One of the first things to look for when shopping for a used RV is any signs of water infiltration. Stains on the ceiling, paneling delamination on the walls, or soft spots under the carpeting on the floor.
Finding any of these issues is good cause for just walking away because proper repair is going to be costly. You don’t want to get involved with this level of repair unless you’re comfortable with doing structural repair on your own.
Any of these issues could indicate serious problems with the basic structure. A repair shop will have no problem removing a huge chuck of cash from your wallet, if they approach this kind of project with the attitude that it needs to be done right.
Finding the perfect RV with no signs of water damage doesn’t relieve you of any further concern either. As your RV ages, seals, caulking, and seam sealer will dry out, shrink, and crack. Even those trim pieces that make the transition from the front or rear cap on your motorhome to the side wall will eventually start to come loose and possibly open up enough to allow a driving rain to penetrate.
The roof is the one area you don’t want to scrimp when it comes to sealing seams. Forget the idea of using any products you may be familiar with from your house. RV’s need to be maintained with products specifically designed to adhere to rubber, plastic, and fiberglass. A trip to the nearest RV dealer will get you on track to the proper sealers for your particular situation.
Self leveling sealers like C-10 Flow seal work well because you squirt them over the whole seam in a generous manner. They settle out to seal over the whole seam, and any screws or fasteners that hold it together. Be aware there are 2 different kinds. One for rubber roofs, another for metal roofs. Also be aware that this is for flat horizontal surfaces only.
Clear silicon caulk works well for vertical seams like the transition trim between the end cap and side walls. In many cases the trim is originally sealed with Butyl Tape. You could remove the trim, scrape off the old putty tape and replace it with new putty tape. This is a big project that can often be avoided by simply applying a thin layer of clear silicon caulk along the edge of the trim piece in any area that appears to be pulling away.
This also works well on the top edge of windows. Think less is more, as you want to make this a neat and clean job. Getting over zealous in the amount you apply will make for an unsightly mess when it all sets up.
Another good choice for repairing damaged rubber roofs, or sealing roof seams, is Eternabond tape. With it’s extreme adhesive, once you apply it to your roof it’s good to go indefinitely.
If you want your investment to retain value, preventing water from getting in is the best thing you can do. For more ways to get the most for your money when it comes to RVing, go to RVing on the Cheap.