Do pop up campers leak when it rains? (what to do)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Do pop up campers leak when it rains? We will explain why pop-up campers may leak when it rains, tell you how to handle pop-up camper leaks and teach you how to fix any water damage, step-by-step. 

Do pop up campers leak when it rains?

Yes, pop-up campers may leak when it rains. Why? First, because they are not waterproof. Second, because your camper canvas is probably torn or seriously damaged. You must always check your camper before every trip for holes in the canvas or the roof, as they are mainly responsible for water leaks. 

What to do if your pop up camper leaks when it rains?

If your pop up camper leaks when it rains, there is not much to do but to try and find the issue, then fix it (at least temporarily).  

Dreaded by all campers, water infiltration can cause considerable damage to your trailer. In fact, in addition to damaging your interior, water can also cause mould and fungus in the walls, at the same time causing a health risk.

Water infiltration can cause considerable damage. What can we do?

  • Regular inspection of the seals, at least twice a year, will allow you to minimize the risk of infiltration. If you find that the gaskets are crumbling or peeling, it is time to replace them.
  • While it is important to check the roof and wall joints, do not neglect all the places through which water can enter, for example, the perimeter of the lights and the antenna attached to the roof, among others.
  • Sometimes a simple visual inspection is enough to know if the seal needs to be redone; you will then notice that it is cracked all over or that it is completely missing pieces. You can also rub your finger along the silicone seal; if it has a tendency to crumble or peel off, it’s time to do it again.
  • If the faulty seals are at roof level, use a plastic scraper to remove the damaged parts of the seal. Thoroughly clean the surface with an appropriate product and apply a sealer designed for use on the roof.

Indeed, since roof membranes are often made of rubber, the use of non-recommended products could lead to additional damage … and that’s what we want to avoid, right?

  • Are the joints on the exterior walls damaged? Proceed in the same way as in the previous step, using a scraper to remove damaged gaskets. Then clean the surface with the appropriate cleaner and degreaser, then let dry.

Once the surface is completely dry, apply a new silicone sealant, always using a product compatible with the surface.

  • If your canvas is torn, it can be repaired temporarily by using duct tape on either side – inside and outside – of the tear. This temporary repair, which will come in handy if you can’t come to your awning right away, will keep you going until you can get a sewn and sealed replacement part.

Steps to follow to repair a camper that has water damage

If water did get in your pop-up camper when it rained, do not despair. There is always a way to fix the water damage. 

  1. Locate and repair the water source. Before you can start cleaning and repairing your caravan; you need to determine how it got flooded initially. A roof leak is the most likely source, which means caulking and resealing the roof is the most common solution. 

Repair holes and leaks in other areas in the same way. Sometimes the flood water may have brought with it dirt and debris. Sweep, mop, or scrape as much as possible before undertaking larger repairs.

  1. Remove damaged floors, ceilings and walls. Carefully examine all parts of the trailer for water damage. Anywhere you can see water spots or smell a soft spot, remove the wallpaper, panelling and flooring to access the wood below. Remove the wood that has started to rot and remove the wet insulation. 

Careful work is important because leaving even a small patch of rotten wood will damage the structure of your caravan. Save a small piece of wallpaper or flooring to match the patterns if you are not replacing parts.

  1. Disinfect all surfaces. Spray all surfaces of your caravan with a bleach solution to disinfect them. Scrub thoroughly to remove any mould or mildew growth. Disinfecting subfloors and panels that you don’t plan to replace will help prevent mould and mildew growth in the future.
  1. Ventilate the camper until it is completely dry. While you may feel an urge to hurry with the project and restore your trailer to its former glory, it is important that you let it dry completely before moving on to the next step.

 Never lay new wood, parquet, panelling or wallpaper on a wet surface. Let your trailer dry for at least a few weeks. Ideally, you will let your trailer dry for a full three months in hot, dry weather with the windows open.

  1.  Replace damaged areas. Replace the wood that you had to remove from the frame of your caravan. Match the new panelling to the other panelling on the walls and use matching wallpaper to evenly cover the areas you had to repair. 

Line up your flooring with the existing tiles, or replace the entire flooring if the damage is severe or you cannot match the pattern. Carefully replace any items that you had to remove during the repair.

While flood damage can keep your camper out for a while, you can deal with most of the damage with inexpensive supplies and simple DIY projects. With proper care, you can get your vehicle back to perfect condition.

The bottom line

Some common reasons why your pop-up camper leaks when it rains and what you need to do about it:

  • There is a crack in the roof (that you must repair);
  • Damaged canvas or/and ripped pop-up seams (can be easily fixed);
  • Old and broken windows (may need replacement);
  • Worn seals (that you can easily reseal). 

Our final tip is to check the roof of your pop-up camper regularly, not only to keep your feet in the water after a downpour but also to prevent (again) mould problems. These, in addition to being harmful to your health, could decrease the value of your camper if you eventually want to sell it.

Please let us know if you have any questions, comments or suggestions on how to improve this article. 

FAQ on Do pop up campers leak when it rains?

Do you get wet in a tent trailer?

Yes, you can get wet in a tent trailer, as they are not completely waterproof. Particularly with long use and bad maintenance, your tent trailer can leak especially during rainy days! 

Can you stay dry in a pop-up camper?

Yes, you can stay dry in a pop-up camper. There are many techniques to protect yourself from rain during camping. For example, you can use plastic bags to protect your bag from moisture or to wrap anything that is already wet to prevent everything else from getting wet as well. 

Are pop-up campers waterproof?

Most pop-up campers are waterproof when they are new. But in time, with each use, the canvas becomes less and less impermeable.  



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