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Old 04-27-2005, 08:35 AM   #1
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Floor repair; in need of opinions.

Yesterday I took out the front couch/bed/whatever and all the furnishings that go with it. Mostly I did this for cleaning and to start working on new cushion covers, but I wanted to check out the condition of the plywood before we put in a new floor. The old carpet was removed a few weeks ago.

I don't know if the pictures really show it, but on the right (facing front from inside) there's a place by the wall where the wood is rotted, about a foot in length, along the seam where two plywood sections come together. The screws I took out near this spot were pretty much rusted.

Since I have nothing to compare this to, I don't know how bad this floor rot is and I'm looking for some of opinions on what I should do here. How bad is bad when it comes to a spot on the floor? As far as I can tell there is no recent water and this is an old spot. The wood is dry, but it's a little crumbly and warped along the seam. How do I know for sure it's not getting wet any more? Also, there was lots of dirt and mildew on the floor and about 18" up the wall all across the front. I cleaned it up with a bleach/water solution. Am I guaranteed to have the same mildew in the insulation there?

I just finished reading Stephanie's account of her floor replacement and I'm trying not to panic here, but (breathe, 1...2...3..., breathe).
-J
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Old 04-27-2005, 09:13 AM   #2
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J, This doesnít look too bad from your pics. You might try looking at some of my floor damage and leak information in my thread here:



http://www.airforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15132&page=3&pp=20





Iím in the process of replacing the whole floor. Iím not trying to worry you too much, but Iíve leaks in lots of places. If you have a leak, you need to fix it. Try to find it using a water hose and a helper. Also, do a search on leaks here to get other ideas. Good luck,



Jim
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Old 04-27-2005, 09:26 AM   #3
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From what I'm seeing, there is only a very small area, maybe 2" x 3" that is suspect. If it were me, I would remove any crumbling wood back to solid wood. If the damage is on the surface and not completely thru the floor plywood, I would patch with an epoxy filler available at marine supply stores. If the rot goes thru the plywood, I would carefully cut out the damaged area as a block by using a jig saw blade held by vice grips assuming the area is not accessable by a jig saw. It is tedious but doable.

Next, I would install a backer piece of plywood to the bottom side across the opening. This backer would be a piece longer and narrower than the hole, and would be poked thru the hole, held up against the bottom of the floor plywood, then attached to the underside of the floor plywood with screws thru holes drilled in the floor plywood.

Then fill the hole in the floor plywood with a matching piece, securing it to the backer plywood. Fill voids at perimeter of patch with epoxy and sand smooth.

Finally, I would flood the floor plywood with a good non-copper based wood preservative like Olympic Stain Wood Preservative. Let it air and dry for at least a week before installing the flooring.
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Old 04-27-2005, 09:46 AM   #4
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Jim - We're getting rain and thunderstorms this week so I'll watch and see if any water comes from anywhere. When the sun comes out, we'll take a garden hose to it and see what information we can get. Thanks for your help.

Bob - Your repair suggestion is just the kind of thing I was looking for, and your directions are really clear. Thanks so much for taking the time to help.

I'm a bit concerned about the mildew and what it might indicate. Is it dampness from the floor that has caused the mildew on the walls? Or could this just be mildew built up over the years that was never addressed? And most importantly, how do I make sure that I'm rid of it?
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Old 04-27-2005, 09:55 AM   #5
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Mildew needs water to exist. Must be a leak!
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Old 04-27-2005, 10:48 AM   #6
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Personally, I would concentrate on finding the leak, sealing the exterior seams, around the windows, and around any vents or skylights in the area. The floor doesn't look too bad. You might be able to get away with doing nothing. Bob's repair directions are right on, using an epoxy to fill it in if it really is crumbly.

You've done the right thing to kill the mildew, bleach and water. If you're really concerned about the insulation you can pull off the interior wall panels and check, but despite my trailer having suffered leaks around the perimeter of the area I replaced, there was no mildew in the insulation. If you want to check though, pulling off those interior panels is not as big a deal as it might seem.

But like I said, worry about the leak first. My trailer travelled many years with an actual HOLE in the floor - a really big one! Your damage is really not that serious. It's worse if you let the leak continue and find it years from now. You've caught it early. Let us know how the repair goes, and good luck!
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Old 04-27-2005, 11:25 AM   #7
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Angry

That is similar in appearance to one of my many leaks...the one that led to tearing out the front 4' of floor....I had leaks in that area, at the vista view, the awning rail, and the where the awning arm was attached near the belt line. Take a probe (small pocket knife blade) and probe under the edges of the inside wall and see if there are any sof spots, if there are more than a few consider removing a couple of the interior panels to get a better look. My plywood was rotted most of the way around the outer edges at the front, and the is the main stucture for holding the whole trailer together...take a look at my picture album...

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Old 04-27-2005, 11:57 AM   #8
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I would personally take a different tack - penetrating epoxy. Granted, that is based on photos, not an actual examination of the floor. But a good penetrating epoxy is quite close to a miracle product. It will take repeated applications, with proper drying time, but you should end up with a floor that has a very high percentage of the original strength.

You need to be aware that removal of any fasteners after treatment with penetrating epoxy becomes problematic, at best.

And let me close with the observation that some of the posters above may well have considerably more experience with this sort of thing than I.

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Old 04-27-2005, 11:57 AM   #9
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1. Kill the bad guys in the wood. If there is dry rot you need to treat it with a dry rot product. Most are borax, but check, I'm going from memory.

2. Go to http://www.westsystem.com/ tech tips for thinning epoxy and treat the whoe front floor to limit future problems from unfound leaks.

If you don't have to cut out floor use an epoxy with a filler (see http://www.westsystem.com/ ) or even bondo and a couple layers of glass. Sand it pretty and put in new carpet. Other than the weight on the floor that doesn't look like and area with much stress.

I wouldn't start pulling the trailer apart for what you have. Of course you already " L O O K E D ". This is not good.

Come to the Rally.
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Old 04-27-2005, 12:07 PM   #10
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It's probably worse than it appears, they rot from the underside.

Water gets in at the seams under the banana wrap/lower rubrail area, wicks in at the edge of the flooring, soaks the insulation and rots the floor. Pull the banana wraps and have a look if you are brave.
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Old 04-27-2005, 12:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Thompson
Mildew needs water to exist. Must be a leak!
Bob -- so once the mildew starts, it must have continuous water or it will die off and go away?? I thought that humidity in the air was enough to sustain mildew once it gets going, but I can't speak from experience since I've never really dealt with it before. Maybe I'm just in denial about any leaks in which case I really do need the therapeutic value of the forum.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephrobrts
If you're really concerned about the insulation you can pull off the interior wall panels and check, but despite my trailer having suffered leaks around the perimeter of the area I replaced, there was no mildew in the insulation. If you want to check though, pulling off those interior panels is not as big a deal as it might seem.
Steph -- I think I'm going to have to pull off a panel just to take a peek. You know how it goes, one thing leads to another. I won't sleep easy until I know what is, or hopefully isn't under there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wahoonc
That is similar in appearance to one of my many leaks...the one that led to tearing out the front 4' of floor....I had leaks in that area, at the vista view, the awning rail, and the where the awning arm was attached near the belt line.
wahoo -- That's the exact location, I keep looking at the places you mentioned and I don't see any place that looks like it's not sealed. I think I'll have a better chance at investigation with the garden hose whenever we get sunny weather again. Where are your photos?

-J
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Old 04-27-2005, 01:16 PM   #12
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In my experience (retired architect), there could be places where the humidity is so constantly high that mildew grows from humidity. Rain Forests come to mind. The closet in my apartment in St. Thomas, USVI was another. If the closet doors were left closed, all leather shoes would turn green! Perhaps the trailer in question was parked directly under a bunch of trees with tightly packed canopies, and the sun never had a chance to reach the trailer, and maybe, the climate was damp, rainy, & foggy, then maybe you could grow mildew from humidity. If the trailer in question was allowed to breath by cracking open a window or vent, and if it got sunlight every day or so, humidity isn't likely to be a problem. The amount of moisture required to make serious mildew has to come from a leak even here in hot, steamy, Corpus Christi!

Toxic Mold is a big problem down here. Without exception, every case I've seen can be attributed to leaks.
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Old 04-27-2005, 01:33 PM   #13
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Check out the various wood repair products at the following site.

http://www.rotdoctor.com/

It is my understanding that the Rot Doctor sealer can restore and harden fairly rotten wood. In fact I was told by their sales rep. that it does not penetrate into brand new wood very far. Rotted wood will soak it up like a sponge and then harden up.

From what I can see in the photo your situation does look like some local repair is all that would be needed. I agree though that it is a good idea to see what condition the plywood is under the edges of the wall.

I suppose that the mold could have developed from a short term leak such as from an open window. It probably would be a good idea to keep something like a simple dri-z-air dehumidifier on board when you are not using your AS. If you are not familiar with the product here is a web site that shows it:

http://www.drytheair.com/xcart/store..._Crystals.html

The product should be available at most hardware stores including the big stores like Lowes and Home Depot. It does really work too.

Malcolm
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Old 04-27-2005, 05:24 PM   #14
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Leaks in mine are similar, but much worse. And they can come from anywhere. The rot in my Ď73 was caused by leaks in a couple of areas. The center running light above the front window was leaking onto the window frame, which was in turn running down the ribs inside the wall and pooling in the radius areas in the front. I found all of this after removing the interior skins during the process of the remodel. In addition to the leaks from above, the belly pan leaks badly in several spots. One of those spots is where the frame enters the belly pay directly behind the tongue. There apparently was never any type of sealant between the frame and the belly pan there. As a consequence, water pours into the pan and pools there underneath the first piece of the floor plywood. Moisture on top of the floor, moisture behind the walls, moisture under the floor. Bad combination.

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