Maintaining the roof of the RV

Last week, I talked about cleaning the roof of the RV.  This week it will be inspecting and doing minor repairs of the roof.  Again, caution should be the word of the day.  If your rig does not have an attached ladder, do not climb on the roof, use a ladder to work your way around the roof as you inspect.

First we are going to look for any obvious signs of damage to the roof. If you have used water to clean the roof, look for any puddles where the water pools.  These are signs of potential issues and should be watched.  Sitting water has time to work its way into the roof even with very minor pin holes. You also want to look for any damaged or pealing sealant around the vents, antennas, fans and air conditioners.  Any place where there is a whole through the roofing material.

What to do if you find or suspect an area that should be patched.  First using the information from last week, make sure you know what kind of roofing material you have.  For the most part EDPM and Fiberglass will use the same materials.  You have the choice of tape or sealer.

Eternabond is a tape like product that is used to seal tears and cracks.  The only negative is that it can not be used over silicone.  So if you have any places that you used silicone to seal, it will have to be removed prior to applying the EternaBond tape.  EternaBond is available in widths up to 36 inches so it can be used to cover a large area.

Another product that can be use is a liquid sealer.  The most common type is a self leveling sealer that spreads out as you pour it.  This naturally is not good for areas around the edge of the rig as it will slide off the roof.  But for the flat areas it is good.  Use this sealer when you have openings where cables or holes that go through the roof.  EternaBond would have problems sealing these areas.

For metal roof repair you can use Quick-Roof.  This is similar to the EternaBond in that you peal off the backing and lay down a smooth flat piece (in this case aluminum paper).

Maintenance Tip of the Week, Roof Maintenance

I have decided to get my butt in gear and start writing again.  So this series is going to be about maintaining the RV.  The articles will be a basis for the fourth book in the Perfect RV series.  I have no time table on when it will be published, but probably not until next year.

I will try to keep these articles geared toward non-specific types of RVs, but will need to cover the drive trains at some point.  In general I will start on the roof and work my way down the rig until we get to the frame.

If there is a subject that is near and dear to your heart, please let me know.  In addition, I will tell you right now that I am a Certified Dri Wash and Guard Director.  When it comes to cleaning, I will be mentioning these products and will be happy to sell them to you if you ask 🙂  Hey, I am retired and besides all this writing, I still spend money now and then, so making some while on the road is a requirement.

So, with all of that out of the way, lets start this weeks article on the roof of the RV.  If your RV does not have a ladder attached, my word of advice is DO NOT GET ON THE ROOF!  If you have a pop-up, hybrid, small travel trailer etc the roof is not made to walk on.  Use a ladder to do the inspection and cleaning.

Lots of things work against your RV.  Acid Rain, wind, sun, trees, bird, bugs and the list goes on.  There are two very good reasons to inspect and clean your roof.  First is to remove the dirt and debris, second is to inspect for damage so it can be repaired before it does more damage to the RV.

To clean the roof you want to use a soft bristle brush.  Do not use a pressure washer.  High pressure can tear holes in the material as it gets older.  Next do not use household cleaners on the RV.  These contain alkali or ammonia which will damage the roofing material.  I recommend using either Dri Wash n’ Guard (DWG) Ultra-Ion Waterless Car Wash or Ultra-Ion Green Cleaner.  Both of these products can be used on any roof.

What kind of roof do you have?  There are three main types of roofing material used today.  Rubber (EPDM), Fiberglass and metal (mainly aluminum).  The most popular being EPDM.  Keeping an EPDM roof clean means less nasty looking black streaks down the side of the rig and a cooler interior.   Some words of advice.  NEVER USE a product that contains citric or petroleum distillates as part of the cleaning solution.  These will damage the EPDM material.  Over time EPDM roofs may appear to become chalky.  To protect the roof, clean it thoroughly and then applies a protection designed for the EPDM such as 303.  As the roof gets older you may have to do this several times a year.

Fiberglass cleaning is simple.  Wash and wax at least once a year.  DWG Waterless Car Wash does both in one step.  You can use any good car wash and wax product as well.  Make sure you dry the rig well and apply the wax per the manufacturers instructions.

Metal roofs come in either painted or unpainted versions.  If your roof is unpainted (Airstream), you do not want to use harsh chemicals, abrasive or solvent cleaners or anything that can scratch the surface.  Airstream’s are coated with a protective coating and should not be waxed.  Over time this protective coating will begin to fade, peel and discolor.  At that point it should be removed and a new coating applied.

Painted metal surfaces can be treated just like your automobile.  Wash and wax as needed.  Again the use of DWG Waterless Car Wash will wash, protect and shine in one step without water.

Well I think that is it for this week.  Next time we will look at some of the areas around the roof that you should inspect for damage and how to repair them.