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Old 08-03-2016, 12:50 AM   #1
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LEAK!!!! Add this to your roof inspection

Greetings All,

I don't normally post much here, but I do read. This forum is a FANTASTIC source of information. I wanted to give back a little by sharing my experience. If you can prevent the same problem I ran into then I feel I have contributed something useful.

Here's the breakdown: Summer in Alaska is very busy. Since this summer rolled around, my family and I have only stayed home over two weekends since mid May. Having a blast! Two weekends ago, my wife and son took off to visit family in Oregon, so we weren't going to go anywhere. Besides, it was really rainy out, so no big loss. I went out to the trailer to look for a rain coat that I left in the closet. When I noticed some of the items felt damp. I was perplexed, so I took everything out and turned on the lights. I was shocked to see this:



Water dripping from under the Aluminum sheet! This is the closet just forward the refrigerator on the road side.

Immediately, I jumped on the forums where I read about issues with refrigerator vents and other terrible leaks people have fought over the years. I climbed up my ladder and visually inspected, noticing nothing that would indicate the presence of a leak. The caulking was still supple and in-tact all the way around the vent.

I then parked the trailer with the curbside tipped up a little higher in case it just rained the right direction, just hard enough to cause the leak. It continued to leak. I covered it with a tarp so no more water could get into the fridge vent.

The rain stopped, I uncovered the vent and continued to search. The fridge compartment dried out and I was thinking about what I was going to do with that vent as the cover is riveted down and it looked like a huge amount of work to deal with.

Last night it rained HARD, I woke up to hearing it pound on my windows and roof, running down the rain gutters. First thing when I got up, I looked in the trailer and found the same drip in the closet. Well, FK!

I got a taller ladder and went back up to survey the not so fun task ahead of me. I was looking around wonder where else the leak could come from. Then I saw it!!!



The little fin that separates the AC unit from the fridge vent. What was holding it on I wondered. I reached out, wiggled the top and discovered what was really happening!



Three screws with some crappy ONE SIDED foam tape holds that fin in place. GIVE ME A BREAK! Why they choose to cheap out when it comes to penetrating the roof is beyond me. Wouldn't it save them hours of headaches and man hours fixing it before it leaves factory. Oh, that's right I am out of warranty so I could PAY them to fix it.....oops I am getting off the track.

I did what they should have. I removed the fin and cleaned everything with alcohol. I added some VHB tape to the bottom of the fin.



I screwed it back down. Then used an RV self-leveling sealant (Nu Flex 311 as I didn't have quick access to Sikaflex) to seal around the WHOLE base of the fin and on top of the screw heads. I used some tape to make decently looking lines, unlike the remainder of my roof from the factory.




I highly recommend that you add the fin to your list of your yearly inspections. Or, do some preventative maintenance now and seal around the fin before it becomes loose. All in all, the total time spent removing and replacing the fin with the tape and sealant was less than one hour once I had the supplies.

Thanks for looking!

Mark

WL7NI
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Old 08-03-2016, 01:48 AM   #2
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Great work Mark ,finding and pointing out the how many times Airstream can literately screw things up . Do you think they should have used 6 screws ? I mean the damn piece of aluminum must weigh 4 ounces , 3M VHB tape can hold it alone . I will be checking my trailer for sure .
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Old 08-03-2016, 02:18 AM   #3
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Hi, my trailer had the same leak. The fin was quite loose. Mine had a few rivets and some sealer. I had the Airstream dealer add more rivets and re-seal the fin. [wife doesn't want me on the roof anymore]
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Old 08-03-2016, 05:22 AM   #4
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Thumbs up Welcome Aboard....

Found when I did my own PDI....seems JC is still having trouble "up on the roof"

Black tank vent.




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Old 08-03-2016, 08:40 AM   #5
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What is the pupose of that fin? If I remember I don't think my 03 bambi has that, but I am due for a trip to the roof to inspect and seal. I have a small leak coming in from antenna crank mechanism.

The original caulking that AS did looks like they employed Jackson Polack to do the job.
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Old 08-03-2016, 08:52 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazylev View Post
What is the pupose of that fin? If I remember I don't think my 03 bambi has that, but I am due for a trip to the roof to inspect and seal. I have a small leak coming in from antenna crank mechanism.

The original caulking that AS did looks like they employed Jackson Polack to do the job.
Heat shield , to dissipate the hot air coming form the fridge roof vent away from the heat pump. My best guess ,OH and to add more holes on the roof.
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Old 08-03-2016, 08:54 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazylev View Post
What is the pupose of that fin? If I remember I don't think my 03 bambi has that, but I am due for a trip to the roof to inspect and seal. I have a small leak coming in from antenna crank mechanism.

The original caulking that AS did looks like they employed Jackson Polack to do the job.
It's there to separate the air flow/turbulence between the fridge convection airflow and the fan-forced A/C air flow.
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Old 08-03-2016, 09:11 AM   #8
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Good catch. Still looking for my rear window leaks running down my bug screen. I have a towel laid across my dinette table when its out of covered storage.

When leaks like this occur does the insolation eventually dry out?

Kelvin
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Old 08-03-2016, 10:37 AM   #9
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Good tip, Mark. Well explained and illustrated. Many thanks. It will be added to my list.
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Old 08-03-2016, 11:10 AM   #10
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Another point to check. The fan cover on the shower. Mine was cracked across the center. There is a rim under the fan that is intended to catch any water coming through that cover but the weep hole in it was clogged. Water then ran over the rim along the ceiling framing an into the wall next to the frig, 4 ft away.

I discovered it when I drilled a hole in the wall and pulled out a wet drill bit.

Leaks can be fun to find.
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Old 08-03-2016, 12:29 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by KJRitchie View Post
Good catch. Still looking for my rear window leaks running down my bug screen. I have a towel laid across my dinette table when its out of covered storage.

When leaks like this occur does the insolation eventually dry out?

Kelvin
Kelvin,

I had the same problem leaking down the inside of the screen on the dinette. After much trial and error, I discovered it was coming from 2 of the top clearance lights. You're not supposed to need sealant there with the rubber gaskets, but after putting parabond around them the leak stopped.
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Old 08-03-2016, 01:16 PM   #12
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Why there is a fin on the roof

Quote:
Originally Posted by crazylev View Post
What is the pupose of that fin? If I remember I don't think my 03 bambi has that, but I am due for a trip to the roof to inspect and seal. I have a small leak coming in from antenna crank mechanism.

The original caulking that AS did looks like they employed Jackson Polack to do the job.
The fin is there to deflect the exhaust air from the A/C so it does not blow into the refrigerator roof (exhaust) vent. The refrigerator relies on air convection, heat rising, for air flow across the coils on the back and if the A/C blows into the roof vent it disrupts that air flow and the refrigerator will not cool.

If your refrigerator works when the A/C is off but not when on, look at the location of the A/C exhaust compared to the refrigerator vent and you may benefit from adding the fin.
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Old 08-03-2016, 01:26 PM   #13
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I am taking delivery of a Flying Cloud 25 in about two weeks and specified needing two days at an RV campground to check for delivery faults. I think I will hose it to check for such avoidable leaks. Shame on simple matters of quality design and fabrication.
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Old 08-03-2016, 01:32 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LAWBC View Post
Great work Mark ,finding and pointing out the how many times Airstream can literately screw things up . Do you think they should have used 6 screws ? I mean the damn piece of aluminum must weigh 4 ounces , 3M VHB tape can hold it alone . I will be checking my trailer for sure .
Quite true. I'm not familiar with 3M VHB unless that is the tape auto manufacturers use to stick trim on cars and trucks. I was given a few rolls of the generic version of this tape and have used it several times on my vintage A/S. It would have worked better than screws or rivets for many years to hold that fin in place.

BTW, the refrigerator vent is a leaf catcher. I used that tape to put aluminum screen on the up side of my vent some 10 years ago. No leaves now and screen is secure. Screen is not visible until you climb a ladder looking for it.
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