Opened the camper - major water leak

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Repairs & Maintenance' started by SteveM_CT, Apr 19, 2014.

  1. SteveM_CT

    SteveM_CT Member

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    Well, I opened up the camper, as as we pulled the bunk end out, water came out from the corner.

    Got the bunk ends out, went inside and my fears were confirmed - water got into the camper over the winter. Well, look on the bright side - we didn't get mice.

    I had put a tarp over the roof. It only covers the top of the roof and about 6" down the sides, so moisture buildup inside the camper would not be a problem. I didn't want to tarp it all the way down the sides and create a moisture trap. I wanted it covered enough so that if there was major snow on the roof, it would not overflow water into the roof vent as it melted. I did exactly the same thing last year and the camper was 100% good when I opened it up in the spring.

    From the look of it, there may have been some pinholes in the tarp, as the tarp was wet on the underside.

    The front bunk mattress is soaked and weighs probably more than a hundred pounds. The rear one just has a bit of water on it. The dinette cushions are also wet.

    The camper has lights in the ceiling at the front and rear, and the front one was full of water, leading me to believe that the roof leaked and water got in between the roof and the interior wood. Not sure where the leak is, whether it's at the edge of the roof (it's a one-piece with no center seam), or around the roof vent. The whole ceiling was dripping water at the front of the camper.

    The canvas I cleaned so well last year will need to be cleaned all over again, as parts of it are covered in mildew.

    So here's some questions:

    What's the best thing to do with the cushion foam? Am I looking at tossing it, or can I save it?

    The cushions are vinyl underneath and fabric on the top and sides. Can I machine wash these on a delicate setting?

    I have the curtains in the washer on delicate and will hang those up in the back yard later today.

    Will I be looking at replacing the bunk-end plywood, or will it be OK once it dries out? Nothing appears to be warped as far as I can see.

    The countertop is particle board and appears to have absorbed some water. I can leave that as is for now, but I may want to replace that at some point.

    As to the roof, how can I figure where it's leaking? Or should I just re-caulk/tape the whole thing?

    I have the windows open and a fan running in there right now to dry it out. Going out now to pull out all the cushions and lay them on the patio furniture.

    Are there any other things I need to be checking?

    Steve
     
  2. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    I'm sorry that you have such a mess. Can't help with the roof stuff, but have some suggestions for the soft items.

    Yes, curtains should do well on delicate and hung to dry. The same with the cushion covers. With our old washer, I had learned to manipulate the controls so there wasn't a lot of agitation, and then did an extra rinse. That's not an option with the current one, though so delicate is going to have to suffice it I wash the original covers. (I've made slipcovers for the seats and the beds are kept covered with sheets, so the originals shouldn't need washing any time soon, barring unforeseen circumstances.)
    For the foam itself, it will depend - on their age, condition and whether mild and mildew has developed, especially deep within the cushions. We never had to wash the foam (the stuff in our old pup was disintegrating, so we bought new foam), but others on the Portal have. Often it involves a child's swimming pool, and a hose to get things washed and well rinsed. They often seem to dry them outside, in the sun. Wherever you dry them, I'd suggest setting them on something so there is as much air circulation as possible, e.g. swimming pool noodles.
     
  3. Campit

    Campit EAT SLEEP CAMP

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    I'm so sorry! I'm wondering if the top didn't seal correctly up front when you closed the camper top down? You should have a rubber seal that runs all the way around the underside of your top. You might want to check that and make sure there's no gap or tear in the seal?
    I would try to get as much of the water out of the mattress as I could. Maybe try to lay it on a picnic table so it could dry out. As for the plywood, maybe it'll dry out without warping. Time will tell.
    I am hoping things will get better for you!

    Campit
     
  4. fmbhappycamper

    fmbhappycamper PuP Power

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    Here's to warm sunny days with a slight breeze [8D] No rain [{:)]
     
  5. Jayko

    Jayko Jayco 141J aka Big Bertha

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    Ugg, my heart goes out to you.

    Can you put the mattress in a large plastic bag, then stuff a shop vac in the open end and seal it tight? Then turn on the shop vac till all the air, and most of the water has been removed. Then when it is near dry, and the vac still going, poke little holes in the end of the bag opposite the vac hose. This will allow suction thru the bag removing even more water. You may have to empty the vac a couple times during the process.

    OR

    Take it up to a laundry mat. They may have a machine large enough to get a camper mattress in. Allowing a good gentle wash and spin
     
  6. elkmontb10

    elkmontb10 Member

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    So sorry to hear. I to use a tarp to cover my pup. I read about using pool noodles under the tarp to allow air circulation between the tarp and roof. I purchased six at the dollar store and ran three sets of two from front to rear extending over the edge so air can circulate. I check after we have rain and it stays dry between.
     
  7. SilleGrl-KY

    SilleGrl-KY Never be afraid of something new!

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    SteveM_CT My heart sank reading your post. I suggest reading other forum threads about roof leaks and repairs. I found much useful information I used to start to address our new problem. Our Jayco never leaked until this year and boy did it. Put it up to get ready for the season and had a few days were rain was in the forecast, never thought about putting the pup down. When we went back in the seat cushions, mattress, and cabinet over the refrigerator was soaked.

    For us we took the cushion foam out and placed them in the sun and machined the slip covers. The mattress we did pretty much the same but with that slip cover we used a galvanized metal tub to wash it and then hung it to dry. For the camper it self we just ran a fan for DAYS..... and the only wood damage was the discoloration of the wood were the cushions sit and a slight swelling on the cabinet area.

    So far for our roof we have removed the seam and screws (which were rusted to the point of deterioration) and started to re-seal it just like if we had gotten it from the factory. My concern for you is the wood and foam area of your roof absorbed water and now has added weight to your lid. That is information best asked if the roof repair/ leaks thread. Good Luck!! [8D]
     
  8. SteveM_CT

    SteveM_CT Member

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    We got all the cushions out. Had to wait a couple of days to get the queen side out because it was so heavy we could not lift it. Had to wait for some of the water to drain.

    Have had a fan running in it constantly except when there is rain in the forecast.

    The bunk end wood looks like it's dried out and not warped nor delaminating.

    It's not smelling bad, so maybe it wasn't wet for too long.

    The foam is dried except for the queen, which is sitting across the patio table. It's probably 90% dry.

    Should I wash all the cushions, and if so, what is the best way to do that? I don't want them to shrink or pucker. The cushions are a heavy fabric on all sides except that the underside is vinyl.

    As to the roof, I noticed a horizontal gap where the molding on the lower front edge of the roof meets the roof material, so maybe that's the entry point.

    I'm thinking that will all that water above the ceiling that the ceiling is going to have to come down. I'll do some searches and see what others have done.

    One thing that I'm thinking is to get or machine a flush drain with a removable plug that would go at the back of the camper. I could tilt the camper up at the front so any water on the floor would run to the back and drain. I would have to incorporate a screen so that mice and insects don't get in.

    Steve
     
  9. gerryrobinson

    gerryrobinson New Member

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    Hey Steve,

    Sorry to hear you had problems over the winter. The three main areas I think water could penetrate are the AC seal (if equipped), the vent seal and the silicone seal between the roof end trim and the roof end itself. The NTU pup we purchased late last year had a leak at the third option because the previous owners did not maintain it properly. I had to replace the roof end OSB but it also caused some water staining inside the pup as well. This would be easy enough to check by just raising the roof about 1-2 feet and checking the inside of the roof end (look in between the canvas and roof end).

    [​IMG]
    Wet roof end OSB that needed replacing.
    Also, check the caulk along the roof end where the roof meets the trim work.

    [​IMG]
    Where roof end meets trim. This must have a good seal or water will penetrate this area and sit in the u-shaped trim and get soaked up by the OSB which also sits in this trim u-channel

    If this is your problem, I am not sure it would be your only problem because if water was getting in here, it wouldn't leak upwards into the roof and into the lights. I would take a close look at the roof vent seal or AC seal if you have AC. If the roof is wet on the inside, that is going to be hard to dry out and if not dried out thouroughly, could cause mold and a mildew smell to form over time. Hopefully this is not the case. Keep us posted.
     
  10. SteveM_CT

    SteveM_CT Member

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    It's raining and water is still coming in.

    The light fixtures had water in them, the front more than the back. I popped the covers off and put buckets on the floor.

    Trying to see where it's getting in from, so I went up on a ladder.

    I can't be certain, but the roof looks like it might be sagging more than last year. If that's the case, then maybe the movement opened up a seam (seam at the edges - the roof is one-piece),

    There's some water pooling around the vent, but not much. I can't see anything that says "here I am".
    [​IMG]

    At the front and rear edge, there's a separation in the trim. I could see this being a leak, but when the tarp was over the top, the tarp would have had to have been leaking in only a small area and the front or rear.

    Here's the rear:
    [​IMG]
    Here's the front:
    [​IMG]

    Is that separation anything that can be closed up? I don't think it would be a good idea to just pump caulk into the gap.

    Steve
     
  11. jayco1997

    jayco1997 New Member

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    I'm just taking a guess but is the roof material split somewhere if you look really close? I'm thinking for that much water to get in maybe a split somewhere may even resemble a hairline crack. Maybe the vent itself has a crack and when I blow up your pic it doesn't look like the vent is closed all the way and may even be bent.
     
  12. Tnerb

    Tnerb New Member

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    The vent looks like it's warped.......
     
  13. gerryrobinson

    gerryrobinson New Member

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    Is the vent closer to the front than to the back of the trailer? In other words, if the highest point of the roof is in the middle (front to back), then if your vent is on the front half of the roof, that would explain why there would be more water in your front light than the back light. If the vent is the culprit of course.

    If there is more sag than last year, this would mean that the roof is holding water and will get worse before it gets better. If the roof is sagging in the middle, and the vent is in the middle (side to side), then the water is being funnelled right to where the vent is. Which is compounding your problem if the vent is the source of the leak.

    Remember that water only flows downhill. If you have water in the lights, then it must be coming from somewhere above the lights in my opinion. The vent would be my guess.
     
  14. SteveM_CT

    SteveM_CT Member

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    I hadn't thought about the sagging being caused by the weight of water, but that makes sense.

    If it's leaking at the vent, then it would run to whichever light is downhill. The camper's pretty level, but may be tilted forward a bit.

    Note to self - next year, park the camper tilted so that water runs off! I'm thinking of making a flush-mounted floor drain to install at the rear, with a screw in plug and a screen to keep insects out. Remove plug for storage, reinstall when in use.

    As to the possibility of a hairline crack, I'm really hoping not, but I may need to tear out the ceiling anyway and I'll be able to find it then.

    That would also give me the opportunity to seal up every possible seam and to put some extra bracing in the roof in case I want to add an A/C later.

    Ceiling looks like it's just attached with staples, so it looks like a messy job of just ripping it all down.

    What about those gaps at the front and back? Does that look normal?

    Steve

    Steve
     
  15. gerryrobinson

    gerryrobinson New Member

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    I wouldn't seal it up unless it looks like it was once sealed. Ie. if there is residual caulk in the seam. Can you check the condition of the OSB or plywood roof end behind where that seam is? You'll have to remove the upside down "u-shaped" bunk end brace (like you are putting the camper away) to allow the canvas to become loose. Then look between the canvas and the inside of the roof end. If it's wet at all there, I would say that the caulk seal just above that seam we are talking about is no good. This is a frequent problem.

    As far as the ceiling, I've never taken one apart but have read about and seen many pictures of others doing it. Most often requires removal of the whole roof and flip upside down on sawhorses. If it seems like it might not be too hard, you might want to pull off a section or a just one end of a ceiling panel to further investigate. I wouldn't do it if you plan on using the camper any time soon because once you start into it, I think you'll have to keep going with it. If you go this route, there is plenty of info here: http://www.popupportal.com/index.php?board=53.0 and with the search function you should almost be able to find camper specific info.

    Is there any staining on the inside roof, especially near the vent?
     
  16. gerryrobinson

    gerryrobinson New Member

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  17. SteveM_CT

    SteveM_CT Member

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    Neat video. Actually a 12-part series.

    Had to close my eyes as he was ripping lumber with a portable table saw sitting unclamped on top of a portable table.

    Steve
     

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