Rubber roofs are the most common found on RVs today, so there's a good chance yours has one. If it does, it is helpful to have some basic information on rubber roof repair if you want to keep your RV leak free and avoid costly fixes.
There are two main reasons why you would need to repair your rubber roof:
1) If you have a rip or tear, or
If you have a rubber roof with a small rip or tear, it can be patched using a roll of rubber adhesive. These are now sold with a black tar-like compound on one side and the same rubber material as your roof on the other.
It comes in a six inch wide by fourteen foot long roll or a sixteen inch by sixteen inch patch. These are not incredibly cheap but the investment is worth it. They work fantastic, and it's sure better than having leaky water damage in the interior of your RV.
First, it is important to clean the surface of your rubber roof prior to applying the adhesive in order to create the best seal possible.
The black tar-like compound should cover the damaged area completely with at least an extra inch of border surrounding the tear. The edges of the patch need to be sealed with a self-leveling sealer to keep water from sneaking under and ruining your new seal. If you're not sure what a self-leveling sealer is just ask your RV parts dealer for their assistance.
The patching will bond the best if exposed to warmer weather, even though warmer weather is not necessary for its application.
Follow the proper RV roof maintenance instructions and the patch will last for a long time.
You will also need to purchase a caulking gun to apply the sealer. These items are relatively inexpensive. Make sure the sealer covers everywhere that water could potentially come in.
After proper application you can drive your RV immediately without fear of hurting your work. It will take a couple days for the adhesive to bond fully, but it is not at risk from driving around. When the bond is complete, you will have a strong seal that won't peel, blow off, or leak--even in bad weather conditions.
If this rip is your only problem, then your rubber roof repair is complete! Congratulations! If while you are doing this repair you notice a weakness in your seal though, read on below.
If while you are checking your rubber roof you notice a spot anywhere in your seal where water could come in you will need to reseal your roof.
The process starts with removing any loose, curled, or flakey sealer from your roof. However, unlike other types of roofs, you should NOT use a hand scraper to do this on a rubber roof. You will most likely end up doing more harm than good to the rubber if you attempt to remove the old seal with a scraper, so instead just remove the flakey parts and apply the new sealer right over the top of the old layer.
You will need to purchase a tube of self-leveling sealer along with a calking gun used to apply it. I would recommend buying at least one pair of rubber gloves as well for the sake of not having to deal with sealer that gets on your skin. It is recommended that you talk to your RV service center for the proper specific materials to purchase.
Once you have all the proper materials the first thing you want to do is thoroughly clean all areas you intend to apply the sealer to insure the best possible seal. You can start to do this by sweeping the seams down with a household broom, followed by a more thorough cleaning with a rag, mild detergent and water.
Once this is done, you are now ready to start resealing your roof.
To apply the sealer, squeeze it out of the tube using the caulking gun and completely cover the area being sealed. It might be helpful to use a two inch brush to make sure the sealer is covering the entire area. It might also be easier and more precise to use your finger, especially when you are repairing a larger area. (This is where the rubber gloves will come in handy.)
You should put down a strip of sealer a half inch to an inch wide in normal areas of your seal. When you encounter areas with screws, you should pay close attention and increase the width of your application because these are the areas that are most likely to cause leaks, even after your rubber roof repair is done if not done properly.
If you have any doubt whether or not you have put enough sealer on your roof it doesn't hurt to put a little extra.
Better safe than sorry here because if you don't put enough on there is a good chance it will leak sooner than you expect it to.
Continue this process over all areas that look questionable and you should have a sturdy, leak-protecting seal. The sealant will dry completely in a day or so and provide a strong bond that will typically last 5-10 years. There is no guarantee that it will last a full 5 years or more, but from my experience 5-10 years is the norm.
Remember to continue to maintenance your rubber roof by continuously checking for cracks in the seal. You should reseal the entire roof every 5-10 years to help you avoid missing a small crack that could lead to a large leak after one hard rain.
Congratulations! Your RV rubber roof repair is finished, and you didn't have to spend much to do it!
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