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How to Seal Leaks

Yes, Airstreams can leak. All motor homes and travel trailers can and probably will leak as they age. Here's a bit of information I've gathered as I begin trying to understand where and why Airstreams leak and what to do about it.

Eternabond tape

Some people carry a roll of Eternabond sealing tape for making emergency leak repairs. I haven't tried it on my Airstream but have used it extensively to seal penetrations and seams on the aluminum flat roof of My Lazy Daze. It would work great for emergency repairs but it adheres so aggressively I think I would be reluctant to use it on an Airstream. Removing it to do a proper repair might be quite a problem unless there is a solvent for the adhesive that would allow it to be removed without damaging the clearcoat. I would research that first.

Best Materials carries a complete line of Eternabond RoofSeal White, RV Roof Repair Tape, Miracle RV Tape, Roof Leak Repair Tape at competitive prices.

Some advise from Andy of Inland RV

Andy of Inland RV posted the following in this AirstreamForums thread:

Vulkem is used for the large seams, such as at the top of the windows, entrance door, vent cover flanges and awning rail. It's also used to seal the vent pipe gaskets, through the fiberglass screening and on to the black vent pipes.

Parbond, comes in 5 ounce tubes and is used for small seams, such as segment seams and around the top and both sides of clearance lights, and around the sides of the window frames. It, like vulkem, never completely hardens. Very small beads can easily be made with Parbond.

We have used it for many years and keep much of it in inventory.

and in a later post Andy says...

Sealing the seams on the side of a coach, is usually cosmetic. If indeed there was a water leak on the side, it would indicated severe abuse or structural damage. Sealing the roof is another matter. Since the roofs receive far more sun exposure than the sides, a failure of a sealer can occur. It is wise to check the roof periodically for a sealed area that may have opened up.

Generally speaking, the vast "majority" of Airstream water leaks are caused by the owner. Simply not balancing the running gear properly, AND, not keeping it that way, causes at least 98 percent of all water leaks. Extremely rough roads, cause the rest. Rarely, will anyone ever find or hear of an Airstream trailer, that has been parked for years, having a rain water leak.

That in it self tells where the problem starts.

On the other hand, most water leaks, in fact, are not at any seams, but are most likely from worn out window gaskets, sewer and drain line vent pipe gaskets that are cracked ( these should be replaced every 5 years or so), leaky clearance lights (caused by simple sun exposure which shrinks the plastic), bad or missing ceiling vent cover gaskets, and of course, missing rivets.

Awning rails usually take a beating, when the awning has been used for extended periods of time. Notice how a small wind makes an awning flutter, let alone high winds. That fabric movement puts a great stain on the awning rail.

Any resealing should be carefully considered, before any application of a sealer. If there are no leaks, then leave it alone.

Like they say, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Tags: RV Information