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Old 01-09-2018, 11:00 AM   #1
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1972 31' Sovereign
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felton , California
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my experience with a "pressure" leak test

After getting frustrated with a few nagging leaks decided to have a pressure test, worth the money, right ? NOPE ... total waste of time. We've been dry here in Cali since I'd had the test & work completed. we've had several inches over the past few days and all but one of the leaks remain.
Common sense questions how these tests can work on an older unit, without taping up around all the hatches and door etc, how could enough pressure build up inside to show tiny leaks through seams or rivets ??
I was assured that it worked and forked over several hundred dollars + a few more for fixing the leaks. So I'm back to square one, and out of pocket $500+
I'm going to go over every inch myself with Parbond.
my advice, and should take this myself, if you want something done right, do it yourself. I'm busy with life, work & kids and was willing to pay for this so i have time for other things. Costly mistake !
One last piece of advice, walk around and through your unit with the camera rolling prior to dropping off at a workshop. & ask for pictures of work completed, IE, did they actually pressure test this trailer? I've no clue, just their word. I'd have liked to see a picture of the pressure test unit installed and fired up. Either way, it didn't work. If you got a vintage unit, I suspect these tests are useless unless the trailer is gutted maybe? End of rant, I'm pissed.
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Old 01-09-2018, 11:22 AM   #2
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Ouch. I understand your frustration--I had a similar experience. When I called the shop about it (a small local Houston shop, but well-known for quality), they were happy to work with me, admitted they might should've adjusted the pressure settings or may have missed something that led to fewer leaks showing up. I paid them for additional leak repairs they found after the second test, but not for the retest itself. I know exactly how you feel about paying someone else...and the disappointment that sometimes comes from it. Good luck, I hope the shop will be willing to work with you.

One last note of interest--if you're suspect of a particular roof vent, have them use another one. I'd been very suspect of the midship roof vent, turns out it was leaking, but they missed it since they used that vent for their intake during the test.

Dave
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Old 01-09-2018, 01:44 PM   #3
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The roof vent is the typical way of accessing trailer , right? Is the entire unit removed or just the lid and air pump attached like that? I'm curious how these work.
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Old 01-10-2018, 02:27 PM   #4
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To solve our dozen or so leaks we decided to paint the roof with an epoxy based roof coating. The epoxy is better suitable for walking on compared to the lower cost products. The coating also reduces solar heating.

In PNW we have a few more rainy days. Yes, the leaks are now gone.
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Old 01-10-2018, 03:26 PM   #5
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I've had a pressure test done once, on a 2013 25FB. I think it was worthwhile.

The main reason for getting the test was I found and fixed a bad leak by myself, and wanted a confirmation that my fix was holding. The test found about ten leaks (awning arm mounts, vista view windows, tail lights, compartment door trim, vertical seam). I don't know if any of the identified leaks actually allowed water to get in.

I got to see the machine installed in my trailer (after the test was done, before the fixes were done) when I approved the cost of the fixes. This was done at the Airstream dealer in Tucson, and I'd trust them to do it again.

The test was done with a Sealtech machine. This has a powerful variable speed blower that pulls air in through a roof vent. The tech closes all doors, vents and windows except the main entry door, then turns it on. He then pushes the main door closed. If the resistance feels like too much, or too little, he adjusts the blower until it "feels right". Then he latches the door closed and starts spraying the bubble solution.

So it should be possible to correctly test any RV of any size.
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Old 01-10-2018, 03:39 PM   #6
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Leaks can be insidious. Had a fellow who did maintenance for the company. He found leaks that no one could resolve. Attention to detail is the key. At least that is what I suspect. It is possible that the new leaks formed after the work was done, but I suspect that the process is flawed. Likely takes several passes at the problem to resolve. I do believe the pressure test has value, but only when a skilled inspector is part of the cure.

A fellow we met at an RV park in Wyoming said he purchased a water based sealer from Home Depot that when diluted with water worked the same as Captain Tolley's Creeping Crack Cure. I was not paying enough attention and to my dismay, I have no clue what it was. He said he had treated all cracks, joints and rivet holes after he purchased his vintage rig and had not seen any leaks develop.

The other key approach is an annual inspection to find cracks in the sealant and remove/replace with new when required. Neatness counts, of course.

Different folks seem to have different results. Betting your experience is a likely indicator of why.

Happy hunting. Pat
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Old 01-10-2018, 03:39 PM   #7
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Thanks for posting. I've been seriously considering a pressure test, but now I may re-think.
Our 2017 26U had (has) a small leak entering thru an interior rivet. Only leaked after a prolonged rain, and then only sometimes. So a simple hose-squirt test did not work. Best guess was it was a small enough leak to not show up until insulation was saturated (crap, that's serious). Question is where? After a complete inspection I figured the leak was likely in a window seal.

Solution: First used Capt. Tolley's Creeping Crack Cure along all the seams above/near the leak. Eventually I found a spot in window seal where Cure entered and never came out (and I performed this test many, many times). Next I used electrical tape to temporarily seal the location and camped thru a few rain events with no leak. Now convinced I indeed did (well hopefully did) find the leak I used Vulkem to fully seal the window at the suspect location. Has not leaked yet, but I guess only time will tell for long-term.

As I found with a previous house, water leaks are hideously difficult to find because the exit point may be a LONG way away from the entry point. Hope find yours.
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Old 01-21-2020, 09:47 AM   #8
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1973 29' Ambassador
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sgschwend View Post
To solve our dozen or so leaks we decided to paint the roof with an epoxy based roof coating. The epoxy is better suitable for walking on compared to the lower cost products. The coating also reduces solar heating.

In PNW we have a few more rainy days. Yes, the leaks are now gone.
Hi, we're in the Puget sound area too, with a 6.4 PSD and a 1973 Ambassador. I'm chasing a few leaks and will probably try the pressure test at home. Can you tell me what product you used on your roof? What did you do for prep? do you have an awning? (I worry about the awning to body panel interface)
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