Canvas seam leaks

Discussion in 'First Time & New Camper Owners' started by jmichaud, Jul 1, 2020.

  1. jmichaud

    jmichaud New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    May 6, 2019
    Location:
    Maine
    Hello PUP friends,

    First time post here. This is our second year with a 2006 Fleetwood Highlander that’s in great condition, except that I’m starting to get some leaks along the seams of the canvas. I’ve applied seem sealer to the threading along the outside, but it seems that’s not the area to stop the water. From the inside, I can see that the tape has separated from the canvas. See pic. Should I be applying the seam sealer here (after cleaning it, or course), and if so, should I apply it to the top of the tape or underneath to adhere it to the canvas?...I can’t tell exactly which side of the tape the water is coming in.

    Any advice or thoughts would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

    IMG_5690.jpg
     
  2. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    12,287
    Likes Received:
    1,280
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2009
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    Although it shows a bit more than some, the tape you see separating is more than likely basting tape, used in construction, not a seam tape.
    What did you use for sealing the seams, and did you only do it from the outside?

    The product we have had the best luck with for seams (tents and popups) is this one, the brush gets the sealant into the seam and thread holes. https://outdoor.mcnett.eu/outdoor/seam-sure-water-based-seam-sealer/
     
    NorthernLights likes this.
  3. McFlyfi

    McFlyfi Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    544
    Likes Received:
    272
    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2014
    Location:
    Thousand Oaks CA
    The fabric should be Sunbrella. The seam creates a "ridge" on the outside. It is possible that the Sunbrella is soaking up water, and leaching it to the inside. I treat my Sunbrella every couple of years or so to with 303 Fabric Guard to maintain its "waterproofness":
     
    NorthernLights and kitphantom like this.
  4. Raycfe

    Raycfe Waterford Ct.

    Messages:
    17,005
    Likes Received:
    2,576
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    Location:
    Waterford, Ct
    Welcome.png
     
    jmichaud likes this.
  5. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    12,287
    Likes Received:
    1,280
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2009
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    Good point, the seams on our '10 pup seeped long before we needed to re-waterproof the canvas.
     
  6. jmichaud

    jmichaud New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    May 6, 2019
    Location:
    Maine
    Good info about the tape, thank you. Have you applied sealer to that area on the inside? I used essentially the same product as you - Gear Aid seam grip. I've only used it on the outside so far along the threads (see pic). I've wondered if I should apply it also underneath that canvas "ridge". IMG_5692.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
    NorthernLights likes this.
  7. jmichaud

    jmichaud New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    May 6, 2019
    Location:
    Maine
    Great point, thanks. Since it was dripping on along the seam, I just assumed that was the issue spot. And I haven't given the fabric much of a thought because it has that vinyl coating which I assumed was waterproof. But I have noticed that the inside of the canvas is wet in spots. It makes sense that it could be leaking in that way and making it's way to the seam?? I'm certainly willing to try spraying down the fabric with 303. Thanks again.
     
  8. NorthernLights

    NorthernLights New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    4
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2016
    Location:
    British Columbia
    This is great information - about the basting or construction tape. I had thought this was seam tape, and was looking for replacement tape. But the pictures and advice above dispell that notion. I think the brush on solutions will be the way I go too; the tapes available are heat tapes (iron on) and would probably trap water between n the fabric and the tape wherever there is a discontinuity.
    Do you all recommend sealing from the inside, outside or both with the liquid sealant?

    IMG_2585.JPG

    We had water coming in for the first time in 23 years this week. Appears to coming in along the seam and then travelling down the tent bow to the mattress. There was no significant condensation inside, despite 2 days of torrential rains; running my finger along the seam suggested the seam was my source. The tenting is otherwise in good shape though starting to show it's age.
     
    jmichaud likes this.
  9. jmichaud

    jmichaud New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    May 6, 2019
    Location:
    Maine
    Seems we have the same leaking situation, but do you also find that top areas of the canvas on the inside is wet? Mine is, so I’m wondering if that’s how it get in and then makes it’s way over to the seam, or if it gets in through the seam and the canvas absorbs it. I’ve applied brush on sealant to the threading on the outside without much luck. I’m thinking of trying it on the inside, but also will be spraying 303 Fabric Guard on the outside over the entire top of the canvas, as McFlyfi suggested.
     
  10. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    12,287
    Likes Received:
    1,280
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2009
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    @jmichaud Two possibilities. one is that the canvas is seeping. Knowing type, age, and location of the dampness, as well as when it occurs would help. Condensation is another possibility, and it can be a common issue in popups. Dependent on relative humidity, temperatures, and number of bodies inside (humans exhale and sweat out a lot of water vapor), as well as air circulation. In our tiny first popup, the replacement canvas was fabric-backed vinyl, the one bunk end roof was not that far over the mattress, and in cold conditions, it was almost impossible to keep some condensation from forming on the canvas over our heads and metal supports during the night. Using Popup Gizmos (reflective coverings) on the bunk ends did reduce that in both that pup and our next one, since they formed and extra layer and air layer above the roof. Even in rainy or cold conditions, having some windows zipped ajar is necessary.
    Our second pup had Sunbrella canvas, which is more breathable, but under some extreme conditions, we still had condensation. [Snow, fog, lows in the teens to highs in the 30s (Fahrenheit) on one trip, we did not deliberately go to experience those conditions.]
     
    NorthernLights, jmichaud and Sotovoce like this.
  11. jmichaud

    jmichaud New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    May 6, 2019
    Location:
    Maine
    I think the canvas is the original (2006 Fleetwood Highlander/Niagara), so from my understanding would be the Sunbrella 302. Not sure how to tell for sure? We used it last summer 4 times and didn’t really have much of an issue, but I did start to notice it a bit at the end of the season. It’s been set up in our backyard so far this summer and when it has sat out in heavy rain is when I notice it most. The areas along the sides nearest the 4 corners is where the canvas get damp/wet, and can see it dripping from the seams in those areas to. I don’t think I have a condensation issue since it didn’t really happen last year and it’s been the same as far as temps and environment go. As I write this, I remembered that I washed the canvas with a mild soap mixture and soft brush before storing last year. Possible that I washed off some of the waterproofing? Thanks for your input to this.
     
  12. Rik Peery

    Rik Peery Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    994
    Likes Received:
    1,062
    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2018
    Location:
    Virginia
    Used to warm up a block of beeswax & rub it on our pop up seams, primitive but worked...
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2020
    NorthernLights likes this.
  13. NorthernLights

    NorthernLights New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    4
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2016
    Location:
    British Columbia
    Nothing coming from the top areas. But probably coming through that bead (cover over) the seam and through... along the fabric exposed between the tape. I have the tenting off today doing cleaning to prepare everything for sealing.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2020
  14. NorthernLights

    NorthernLights New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    4
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2016
    Location:
    British Columbia
    Yes, it is the Sumbrella 302. It has been very durable - 1997 Niagara. I have washed the tenting over the years with really light soap (sunlight) for the inside, and car wash soap (with liquid wax) on the outside. We do a lot of winter camping on the south coast of BC, where there is always condensation in winter; what made the situation different is the steady downpours over 2 days. I think that is similar to your situation. I think this has exposed the breakdown considering the age of the cover.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2020
  15. Camper054

    Camper054 Active Member

    Messages:
    274
    Likes Received:
    129
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2019
    Location:
    Indiana
    I do not know if I am just lucky or a 'disaster' waiting to happen. Our seam is exactly as posted by @NorthernLights and the 'glue' is gone. However, we just came back from camping where it rained pretty good all night for two nights and some during day. We have not seen any water inside the camper, yet! So, I am asking you folks, is it something I have to do as with passing time, there is more chances to leak around the seams?
    Thanks
     
    NorthernLights likes this.
  16. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    12,287
    Likes Received:
    1,280
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2009
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    All popup tenting will require resealing at some point. On our 2010 Coleman, we had to seal the horizontal seams between the Sunbrella and vinyl border after a year, when we discovered, on a hideously wet weekend, that those were wicking water inside. We didn't have to do other seams before we sold it.
    If a canvas is washed and cleaned, especially if it's with strong products (such as mildew remover), it will need re-waterproofing. All vinyl canvas may or may not need it, but using a conditioner such as 303 vinyl on it is good.
     
    NorthernLights and Camper054 like this.
  17. Camper054

    Camper054 Active Member

    Messages:
    274
    Likes Received:
    129
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2019
    Location:
    Indiana
    @kitphantom , thanks. I will look into sealing the seams...
     
    NorthernLights likes this.
  18. Old ackpacker

    Old ackpacker Member

    Messages:
    86
    Likes Received:
    65
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2017
    Location:
    Southern Illinois
    Just gonna toss this out there. You can make your own seam sealer with clear silicone caulk and mineral spirits. I Use an old jam jar or such to thin the caulk down with the mineral spirits until it’s as runny as thick maple syrup. Then I use a small foam brush to paint it on the inside of the seam. I use paper towels to wipe up any excess off the area I’m sealing. If the mix starts getting thick, add more mineral spirits. Let it dry overnight before you close everything up. The mixture goes on smoother, covers better, and looks better than seam sealers that come in a tube.

    Here’s a disclaimer: I’ve only ever used this on nylon tents. I’ve never tried it on vinyl impregnated cloth. I’d test it on an inconspicuous and non critical place first. :smiley:
     
    NorthernLights and Camper054 like this.
  19. NorthernLights

    NorthernLights New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    4
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2016
    Location:
    British Columbia
    Yes, I have been incredibly lucky to have never had any problems given the age 23 years.

    As bad as that tape looks, as @kitphantom noted, the tape has nothing to do with the seal, but is used in the assembly process. As it is only starting to leak now, a bit of preventative maintenance would have been in order sooner.
     

Share This Page