Oct. 2017 – Sealing the Endcaps
The sealants are a maintenance item and should be checked a couple times a year and scraped up and replaced 2-3 times during the RV’s lifetime. How good a job the owner does can affect the lifetime of the sealant, the seals, and how often you have leaks. So with that in mind, I set out to learn what I needed to do to minimize the sealant failures along with minimizing my effort.
I’ve been full time RVing for 12 years now and have read thousands of forum threads on all things RV and over that time I’ve learned that Eternabond tape is an excellent product for a RV’er, in fact I carry some at all times. Designed for fixing leaks on roofs, it’s perfect for the RV’er as these giant rolling boxes can easily develop roof leaks. It happened I have a 50′ roll with me I’d purchased a few months before in anticipation of needing it, and while dodging a monster storm in Oregon, the several major rain storms I endured showed that yeah, I was smart to have it with me. Because several mornings I’d wake to find a small puddle of water on the dash. Feeling around the slides, around the ceiling vents, and the bathroom skylight didn’t turn up any other leaks so that was a relief. But, my focus was on getting that leak fixed AND sealing up the many seams on the roof that are likely to eventually leak as the RV ages.
And the first thing I felt needed to be done is to seal the end cap seams. These seams run from side to side both front and rear of the RV. First some pictures of how it looked when I started, followed with the after pictures. Those grey puddles are the self leveling caulking that’s poured over the screwheads and transition seams. Although the construction crew did a fairly good job on my RV back at the factory in ’02, often it’s a mess, has weathered, or a gap has opened up, so you should carefully check yours. This is no different than having to periodically check the roof on your sticks & bricks home.
So the first thing I did was to use a plastic putty knife to scrape off any over pour, knock down any ridges, etc. Just generally clean up the seam. The Eternabond tape I’ll be using needs to be able to stick to a clean roof surface in order to accomplish it’s job.
And here is how it looked after 4″ wide Eternabond roof tape had been applied. The weather was fine, no wind, warm, plenty of sunshine, so I applied the length of Eternabond all as one piece. If conditions aren’t as nice, just cut the tape into 6′ sections and do a section at a time. The roof was dry, this is important because if it’s raining or there’s too much morning dew, the tape won’t stick to the roof correctly.
Peeled a little of the sticky side protective tape off, positioned the Eternabond on the right side of the roof a couple inches down the side, stuck it down, than slowly pulled the tape off as I smooshed it down on the roof, straightening the tapes travel as I went. NOTE: Eternabond sticks like crazy, once it’s down on a clean dry surface, it’s down forever.
You can see some ripples in the tape but remember, this is on the roof, 12 feet from the ground. No one is going to be looking at it but you. As I got to the ladder rails, I just used the scissors to snip the tape a bit for some relief to surround that area somewhat.
And then I took that roller tool, from Amazon, and rolled the tape to stick it down. It’s important that you cut some of the sealant out of the way during prep so the tape can contact the roof because the Eternabond won’t stick to any type of silicon. And you want it stuck down as much as possible. Especially on the leading edge where wind from driving might get under an edge and lift it a bit allowing rain to get under the tape.
So that was the end cap, now onto the front cap…
Again, spent some time trimming and inspecting the poured sealant. As you can see, I did need to cut a relief in the tape here and there to get it around some of the roof mounted devices. Other times I worked it under stuff, like under those satellite cables. Peeling the clear protective tape off the Eternabond about 1 foot, or just a few inches at a time allowed work that fine. Once the Eternabond was in place and the protective cover was peeled off the sticky side, I’d use the roller to seal it to the roof and endcap.
Once that was done, I took several shots of other areas of the roof for future reference. I do know that I’ll have to get up there again eventually to put the Eternabond around other seams on other devices up here. Vents, antennas, the skylight. But not today.
There’s a lot of stuff up here that’s probably going to need the Eternabond treatment someday. And if a shop did a poor job of installing antenna cables that flap in the wind while driving, Eternabond can be used to cover them and hold them tightly…I don’t have that problem though.
The view was calming. Nice little city park here in Myrtle Creek, Oregon. Check out my blog post about staying here. Surprisingly good WiFi…Back on the RoadAnd here are the slide awnings. Those need replacing occasionally and there are businesses that specialize in doing it. I wouldn’t go to a dealer. If you’re careful and pull in the slides when the wind is over 25 MPH, don’t let ice accumulate, clean them occasionally, they should last at least 12 years, possibly 25. They do sag over time and when that occurs, use a pool noodle between the awning and slide roof to lift them a bit, making sort of a tent, so water will drain off. And here’s my fancy schmancy DirecTv automatic satellite finding antenna, made by Winegard. No need to manually turn it trying to find satellites, it finds them automatically. Very nice. Works great too. Again, the holding screws into the roof are caulked so I’ll have to check the sealant periodically. Eventually, I’ll just cover them with Eternabond. Never have to deal with it again. Good stuff.
After getting the end cap seams sealed, and some pictures taken, it was time to call it a day. I had started this project after the morning dew had burned off, and the sun had warmed up the roof, around 11 AM. Worked until 2 PM taking my time. The weather cooperated the entire time. At 4 PM it had clouded over and started to sprinkle. By 9 PM it was a downpour. And there’s no puddle forming on my dash. So the seam sealing was needed and I’m happy I got it taken care of. The Eternabond lasts such a long time, I’ll really never need to worry much about those seams ever again.
There is something I still need to get done up on the roof, I’m going to run 2″ Eternabond along the side seams of the roof. Edit: That job is now completed, thread here – Roof Edges. That seam is also caulked…with a different type of silicon then the self leveling type. It does break down over time. And the kicker is that if it breaks down while traveling, or in a big wind storm, wind can get under the edge of the roof, and since the roof isn’t glued to the substrate, actually rip it off! The fiberglass roofing material is pretty thin to save weight and doesn’t take much of a gap between the roof and the sidewall for the wind to start ripping it. And you end up with a ruined roof, sometimes with long strips of fiberglass roof missing. I’ve seen pics of RVs with half the roof missing because of the wind.
So, I’m down here in Mexico and I’ll hire a guy to install that tape for me. The 2″ and 4″ wide rolls are available from Amazon. I already have a couple rolls of the 2″ because I bought it before I came down to Mexico.
And here’s what the roof looks like early one morning in Mexico…this picture is before I had the roof cleaned, the second after. The first go round, I only had the roof washed. That came as part of the wash and hand wax of the entire RV for $70 + tip.
Went ahead and had the roof waxed, normally, that’s not done…cost was around $1 per foot for that. I’d seen a picture online of a waxed Journey roof and thought it looked pretty good. So had mine done. I’m hoping it’ll give it some protection too, it’s not just a vanity thing.And that’s the roof story, so far. Hopefully, once I get the tape along the edges installed, I won’t have to worry about the roof ever ripping off…