How do I find a leak in my caravan?

In today’s article, we will answer the following question:  How do I find a leak in my caravan? We will discuss how to find and fix a water leak in a caravan, but also measures to prevent future and possible leaks.

How do I find a leak in my caravan?

To find a leak in your caravan you will have to do some detective work and search for clues in order to identify the source of the issue. Thus, you will have to search for cracks, worn and damaged spots, thinning or any other type of damage in the following places:

  • On the roof and the skylight of your caravan;
  • Near the windows, doors and vents;
  • Check the water heater and the AC;
  • The portable water tank and the city water tank.

To know if there is water infiltration without having a hygrometer, you will have to check the four corners of the interior walls of the RV as well as the corners of the extension from the floor to the ceiling including the cabinets. 

Signs that there may be a water leak in your caravan:

  • A water spot on the ground
  • The water heater that won’t turn off
  • Sound of running water when accessories, such as the toilet, are not being used
  • Water dripping under the wall
  • Hot water is coming from the cold water tap
  • Water coming from somewhere on the ground.

To locate invisible water leaks that cannot be seen with the naked eye, a plumber uses thermographic cameras.  Its operation is very simple and it is that through a screen the temperature changes are coloured, with different intensities. This allows one to know at first where there may be a water leak that one cannot see.

Dreaded by all campers, water infiltration can cause considerable damage to your trailer or RV. 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.

Manufacturers of recreational vehicles apply sealant and caulk to the joints of various components to ensure water tightness. But vibrations from travel, exposure to the sun, and freezing and thawing typical of our climate cause cracking and shrinkage in waterproofing materials. Unfortunately, in time many empty spaces form as the joints narrow, creating a passage for water infiltration.

Inspect your RV or caravan: the best protection against leaks

These leaks are devious, as we don’t always spot them right away. In the long term, water can cause significant damage: detachment, buckling, blistering. Mould can also form. That’s why it’s better to prevent them!

Before putting your vehicle back on the road, be on the lookout for signs of weaknesses that could cause an infiltration problem and be rigorous in the maintenance of risk areas:

  • Inspect sealing materials to find and fix problems before they occur.
  • Frequently inspect gaskets on doors, windows and retractable extensions and replace them if necessary.
  • Check under the trailer, if possible, to check for the presence of water rings and identify the source.
  • Pay special attention to the roof: remove debris and clean it to prevent premature ageing of the surface. Inspect the roof seams and reapply sealant as soon as they show any sign of weakening.

Remember to repeat the same task at the end of the season, in addition to the other preventive measures that will protect your trailer during the cold season.

If you found the leak, choose the right sealant and apply it properly

Your efforts to keep your trailer waterproof could be wasted if you don’t apply the right sealant, in the right way. The wrong choice of sealant can even be the cause of water infiltration. Here are some basics to remember:

  • Opt for products designed specifically for trailers and motorhomes. Sealants designed for the home, available at hardware stores, are not effective in preventing water infiltration. 

Indeed, they adhere less well to different surfaces and their elasticity is limited. This is normal: your house is stationary while your trailer is moving. The properties of the materials are therefore not the same!

  • Make sure you apply the right sealer in the right place: Self-leveling roof sealants are specially designed to bond to the different materials of your roof. Some contain a UV stabilizer that prevents deterioration caused by the sun. They are different from sealants designed for the rest of the vehicle.
  • Sealants should always be applied to clean, dry surfaces.

Leaks 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 water infiltration and leaks in a caravan. 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; then you will notice that it is cracked all over or that it is completely missing bits. 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.

Roof sealant: If the faulty gaskets are at roof level, use a plastic scraper to remove the damaged parts of the gasket. Thoroughly clean the surface with an appropriate product and apply a sealer designed for use on the roof.

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?

The walls: 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.

Awning: If your awning 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. 

An awning will also prevent water infiltration and dampness in the caravan. 

The bottom line

If you don’t manage to find the leak source in your caravan, you could take the vehicle to a service or motorhome specialist. They would be able to find the source of the leak and repair it.

In some (very) rare cases, the source of the leak can be behind the tank which is a place hard to access. Sometimes the whole thing needs to be taken apart in order to find the source of the leak and fix it.  

In the long term, water can cause significant damage: detachment, buckling, blistering. Mould can also form. That’s why it’s better to prevent water leaks by regularly maintaining and cleaning your caravan. 

If you have any comments or questions on the content, please let us know.

FAQ on How do I find a leak in my caravan?

How do you know if you have a water leak?

Some of the signs that there may be a leak are:

  • A hot spot on the ground.
  • A water heater that does not turn off.
  • Sound of running water when accessories, such as the toilet, are not being used.
  • Water from a point under the wall.
  • Hot water from a cold water tap.

How do you fix a water meter?

To fix a water meter, you just have to remove the meter by unscrewing the inlet and outlet fittings and turn it over and then screw the fittings back in, in this way the blade mechanism of the meter will begin to rotate in the opposite direction causing the decrease in the recorded cubic meters

How to detect a water leak in the wall?

Some of the signs that there is water leaking the wall are: feeling a hot area on the floor, listening to the sound of water passing through the bathroom or kitchen accessories, seeing areas of water on the floor, noticing large damp stains on the wall, notice that water comes out of the cold water tap. 


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