose and leaking connections.

The ladder has to take a lot of weight when the typical RV owner is climbing up the back of it, putting a lot of leverage and strain on the connections. The ladder will often shift and twist, and eventually it will cause leaks where the ladder attaches to the roof.

There’s a very good cure for this, developed by RV Roof Repair, that they use on TPO roofs. They have round rubber cups with a flange on the bottom. The ladder mount fits inside that cup. You put the cup on the roof and the ladder mount inside it. Then you screw the ladder to the roof securely. Next you seal that cup to the roof – if it’s TPO like they use, you heat weld it to the roof. Otherwise, you glue it. Then, they fill the cup with pourable, flexible sealant. As long as the sealant bonds to the ladder and cup, and the flanges are sealed to the roof, even if the ladder gets loose, it won’t leak.

References

https://www.etrailer.com/dept-pg-RV_Exterior.aspx

https://www.campingworld.com/maintain-your-rv/rv-hardware-maintenance-repair/rv-exterior-hardware/rv-gutter

http://rvservices.koa.com/rvinformation/rvmaintenance/rv-roof-care-and-maintenance.asp

http://rvservices.koa.com/rvinformation/rvmaintenance/rv-roof-care-and-maintenance.asp

https://www.rvpartsnation.com/exterior/