Water damage—it's the fear of many owners of campers, RVs, and trailers. Whether it's from a leaking appliance, roof, or water line, the problems it can cause range from irritating to catastrophic. Every morning, an RVer somewhere wakes to find their carpet soaked and some of their possessions ruined by a sudden water leak. What about those leaks that are less noticeable, though? Often, a slow leak can cause just as much—if not more—damage. Trailers tend to most frequently leak from the roof. Unfortunately, this isn't always immediately obvious. It can result in rot and mold in your ceiling and even in the insulation of your walls. If left to grow, you may find yourself dealing with harmful black mold. As the saying goes, "An ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure," and the method to prevent this is remarkably easy. By following these steps, you can help ensure you get many, many years of enjoyment from your trailer.
Clean the Roof and Remove All Debris
Before you begin sealing your roof, you need to thoroughly wash and dry it to remove any dust and grime that would keep the product from adhering properly. Then take a paint scraper and pry off any debris from previous patch jobs, otherwise your new sealant may come loose. This could result in it flaking off or slightly lifting, which would allow moisture to get under it rendering your efforts pointless.
Make sure to wear protective clothing for the next part. The products used will NOT come out of favorite shirt and will be difficult to wash off your hands. Gloves are a good idea. Apply a Good Sealant
Next, use an old or inexpensive, disposable paint brush (as it will be unusable after this project) or a trowel to evenly spread a thin coat of a good quality sealant on each of your trailer roof's seams, as well as any cracks you find there. Cover every area that is prone to developing a leak, such as air vents and air conditioners. Make sure to layer the sealant about an inch around each seam and leak-prone area to ensure adequate coverage.
If you use a good-quality, rubberized sealant, it should form a permanent seal with the roofing material that is guaranteed to protect your investment for many years to come.
Patch Larger Gaps
It may seem like common sense, but if you have any sizable gaps or tears in the roof of your trailer, you'll want to put a bit more effort into those areas. Apply leak-stopper over that entire rip, and then place some fiberglass screen over it creating a patch. Secure it with fiberglass repair tape, and then smooth more of the sealant over it, making sure to thoroughly cover it.
An RV repairman once told me that the roof of an RV or travel trailer is one of the two most important things to keep maintained, as water damage can be catastrophic to one's home on wheels, as well as their belongings. (The other was the batteries.) Since a travel trailer is a fairly sizable investment, and properly sealing the roof is so easy, it just makes sense to heed his advice. Good luck and happy traveling!