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Old 10-15-2012, 05:24 AM   #1
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Body Panel Dry Rot - Nuisance or Hazard?

As I look for a used Class A, I have come across several that have dry rot in the body panels between the roof and floor. They range from a little lumpy to very crunchy, to one that had torn wallpaper exposing the nasty black growth underneath. A common location appears to be the wall just behind the driver and passenger window. I am sure there are many behind appliances, showers and cabinetry that will never be seen until ...?

I have read of owners who took home their shiny new RV from the showroom, oblivious to this problem until a year or two later.

My questions are:

1) Does a rotted panel constitute a hazard to the safe operation of the vehicle?

2) Are there risks of damage to consider and check for lower down toward the chassis? The water had to go somewhere.

3) How big a task is it to remove and replace?

4) Can someone provide a reference to a good diagram that shows construction techniques in this area of the RV?
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:16 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TwelveVolt View Post
As I look for a used Class A, I have come across several that have dry rot in the body panels between the roof and floor. They range from a little lumpy to very crunchy, to one that had torn wallpaper exposing the nasty black growth underneath. A common location appears to be the wall just behind the driver and passenger window. I am sure there are many behind appliances, showers and cabinetry that will never be seen until ...?

I have read of owners who took home their shiny new RV from the showroom, oblivious to this problem until a year or two later.

My questions are:

1) Does a rotted panel constitute a hazard to the safe operation of the vehicle?
Depends on how bad things are rotted. You can also get steel in the wall to rusting if it is steel framed. The composite walls depend on the wall being structurally solid.

2) Are there risks of damage to consider and check for lower down toward the chassis? The water had to go somewhere.
The floor can be rotted and some RV have the wall supported bu the floor.

3) How big a task is it to remove and replace?
It is a huge task.

4) Can someone provide a reference to a good diagram that shows construction techniques in this area of the RV?
Maybe contact the manufacturer.

Personally, I'd walk away from one with obvious dry rot and delamination.

Ken
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:19 AM   #3
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Two words: black mold. A coach like that is rotting; trust me, we've been there, done that. Our new to us coach sat so long it it had black mold and rotting wood around the pilot window you mentioned, around another window on a slide, and all under the carpet in one slide and most of the bedroom. We only discovered it when we had a window replaced because it was fogged up. Mind you, there was no way we could have seen it. A friend of ours at OMC did say as soon as he opened a cupboard and sniffed that he could smell the black mold, but we didn't know how right he was until they tore the slide apart.

I did not understand why EVERY night I spent in the coach I woke up with a splitting sinus headache until I saw the pictures OMC (Oregon Motorcoach Center) sent me. Once everything was fixed (they stripped one slide down to the metal) and replaced, I no longer had those headaches. I also had a MUCH lighter wallet. I would NEVER recommend buying a coach with visible dry rot. It's bad enough to discover the invisible stuff that we did!!
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:34 AM   #4
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Not all black mold is toxic. However any mold can effect your health.

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Old 10-15-2012, 07:44 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TXiceman

Personally, I'd walk away from one with obvious dry rot and delamination.

Ken
Right on Ken. Water leaks in an RV is it's worst enemy. Any leaks which are as obvious as you describe are VERY bad and have done huge amounts of damage. With walls that bad, the floor will also be bad. The black stuff you saw is black mold, very very hazardous to humans!

You would have to remove everything that has ever been wet, which would be everything except frame and exterior walls. Any remaing sturdy wood would need to be treated to kill the back mold.

If you are new to RVs, you would be well advised to avoid any with water damage. If it's obvious, it's BAD.
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:56 AM   #6
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As I look for a used Class A, I have come across several that have dry rot in the body panels between the roof and floor.
Don't walk, RUN away from any RV like that.
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Old 10-15-2012, 08:31 AM   #7
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Thanks for the input. An excellent point about the floors. I had pictured the water continuing downward. I had not thought of a quick left turn into the floor. This would be much harder to inspect for under the carpet or other flooring.

Dealers probably don't appreciate prospective buyers showing up with a small drill bit. Has anyone tried using a stud finder or moisture sensor to look for this kind of problem?
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Old 10-15-2012, 02:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TXiceman View Post
Personally, I'd walk away from one with obvious dry rot and delamination.

Ken
Run do not walk!

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Old 10-15-2012, 06:10 PM   #9
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The mold is a real health issue. Any rot will spread unless eliminated by replacing the affected wood. Unless you love DIY projects and have deep pockets, I'd walk away from any RV showing signs of water damage, de-lamination of external panels, etc. We buy these things to have fun, not for frustration and harm to our health.
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Old 10-15-2012, 08:51 PM   #10
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I have read of owners who took home their shiny new RV from the showroom, oblivious to this problem until a year or two later.
Could you be more specific with the names of the Manufacturers that are selling new RV's with this problem?
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Old 10-16-2012, 06:41 AM   #11
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This video demonstrates another consideration ... damage due to internal plumbing versus the more obvious external rain.

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Old 10-16-2012, 07:12 AM   #12
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If you stop the water leaks the mold and rot will stop!
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Old 10-16-2012, 08:03 AM   #13
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If you stop the water leaks the mold and rot will stop!
The problems resulting from that rot won't stop though. Generally they will continue to worsen? In many (most?) locations where wood rot has started, it's nearly impossible to dry that wood.

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Old 10-16-2012, 08:49 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TwelveVolt
This video demonstrates another consideration ... damage due to internal plumbing versus the more obvious external rain.
This has been our point to avoid obvious water damag in a coach. Also points out one should fully inspect a coach for leaks before purchase, as well as inspect your coach regularly.

As we indicated earlier, water is the main destroyer of RVs. So are you still going to consider a water damaged coach?
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