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Old 04-24-2017, 06:54 PM   #1
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Repairing Ceiling Water Damage

Well, we've been motorhome owners for a solid 2 weeks now, so it's about time to rip off the Band-aid and have some fun with water damage.

We just bought a Class A DP (2008 Gulf Stream Yellowstone 40UL) and had a great private party buying experience. Nice, solid coach, perfect set up for our family of 4, new tires, new house and chassis batteries, new slide toppers, regular engine, generator, and transmission maintenance, good price, easy financing...

We should have known it was too easy and too good to be true!

We brought her home two weeks ago from Maryland and the first night back had the worst Spring storms in a decade, complete with lighting, heavy wind, and quarter-size hail.

She survived!

The next night, the lows plunged into the teens, which - to be fair - isn't unusual here in April. That lead to a frantic re-winterization after work and before the temps dropped.

For the next 8 days, we had torrential rains.

Finally, on Sunday (yesterday), the weather was sunny, dry, and warm, so it was declared a coach workday! I installed new wifi and cell booster antennas, touched up the roof's Dicor, installed an auxillary input on the stereo, ran a few new 12 volt legs, and much more.

About halfway through the day, my wife was stocking the bathroom supplies and called out, "Hey! What did you spill in here?"

"Nothing, why?"

"The floor and shelves are all wet!"



Sure enough, the skylight leaks like a sieve through microcracks at the very base, even though it looks OK with a 2 foot glance on the roof. The water has been coming in for a while - definitely far longer than just the rains last week - but the ceiling liner wasn't buckled until it was laden with a fresh load of water.

Let's just say that I didn't sleep last night and thought I was going to have a heart attack at 38 years old...

I devoured everything I could find online about repairing water damage and was in a pretty serious funk this morning. Tales of rotting walls, migrating water, rusted steel frames, and much worse were filling my head. After lunch, I logged off, shut down my work computers, and went out the coach to see just how bad it was.

Pulling the inner skylight released a heavy smell of mold and mildew, along with a fair bit of water. The thin ceiling panel backer boards were completely delaminated around the opening and absolutely waterlogged.

I sliced into the ceiling liner at the edges of the sag and (no joke!) an absolute torrent of water poured out. There had to be at least half a gallon trapped in the vinyl foam backing!

However, after tearing out the wet and damaged material, there's a huge upside to this story. I was terrified that our very sizable investment was instantly devalued, but . . . I think it's going to be as good as new with very little work!

The ceiling is formed polystyrene insulation and aluminum framing, so there's nothing structural to rot. The roof is completely solid. I drilled inspection holes and sliced into the walls and ceilings that border the bathroom and determined that the moisture hasn't migrated beyond the bathroom ceiling, itself. Even the neighboring panel in the bathroom isn't wet or damaged - the foam is yellow and dry, and the wood backer is completely intact.

I peeled off everything I could, just leaving paper-thin remnants attached to the styrofoam that are already drying. They've molded, but I'll spray them with bleach and then seal them with Kilz, rather than try to scrape them off the styrofoam insulation.

I've already ordered the 1/4" foam-backed marine vinyl to make a new ceiling panel and just picked up 1/8" luan door skin plywood from the lumber yard to use as the backer board. A new skylight dome will also be here on Thursday.

With the moisture contained in a one-panel section of the bathroom ceiling and the materials for the repair on the way, I'm optimistic that this will be an easy repair for under $150 and should look 100% original when it's done.

What a great way to cut my teeth as a motorhome owner! What's next?

P.S. I'm counting myself as very lucky... I'll post updates when I seal the dried plywood remnants, as well as make and install the new ceiling panel.
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Old 04-24-2017, 11:28 PM   #2
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Rather than using bleach, I suggest using something with a residual effect. Concrobium mold control is a great product that not only kills mold and mildew, it seals the moldy areas completely and prevents regrowth.
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Old 04-24-2017, 11:41 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VoiceNinja View Post
Well, we've been motorhome owners for a solid 2 weeks now, so it's about time to rip off the Band-aid and have some fun with water damage.

We just bought a Class A DP (2008 Gulf Stream Yellowstone 40UL) and had a great private party buying experience. Nice, solid coach, perfect set up for our family of 4, new tires, new house and chassis batteries, new slide toppers, regular engine, generator, and transmission maintenance, good price, easy financing...

We should have known it was too easy and too good to be true!

We brought her home two weeks ago from Maryland and the first night back had the worst Spring storms in a decade, complete with lighting, heavy wind, and quarter-size hail.

She survived!

The next night, the lows plunged into the teens, which - to be fair - isn't unusual here in April. That lead to a frantic re-winterization after work and before the temps dropped.

For the next 8 days, we had torrential rains.

Finally, on Sunday (yesterday), the weather was sunny, dry, and warm, so it was declared a coach workday! I installed new wifi and cell booster antennas, touched up the roof's Dicor, installed an auxillary input on the stereo, ran a few new 12 volt legs, and much more.

About halfway through the day, my wife was stocking the bathroom supplies and called out, "Hey! What did you spill in here?"

"Nothing, why?"

"The floor and shelves are all wet!"



Sure enough, the skylight leaks like a sieve through microcracks at the very base, even though it looks OK with a 2 foot glance on the roof. The water has been coming in for a while - definitely far longer than just the rains last week - but the ceiling liner wasn't buckled until it was laden with a fresh load of water.

Let's just say that I didn't sleep last night and thought I was going to have a heart attack at 38 years old...

I devoured everything I could find online about repairing water damage and was in a pretty serious funk this morning. Tales of rotting walls, migrating water, rusted steel frames, and much worse were filling my head. After lunch, I logged off, shut down my work computers, and went out the coach to see just how bad it was.

Pulling the inner skylight released a heavy smell of mold and mildew, along with a fair bit of water. The thin ceiling panel backer boards were completely delaminated around the opening and absolutely waterlogged.

I sliced into the ceiling liner at the edges of the sag and (no joke!) an absolute torrent of water poured out. There had to be at least half a gallon trapped in the vinyl foam backing!

However, after tearing out the wet and damaged material, there's a huge upside to this story. I was terrified that our very sizable investment was instantly devalued, but . . . I think it's going to be as good as new with very little work!

The ceiling is formed polystyrene insulation and aluminum framing, so there's nothing structural to rot. The roof is completely solid. I drilled inspection holes and sliced into the walls and ceilings that border the bathroom and determined that the moisture hasn't migrated beyond the bathroom ceiling, itself. Even the neighboring panel in the bathroom isn't wet or damaged - the foam is yellow and dry, and the wood backer is completely intact.

I peeled off everything I could, just leaving paper-thin remnants attached to the styrofoam that are already drying. They've molded, but I'll spray them with bleach and then seal them with Kilz, rather than try to scrape them off the styrofoam insulation.

I've already ordered the 1/4" foam-backed marine vinyl to make a new ceiling panel and just picked up 1/8" luan door skin plywood from the lumber yard to use as the backer board. A new skylight dome will also be here on Thursday.

With the moisture contained in a one-panel section of the bathroom ceiling and the materials for the repair on the way, I'm optimistic that this will be an easy repair for under $150 and should look 100% original when it's done.

What a great way to cut my teeth as a motorhome owner! What's next?

P.S. I'm counting myself as very lucky... I'll post updates when I seal the dried plywood remnants, as well as make and install the new ceiling panel.
Sorry for your troubles comma but you have successfully gave me a migraine. I bought my RV 6 weeks ago and only saw it for 2 days before I had to put it in storage and fly home. I'll see it again in about 3 weeks. Keeping my fingers crossed. Good luck with your repairs.
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Old 04-25-2017, 07:29 AM   #4
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Good luck with the repair.
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Old 04-30-2017, 07:51 PM   #5
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I would check out Composet Products when fixing the damage. they have a lot of good affordable options
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Old 05-01-2017, 06:36 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RVLover357 View Post
I would check out Composet Products when fixing the damage. they have a lot of good affordable options
Thankfully, there's no fiberglass sidewall or roof delamination, RVLover. Just the delaminated plywood backer in the cosmetic, interior ceiling panel, which I'm fully replacing.
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Old 05-05-2017, 11:08 AM   #7
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Project Update

Well, it's been a very busy few weeks and I failed miserably in my intention to fully document, photograph, and video the water damage repair process. Nonetheless, I have photos of the critical points and am happy to share the process.

I was lucky on many (many!) fronts, so take this with a grain of salt - anyone else facing a similar situation will likely have a very different experience.

Without further ado, here's how we fixed our water damaged bathroom ceiling.

Step 1:
I dove into the unknown and tore out the damaged ceiling headliner.
The amount of water trapped in the vinyl foam backer was INCREDIBLE.
There had to be at least half a gallon of water in a 3 foot by 3 foot section of the ceiling.

This is the first place we were lucky - our coach has boxed, welded aluminum framing and polystyrene foam insulation, so the only real damage was to the delaminating 1/8" plywood ceiling panel backer board. There was no structural or insulation damage and the nature of the materials in the coach dramatically limited the migration of the water. If the materials had been OSB, fiberglass,
wood framing, steel framing, etc., the water damage could have been much more significant!

Pictures of the initial tear out are posted earlier in this thread. After it was opened up and the wettest material was removed, we let it dry for about a week and had fans running/windows open as often as possible to thoroughly dry the nooks and crannies.
Step 2:
Simultaneously, we found and fixed the source of the water intrusion.
Our problem was a bad outer skylight dome, which we immediately taped/tarped off to keep things dry while the new one was being shipped.
The new one is now installed, caulked, and watertight.

There's no point in doing any of this if you haven't found and fixed the water entry point!
Step 3:
After the ceiling had dried, we aggressively went after any and all absorbent material that had been exposed to water or was mildewed/moldy. That meant taking the delaminated layers of plywood all the way down to the foam insulation/aluminum framing in most places.

We also took the dry/undamaged sections of the affected ceiling panel down to the last, paper thin layer of the plywood backer. We tried to take it down to the foam insulation, but it caused quite a bit of damage to the foam and we decided it wasn't necessary because that section hadn't gotten wet.
Step 4:
I was planning to treat the ceiling with bleach and water to kill the mildew and mold, but Ray suggested Concrobium. I'm forever grateful!
The stuff is awesome!

So, we did 4 rounds of treatment on the ceiling and, by the end, the amount of black staining on the foam insulation was dramatically less and the mildewed smell was completely gone.
Step 5:
The rear seam of the panel fell right on the bathroom/bedroom partition wall, the front seam was in the bathroom, and the right seam was on an exterior wall that would be completely covered with an upholstered trim panel. Given all of that and the fact that all of the water-exposed material had been removed, I really didn't want to pull the bathroom cabinets to install a full-width ceiling panel.

Instead, I made an accurate template by taping heavy kraft paper to the ceiling and carefully marking out all of the boundaries, fixtures, and cutouts.

That template was transferred to a piece of 1/8" luan plywood and cut out in my woodshop. I ran it over to the coach (which is stored 10 minutes away) and put it in place to verify the fit before applying the fabric. I had to trim about 1/8" from a small section, which made it a dead-nuts fit.

The foam-backed marine vinyl was applied to the already-cut luan with foam-friendly spray adhesive, then trimmed at all of the edges, openings, and cutouts with a brand-spankin' new utility knife.

When that was done, I had a ready-to-install ceiling panel.

Lucky point number 2, I have a 1200 sq. ft. woodshop and all of the tools, fixtures, experience as a cabinet maker/installer to do this without any sweat or stress. Total time to make the template, cut the plywood, test the fit, make the minor adjustment, apply the fabric, and trim the final panel was about 90 minutes.
Step 6:
Installation! I slipped the panel into place (which is a trick in the small bathroom with all of the cabinets, shower doors, trim, etc.!), then let it rest about a foot below the ceiling. Once there, I applied Loctite foam-friendly construction adhesive (for a long-term, secure bond) and patches of double sided tape (to hold it in place, tight to the ceiling, while the construction adhesive cured).

Slipping it into place took a bit of time and patience, and I had to use a thin putty knife to slip the fabric under the various trim strips without tearing it off of the panel. Once up, a firm press on the carpet tape spots held the panel in place quite nicely while the construction adhesive set.

All that was left was to install the various trim pieces, fixtures, the inner skylight diffuser dome, etc., which took about 15 minutes.
Step 7:
Clean, clean, clean. I cleaned constantly throughout the project and never walked away from the bathroom without vacuuming everything and wiping down all of the surfaces with disinfectant spray. Even so, when the project was done, I cleaned everything in the bathroom completely and thoroughly to ensure that any mold or mildew spores were cleaned up.

We did our best to limit the airborne spread of the spores through the coach by hanging plastic in the bathroom doors and keeping it closed off from the rest of the coach during this entire process, but we'll also do a very deep, disinfectant cleaning of the entire coach before our next trip.
Final Verdict:
If you didn't know what you were looking for, I don't think you'd know that the repair was even there.

It would be completely invisible if I'd stretched the vinyl when it was adhered to the backer panel - as it is, the one, non-factory quality issue is that the vinyl isn't stretched as tight as the factory panels, which shows up in the texture of the panel on the ceiling. However, it doesn't bother me and I don't think anyone will ever notice it unless they're looking hard.

Overall, I'm thrilled with the result and the mitigation of the damage. Like I said earlier, we lucked out with the limited water migration and our coach construction materials. It could have been much, much, MUCH worse...
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Old 05-05-2017, 11:09 AM   #8
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One more photo of the finished ceiling panel.
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Old 05-24-2017, 10:11 PM   #9
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What spray Adhesive did you use to apply the ceiling material to the plywood? I just about have everything I need to start my project.
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Old 05-24-2017, 11:27 PM   #10
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I used Auralex FoamTak, which I have around the studio for acoustic foam installations in my voiceover booth and vocal studio. It's a bit pricey, but works very well and won't damage any foams, including the backing on the vinyl or the expensive acoustic foams I use for sound treatment.

I think you'd also be fine using 3M Foam Fast 74 or 3M Super 77.
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Old 05-25-2017, 08:20 AM   #11
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Very nicely done. You should be proud of your work, it looks great.
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