RV rubber roofs are lightweight, cheap, and easy to install. That being said, they’re not as durable as aluminum or fiberglass roofs. Hail, branches, rough weather – these are all things that can puncture or tear into your rubber roof.
The seams don’t last forever either. And when they start to fail you, water damage can occur. If you don’t service the roof on time, things can get rather expensive.
Luckily, repairing your rubber roof is even easier than installing one, if you do it on time. You’ll just need the right tools and an understanding of the proper procedure from start to finish to make sure that each hole in your roof is properly patched up.
- Spray cleaner (optional)
- Repair tape
- Rubber roller
Clean the roof
Use a scraper to remove any debris and dust particles from your roof. Wash thoroughly with soap to remove the remaining gunk and allow the roof to dry. You can use a knife or pliers to pry out anything stuck in the roof.
Be careful though. You don’t want to make an even bigger hole. There are some things that even sealants can’t fix, or at least not so easily.
Inspect the roof for damage
You want to take your time with this step. Inspect the roof thoroughly for signs of damage. Start with the surface area after it’s clean and dry and then move on to the seams.
Assess the type of damage on your roof. This will determine what action you should take going forward. If you just need to seal the roof in some areas, the job is quick and simple.
If you have to repair structural damage, it will take more time and care.
Resealing the roof
If you notice that your roof looks chalky then you’re due for applying extra sealant. If you have an EPDM rubber roof membrane, this chalky and streaky appearance is a sign of oxidation.
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But, you don’t have to worry too much. That’s actually the layer that protects against leaks. The only thing you have to do is patch things up sort of like sealing driveway asphalt. Contact the membrane manufacturer and ask for a recommendation for an appropriate activator solution.
You mix that in with the sealant and then use the roller to apply it over the chalky bits.
You should also look into using self-leveling sealant if possible. This type of sealant will easily get into any cracks and doesn’t require a lot of pressure when you apply it. It also solidifies into a durable coating that will prevent leaks for a long time.
Tips and Warnings
- Although nothing lasts forever, with EPDM or Dicor roofs, you have a better chance of making your rubber roof as low-maintenance as it can be while also increasing its durability
- Don’t use petroleum-based solvents to clean your RV’s rubber roof
- Get yourself an RV cover. It may not be enough to protect your rubber roof from hard impacts, but a thick enough cover should prevent any damage from fallen branches during a storm and anything along those lines
- Service your roof as often as possible. Wash it with water and soap. You can also use that time to inspect the seams and joints for signs of water infiltration
- If your roof seems loose or worse, swollen, you should recheck the label on your cleaning products. A swollen rubber roof is usually a clear indicator that petroleum-based cleaners were used
- Always use proper protective gloves when working with sealants
- Never forget to clean the roof thoroughly before applying sealant. Otherwise, debris might get mixed in with the sealant and cause it to lose its integrity over time
- If you opt to use commercial sealing patches, make sure that they’re suitable for rubber roofs. Some of them are only made for aluminum or steel roofs. Others can be used on any type of roof
- Paint brushes work too. If you want to apply sealant in tight corners or around vents and AC units, a ruler won’t do you any good. But, you can use a paint brush. Just make that the tips are strong enough for the sealant
One major advantage of having a rubber roof on your RV is that most small scrapes, scratches, and puncture holes can be covered with sealant. Not only does that stop leaks but the roof also looks none the worse for wear.
Just think of the standard aluminum and steel roofs. Whenever they get dinged up, punctured, or torn, the tapes you have to apply on top will always stand out, even if you match the colors. There’s also the matter of the sealant that you still have to apply around the tape to be extra safe.
Rubber roofs look better in the end and they take a lot less time to service. But, good maintenance and knowing the limitations of a rubber membrane before venturing into rough environments is also important.