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Old 03-09-2013, 07:42 PM   #1
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How to inspect plywood floor?

We are all concerned about water leaks (from inside or outside of the AS). Checking for water inside of AS, under the bathroom, around the water pump and so on is easy.
But this inspection misses the most critical area - the actual floor plywood. It does not tell what is happening between the vinyl floor cover and the plywood, nor does it tell if there is moisture under the plywood.

So here is the question for members of this great forum:
How do you inspect or make sure that the plywood is in good shape?

Thanks
BOVK
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Old 03-09-2013, 08:41 PM   #2
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Moisture Meter

I bought a moisture meter for monitoring my plywood subfloor. Well worth the money. See link below.

General Tools MMD4E Digital Moisture Meter - Amazon.com

The probes will poke small pin holes through your vinyl flooring. You can probe periodically every few feet around the perimeter of the outside wall or areas where you are concerned. With my floor there is base line % that appears to apply to all areas of the floor. The % will fluctuate a small amount from season to season. A small amount of water on the plywood will readily show up as an elevated reading. I keep a very close eye on the floor all the way at the rear because of the bumper leak issue reported by others.

There are many different manufacturers of this type of moisture meter. Reasonable price for a great tool.
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Old 03-09-2013, 09:37 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ridgerunner3 View Post
I bought a moisture meter for monitoring my plywood subfloor. Well worth the money. See link below.

General Tools MMD4E Digital Moisture Meter - Amazon.com

The probes will poke small pin holes through your vinyl flooring. You can probe periodically every few feet around the perimeter of the outside wall or areas where you are concerned. With my floor there is base line % that appears to apply to all areas of the floor. The % will fluctuate a small amount from season to season. A small amount of water on the plywood will readily show up as an elevated reading. I keep a very close eye on the floor all the way at the rear because of the bumper leak issue reported by others.

There are many different manufacturers of this type of moisture meter. Reasonable price for a great tool.
First time I heard about a moisture meter in "hobby" package! It looks like a great solution so ordered one and we will see how it works. It would be tempting to drop some water via a small hole through the vinyl and measure it it works.
Thanks Ridgerunner3!
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Old 03-09-2013, 11:13 PM   #4
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I recently installed a water alarm under the wardrobe next to the water pump; and another one in the bathroom console under the hot water heater bypass valves. Purchased these from Amazon.

To inspect flooring in the usual suspect places, I have a digital moisture meter with probes.

I generally drain the water lines and blow them clear when the Airstream is not being used to lessen the chances of a plumbing leak. I still have some polybutylene water lines that have not yet been replaced with PEX. The Polybutylene lines and fittings absorb chlorine/floride in the water and become brittle. Most PB leaks happen when brittle fittings snap. PB is no longer on the market because of massive lawsuits. If your water lines and fittings look like PEX but are grey in color, you have PB--not PEX.
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Old 03-10-2013, 12:19 AM   #5
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Harbor Freight also has a digital moisture meter for about $12 to $15. The probes are built in and are kinda short. You also have to read it upside down to probe the floor.
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Old 03-10-2013, 09:13 PM   #6
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Maybe I could expand the original question to include the space under the floor:

How would you inspect the space between the floor and the pan ?

Assuming there is some insulation can we use the moisture meter to check for water leaks there?
Anybody drilled some inspection holes just to check for dripping water?

Appreciate the replies!
Bovk
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Old 03-10-2013, 09:52 PM   #7
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I think the only way to inspect the plywood side below the floor would be to remove some of the belly pan. Personally, if a moisture meter does not detect any moisture in the top of the plywood floor, I don't believe moisture on the bottom is a concern. I think the top of the floor would get wet before the bottom would get wet. Just my opinion.

I am a home inspector and use an inexpensive moisture meter (less than $50) that has about a 24" pigtail on it. It is very easy to use.

Dan
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Old 03-10-2013, 10:10 PM   #8
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Quote: "Anybody drilled some inspection holes just to check for dripping water?"
Not to toot my own horn but I just published a bunch of pictures and a long sad and ongoing story of my wet floor including moisture meters, bumper leak repair, insulation that holds water in the plywood and finally adding removable deck plates in the belly pan for the inspection you mention in the rotten floor thread post 245 to 255.
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f396...ml#post1262866
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Old 03-10-2013, 10:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperTrouper View Post
Quote: "Anybody drilled some inspection holes just to check for dripping water?"
Not to toot my own horn but I just published a bunch of pictures and a long sad and ongoing story of my wet floor including moisture meters, bumper leak repair, insulation that holds water in the plywood and finally adding removable deck plates in the belly pan for the inspection you mention in the rotten floor thread post 245 to 255.
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f396...ml#post1262866
SuperTrouper

Thanks for posting. That sure is a long sad saga about a wet plywood floor. I read through all your posts, but I am still a bit confused. Have you figured out where all the water came from and have you fixed the leak(s) yet? It looks like you have done as good a job as is humanly possible to trouble shoot and fix the problem. My compliments to you!

Dan
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Old 03-10-2013, 11:14 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by TouringDan View Post

SuperTrouper

Thanks for posting. That sure is a long sad saga about a wet plywood floor. I read through all your posts, but I am still a bit confused. Have you figured out where all the water came from and have you fixed the leak(s) yet? It looks like you have done as good a job as is humanly possible to trouble shoot and fix the problem. My compliments to you!

Dan
Hey Dan,

I'm pretty convinced that I fixed the leak from the bumper into the plywood floor in January 2012. I'm not sure that I fixed leaks from the door or awning brackets ( I did that this feb).
One thing I'm fairly sure of, once water gets into the plywood, the solid reflectix sheet laid between the plywood and the frame holds the water in on the bottom and the vinyl on top does not breathe. Recipe for disaster. All cars/trucks make paths for water to get out when it gets in. This design does not allow for that. If/when I do a shell off restore, I'll follow BARTS lead and add some stainless or aluminum deflection plates at the rear and add C-channel drainage just like the car manufacturers do. I learned a lesson from and old Harley mechanic years ago when I had rust problems in my turn signals. When I complained about how water always got in the lens he said," the water will always get in, just drill a small hole in the bottom so it can get out". What I did was just cut a section from the o-ring gasket at the bottom of the lens seat and Viola! No more condensation and rusty bulb sockets. It's been 20 years since then.

I'm sealing every possible leak location (new skylights, new sewer vents, resealing windows and suspect seams and rivets with acryl-r) and I'm treating the wood in the rear with spore killer and epoxy. I've also allowed a way fro water to drain away from the wood if it gets wet and a way to dry the bellypan area (inspection ports). I was lucky that the wood was still in good shape. All the wood in the rest of the trailer measures nil with the moisture meter. I think years of dew and rain on the bumper and the plastic on either side of the plywood was the perfect storm for water retention.

Hopefully after my epoxy is dry, we'll get a good rain before I lay the floor back down so I can look for additional leaks. I plan on keeping the SuperTrouper for many years so I'm doing what I can now to ensure longevity.

I'll keep you (and the forum) posted.

Brad
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Old 03-10-2013, 11:37 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperTrouper View Post
Quote: "Anybody drilled some inspection holes just to check for dripping water?"
Not to toot my own horn but I just published a bunch of pictures and a long sad and ongoing story of my wet floor including moisture meters, bumper leak repair, insulation that holds water in the plywood and finally adding removable deck plates in the belly pan for the inspection you mention in the rotten floor thread post 245 to 255.
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f396...ml#post1262866
Wow, SuperTrouper, you are the master of the wet floor!!
Am I correct in saying that the pan inspection has a little value since water can be in between the insulation and the floor and the pan can still be dry or at least not dripping any water from lets say inspection holes?
It looks to me that the water meter is (or was for you) a valuable measurement that got you to do all the work?
As you can see I am looking for a procedure like check this, check that and there is or is not a problem. So far the water meter is the only check we got our of this thread.
Comments?
Thank you!
Bovk
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Old 03-11-2013, 07:57 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bovk View Post
Wow, SuperTrouper, you are the master of the wet floor!!
Am I correct in saying that the pan inspection has a little value since water can be in between the insulation and the floor and the pan can still be dry or at least not dripping any water from lets say inspection holes?
It looks to me that the water meter is (or was for you) a valuable measurement that got you to do all the work?
As you can see I am looking for a procedure like check this, check that and there is or is not a problem. So far the water meter is the only check we got our of this thread.
Comments?
Thank you!
Bovk
Bovk,

Well, at least I'm not yet the master of wetting the floor! Actually, there are others here who have pulled aluminum off and rebuilt the area right so I'm just providing a "easy for now" fix. Regarding your list:

Step 1 Check the floor now and at least annually in various places with a perforating moisture meter (Pokes through Vinyl). Check seams and caulk on outside surface of trailer annually.
Did you find an abnormally high moisture content? No, good, Yes, go to step 2.
Step 2. Is the unit under warranty? Yes, Call Airstream and file a claim. No, Go to step 3.
Step 3. Are you handy? Yes, Look for leaks near where the floor has a high reading. Check Skylights, Fantastic Fans, Lights, Vista View Windows, Sewer Vents etc. If you find gaps or cracks, search forums for correct sealants and procedures (Trempro 635 for large seams, Silkaflex for Medium and Parbond and/or Acryl-R for small seams are my choices. No? Look for a qualified Airstream Dealer in your area and make an appointment to look for and fix leaks.
Step 4. Are you Handy (again)? Yes, Pull up Vinyl and dry area using heatpump, dehumidifier and fans. Be prepared to drop section of bellypan to slit insulation to drain water. Drying can take up to a week. No, have dealer dry the wood out after fixing the leaks.
Step 5. No matter how much hullaballoo we go through we still love our Airstreams.
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Old 03-11-2013, 08:58 PM   #13
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SuperTrouper, I really like your deck plate idea. Thank you for posting all the details of your work. It was very helpful. I plan to install deck plates as you have. Thank you.
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Old 03-11-2013, 10:01 PM   #14
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Application of CEPS

So, the floor is fairly dry after a week of Dehumidification heatpump and fans 24/7. I lightly sanded the floor with 100 grit paper, pulled the errant staples and vacuumed and wiped down the floor. I tightened all the elevator screws. I placed a band of tape around the walls. I had the 2 pint kit (A + B Epoxy) and used half of it for two coats. CPES Warm Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer
I bought it locally at our hometown hardware (Friedmans).
Still tacky after a few hours. The fumes are tremendous! You definitely need all windows open and fantastic fans on high. Lot's of bad and flammable chemicals you bet, just like cigarettes. <I used to know a kid that smoked while stripping paint with zipstrip. I always stayed near an exit if he was on the job and tuned my ears to listen for the "whoosh".>
Anyway, CPES applied. Proper curing time 5-7 days.

Brad

Here's the pix (Sorry they are sideways). Prepped, 1st coat and 2nd coat. The fire extinguisher was holding the flooring up. I wouldn't have been much help in an emergency. Usually I leave it just outside the door while camping. Get out first, fight fire second.:
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