Checking on the camper in the winter-roof leak

Discussion in 'Roof/Floor Repair & Maintenance' started by Matt O, Feb 14, 2011.

  1. Matt O

    Matt O Strangers are friends who have not yet met

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    Last winter I had some FRIGGIN MICE get into my popup and ate some holes in the canvas. This year I have a different popup and I didn't park it next to my shed 'cause mice are supposed to go back to the same place every year????? I don't know but I figure I will leave it on the side of my driveway this winter. Besides I had it out to go camping in January and I would never have gotten to it with all of this snow. I did shovel the roof after every storm so the snow did not sit on the roof.

    I have been opening it up and checking on it every few weeks. I have noticed it was getting a little more difficult to crank it up. I figured I just need to grease the cables or something. Every time I open it I have been checking the roof for leaks. The roof was moist in the front in October so I recaulked all of the seams and that seemed to work, but I still check it.

    This past Sunday I'm checking it out and dreaming about going to RICKETTS GLEN at the end of April and I'm feeling the roof. Seems solid and dry. Then I play with it a bit more and I see it is a little moist. I think I caught it before any major damage was done but I think I now need to seal the center seam of the roof (it is a pre ABS 2 piece aluminum roof) What is the fix for now....A tarp. I put something on the roof to form a peak and threw a tarp over it and tied it down.

    How do I dry the roof? I was thinking of putting some of those moisture absorber cans from home depot in the popup. Do you think they need to be on top of the bunks in order to work? I was also thinking about opening it up and putting a de humidifier in there.

    How do I seal the center seam? I see that there are a million screws holding it down, is it just a matter of unscrewing them all and the trim piece comes up? Then clean the old smutz off and put some new caulking on it?

    I really think the roof is salvagable. No damage seems to have been done, the roof is still solid, just wet. I am not rebuilding the roof, so that is NOT an option. I have skills, just not enough to redo a whole roof. Plus I don't have the time or space.
     
  2. ballard

    ballard New Member

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    Matt, Sorry to hear this....If memory serves me correctly you just got this pup last year???....anyway, here is my take for what it's worth.

    Yes get a good tarp, place it over, and crank the tongue either all the way up or all the way down so water will shed off easily.

    Don't assume it's the center seam. Water is difficult to track. It has the ability to enter a small crack, then travel and come out in a completely different spot. While the center seam is always a good spot to look, the corner caps will leak more often then the center seam (assuming you have corner caps).

    The center seam on your coleman is made with the two aluminum sheets meeting in the middle to form a seam and under the seam is a strip of aluminum for reinforcement and to give some backing to screw the center seam molding strip down. Under the center seam trim molding is a bed of butyl tape. This is sticky flexible rubber based bedding compound that comes in the form of a roll of tape. It works very well but over time it can dry and shrink. If you were to remove the vinyl cover that is on the aluminum molding strip you will see the screws that hold the center strip molding down. (I think you know this)....when the butyl tape shrinks or drys water can begin to enter the screw holes. The vinyl cover over the center strip molding doesnt keep water out of the channel so pooling water can find it's way. Propper installation of the center strip would be to apply a good urethane based caulking like sikaflex into the screw hole before driving the screw in and the also placing a bead around the head of the screw. On mine this was not done so it probably wasnt done on yours either....the other issue is the screws can rust which will also create space for water to sneak in.....Unless there is an obvious place where you can see the butyl bedding under the outside edge of the molding strip failing, you can pretty much be sure it is leaking in the screw holes under the vinyl cover and not along the outside edge. The butyl tape works well and more often fails around screw holes not along the outside edge seam where the molding is tight against the roof. I have found this true of travel trailers as well. The factory roof seams are usually not leaking but screw holes around vents on the roof almost always leak sooner or later.... I would replace all of the screws that hold down the center seam molding with stainless panhead screws and put sikeflex urethane caulking in the screw hole, drive the screw in, then place more sikeflex around the head. After that install a new vinyl strip. Be sure each end of the vinyl cover is somewhat open so that water that gets under it will shed to the front or back and drain out of the channel.

    After that, do the same for the corner caps. Buy some butyl tape, remove the corner caps, scrape off the old bedding compound, put new butyl tape under to bed the edges down, put sikeflex in the screw holes, screw the corner caps down, then use a bead forming caulk on the outside edge around the corner cap.

    I don't think you need to remove the center seam strip or rebed it, usually the butyl tape is good under and along the edge....just redo all the screws and seal the screw holes....when I redid my center strip (1993 coleman) there was no failure along the outside edge of the center strip.....only failure was at the screw holes and I also had failure at the corner caps around the outside edge.

    As for drying it out.....that is tough......The roof is foam core laminated between the ceiling material and the aluminum skin of the roof. This does not give alot of ability for water to escape through evaporation......That said I dont think typical dehumidifying strategies would have the best benefit since the water is trapped in the roof panel and not airborne....you need to use lots of dry heat to try and draw the moisture out.....if it were me, I would empty the pup and depending on how bad it was maybe even remove the tenting. Remove the light fixtures in the ceiling which will give a place for water to evaporate from and also remove the exterior corner caps to let water evaporate from..... I would close up the pup tight and place an oil filled electric portable heater inside the pup (or any other safe method of getting the interior really hot without burning the pup down) and get the pup really really hot (without damaging it of course).....Then place an exhause fan in either one of the compartment doors or the entrance door and periodically turn the fan on to pull the air out of the pup.....let heat up again....then vent....do this over and over for a really long period of time......(days or weeks depending on mositure conditions)....


    at least that's what I would do.3

    Let us know how things work out.
     
  3. ballard

    ballard New Member

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    also,,,,,the trim peice does not simply come up by unscrewing the screws....the butyl tape is so sticky that it holds it down,,,,,so much so that at this point it is like glue....I had to use a metal putty knife working along the outside edge from front to back going up and down....over and over until the aluminum trim could be gently lifted.

    You don't want to bend the aluminum trim in any way cause it is difficult to shape it back to original.

    And like I said.....I did not find any benefit in removing it....I would have been fine just replacing the rusted screws, using urethane caulk, and installing a new vinyl strip cap.

    Here is the thread where I did the rebedding of the center molding trim....http://www.popupportal.com/index.php?topic=36287.40
     
  4. Matt O

    Matt O Strangers are friends who have not yet met

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    Ballard, Thanks for the info. I will have to read your thread in detail. I did reseal the corner caps with caulking in the fall.
     
  5. Matt O

    Matt O Strangers are friends who have not yet met

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    Last weekend I started on my roof repair/reseal. I pulled the corner caps off and pulled the center seam up. Thanks for your advice and your thread Ballard. I was all set for the center seam to be a PIA to come up......I unscrewed it and it came right up with very little effort. I really feel this is where my water came from. There was some residue from the original seal that my drill and wire wheel weren't getting off easily. I went to Harbor Freight and picked up an angle grinder and wire wheel for $14 total and it cleaned it up nice and quick. By the time I thought to take pics I was mostly done so I didn't bother.

    I parked it in my sisters garage and it now has 2 coats of Rustoleum on it. I popped the roof up a bit and have 2 dehumidifiers going to dry the roof out. I cut the contact paper on the front and rear end and it was all moist back there. Since Sunday the dehumidifiers have been running and water is collecting in the buckets. The ends are also dry now and the roof feels much lighter when going up and down with it. I think the dehumidifiers are working. Now I just need to get the putty tape Ballard talked about in his thread and put everything back together. Probably next weekend.
     
  6. ballard

    ballard New Member

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    The progress you've made is great news! Drying out the roof is one of those things that requires lots of persistence and patience....at the point that you think you are done, don't stop.....Just keep at it. Getting your drying strategy to work will be important to the future of the pup.....good thing you noticed before the weight of the roof did damage to the wiffle tree. Pain in the neck but I think you have a great strategy going....
     
  7. Matt O

    Matt O Strangers are friends who have not yet met

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    I spent ALL day yesterday working on my roof 'cause I need it in 2 weeks. I took some video of it and I will post it after I edit it. I started at 8:30 and I walked in my house at 9:30, took a shower and went to bed....I'm exhausted [SNZ]

    The last thing I had to do for the day was back it up 5 feet since I had it open while replacing the front and rear sideboards. Earlier I moved it with my Toyota but since I am using my E150 to tow it in 2 weeks and it isn't moving between now and then, I backed the E150 up to it. I was having trouble getting the coupler on the ball. After a few minutes I checked.....it has the wrong size ball on it, 2" vs 1" 7/8. I use the bumper on the E150 so I couldn't just switch out the hitches without wrenches so I just put the tongue on the ball as far as it would go and just backed up slowly. What an ending.
     

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