The Do-it-Yourself Basics of RV Roof Repair

Many people find the idea of a life on the road to be glamorous; new experiences, friends, and memories all seem like great reasons to pick up and go traveling! For those who can afford it, RVs are the perfect way to be at home on the road. Unfortunately, the day-to-day necessities of maintenance and repair can be less exciting, so read up in order to get them over with as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Roof Maintenance

RV roof maintenance is generally a simple process of keeping the roof free of environmental inconveniences like bird droppings, tree sap, and fallen leaves. Most manufacturers recommend cleaning RV roofs four times a year to avoid the build-up of debris and residues. More serious problems generally occur when maintenance is not kept up; in these cases UV damage may lead to cracks and gaps in the structure of the roof or roof underpinnings. Water from rainfall or condensation may then seep into these cracks, leading to dry rot and other problems requiring RV roof repair.

Rubber Roof Problems

Most modern RVs are built with a special roofing-grade rubber called ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM). This rubber is not related to the latex rubber normally referred to by that name; it is tougher and designed to last for at least 20 years. The material is often backed by a 10 to 12 year guarantee, and manufacturers say that UV damage is not a significant concern. However, customer opinions tend to range from very positive to very negative, and rubber roof problems can include cracking, staining, scratches or surface damage from trees, and leaks.

Older RVs

RV roof repair is rarely an issue with older RVs, which are generally made of fiberglass or aluminum. These materials are quite resistant to wear and tear, and require only occasional maintenance. However, their brittle surface can be more vulnerable to certain kinds of cracks and impact damages; in addition, fiberglass roofs may suffer from continuous UV exposure. There are various types of sealants and tapes available to temporarily patch or restore these areas, but in general older RV roof repair may be more expensive than that of EPDM roofs.

Common Repairs

The most common materials used to repair both rubber and aluminum or fiberglass RV roofs are caulk, rubber sealant or coating, and a special kind of tape designed to be used in RV roof repair. For cracks or leaks in EPDM roofs, the most common solution is to coat the entire roof in a weather-resistant rubber sealant. This prevents further water damage, and many brands can extend roof life for up to four years per coating. If dry rot has set in to the roof, RV roof repair becomes more difficult; it may be necessary to remove the roof and cut or scrape out the rotted areas, rebuilding the framework and insulation of the roof from the inside.

With a bit of planning and the right tools, life on the road doesn't have to be a hassle. Take good care of your RV, and that care and responsibility will prevent the need for additional repairs in the future.