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Old 09-24-2021, 11:25 AM   #1
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Powder on floor

I recently noticed a dark powder-like substance at the bottom of the paneling around the wall to the rear toilet. It's a few inches long and only appears in this one location. There is no obvious damage to the paneling.

My first thought was termites but the motorhome is kept in a closed metal barn. Has anyone else run into this problem?

2015 4018 Dutch Star
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Old 09-24-2021, 11:47 AM   #2
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In the photo the bottom of the paneling looks discolored, like its darker, or has been wet or some such. Is that an illusion? Is the panel soft anywhere?

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Old 09-24-2021, 11:52 AM   #3
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Can you remove that paneling? That does look like termites or some kind of insect. Good luck!
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Old 09-24-2021, 12:06 PM   #4
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Might be borer beetles. I read here somewhere where other owners had them. If I remember correctly, Newmar had an issue with them coming from the cabinet vendor. The only way to kill them is to fog the coach. Call Newmar!
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Old 09-24-2021, 12:08 PM   #5
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Is it dust-like, when you vacuum is there a residue left over or does it just all come up?

Looks to me like the substance they used to simulate wood is breaking down.. Not an entomologist to be sure but that does not look like termites. You are going to need to get behind that surface, however, in order to see for sure..

When you rub on the surface of the paneling, does dust come off?
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Old 09-24-2021, 12:12 PM   #6
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A couple of thoughts.


The coach is six years old and, presumably, this is a recent discovery so something has been happening, probably very recently. I also see a darker discoloration when the picture is enlarged, higher up on the left by the corner (note picture is sideways and I am referring to it in proper rotation), but continuing along the bottom as well. It does appear to be from moisture.


The debris does not look like termites to me, but could be from another insect like powder post beetles. Checking for softness or sponginess of the panel can indicate dry rot from water exposure as well.


Could be the faux wood grain coming from the panel due to water deterioration.


I assume you have cleaned this up previously and had it return, would that be correct? If so, how soon did it reappear in that quantity? Wood rot would appear through vibration during travel. Insects would cause an appearance during storage. Veneer shedding would come from physical rubbing of the surface.
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Old 09-24-2021, 12:58 PM   #7
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Vacuum it up and tap on the wall.

After tapping, does more appear?
Do you hear a sound change in the wood when tapping on different parts close to the bottom vs middle?

If more appears, then you'll need to get that panel out and inspect for insect. Call Newmar and see if there is a recall for materials on your coach.

If the sound changes when tapping, then the structural cohesion of the wood is compromised and should to be replaced regardless of the source.
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Old 09-24-2021, 01:04 PM   #8
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Powder post beetles leave 'bore' holes and the 'frass' is powdery/fluffy

Termite 'frass' is peeply/grainy
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Old 09-24-2021, 02:10 PM   #9
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☝️ ☝️ ☝️ ☝️ ☝️ What I was thinking. Powder post beetles
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Old 09-25-2021, 01:20 PM   #10
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Thank you for all the thoughts. Upon closer inspection, the surface about 4 inches above the floor feels bumpy (very tiny bumps) and there is an area that is definitely soft.

I am on the road right now but will be home in a couple days and play to try to remove the wall mirror and either peel back the edge of the paneling or cut an access hole in an area hidden by the mirror.
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Old 09-25-2021, 03:12 PM   #11
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That looks like a lot of dirt/dust, whatever, spread out over the floor. Does it show up while being parked, or while traveling, or both?
It looks like air would need to be coming in under the sidewall panel to spread the dust out that far.
Are you sure its not coming from higher up on the wall. The scatter pattern and the small white line between the dust and side wall toward the top of the picture is what makes me ask. The scatter pattern of the dust way, away from the wall makes it look like it is falling from some higher location and having time to drift away from the wall as it falls.
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Old 09-29-2021, 04:40 PM   #12
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UPDATE

I tried to remove the wall mirror to cut an access hole. No luck - that mirror is glued solid to the wall. With no other options, I cut the bottom of the paneling from the floor to the bottom of the mirror. I'm including a photo of the results. The bottom of the paneling is very soft and spongy. About 6 inches from the floor it gets solid again.

I'm also including a photo of a critter that crawled out of the wall when I opened it. It does not look like a powder post beetle but I have no idea what it is or if it is related to the problem.

Any ideas would be appreciated.
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Old 09-29-2021, 05:32 PM   #13
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Carpenter ants?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpenter_ant
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Old 09-29-2021, 05:43 PM   #14
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You can see there has been moisture in the wood, was it an old leak or one you have to discover yet?
Carpenter ants do like wet wood.
That mirror will have to come off now. :-/


Good luck
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