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Old 01-09-2018, 10:07 PM   #1
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Lance trailer “flat roof” makes roof water ponds -- problems

In August of 2014 my family and I purchased a new Lance 1685 trailer to replace our 10 year old 5th wheel. We liked what we thought was a well designed and built trailer. That is why we bought it. On this forum I previously posted the difficult problems that first came to light in 2015 when we were about 1000 miles from our Seattle home in the Nevada/Utah desert. That being (1) the Norcold refrigerator failed at higher altitude and (2) the slide unit jammed when opening and closing. Eventually, after several months, these items were fixed via the warranty process. But not until after these two problems pretty much ruined our long planned rv trip.

Especially annoying was Lance’s refusal to let me bring the trailer to their factory for them to fix the problems, even though I happened to be not too far from its factory when the problems occurred. I was told Lance was busy making new trailers at its factory and had no time to fix covered warranty problems on a unit it had recently built! Lance advised that I could try to find a “nearby” Lance dealer to fix the warranty problems. That process, it turned out, would take at least a month, probably more, all the while being about 1000 miles from home, at our sole living expense, no help from Lance. Not possible of course. We had to return home as best we could. After getting home Lance took many days to review their construction defects and authorize one of its dealers to fix the issues. After that, I waited for Lance to ship new parts to its dealer, and then get those parts installed.

I concluded then — my opinion only, others may differ — that Lance’s after-sale customer care could be greatly improved. It appeared to me that Lance was primarily interested in building and selling new units to new customers, as compared to promptly fixing its construction defects in its existing customer’s recently built trailers. I believe that was why Lance refused to let me bring the trailer to its Lancaster factory, which would have the needed parts on hand as well as experienced folks to quickly fix the problems. Unlike the situation with the Lance dealers.

But I hoped for the best going forward. No serious problems until December 2017, when a small hole (about 1/4” diameter) appeared for the first time in the Lance selected and installed roof sealant for the front vent over the queen bed. Normally such a small hole would let just a little water through a slightly crowned roof, no big problem, easily fixed. But it turns out Lance chooses to design and build trailer roofs that can pond water, rather than shedding the roof water. Lance calls their roofs “flat roofs”. But the roofs are not truly flat, but instead can pond water instead of shedding all the roof water. What is the purpose of a roof? As I see things, roofs are supposed to shed water, not collect and pond water, much of which can then go through a small hole when/if the Lance selected and installed sealant fails.

Lance tells me:

“… Lance has designed a flat roof on this unit and it has been meet with success. Maintaining the seals are part of that success. Lance can’t recommend a modification to its original design…. I regret to inform you this is not a warrantable situation that Lance can participate in financially…”

I've some pics of the damage to my unit from the ponded roof water, but not sure how to attach pictures here. I'll try. Along with pics of some of the roof ponding. I’ve sent these pics, and additional pics, to Lance a few weeks ago. If not posted below, let me know if you want a look, and I'll email the pics to you. Or you can look at them on the Lance owners website - they are posted there. I offered to let Lance examine the roof ponding on its so-called “flat roof” and the damage to my trailer. Lance declines. Lance says (I summarize) it’s my problem alone.

What’s the point of bringing this experience to this forum? So that others with Lance trailers with so-called “flat roofs” (which actually can pond water, instead of shedding water like roofs normally do) can consider taking steps to avoid possible problems and damage to the interior of your trailer. With the benefit of hindsight now, such steps might possibly include:

(1) consider a trailer with a slightly crowned roof that sheds water, instead of ponding water. A flat roof design that relies solely on "sealant" strikes me -- others may differ of course -- as very poor and very risky for the customer. Nowhere in its sales literature that I have does Lance disclose the fact that its flat roof design ponds water that can then all drop into the interior through a small hole in defectively installed sealant.


(2) consider calling Lance and asking whether you can store the Lance trailer so that it is “out of level” front to back and side to side, so that the so-called “flat roof” then sheds more ponded water. Please note that the Lance Owner’s Manual says the opposite — on page 115, the Lance Manual (in the Short Term Storage section) states: “Park the trailer as level as possible front to rear and side to side.” The Long Term Storage section says the same.


(3) whatever else you think appropriate. For instance, if/when it rains or snows during a camping trip, consider the pluses and minuses of having the trailer “out of level” to a degree that reduces or eliminates roof ponding on your Lance trailer. Keep alert for the possible effect on the refrigerator of course, and anything else Lance suggests.


(4) consider spending quite a bit of money every few years attempting to deal with a so-called “flat roof” design that, in many cases at least like mine, ponds water onto the roof, awaiting even a small hole somewhere, to drain into the interior.


(5) be thankful if your particular “flat roof” happens to shed all the water when the trailer is level, instead of ponding water.

Best of good fortune to all, and happy camping!
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Old 01-10-2018, 06:38 AM   #2
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Even a pin hole is too large a hole and should be fixed immediately. No amount of water should be allowed to enter. The damage was caused by water entering through the hole, not because the roof is flat, curved, or otherwise. Roofs need to be closely inspected frequently so such things don't happen.
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Old 01-10-2018, 07:52 PM   #3
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This has nothing to do with flat roofs, and everything to do with roof maintenance.
Lance leads the industry for building the best light weight trailers.
Not sure why Lance didn’t allow you to get service at there Lancaster service center. I personally know several people that have gone there.
Refrigerator and slide out issues are not that uncommon.
Storing the trailer with a slight angle is no problem. Lance only recommends to have it level before deploying slide out.
My Lance has been trouble free, but it’s not maintenance free.
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Old 01-10-2018, 08:07 PM   #4
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Years back just about all truck campers ...TTs and later 5th wheel trailers when they hit our roads had flat roofs. Very poor design any time water sits up there especially in the winter with all the freeze and thaw cycles. This is very hard on sealants.
Now add 8-10 years to its age and the roof starts to sag in the center creating a deeper lake effect.
The last trailer I had with the old flat roof was a new '84 Aljo which was about the time higher end rv trailers started using crowned roofs. Sold the trailer to a neighbor and bought a new HH II with the crowned truss ribs in the roof. Cut maintenance about 80 percent.
I'm surprised a mfg would still use the old out dated flat roof design.
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Old 01-11-2018, 01:08 AM   #5
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I really like the quality that Lance builds into their trailers, but this will make me think twice about buying a Lance. The customer service sounds horrible and I wasn't aware of their flat roofs, X this brand out.
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Old 01-11-2018, 10:00 AM   #6
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I wouldn't let one guys problem and dealings with the MFG ever sway me on a decision. It looks like a simple case of lack of maintenance. I don't know about the OP but I'm on my roof several times yearly. I also do a walk around to check all the caulking and other items. These things don't take care of themselves.
This is the 1st I've ever read about a Lance roof issue from being flat.
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Old 01-11-2018, 01:36 PM   #7
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I agree with you cumminsfan. All of a sudden a 1/4” hole appears in the Dicor? Now, I’ve got mold growing on the inside of my TT? A lot had to happen between those two stages, and maintenance was not one of them.
Personally the OP should be upset with dealer, or salesman, as they were not informed on the key areas of maintenance. Sad that dealers are only interested in the sale and off the new owners go with no clue on what or how to maintain it. Manufacturers, Lance included also need to be more specific, and more detailed info in their manuals on maintenance. Many people are buying RV’s for the first time.
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Old 01-11-2018, 01:56 PM   #8
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All good points. I'm on my roof three or four times a year, one of the first things I learned. All said I'm, not a fan of flat roofs though, it's asking for trouble.
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Old 01-12-2018, 03:47 PM   #9
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If Lance builds such great trailers then why do they have problems like every one else. The reason is poor design and even poorer construction.
How many of you go up on your houses roof every year to check your sealant. No one does. Household roofs don’t depend on sealant to prevent leaks. The flashing does that with sealant added as an extra level of protection. Sealant should not be the main leak preventer.
Until the manufacturers get serious about building quality units they will keep selling junk.
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Old 01-12-2018, 09:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 09 harley View Post
If Lance builds such great trailers then why do they have problems like every one else. The reason is poor design and even poorer construction.
How many of you go up on your houses roof every year to check your sealant. No one does. Household roofs don’t depend on sealant to prevent leaks. The flashing does that with sealant added as an extra level of protection. Sealant should not be the main leak preventer.
Until the manufacturers get serious about building quality units they will keep selling junk.
You mean they should be built like this:
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Old 01-13-2018, 02:03 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 60sumtin View Post
You mean they should be built like this:
Hey 60sumtin does that have a slide
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Old 01-13-2018, 06:46 AM   #12
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So You don't inspect the roof on a annual basis and blast Lance for a leak in your roof? There's nothing in the manual about care of your travel trailer? No, its not like a house. Unlike a house it goes down the road. Cant do that with a house. So why get on the roof? You blasted them on the Lance forum and everyone told you that you have to maintain the roof or have it inspected annually by a reputable rv place. Easy. Every single travel trailer requires this service. You didn't do it and now your paying the price. Lance is still the best built trailer out there it just requires you to read the manual and get to know how to maintain it. Same as the rest. Sorry about your bad luck, I do hope you get it fixed and have many more great camping trips.
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Old 01-13-2018, 07:39 AM   #13
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I have a 2004 R Vision trail lite with a flat roof. never had a leak but I am on the roof frequently to check and caulk when needed.
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Old 01-13-2018, 02:24 PM   #14
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Seems to me that there are any number of variables (climate, recent weather, timing of roof inspections, initiation of leak, last time in trailer, method of storage, etc) involved in the OP's roof issue (I do note that he has twice as much experience in TT ownership than I and presumably is versed in the care of one) . One certainty is the vulnerability of a flat roof to pooling water. With the number of sealed openings on an TT roof, it would appear to me that a crowned roof would be a better design. When I started researching TT's circa 2011 in preparation for retirement travels, this aspect never came to light in my researching. In all fairness, Lance was one of the top two brands that I seriously considered. The other was Northwood. I based my deliberations on the praise that both brands received concerning solid build, quality, & reputation. I settled on Northwood (initial TT was Snow River) as I live within 200 miles of their plant and took a tour. In all of this roof curvature never popped up as a consideration in my decision process. Reading this post, and reviewing my brochure on Arctic Fox TT's, I am glad that I selected Northwood, and I am curious as to why Lance would not use a sloped roof.

I fully understand that a curved roof should not allow for any complacency in maintaining a roof, inspecting, sealing, etc. However, a flat roof would appear to present more opportunity for moisture to penetrate one's TT.

I think that the OP's roof experience was unfortunate, and that I am fortunate not to have a flat roof and to have inspected my roof and been fortunate in finding and repairing any compromises in it's integrity.
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