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Old 08-19-2016, 01:40 PM   #1
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Can't find a (roof) water leak!


[The back story] We have a 30' 1995 Excella 1000 that was bought last year. My husband and I are slowly refurbishing it. While we are experienced campers, we have never had to actually work on a camper before this one. Right after we bought the A/S, we took it to LazyDays in Tampa and paid to have the roof sealed and the front vent cover replaced (along with a few other service items). This was not cheap. Unfortunately, the roof continued to leak and the vent cover malfunctioned, so we took it back to LazyDays. They re-sealed the roof and said they fixed the vent cover. Once we got it home, we STILL have a leak and the vent cover STILL malfunctions. We decided to write off our $$$ loss, never go back to that dealer, and try to find the leak ourselves.

[The problem] The leak is occurring in the front of the TT and the water runs down the side to form a puddle on the floor (next to the door). The floor (wood) was rotted so he removed that portion but until we get the leak fixed we are holding off on finishing the flooring.

Hubby has caulked every conceivable breach in the skin (that we know of) but we still have a leak. We are going to do a water test with the hose to see if we can isolate the source but if anyone has any ideas, we'd love to hear them.

Thank you,

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Old 08-19-2016, 02:03 PM   #2
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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Obvious places to inspect would be the penetration for the roof top antenna (if any), and fasteners associated with any awning hardware.

You might want to make it easy and do positive pressure test. In this test, you seal up the doors and windows and attach a large air-mover to a port like an access hatch or roof vent opening. In this way, you are pumping air into the trailer. You now paint the exterior, section by section with soapy water. If you see your trailer blowing bubbles, then you have found (one of) your leaks. It is a similar priciple to finding a thorn hole in a bicycle tube.

good luck!

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Old 08-19-2016, 02:10 PM   #3
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Battle Lake , Minnesota
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We had a leak through a loose screw in one of the door hinges. Another leak right through the holes in the center of the pop rivets, and around the screws holding the awning support bracket to the shell. There have also been others who had water coming in through the clearance lights.

Another possibility is condensation forming near the door or windows and running down to the floor. Especially behind cushions where there is no air circulation to dry things out.
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Old 08-20-2016, 03:21 PM   #4
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1987 32' Excella
Nepean , Ontario
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Check the seals around the windows in the front. I have had some leaks there, which have been fixed. One way to check this out is to have one person outside the AS spraying water from a garden hose on the front while the person inside carefully checks to see if there is any water seeping in.
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Old 08-20-2016, 04:08 PM   #5
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Biloxi , Mississippi
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My local Airstream dealership is advertising that are now doing leak checking. Special under $100.

Do you know what a learning experience is? A learning experience is one of those things that says "You know that thing that you just did? Don't do that."
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Old 08-20-2016, 06:07 PM   #6
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
Conifer , Colorado
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Hi and welcome to Air Forums. Rain water leaks in Airstreams are a constant challenge. You are wise to address them before the moisture does more damage. I think you folks have had quite a bit of rain.

I find pressure leak testing is pretty effective way to find leaks. It take a bit of work to rig up the test, but I believe you could do it in your driveway or where ever your trailer is parked.

I rented a "bounce house" squirrel cage fan from my local rental shop. These things are designed to move a lot of air on 115v AC. Then I positioned it on a platform and had it directed into my exterior storage compartment door. I cut some plastic sheeting and taped it to the fan and the side of the trailer. Then I had to tape up the refrigerator vent and the stove vent on the roof so air could not escape. I lifted the bed platform so the fan air had an easy access to the interior of the trailer.

I turned on the fan and watched my Airstream get as big as a Macy's Day parade balloon (not really). But I did take some car wash soap solution and a foam brush and started "painting" all the potential leak sources around roof penetrations, windows, seams, marker lights, screws, and anything else I saw that might be a potential leak source. I found seven leaks that bubbled up. If fact, one of the leaks was whistling at me.

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Old 08-20-2016, 06:48 PM   #7
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1995 25' Excella
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My 1995 had a leak that showed up behind the couch. I thought it was the window. Nope. I thought it was the battery boxes. Nope. I thought it was the running lights. Nope....after much detective work, I learned it was the roof vent cover. Mine had a small hole in it.
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Old 08-21-2016, 12:51 PM   #8
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1964 24' Tradewind
Lawrence , Kansas
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After sealing all the seams, rivets and openings and still having some leaks like you, I started sealing off parts of the trailer. It is a slow process, but I have had luck by sealing off parts of the trailer (with plastic and tape) just before a rain and watching the results. This helped with three of my last four leaks. The last one was driving me crazy. No matter what I sealed off, water still appeared. In the end, I realized there were three sources showing up in the same spot. I would seal one off, and there would still be a leak. Rebuilding the jalousie window, resealing some rivets around the skylight, and sealing the underside of the channel for the vintage awning finally did the trick. If I had a dealer close by that does pressure checks, I would do that also. There has to be some I can not see.
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Old 08-21-2016, 01:05 PM   #9
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Almost every leak I have had from the top of my trailers involved the vent fans, particularly the caulk around the base of the fan frame at the roof.
Other sources have been where the upper part of the awning arm attaches, clearance lights, window seals, window & door perimeters, sewer vents.
2014 Silverado 1500 Crew Cab 5.3L maximum trailering package (yes, I'm towing the 34')
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Old 08-21-2016, 01:11 PM   #10
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Princeton , New Jersey
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if you use the squirrel cage fan method and soapy water start soaping low and work you way up. You are going to see bubbles from lots of place that are not leaks, door frames, storage doors, stove vent, even key slots, but they are not necessarily leaks. Light fixtures should not show bubbles as they are sealed t the skin.

The air conditioner pan should be sealed to the roof but the pan itself may have cracked do to age. Remove the ceiling shroud of the AC and check the seam at the roof line from inside.
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Old 08-21-2016, 06:29 PM   #11
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
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Good advice on roof vents. I resealed mine a couple of years ago. The amount of "goop" slathered over these things is impressive. I spent the time to get it all off, and then carefully sealed the seams.

Before and after shown below.

Because your leak shows itself at the door is not necessarily a clue to the leak source. Airstreams are "round" and it is easy for the water to migrate down between the walls.

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Old 08-22-2016, 04:15 AM   #12
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2003 31' Classic
Terra Alta , West Virginia
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My leak showed up near the door and window next to it. Found it! Bad spot in corner of front sky light. Replaced it with an amazing Maxim skylight. And sealed everything else top and sides. All good.
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Old 08-22-2016, 08:01 AM   #13
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Thanks to everyone for your suggestions. They were very helpful. We found two sources of a leak so far - the awning brackets and the door hinges. We have caulked and will retest in a few days. Thanks, again!

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