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Old 01-31-2009, 03:08 PM   #1
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Question Big disappointment - NEED ADVICE

Hey you guys, we were off to some fun upgrades to our 1991 25ft Excella until this morning, we found water damage and do not know where it is coming from and what we might be up against, will any of you please give your advice on what to do and what you think might be causing the water getting into the trailer?

We pulled up our carpeting up front and found that the pad and plywood flooring next to the fridge wall was wet and probably rotting (soft to step on). We then noticed wet areas in a few places around the front where the couch goes (took that out and dropped it off today to an upholsterer to have all re-covered).

I have some pictures below showing what we found, I can't figure out where the water is coming from, my best guess is that the seals on the roof (around vents, etc) might be letting it in. We do not see any water dripping from the ceiling, around windows, AC or roof vent/fans. We live in Utah and have had rain and snow, today it is sunny and most snow on the trailer has completely melted. I want to take the rear twin beds out just to see if there might be water coming in back there but the front end is as far as I have gotten so far.

My thought is to take the trailer to our local Airstream dealer and have them look at it to see if they can determine the cause and potential repairs (I think the subfloor under the fridge is probably bad) Does anyone know if insurance covers something like this??
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Old 01-31-2009, 04:26 PM   #2
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On my '97 Excella the skylight leaked where the screws broke out the holes in the skylight body. That would be where I would start looking for problems on yours.
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Old 01-31-2009, 05:22 PM   #3
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Finding Water Leaks

The easiest and quickest way to find the source of your leaks is a system that pumps air into your airstream after a soapy solution is applied on the exterior. Some dealers have this equipment. If you need more information, one of our forum members, Soldiermedic, has this equipment and sometimes performs these tests at rallys such as the one coming up in Branson in April. You may want to send him a PM and ask him about it. Good luck.
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Old 01-31-2009, 06:04 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by wolverine View Post
The easiest and quickest way to find the source of your leaks is a system that pumps air into your airstream after a soapy solution is applied on the exterior. Some dealers have this equipment. If you need more information, one of our forum members, Soldiermedic, has this equipment and sometimes performs these tests at rallys such as the one coming up in Branson in April. You may want to send him a PM and ask him about it. Good luck.

Think leaf blower, which is what I used on my boat worked great.
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Old 01-31-2009, 09:12 PM   #5
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Its just heartbreaking when you find evidence of leakage. It just has to be found before extensive repairs can be made or risk a repeat but thats the trick.. where. I just spent the day on top of my airstream sealing the front half.. tomorrow i will be towards the rear half. Its a big job and there are so many potential leaks you wouldnt believe it. After spending the day up there i am convinced that they all leak! I have already replaced the floor covering throughout and i got lucky. Mine had regular plywood and i see yours has the particle board. Why did airstream ever use particle board. The weight is the same or heavier.. It just love to suck up water. There are lots of threads here to help you DIY so good luck. Check out that roof. I think what you find will surprise you!

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Old 02-01-2009, 03:59 AM   #6
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ont , Ontario
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there was a recent thread about a leak coming in the wheel well, all the seals were rotted. A friend with a 97 had a similar problem. Going to check mine this spring.
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Old 02-01-2009, 04:34 AM   #7
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I noticed the 'particle wood' too, So nows your chance to upgrade to some real good flooring wood,...easier said than done.
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Old 02-01-2009, 05:24 AM   #8
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here is the thread i mentioned:
Poor Wheel Well Design story and solution
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f44/...ion-47702.html
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Old 02-01-2009, 06:31 AM   #9
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Again, your unit is at the ripe old age to be inspecting the vent seals..Point in fact, so many leaks can be traced to this. I know that there are other area as well but, when you start to get beyond 5yrs old..Check the vent seals first.
As far as a method for checking for leaks..The best I have ever seen that WORKED. was the use of an ultrasound transmitter placed inside the unit and, an individual walk around the outside with an receiver on a stick to help pinpoint the leak source. If you are in the NE area, I could arrange a checkout.. sometime after WINTER is over..think spring..
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Old 02-01-2009, 07:26 AM   #10
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Hello.. Another are a inspect is the TV antenna.. we have taken them off both of our Argosys because of leakage... Looking for leaks is like looking for a needle in a haystack..
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Old 02-01-2009, 07:51 AM   #11
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Check The Lower Rub Rail

Utahgoldrup,
Also check the lower rub rail trim where it meets the body. The lower rub rail trim is the chome strip with the blue plastic insert where the belly wrap comes up and meets the aluminum of the body. If there are any unsealed gaps between the body and this rub rail strip, water will find its way into the trailer and into the particle board.

You have to understand basic Airstream construction. The particle board floor is attached to the frame and then the aluminum body is lowered onto the floor and attached. Then the belly pan and wraps are attached on the outside of the aluminum and particle board. The lower rub rail is attached to cover that union and sealed to prevent leaks into the trailer. I have attached an oversimplified drawig, but you will get the idea.

Do not use silcone to seal any gaps. Use Vulkem or some other Air Forum approved sealer to seal any gaps. It may behove you to remove any old sealant, clean the area, and re-seal the lower rub rail strip.

As for the soft floor spots; if they are not too rotten you may still be able to salvage the floor by using rot doctor or something like Minwax wood hardener. If it is too far gone you may have to remove and scab in new sections. First thing is to get the floor dry, isolate, and seal off any leaks.

We had a few small leaks the same place you do in our '87 and they were resolved by resealing the lower rub rail trim strip. We have been high and dry ever since.
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Old 02-01-2009, 07:59 AM   #12
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Are you in NE? We live in Elkhorn and just purchased our first AS. 1986 31" sov. We are thrilled. It is currently being stored in a barn in IA. I will be bringing her over in the next month or so and would love to have a seasoned streamer take a look at her with me.
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Old 02-01-2009, 08:02 AM   #13
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?

Quote:
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Are you in NE? We live in Elkhorn and just purchased our first AS. 1986 31" sov. We are thrilled. It is currently being stored in a barn in IA. I will be bringing her over in the next month or so and would love to have a seasoned streamer take a look at her with me.
I'm guessing you asking me..Sorry, when I said..NE, I meant New England
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Old 02-01-2009, 09:05 AM   #14
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Smile Thank you - Very Good Information

The information you have all shared is very good, and you don't know how much I appreciate it, I can't stop thinking about what to do and how to get it done, your ideas, experience, etc. has made me feel much much better, I hope I can lend the same help to someone else in the future.

I wanted to mention a couple of things, unfortunately, I live in Utah so I am not close to the New England area or I would take 53flyingcloud up on having the trailer looked at with the ultrasound transmitter set up, that would be a great way to figure this out.

Also, we keep our trailer in an RV storage facility, out in the open so it is hard to work on anything outside in the cold and sometimes snowy weather... wish I had a big heated garage w/power!!!

Great ideas about checking the vents, etc. on the roof, I have a feeling that could be the source of the excessive water damage by the refrigerator wall, the trailer has been sitting since we winterized it in October so the water coming in is just from rain, snow, etc. The water leaks around the front end of the trailer in just a few places make me thing what DEITZ645 said regarding the lower rub rail trim could be the culprit (much thanks for the explanation and diagram - makes a lot of sense) and I'll bet when I go back down this evening to the trailer, I'll see that we need to seal that up.

vlamica - did you have to remove any old sealant before re-sealing on top of your trailer? Did you address any of the areas where the seams meet on the skin or just all of the vents, around AC, etc? What type of sealer did you use?

The TV antenna was replaced recently by the PO to a more modern one which you see on the newer Airstreams so I don't know if we could have a leak there, hopefully they sealed it good but will have to check that too when checking everything else on top, thanks "Happycampers".

With our situation in not having a dry/warm space to work on the trailer, we will try and get the trailer down to the local Airstream dealer this week to see what they can do with regard to sealing things up (I hate to have to rely on them and think the experience of doing this myself would be much more valuable and save $$ - but don't want to wait for warmer weather to have this done). I did ask before if anyone knew if insurance would help in this situation (the water damage part) but I guess that is subjective with too many variables (type of insurance, specific insurance company, age and value of trailer, etc).

We are certainly determined to be out camping and enjoying our Airstream this year, again, thanks for all of your input; Airforums is invaluable I think it is such a unique community, thank GOD for you guys!!
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Old 02-01-2009, 09:32 AM   #15
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I will chime in here..(can't keep my mouth shut)
The ultrasound device is something that's quite possible someone in your area has..I will tell you that it's not cheap to buy for your own toolbox..(1500$) But OMG, it works better than snake oil..The insurance route is something I personally would save for Major accidents etc..If you find out you have coverage..YOU will have alot of folks lined up to switch insurances company and, sign papers..lol
I would strongly suggest that the TV ant be double checked, since you said it had been changed..as a matter of policy..
I am still thinking..since you said refrig wall..You should find two vent opening up there and...there must be a grey water vent located near the refrig vent area that could be causing this.
Too bad you are not located closer..the test would be interesting...Good luck to you~
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Old 02-01-2009, 04:51 PM   #16
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Two days non stop sealing the roof!

vlamica - did you have to remove any old sealant before re-sealing on top of your trailer? Did you address any of the areas where the seams meet on the skin or just all of the vents, around AC, etc? What type of sealer did you use?


Hi,

Just came in from outside. We have been experiencing spring like weather here in California so i took the opportunity to reseal the entire roof. last weekend i washed the entire roof with a mild detergent. This weekend it was clean and dry. I used a wire brush to remove any loose weatherstripping from the last application. Some of it had to be scraped but if i found that it was stuck on pretty well i left it alone. I then vacuumed all the extra stuff up and used a light brush to make is clean again. I used "Kool seal" to do the work on the roof. I like the way this stuff dries and matches the roof. I removed both of my skylights and washed them up nice. I cleaned the sealing area good and applied kool seal between. I had to drill a few new holes to install the small screws that hold down the the covers. I sealed the the upper edge of the skylight with sealer. no leaks coming from there. I sealed the fantastic vents, the two vents from the bathroom, the vent for the fridge, around the base of the tv antenna, around the satelite antenna, around the base of the a/c unit and finally along the roof rails. Im exhausted! Took two days and one gallon of the sealer. It goes along way but there is alot to do up there! I will try to post some pics. Good luck

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Old 02-01-2009, 05:15 PM   #17
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A few pics from this weekend

I used that blue tape to create nice clean lines and removed the tape before the sealant dried.
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Old 02-01-2009, 05:31 PM   #18
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Wow Vinnie
What a clean roof....Nice job!
Come down and do mine next!
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Old 02-01-2009, 06:48 PM   #19
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Bring it over.. we will knock it out in a weekend.. but today im too sore to think about it..

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Old 02-01-2009, 08:08 PM   #20
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Hello Vinnie,
Thanks for the pictures showing what you have done on the top of your trailer and explanation, does that Cool Seal come in a grey color? Our roof is silver/aluminum, where do you buy the stuff? A really important question too, how do you climb up on the roof and then move around to do all that work and still be careful to not push the roof In? We will do exactly what you have done to make sure we don't have any further leaking from the roof if that is where some of the water is coming from, I'll bet previous owners probably didn't do anything up on our roof so it is past time to start this up and keep it going from year to year.

Have you ever sealed the areas where the skin on top overlaps each other?

I'll bet you are sore from all of that work!!! As I sit at my computer, my back and arms are starting to stiffen up. We removed our rear twin beds and took up all of the carpet in the rear of the trailer, took the couch and carpet out of the front yesterday... the inside of the trailer is starting to look like some of the reno's I have seen on this site. My hope is that we can seal everything up, let the inside dry out and then lay down new carpeting, etc, don't really want to have to replace the floor at this point, especially if we can prevent any additional leaking by routine maintenance.
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