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Old 04-24-2015, 11:05 AM   #1
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Boy... did I buy a lemon! ROOF questions

I have a 2003 KW Frontier Sportsman 24 ft long travel trailer. Some of you probably remember me from asking about awning replacement, rotted floor and plumbing issues. I have those under control - not all finished - but under control. Now I have the new problem that I think it worse than all three combined. (The awning has been replaced and I am very happy with it, however.)

Back around Jan or Feb I got up on my roof, cleaned it up and then re-caulked rather heavily over all the old caulk and "then some" to make sure everything was sealed well. Being winter here in Florida, I had no way to know if I did it well enough because rain is sparse that time of year.

Yesterday we had quite a downpour and averaged 2.5 to 3 inches of rain. As the day progressed with the non-stop rain, the inside ceiling on one side of my bed became more and more rippled. It is now about a foot wide over about 4 feet of my ceiling. (photos below)

After the rain stopped and it dried out I got up on the roof to inspect it and found absolutely no place where that rain could have gotten in. Everything is very well sealed, there are no cuts in whatever fabric that is on the roof....found no area's even questionable. Still, I used up the little caulk I had left just for the halibut.

ON the roof - I found a couple of soft areas that I did not find when I caulked it the last time. (I also did not pull up or scrape off the old caulk, I caulked right over the top of it.) NOW, its soft under that roof skin along about a four foot length and about 8 inches wide on both sides of the trailer.

Here's my dilemma:

I don't know how to pull the ceiling apart so I can look at the rippled area without God knows what happening. I live in this thing and have no place to go if I tear it apart. Money is a serious issue for me and that's why the flooring and plumbing have been on-going projects for the last maybe 4 months or so (and they will continue to be on-going projects for that same reason).

Should I call my insurance company and file a claim before the rainy season starts (it will pour every day all summer long at the very least), get the money and see if I can find someone to make a partial roof repair (say 10 feet from the front toward the back and all the way across the width)? Will the insurance company have someone fix it? (That would be easier for me.)

If I were to call the insurance and they "total" my vehicle I will not be able to insure it again and in order to be on this property I have to have current liability insurance so I'm not sure if I should even let the insurance company know about it, on the other hand, if I don't, it may well become unlivable by the end of summer because of the daily downpours.

This is my very first RV and my choice was to buy this and live in it or live in a homeless tent city. So.... does anybody know what options I have here or other ideas that would help me keep this roof over my head (and in at least the current condition)? Also.... I cannot put a tarp over it because that's not allowed in the park. Everything has to "look" like it's in good condition and kept neat and clean and orderly. Thanks.
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Old 04-24-2015, 11:14 AM   #2
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Sorry you've got issues, but I don't think this qualifies as a lemon.

Unfortunately, it was probably already rotted. Rot doesn't happen that quickly. Because of that, I don't see insurance covering this, but you never know. I would file the claim, have them total it and take it away, and buy another one with the money that is NOT rotted.

The only good way to fix it is to pull it all apart, and replace all rotted wood, otherwise this will keep happening.
To just stop leaks, it sounds like ALL the sealant needs to be scraped off and reapplied, while it's clean and dry. Might even have to go to the point of pulling all screws out of their holes, filling with silicone, and screwing back down.

To pull the ceiling panel down, it will have to be cut. The panels are above the wall but under the roof. So it's in the middle of the sandwich basically. You will need to cut them around all outside edges, and watch out for water and insulation when you pull them out.
To put in new panels, you will need to add stud work around the edges since you can't put them back into the sandwich, and cut the new panels to fit, and attach them around the edges as well as the middles. Then to make it pretty, get some wood trim and cut it to fit around the edges.
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Old 04-24-2015, 11:17 AM   #3
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One thing i haven't done are roof repairs, but from your photos,it don't look good !! Sure some good help will be on the way.
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Old 04-24-2015, 11:45 AM   #4
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Animalangel, when you caulked right over the old caulk did you clean the roof surface adjacent to the old caulk and then overlap the new caulk past the edge of the old caulk so that the new caulk adhered to the clean roof surface? If not then it is possible that the old caulk lost adhesion to the roof surface somewhere and not overlapping new stuff onto the roof (or accessories up there) allows water to creep under the old caulk. The caulk around the parimeter of my plastic skylight lost adhesion to the plastic after 10 years and water started to creep under it. Fortunately I discovered the leak before any damage could be done and I replaced the skylight.
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Old 04-24-2015, 11:19 PM   #5
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"Animalangel, when you caulked right over the old caulk did you clean the roof surface adjacent to the old caulk and then overlap the new caulk past the edge of the old caulk so that the new caulk adhered to the clean roof surface?"

Yes, actually I did clean the area as best as possible. I started on one corner of the roof and dried it then as I continued all the way around making sure the sun would dry whatever I didn't with the paper towels I was wiping with. By the time I made it back to where I started it was about a half hour at least because I also took time to clean and dry around the antenna, skylight, vents, etc.

Then I over-lapped the new caulk on top of the old cleaned up caulk. I had asked the dealer where I bought it about removing the old caulk and they advised me not to, that's why I didn't. I really caulked the crap out of it too.

When I got up there yesterday, there were no areas that lifted anywhere.

I should say that before it rained yesterday, I did not have the ripples in the ceiling. You could practically watch them develop while it was raining.

Do you happen to know what the ceilings are made of (each layer) by chance? I know my floor is made of styrofoam sandwiched between panels of luan, for example. What can I expect to find if I cut open that ceiling? How many layers are there and what is each layer made of?
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Old 04-24-2015, 11:40 PM   #6
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These links may be what you need for the future fix. -- # 1 ---- # 2 ---- # 3
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Old 04-25-2015, 06:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Animalangel View Post
I had asked the dealer where I bought it about removing the old caulk and they advised me not to, that's why I didn't.




Do you happen to know what the ceilings are made of (each layer) by chance? I know my floor is made of styrofoam sandwiched between panels of luan, for example. What can I expect to find if I cut open that ceiling? How many layers are there and what is each layer made of?

The dealer may have been right or wrong; depends on how the old sealer was. If it's very badly cracked and split, I would have scraped and resealed. Sometimes, I will scrape, pull up the roof fixture, clean and re apply putty underneath, and screw back down, and then reseal.


As far as the construction, unless someone has the model, we won't know. Easy way to tell is to pull down the garnish of a roof vent. Then you can see a cross section of the ceiling.
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Old 04-25-2015, 10:07 AM   #8
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To find leaks you should do a pressure test. Read this thread and its links for ideas. RV.Net Open Roads Forum: Truck Campers: Do it yourself pressure leaks test???(Compleated)
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Old 04-26-2015, 08:42 AM   #9
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Ok, thanks for all the great ideas, everybody!!!!

I guess the first thing I will attempt is the bubble thing..... I'll have to use a fan but the stuff I read says that will work. I'll try it later today and see what I can see.

I will also remove one of the ceiling vent things to see what the ceiling in here is made of. I didn't know that was the easiest way to find that out!!! (I"m a newbie.)

The old sealant on the roof (and all around the coach) was not dry, lifting or cracked... it actually looked pretty good, just dirty. I cleaned it with Mr. Clean and dried with paper towels before allowing it to dry in the sun and the breeze before caulking over it.

I suppose my plan will be this:

Bubbles to find and fix leak temporarily with caulk I have left over, then buy more caulk (can't do it this week), remove old caulk, fixtures, etc then clean and re-caulk. Maybe put some eternabond on top of that. Maybe. Once I have all that done and if it's working well, I can see about repairing the ceiling on the inside.

Question: What is the best cleaner to use on these vinyl roofs? That Mr. Clean took the top dirt off but I don't want to use something that might dry out and cause problems with the vinyl. Should I just use Dawn dish liquid and water and a scrub brush?
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Old 04-26-2015, 09:11 AM   #10
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With many types of calk, new calk will not adhere well (if at all) to old calk. Silicone calk is one of the worst in this respect. You need to start by removing the old calk.

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Old 04-26-2015, 10:53 AM   #11
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Use mineral spirits to clean up the areas that will need caulked.
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Old 04-26-2015, 02:49 PM   #12
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Soap and water with a scrubbing brush is best for the roof.

I guess we should ask, what sealant did you use on the roof?

If you did indeed seal it very well with a correct sealant (pictures help), then you have a strange leak to find. But it should be obvious with that much water.
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Old 04-27-2015, 10:06 AM   #13
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Today's prize goes to Joel for being 100% correct. I got up on the roof again and really looked close.... found a couple "weird" wrinkled spots in the caulk I put down and picked at them...and they peeled right off revealing moisture between the new and old caulk. Spent the next hour ripping the "new" caulk off and found several "water spots" on top of the old caulk AND where the old caulk now was lifting as well. It's not good. I wish we had some dry weather for a few days but today and the next two days its supposed to rain and I have to pay my rent before I can go buy stuff to completely redo the roof.

What I ended up doing was covering the entire width of the trailer in plastic about 2 feet wide over the area in question and then used 20 feet of duck tape to seal it down as well as possible and put cement blocks on top of the tape on the vinyl roof (or whatever "fabric" that is) but I'm not sure it's going to keep it dry enough for the 3 days of possible rain. I'm just going to hope it passes us by completely.

I was told to use a silicone caulk by the dealer so that's what I got. When my new awning was installed in March, they also used silicone to "seal" the screw holes in the new installed arms which is also pulling away from the trailer so I covered that with the plastic too.

Clearly, I'm going to have to tear up all the old caulk too as suggested.

What I think I'll do is scrub down the entire roof (it's got green stuff growing on it anyway) per jesilvas and then I'll use mineral spirits to clean the area where I'll need to re-caulk as lynnmor suggested. Thanks for those suggestions/ideas.

The soap and water bubbles using a fan did not work. Apparently, the fan isn't strong enough and from the inside, I can't find where the leak started.
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Old 04-27-2015, 04:03 PM   #14
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Silicone sealant is a NO NO on RV roofs. You need a self leveling lap sealant, like Dicor or Sikaflex 715.

That sealant needs a CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN surface and a DRY DRY DRY surface before you go to seal it up.
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