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Old 08-09-2007, 06:28 AM   #1
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Anybody tried the vacuum method?

I've spent every spare moment for the last 4 weeks removing old caulk & silicone and redoing with the right stuff. There were leaks everywhere & the floor was rotton (hubby fixed that). Anyhow, most of the leaks have been fixed, but I still have two small ones to find. I've already caulked the areas that they're coming from, so it's tuff. Have any of you tried the pressure method for finding leaks? What vent would I put the shop-vac in? Do I have to tape all the windows & vents first? Anyone with experience on how to do this? I'd love some advise!
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Old 08-09-2007, 06:53 AM   #2
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Becky, the method I used on some of the seams that seemed to have leaks was to mix up a solution of dish soap and water, then take my air compressor and blow air around the seam from the inside of the camper while a helper poured the water/soap solution on the outside of the camper along the seam. The air will cause the solution to bubble at the site of the of the leak. Of course, my inner walls/skins are out do it's easy to do this. Is that your situation?

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Old 08-09-2007, 07:44 AM   #3
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No, my inner skins are intact. They're both very small leaks, but enough to make the floor (which is bare until I find the leaks) a little damp. Urrrgh!
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Old 08-09-2007, 07:54 AM   #4
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Becky, give us a few more details about where the leak is. I have to go to bed in a bit because I've been up for over 24 hours, but somebody will give you some ideas (maybe me after I've had some sleep).

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Old 08-09-2007, 08:24 AM   #5
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The first leak is on the streetside, just south of the seam. The seam & rivets have been caulked, as well as the windows, beltline, rubrail (rivets underneath as well), vent on roof, awning rail & rivets, radio antenna. I didn't recaulk the tv antenna, as it looks to be in good condition. It used to leak like a seive there, but most of it is taken care of--just a tiny leak this morning after a hard rain.

The other leak is under the window in the back. Also a small leak. The window, rivets, seams & rivets have been sealed back there. I have tape over the holes from the lights & "airstream" tag, which are removed as of now. That could be a possibility, now that I think about it. Maybe the tape came loose. The plywood, which has been repaired from previous leaks, is a bit damp in a small spot. I thought it was repaired, but again, after the heavy rain, it is a tad damp.

Because all of this caulking has been removed & redone, I don't have a clue where to begin to find these small leaks. Thus my quest for the filling the tube with air & looking for bubbles! I'm at a complete stand still in putting this thing back together until I find the tiny leaks!
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Old 08-09-2007, 02:31 PM   #6
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I spent some quality time with the hose today & think I may have found the leaks. Missed a rivet & a small space in the seam came up with the tape. I still would be interested in anybody's experience with the vacuum method, though. I stopped by an RV place today & they do it for $200 plus $100/hour labor. Guess my hose was alot cheaper!
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Old 08-09-2007, 02:56 PM   #7
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Finding leaks is a nightmare, but then, you already knew that. You might take a look at how I sealed the outside seams in this thread. Start on page 27 then move around from there. Sorry, itís a long thread, but maybe it can help. http://www.airforums.com/forums/f226/doin-full-monte-15132-27.html

Most of the specific areas you mentioned leaked on my Airstream. Some of the AIRSTREAM lettering on the front leaked, others didnít. On my camper, you can access the front ones thru the area behind the radio (or so Iíve been told, I actually have all of the walls out). The back lettering can only be accessed by removing the inner skins. The lights leaked, too. I replaced all of the exterior lights because they were all shot (well, most of Ďem). I resealed all of this stuff from the inside. The rear tail lights leaked as well. Sealed that inside and out.

As far the streetside leak, are you talking about the seam that runs laterally all the way down the side of the trailer? I actually had a bucked rivet that was above that seam that was loose. I had to search around for a while until I found it. Sealed from the outside, no more leak.

Other areas that leak include the window seals, access door seals and those antennas. The TV antenna had a small, occasional leak in it. On mine, there are a couple of O-Rings that seal the TV antenna shaft. I replaced those when I restored the antenna and it hasnít leaked yet, but itís only been a couple of weeks since I did that.

Maybe that gives you a few more things to look at.

Jim

P.S. My intention is to seal every outside seam on mine similar to the method you will see around post 375 in the thread I mentioned above. For the moment, nothing is leaking, so Iíve moved on to other things and will get back to it later.
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Old 08-09-2007, 03:27 PM   #8
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Thanks, Jim. You've really got your project stripped out, huh? What a lot of work! I've only got the front & back gutted (not the walls) & will be recarpeting as soon as I get these two little leaks sealed up. I hope I've found them. I'll try the hose again tomorrow after the caulk dries a bit. I had a '76 Overlander and had no problems with the seams or rivets, so this "new" one is a real bugger to me. Getting very sick of caulking (still have 3 windows & the door to go)! Have a good one.
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Old 08-09-2007, 04:18 PM   #9
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Becky,

Not quite the same but I had our new trailer tested prior to picking it up. Airstream of Arkansas uses a Seal Tech (sp?) machine. You might want to check with different RV service centers for pricing.
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Old 08-09-2007, 05:48 PM   #10
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The vacuum(cleaner) method is OK from a logical point of view, but, given the number of places air can get into or out of the rig, I wonder if it would work. You might need several vacuums to get enough flow. On the other hand, you have a lot of surface area, so you wouldn't want very much diferential pressure lest you burst the old girl at the seems. It might be better to submerge(I wonder how much ballast THAT would take?) the trailer and look for bubbles, or maybe...just use a garden hose
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Old 08-09-2007, 06:23 PM   #11
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I had a leak in the trunk of my patrol car once so I took it to a friend who works on trucks. He used a two piece device (I don't remember the name of it...sorry) that was an ultra sonic sound producer on one piece and a listening device on the other. He turned it on and closed the trunk. Then with the headphones and a listening probe, found the leak. I actually heard the sound at the leak. It was cool. The leak was invisible with a naked eye. You may try a body shop or machanic that has something similar.
Good luck!
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Old 08-09-2007, 07:35 PM   #12
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Plan C would be a smoke machine.
Most smoke machines have a heating element, pleasant-smelling smoke fluid (smells like cedar), and a high-pressure air supply. Hook up the power lead with the output line going into the trailer, and when it has warmed up, hook up the high-pressure air to it. The slightly pressurised smoke will come wafting out of the leak location.
It is a good idea to do this where there is no wind, for obvious reasons.
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Old 08-09-2007, 08:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beckybillrae
I've spent every spare moment for the last 4 weeks removing old caulk & silicone and redoing with the right stuff. There were leaks everywhere & the floor was rotton (hubby fixed that). Anyhow, most of the leaks have been fixed, but I still have two small ones to find. I've already caulked the areas that they're coming from, so it's tuff. Have any of you tried the pressure method for finding leaks? What vent would I put the shop-vac in? Do I have to tape all the windows & vents first? Anyone with experience on how to do this? I'd love some advise!
The most over looked water leak is caused by old cracked sewer vent cover pipe gaskets.

You can't see the gasket until you remove one of the covers.

They only last 3 to 5 years depending on the area.

Andy
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Old 08-09-2007, 08:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In
The most over looked water leak is caused by old cracked sewer vent cover pipe gaskets.

You can't see the gasket until you remove one of the covers.

They only last 3 to 5 years depending on the area.

Andy
I'll bet ours are leaking. The gaskets are pretty inexpensive, too.
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