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Old 08-15-2004, 08:12 AM   #1
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The Dreaded Leak - How Far Do You Go?

What I have: 1987 29' Argosy

I was just going to replace all the carpet and flooring.(Yeah, right) After removing the beds, furniture, carpet, foam padding in the aft quarters I discovered black mildew in the rear corners of the floor. The OSB flooring was not soft, punky or obviously rotted, but clearly had been wet and is stained black. Then I see the curved cardboard dress panels are wrinkled and water damaged so I begin to remove them to try and find where the water is coming in.

At a point about 2 feet above the floor, and right where the curved rear cap metal meets the flat sides, the cardboard is STILL WET AND SOGGY. Now, it hasn't rained in over 6-months, so this is a mystery how it can be wet. But it is.

I remove the inner aluminum trim from the window and gaze into the window/wall area. It seems perfectly tight, and it's hard to imagine how a leaky window would wet-down this cardboard which is attached to the stud.

So, I start thinking about the lap seam where the rear cap is attached to the flat sides. Now, I can imagine how a lap seam leaks into the inside of the metal, but how would the water broach the 2" aluminum stud and reach the cardboard? I inspect outside and while the seam is closed, I DO see where PO had applied a 10" bead of caulk and massaged it by hand into a portion of the seam. Suspicious for sure. But I still can't quite believe the water could move HORIZONTALLY from the skin, through the lap seam, to the inner cardboard?

Thinking of a more sensible path for the water, I'm now thinking it came from the roof, rolled down the aluminum frame on the inside, and came to rest where the cardboard meets the horizontal framing - a sort of capture point.

I look on the roof (from the ground so far) and I see a heavy, gloppy, kinda goopy looking "strap" for lack of the right term, that runs side to side across the roof where the rear cap is attached. It looks to be glopped up with caulk, and possibly painted over. It certainly does NOT look like a "factory" finish in anyway, but rather something that has been band-aided in a sloppy way and then painted over.

There is also a skylight in the middle of the rear roof, and the vent for the furnace comes out in that area.

QUESTIONS:
1- Assuming I am not about to begin removing metal skins, caps, and metalwork, can such leaks really ever be stopped by applying sealants, caulks, goops and other concoctions? (I've been reading through all the posts about ParBond and Vulkem and Gutterseal and such.)

2- Could the whole roof be coated with a spray on rubber boot?

3- Taking a wild guess at the most likely sources of leaks, I've come up with: Upper running lights on rear cap; skylight; furnace vent;and that side to side cap-to-body sealing strip. Any others I should look at?

mdeneen
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Old 08-15-2004, 08:30 AM   #2
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Plumbing vent

covers are anothe major culprit. They need to be removed, cleaned and reinstalled with a new gasket and screen along with Vulkem. Also any idea of what type of caulk was used by the PO? If it is silicone it will need to be completely removed and replaced with either Vulkem or Sikaflex. Maybe post a picture or two? Also leaks can occur in a distant location and follow the framing until they find entrance into the trailer. Your #2 question is one that I am seriously considering, plan on using a white elsastomeric coating(rubber), just haven't arrived at that point in time yet.

Aaron
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Old 08-15-2004, 09:17 AM   #3
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Arron,

Good call and it is a reminder to all of us to check those vents on out trailers. This I believe is a bit different he has a Square Argosy based on the model year.

One place I would suggest to check is where the body meets the frame across the back. This is a leak prone spot on Airstreams and could be the source of the water too. Water moves in very odd ways once it gets in. It can travel horizontally and vertically against gravity buy wicking into any dry space. If the cap looks gooped up by a PO then I would be suspicious of the gooping, compare it to the front cap.

I don't know if these have a metal sheet, rubber,or fiberglass roof. All types may require different sealing methods. It is best to find the source. What clues me in is the fact that both rear corners are wet. This tells me it is something that is leaking in the rear.
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Old 08-15-2004, 09:39 AM   #4
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Red face Duh!

Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewkid64
Arron,

Good call and it is a reminder to all of us to check those vents on out trailers. This I believe is a bit different he has a Square Argosy based on the model year.
Darned dyslexia I thought it was a '78, but was trying to figure out what kind of strap would have been put between the cap and the main roof. LOL

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Old 08-15-2004, 12:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdeneen
.......At a point about 2 feet above the floor, and right where the curved rear cap metal meets the flat sides, the cardboard is STILL WET AND SOGGY. Now, it hasn't rained in over 6-months, so this is a mystery how it can be wet........
If it hasn't rained in 6 months.......What about the AC pan.

It is possible the condensate from the coils is making its way to the wall interior.

I would certainly check it out while you have things torn apart.
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Old 08-15-2004, 12:39 PM   #6
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The Farther I go, the worse it gets...

Well, I have taken off ALL the interior panels in the aft bedroom. Removed the overhead storage units (Oh boy, that was fun). There are many water damaged spots. I'm keeping track with a felt pen of where the undersides of each panel were rotted or stained.

- I think the back cap is made of fiberglass (Haven't got all the insulation off yet).

- The evidence is leading me toward TWO 2" PVC pipes that go vertically through the closet and up through the roof. I think one is the furnace vent, I am not sure what the other is - - - stove vent? The flatter porton of the ceiling panels - just where they meet the curved panel, is stained all the way down both sides. This is well forward of the cap joint, so that's what's leading me to the vent pipes. Now I have to disassemble the whole closet-------yikes. Might as well gut the interior now.
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Old 08-15-2004, 12:43 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdeneen
- The evidence is leading me toward TWO 2" PVC pipes that go vertically through the closet and up through the roof. I think one is the furnace vent, I am not sure what the other is - - - stove vent?

Those 2 pipes are the vent stacks that wahoonc mentioned. One is for the black tank, one is for the grey tank. The seal is normally on the roof. This is a VERY common source of leaks. I would get them sealed and do a leak test with a hose and helper.
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Old 08-15-2004, 01:04 PM   #8
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There are a limited number of points that water can enter. Those vent gaskets are a prime spot, and your investigation seems to be leading you that way. Once water is in the trailer, between the outer skin and inner skin, it can travel almost anyplace depending on how level or unlevel the trailer is when stored.
You will get it dried out, get the SILLY-CONE (never use this stuff on the outside) painstakingly removed, and reseal with Vulkem and Parbond....and you will be fine.
Once you think you have it sealed, get a helper inside to watch and start low on the trailer and VERY SLOWLY work your way up the trailer wetting each seam for several minutes...you will then find any remaining leaks before reinstalling the interior you have removed.
Awning attachments, the skylight vents, and even the rivet holes can be source of leaks.....it is just trial and error to find them and stop them.
Good luck-
David
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Old 08-15-2004, 02:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewkid64
Those 2 pipes are the vent stacks that wahoonc mentioned. One is for the black tank, one is for the grey tank...
FWIW my unit has 3 two at the rear and one up by the kitchen.

Aaron
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Old 08-15-2004, 05:04 PM   #10
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Total Rot Out Disaster.

Well, I kept removing panels following the ever darker and blacker stains forward. After the Bedroom was all removed, then the closet came out, and closet ceiling. Still blacker going forward. So, into the refer hatch we go. BINGO! There it is, the mother of all leaks. The refer compartment is totally and absolutely rotted to the core from top to floor.

There is a very large vent on the roof above the refer compartment - I'd say about 6"W X 18" long. It's a flanged sheetmetal affair with a larger sheetmetal cap over it. Clearly, there is/was a major leak through this vent. Inspecting at roof level on the ladder I see gobs and mounds of caulk, screws, rivets the whole works trying to seal this 2" or so wide flange on this vent.

I finally manage to get the Dometic refer out, and HOLY MOLY what do I find? The entire refer compartment has been shot with 87-bazillion tubes of caulk. Caulking everywhere - seemingly just shot in there at random. Huge patches of caulk spread with a putty knife on the plastic seaming material between the cardboard panels even! (Trying to hold the water from leaking through the cardboard????)

All the 1x1 stock holding the side walls on was rotted. All the screws everywhere were rusted and breaking off. Massive caulk around the vent where it enters the roof.

Well, at this point, it is a gut job. There is so much mold, mildew and rot we'd probably die in there. Much of the wood was STILL WET. This after being in 100 degree heat for 6-months where I had it stored.

Clearly, this goes back to PO. Since it is an '87 and I bought it in '94, this leak happened early, the atttemped repairs were fruitless and so the PO dumped the unit to get out from under.

It's a real mess. I have a mountain of debris in the driveway and I might as well gut the whole thing. There's certainly no replacing those panels, they were warped, waterlogged, black with mold and well, you get the idea.

mdeneen
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Old 08-15-2004, 07:41 PM   #11
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Dang! What a mess!
Have you taken pics of this along the way to document the ommission of relavent information negligently ommitted by the PO seller?
Perhaps a partial refund of the purchase price from the PO should be attempted so that the PO can avoid possible deceptive selling litigation?
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Old 08-15-2004, 09:32 PM   #12
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Some Pix of the Mess

Vent1 shows the cracking around the seal.

Vent 2 is the real problem - water is pouring in there.

Caulk is a view looking UP into the refer compartment at that large vent. You can see miles of caulk up there.

Junkpile is is about 1/3 of the coach out on the driveway. The rest to follow. The stove is rusted out too.
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Old 08-15-2004, 10:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dscluchfc
Dang! What a mess!
Have you taken pics of this along the way to document the ommission of relavent information negligently ommitted by the PO seller?
Perhaps a partial refund of the purchase price from the PO should be attempted so that the PO can avoid possible deceptive selling litigation?
As much as I agree, I don't think you have much chance of recourse. Statute of limitations and all. 10 years is a long time.
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Old 08-15-2004, 10:40 PM   #14
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Yep....this all could have been fixed easily by drilling the rivets out, cleaning it up, and resealing it with Vulkem. Putting latex or silicone caulking on it to try and "pookie" it up was an amateurish attempt at saving money and shoestringing it.
Always better to do it right the first time.
I would contact previous owner and demand a good portion of my purchase price refunded so that he could save the expense of the legal fees he will spend defending the deceptive sales practices he used to sell the unit.
I guess the fact that my father was an attorney is showing through...
...just my 2 cents...
Edit...I just reread all the thread...and Don is right, if you have owned it 10 years...then there is little recourse.
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