How to Repair a RV Ceiling
When you have an urge to explore "the road less traveled," an RV will get you there in style. To keep it that way, regular care and maintenance is needed. A top priority is the ceiling, as problems here are often caused by structural breaches that must be addressed. Dark stains, sagging and ripples in the ceiling are warning signs of water damage. After patching the leaks from outside, you'll be ready to move indoors and work on the ceiling.
Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Dealing With Water Damage
Things You’ll Need:
- Aluminum duct tape
- "Kool Seal" patching tape
- Heavy gauge aluminum foil
- Stiff cardboard
- Utility pry bar
- Wood wedges
- Dehumidifier (optional)
- Utility knife
- Rubber gloves
- Dust mask
- Abrasive sponge
- Unscented detergent
- "Git Rot" wood treatment
- Wide paint brush
Find out how the water's getting in. Get on the roof and inspect the caulking around roof vents and entry hatches and the sealant on trim strip edges and screw holes. Check running lights for cracks and damaged gaskets and examine the mounting points of anything connected to the roof. Pay special attention to roof joints, since leaks here will travel to the ceiling's lowest point before entering your RV.
Remove trapped water in the ceiling. Use your utility pry bar to loosen a panel seam in the damaged area and pull it down so that water can escape. Hold the seam open with wedges until the water runs out and the area dries. A dehumidifier will speed up the process.
Remove damaged ceiling panels and clean up exposed wood. Cut out the ceiling panels in the damaged areas and save them to use as replacement patterns. Carefully inspect the wood framing for delamination, mold and dry-rot. If you find mold, put on rubber gloves and a mask before cleaning the area with unscented detergent. Rinse your sponge every time you wipe a spot, to avoid spreading the mold to unaffected wood.
Replace or repair the wood framing. Delaminated plywood, with plies that have separated, must be replaced. Remove the delaminated piece and use it as a guide to cut its replacement, then install it the way it came out. Apply "Git Rot" to dry-rotted, water damaged wood with a thick paint brush. It will penetrate the wood and bond with the cellulose, to create a hard, epoxy-like material that can be drilled or cut like regular wood.
Patch broken vents and access hatches. A small crack can be patched by cleaning the area and covering it with aluminum duct tape. Bigger cracks should be covered with "Kool Seal" tape followed by overlapping layers of aluminum duct tape. A shattered vent can be handled by wrapping cardboard with aluminum foil, taping the seams, attaching "Kool Seal" to the edges, putting it in the hole and re-taping. These quick emergency repairs will give you time to find a replacement.
Tips & Warnings
Another effective dry-rot treatment is "Poly All."
Don't fix ceiling water damage till you identify and patch every leak.
Article Written By Dan Eash
Dan Eash began writing professionally in 1989, with articles in LaHabra's "Daily Star Progress" and the "Fullerton College Magazine." Since then, he's created scripts for doctor and dentist offices and published manuals, help files and a training video. His freelance efforts also include a book. Eash has a Fullerton College Associate of Arts in music/recording production and a Nova Institute multimedia production certificate.
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