How We Fixed Our Leaking Camper

I recently shared tips on how to install LVT flooring in an RV.  In that post, I alluded to the fact that we had a major leak in our camper that we were not aware of until we started renovating.

Our Camper is a 2002 KZ Frontier 2405.  This specific model has a manual slide out of the master bed.  It was in the corner by that back exit door of the camper that we noticed the existing vinyl flooring was very discolored and portions of the wall were a big spongy.


It may be hard to see in that picture above but I outlined where the discoloration was.  At this point, we didn’t actually think there was a leak.  Our wishful thinking was that the floor was just worn and had gotten wet at some point.

Welp, yup.  It sure did.  But from the outside of the camper.

Agh.

We were 90 % done with the renovation when we finally decided to explore what was going on with that weird spot. Our original plan was to just lay flooring over the linoleum but we decided to just see what was under there.

At this point, we knew we had a big problem on our hands.  The wall by the door under the slide was slightly squishy so it wasn’t JUST the floor.

We did what any rational person would in the situation.

Started tearing into the walls.

Here is a view of the inside of the walls in case any of you are curious about what is behind that slide wall.

The insulation was wet so we knew the leak was not old and it was pretty significant.

Next, we ripped out that section of the wall between the door and the slide wall and ripped out all the remaining flooring in the camper.  We set up fans so we could dry up the moisture while we tried to locate the source of the leak.

After some snooping around figured out that our outside corner seam had been compromised and it was no longer watertight.  We’re thinking the seal was broken when we backed the camper into the parking spot and knicked a gutter with that corner of the RV.  Whoopsie!

I wish I had gotten a picture of the seam before we removed the outside metal strip, it definitely looked suspicious.

Inside the metal corner strip, it was gunky and gooey.  Since we had never done this type of repair on an RV, we thought that whoever did maintenance on the camper used the wrong kind of caulking.

After some research and a trip to the RV dealership, they hooked us up with some butyl seal tape.  This was actually the type of “caulking” that was used and it was correct.

To fix the outside, we scraped away all the old seal tape and applied the new tape on the outer seam of the camper.

Next, we screwed the metal strip back in place.  Lastly, we ran outdoor white silicone caulking along the seams.

Voila!

If only that was all we needed to do.

Once we had corrected the outside and made sure no new water was coming in, (we had some rainy days in there) we focused our attention on the inside.

We covered all the wet, (but now dry) surfaces in the camper with Kilz and moved to patch the walls that we had removed.

Now, I will admit that we made quite a few mistakes here those all were under the banner of  2 major mistakes…

Mistake #1 – We did not have the right kind of spray foam…we had the kind for only cracks and small gaps.

Mistake #2 – We did not read the directions.

This is actually not supposed to cover as big of an area as we were trying to seal. There were big portions of styrofoam missing from when we were tearing everything apart by the door.  The spray foam we used was just something we had on hand and we ran with it.

I did eventually read the canister because things went very wrong.  Once we had started spraying the foam on the wall, sections began to PLOP ON THE FLOOR.

Mark was spraying and I was observing.  Observing the foam PLOP ON THE FLOOR.  In panic mode, I decided to reach out and GRAB THE SPRAY FOAM WITH MY BARE HANDS and try to hold it on the wall.

Yeah.  Don’t do that.

Also, read the directions.

Come to find out that the canister has quite a bit of extremely helpful information, such as the fact that this type of spray foam is for small gaps/cracks, do NOT let foam get on your skin, it can kill you, you know…important information.  I actually think we were supposed to turn the canister upside down and spray it but I’ve blocked out that vital piece of information at this point and I can’t quite remember.

Mark was a trooper and he kept spraying and telling me to not grab the foam.  Pure comedy.

By some miracle, Mark was able to get coverage with spray foam and I proceeded to try to wash the foam off with soap and water.  DO NOT do this.  I faintly remember reading that water can activate the foam.  I am no authority on spray foam…just saying.  It took me over a week to get all that foam off my hands, where were yellow-tinged and coated.

BUT back to that darn wall repair…

Once the foam was cured and dried completely, we cut the excess away and attached 1/4 inch sheets of plywood, cut to size to the wall with brad nails.  We used wood trim to close up any gaps and moved on to our flooring which you can read about here.  You’ll get to see the final product when I post that but for now, you can at least see how the slide wall looked before we trimmed it.

So far, so good!  No leaks.

 

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