Your RV roof is the first line of defense against the elements. It protects you and your belongings from rain, hail, snow, and the scorching sun. That's why it's so important to keep your RV roof in good condition.
The good news is that RV roof maintenance is relatively easy. With a little bit of time and effort, you can keep your roof in tip-top shape and avoid costly repairs down the road.
But before we dive into the details of RV roof maintenance, let's take a closer look at the different types of RV roofs and their unique needs.
There are three main types of RV roofs
- Rubber roofs: Rubber roofs are the most common type of RV roof. They are durable and relatively easy to maintain. However, rubber roofs are susceptible to cracking and tearing, especially in extreme weather conditions.
- Fiberglass roofs: Fiberglass roofs are another popular type of RV roof. They are lightweight and strong, but they can also be expensive to repair if they are damaged.
- TPO roofs: TPO roofs are a newer type of RV roof that is made from a thermoplastic polyolefin material. It is also the most likely type roof that is on your RV. TPO roofs are durable and UV-resistant, but they can be difficult to repair if they are damaged.
Once you know the type of roof your RV has, you can tailor your maintenance routine accordingly.
Inspecting the RV Roof
Inspecting your RV roof regularly is one of the best things you can do to keep it in good condition and prevent costly repairs down the road. A thorough inspection should be done at least twice a year, or more often if you live in an area with extreme weather conditions.
To inspect your RV roof, you will need to safely climb up on top of the vehicle. If your RV has a ladder, use that. Otherwise, you will need to use a sturdy stepladder or extension ladder.
Once you are on the roof, start by looking for any obvious signs of damage, such as cracks, tears, or holes. Pay special attention to the seams and around any vents or other penetrations.
If you find any damage, repair it immediately. You can purchase RV roof repair kits at most camping supply stores.
While looking for damage, check your RV roof for cleanliness. Dirt, debris, and tree sap can all build up on your roof over time and damage the roof material.
You don't need expensive cleanser to clean your RV roof. Use a mild soap and water solution with a soft brush to loosen dirt and debris and then rinse it off. Avoid using harsh chemicals, abrasive cleaners, and stiff bristle brushes because they can damage the roof material.
Once you have cleaned your roof, be sure to inspect it again for any damage that may not have been visible before.
With a clean roof, you can inspect it for damage, loose seams, and cracked caulk:
Check the caulking around all vents, seams, and other penetrations. If the caulking is cracked or missing, repair it immediately. Dicor Self Leveling Caulk is a great product for flat roof areas. Apply it liberally in a back-and-forth motion, covering cracks and areas where caulk is missing. On vertical areas, Dicor No Sag Caulk will fill those areas without running.
Inspect the roof membrane for any signs of deterioration, such as cracking, blistering, or chalkiness. If the roof membrane is badly damaged, it should be inspected by an RV technician to determine if it needs to be replaced.
Look inside the RV for any signs of leaks, such as water stains on the ceiling or walls. If you find any evidence of leaks, repair them immediately.
By following these tips, you can keep your RV roof in good condition and prevent costly repairs down the road.
How to make your roof inspection more thorough
In addition to the basic inspection tips listed above, there are a few things you can do to make your roof inspection more thorough:
Use a flashlight to inspect the roof in dark areas. You can also open cabinet doors to see if there is any evidence of leaks there as well.
Inspect the inside of the RV after a heavy rain or storm. This is a good time to look for leaks and other damage.
Inspecting your RV roof is simple and easy. But if you aren't comfortable inspecting it yourself or you find something like large bubbles in the roof membrane, you should take it to a qualified RV technician for a professional inspection.
Products For RV Roof Maintenance
Eternabond Tape. This product is fantastic. It will bond to most roof materials except silicone. You can used Eternabond Tape to patch loose seams on your RV roof and it can also be used on a travel trailer underbelly if a seam is broke. It's a must have item for your tool kit while traveling.
Dicor Self-Leveling Caulk.The caulk will self-level and creep into any cracks and seal them. Dicor Self-Leveling Caulk is not designed for use on vertical walls. We had a friend that tried using it on the side of his motorhome and most of it ended up on the ground.
Mineral Spirits. This product is a great cleaner and it doesn't leave a film. Rub a little on caulking and it will strip off the dirt. Only use a little. Do NOT pour it on the roof. Mineral spirits can damage rubber roof material.
Eternaclean. Use this cleaner to prep an area before applying Eternabond tape. Eternaclean doesn't leave a residue and it will also remove tree sap.
Rags. Checking and cleaning an RV roof can get messy. A few rags will make the job cleaner.
Seam Roller. Be sure to roll any tape repairs. A small seam roller does the job.
RV Roof Maintenance Repairs
An RV roof inspection is usually quick and easy. Age, temperature changes, and the movement of an RV can cause caulking to crack and seams to loosen. And there's always the risk of a tree limb puncturing or tearing the roof membrane. Most roof repairs are simple. And because they're on the roof, repairs don't have to be beautiful.
Fixing Tears, Punctures, and Separated Seams
Small tears, punctures, and separated seams are easy to fix with tape. My go-to is Eternabond Tape. It comes in rolls with backing tape, and it's easy to apply, but you have to be careful—the tape is sticky and will bond to clothes and skin on contact. The only thing it won't bond to is silicone.
How to apply Eternabond Tape
Applying Eternabond Tape takes a little practice. Don't worry if you waste some tape at first. I've tried applying it in long strips, but it's too hard to keep from sticking to something accidentally. What I do is apply it in small sections by pulling off 12 to 18 inches of backing and then pressing the tape onto the damaged area.
Pro tip: Make sure to clean the area thoroughly before applying the tape. Eternabond Tape has a 25-year warranty, so it's a must-have in my RV roof maintenance toolkit.
Re-caulking Caulked Areas
RV manufacturers caulk all roof penetrations, but over time, the caulk can crack or pull away. And dirt loves caulk, so it's important to deep clean the area before applying new caulk. I use mineral spirits to get a good cleaning. Just apply a small amount to a rag and wipe away the dirt and debris. Then, clean the area with a good, oil-free cleaner, like window cleaner.
Pro tip: Make sure the window cleaner doesn't have any oils in it. Any residue will keep caulk from bonding.
If the caulking has large or small cracks, I use a knife to clean them out before applying new caulk. Then I apply the new caulk over the old caulk.
Don't worry about using too much caulk. If you're unsure how much to use, look at the old caulk. Manufacturers aren't stingy when they apply caulk so you shouldn't be either.
Use a good self-leveling caulk. It will flow out and fill any gaps. I've been using Dicor Self-Leveling Caulk for many years and it works great.
Inspecting your RV roof isn't difficult. And most repairs you can do yourself. By inspecting your RV's roof a couple of times a year, you can avoid costly repairs down the road.