Whether you’re on the road full time or an avid weekend camper, it can be easy to let your RV’s roof maintenance slip your mind. The “out of sight, out of mind” mentality can be detrimental for RVs new or old. Don’t panic, there’s no need to rush off or add roof maintenance to your monthly chores, but here are some tips for keeping your roof in great condition!
Know your roof type
There are a few different types of RV roofs, and the first step to maintaining your roof is knowing which type you have.
Rubber: This is one of the more common roof materials, and some deem the rubber roof as the most dependable and cost-effective to maintain.
There are two types of rubber roofs:
- EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer)
- TPO (thermal polyolefin): You’ll know if you have a TPO roof if the finish is a bit glossy.
Fiberglass. Often requires less maintenance and fiberglass roofs are known for less leaks.
Aluminum. More likely found on older RVs and campers.
Wash your roof seasonally
If you have solar panels on your roof, you’re probably used to popping up to the roof to clean them. If you don’t frequently climb your RV ladder, a great reminder of when to take a peek at your roof is when the seasons change. After a snowy winter or a summer baking under the hot sun, there may be some new wear and tear to your roof. You won’t need to caulk or reseal seams every time you wash your roof, but keeping up with your roof throughout the year can save you some time and money in the long run!
Before washing your RV rooftop, be sure to look up your specific roof type to find instructions and products that are safe to get the job done. Typically, a mild laundry detergent or even dish soap mixed with water is suitable to clean your roof.
*Do NOT use any cleaners that contain petroleum solvents, harsh abrasives, or citrus-based cleaners on your roof.
Check and inspect sealants around and all openings
Biannually check around all the seams and areas that water could find its way into your RV from the roof—there will be old caulk or self-leveling sealant around vents, fans, ladder fixings, mounted roof racks, solar mounts, etc. If that caulk or sealant is starting to crack or flake away, you’ll need to touch it up.
Before going crazy with sealant, you’ll need to clean the area that needs to be re-caulked. If you find the seals are in worse shape than you expected, you may need to remove the fixture that’s been caulked, scrape clean the old caulk/sealant/butyl tape, then wipe the area clean with mineral spirits before applying the new seal. If you’re just finding light cracking and normal wear and tear, you can wipe the old caulk down with mineral spirits, and then apply a layer of self-leveling caulk over the old caulk. The new layer of caulk will fill those small cracks or imperfections.
Time to re-seal your RV roof?
Regular roof maintenance can go a long way in protecting your roof from leaks and other roof damage, but with time there will be damage from oxidation and UV damage, and you may need to re-seal or re-coat your roof entirely. You can hire professionals to handle this task for you, or like many other RV owners, you can DIY your roof re-seal to save yourself some money.
If you start to see cracking in the roof coat or the top layer of your roof deteriorating from sun exposure, or a new stubborn leak that sealant isn’t fixing, then it may be time for your RV to have the roof re-sealed. Knowing your roof type will be very important for this project, and each roof type has different products and steps for preparing the surface for this type of project.