Have you ever looked at a travel trailer or 5th wheel and noticed that most everything on the outside of the camper has a bead of silicone on it? Even the gaskets on the slide outs’ have sealant. Most people do not notice, unless, they have previously owned a camper and did not keep up the sealant. The factory seals everywhere water can get in from the roof and the sidewalls. However, one of the few things on the travel trailer/5th wheel that the factory covers for only 90 days is the SEALANT. That is right, one of the most important things on our travel trailer is only covered 90 days. Sealant is considered “owner maintenance”. The best way to look at this is to compare it to the oil changes in our vehicles. Oil changes are our responsibility. Sealant on the camper is our responsibility!
Understanding the Importance of Sealant on My Camper
Sealant, sealant, sealant. I cannot express enough the importance of it. The roof and sidewall sealant, or lack thereof, can extended the life of your investment, or it can destroy it. Factory warranties and extended warranties will not cover water damage from lack of sealant. Insurance will not usually cover water damage from lack of sealant, and, if it does, it is because you took out a specific policy that covers water damage. Which, most people do not! A small hole or crack that allows water to get in can cause extensive water damage to the walls and the flooring. And worst is, we will not notice until the extent of the damage is in the hundreds, if not in the thousands of dollars to repair.
Unfortunately, most first-time travel trailer owners can easily get distracted with this very important aspect of maintenance. Most people that have previously owned campers do know the importance of the sealant. That is usually because, either, they have been caught off guard with what water damage can do, or, they know of someone who has. Water damage from lack of sealant can cost thousands of dollars to repair. The crazy part of this is, sealant is inexpensive!! If you can use a caulk gun, you can keep up with the integrity of the sealant. Do not worry, if for whatever reason you cannot do the sealant yourself, there are professionals that can do it for you, for a charge.
For the purpose of this article, I will focus on the, ‘do it yourself owners”.
Travel Trailer Roof Sealant-What To Look For
Let us take a quick look at what the roof sealant is. I recommend using a self -leveling sealant on the roof. It comes in different colors, so if it matters to you, get the same color as the roof. There are also different types made specifically
for different types of roof – so make sure you know what the roof material is.
So, if this is your first camper, then how are you supposed to know what the sealant is supposed to look like and where does it go? First thing I suggest is, if possible, get on the roof and check it out. Notice everything that is sealed. The plumbing vents, the front and rear of the roof, where it meets the front and rear caps of the camper. The
skylight(s) are sealed. Make sure to check the antenna and anything else that there is sealant on. Not all campers have the exact same things sealed with sealant. Some items may have a gasket on the inside of them, so
there is no visible sealant. Notice, that the sealant is usually thick and not necessarily pretty. Who really cares if the roof sealant is pretty, it is not supposed to be. The only people that can see the roof sealant is you, or whoever gets on the roof to look at it, maybe people in helicopters that may fly over you. Trust me, the people in the helicopter do not care what the roof sealant looks like. The point of the roof sealant is to seal the roof. If you see cracks, flaking, the tops of screws, (showing that the sealant is thin) than seal it! It is not always necessary to pull the old sealant off
first, a lot of times, it really is OK to just clean the old sealant, knock off the loose/flaky old stuff with a soft brush and after is has dried from cleaning, apply the self-leveling sealant and walk away. The best thing about self-leveling sealant is it does just that – it will level itself out.
Understanding The Sealant on the Sidewall’s Of The Travel Trailer
The sidewall’s are more detailed. I suggest opening all the slides and notice all the sealant on the slide outs and the
gaskets that are on the camper. Get to know what has sealant on it. Compartment door frames, entry door frames, outlets. Pay close attention to all the lights too!! Sometimes they are only “cap sealed” which means it is only sealed across the top and then comes down just over the corners. Campers are very detailed in this. Too many areas to cover here. My point is, getting to know the areas that are sealed, and always keep a close eye on it. I have found that when we look at our campers all the time seeing what it is supposed to look like – than the moment something “is different” it catches our attention. And, that is what I want to see – more travel trailer owner’s catching the sealant quickly!
Protecting the Investment of Our Travel Trailers
No matter how big or small our travel trailer/5th wheel is, the fact is, they cost money. Doesn’t it make sense to take care of it to the best of our ability. Remember, camper sealant is very inexpensive. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but, it really is not. It does take some time to get accustomed to what we are looking for. From there, it is easy. When you see that spot of sealant cracking, missing, or pulling away from the camper, seal it! When in doubt about the sealant integrity, seal it. When it comes to the sealant on our travel trailer campers, when in doubt do, seal it.
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