RV Air Conditioners Leaks When It Rains

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Traveling and touring become even more enjoyable when you have a nice cool space for yourself while on the road – a place where you could keep all your stuff and spend the night. Yes, it’s an RV and it’s never complete without a mandatory air conditioning unit.

Not only do they provide a cool indoor atmosphere in summer, RV AC units are quite handy in winter as well. Over the years, these appliances have gone extra smart and have been equipped with the latest technologies.

However, there is one common complaint that keeps rolling in now and then: RV Air conditioners leak when it rains. Every now and then this leakage issue arises and even makers can’t seem to provide a 100% satisfactory solution for this.

Well, it is undoubtedly one heck of an issue where many seek a standard solution. But situations are different. Here, I am going to talk about this issue in detail.

RV Air Conditioners Leak When it Rains

AC leakage in an RV is more critical than those occurring at homes. While there is usually an attic in the homes where you can detect the cause of the leakage, RV Air Conditioners don’t have any attics. The leakage affects the RV directly.

The problem lies in the fact that if the leakage problem is not treated timely, it can cause damage to the RV interior. Not tending to the issue can cost you a couple of hundred bucks. Sounds heavy, no?

If you’re one of the suffering lot, we’ll tell you the root cause of the leakage problem and tell you how to solve it.

Here are a couple of reasons to blame the leakage on. Keep a regular check on these items.

  • Are the AC mounting bolts too tight?

As soon as you start witnessing leakage in your RV AC unit, the first thing you should check are the AC mounting bolts.

When you install AC units on the roofs of your RV, they are usually embedded in a rubber gasket. The AC unit is sealed to the roof using three to four mounting bolts. These bolts require proper and regular maintenance.

In case of a leakage, you may test that the rubber gasket is not tightened to the RV roof by at least half an inch.

Second, you should take out your RV’s AC grill and test the tightness of the mounting bolts. They should be tightly fixed in place. Next, you should slowly turn these bolts to see how hard they can turn.

However, be careful while doing this! Please be sure not to seal (caulk or Bondo)the periphery of the AC completely. Did you know that this is where most of the leakage problem starts?

You should leave a gap between the base of the AC unit and the RV rooftop, to leave space for draining the condensed water from the AC.

Sealing the AC tightly only means that you leave no space for the condensation. In return, the water finds its way down into your RV.

  • The Old Rubber Gasket

You let go of the regular maintenance checkups, you invite trouble for yourself. It’s as simple as that.

Rubber gaskets become hard and brittle with time; hence they stop providing proper sealing for the AC unit. They are designed with a service life of a couple of years. Hence, keep an eye on the condition of your RV AC gasket, as this is where most of the leakage starts.

In case the rubber gasket has turned old and failed to become useful, you should replace it. This requires removing the AC unit from the RV roof before putting in the new gasket in place.

Were you considering it to do it yourself? Well, it’s a hard nut to crack. You should hire an RV Air conditioner technician to do the job for you. Your job is to keep a vigilant eye on the condition of the gasket.

  • Cracked up caulking

Not every time is the rubber gasket to be blamed. Sometimes the problem is where we usually tend to skip.

Any water that flows under your RV roof runs across the RV interior and passes through your AC hole/vent as quickly as it can.  If it doesn’t drip from the roof, it runs along the corners and sidewalls of the RV unit.

While many people think that it is their AC that is the culprit, the real situation is otherwise. Conduct a thorough inspection of the entire roof, walls, and other components installed on the RV.

In such cases, it turns out that the caulking around the Rv roof has begun to crack. This is how the rainwater seeps inside the RV Units, and leakage starts.

Once you have established that it is the cracky caulking causing the leakage, fix it immediately. Be mindful not to leave even the smallest crack.

  • Sagging Roof

Keep a check if the leakage occurs when it rains or when the RV  AC works. This is how you could spot the primary cause of leakage in your RV. If the leakage occurs on both occasions, when it rains, or when the AC runs even with a tight gasket in place, the problem is in the RV roof.

The roof directly under the AC vent may be affected, and it may sag. This leads to water puddling up in the AC unit. Cannot spot the sag in the roof? There is a smart way you can.

Pull a lengthy piece of string or thread along the roof of the Rv, from side to side. This way, you could easily spot if the roof is sagging.

This fault could be rectified by raising the AC unit to stop sagging. You could do this by placing a couple of gaskets, let’s say two of them, underneath the AC.

Or you could remove the AC unit and place shimming between the roof frame and the roof.

This is how you can do it. Build up 1/4 “plywood strips until the air conditioner is high enough to keep water from flowing in. Obviously, the roof sag could be indicative of a bigger problem, but more often, it’s just the age of your RV.

  • Clogged up AC vents/holes

If the leak occurs only when the AC runs, you can check all of the above possibilities. If everything goes fine,  possibly the AC drain hole is clogged up, or the evaporator has become really dirty, which prevents the water from draining properly.

This is a widespread problem and one that occurs in almost every household. You could clean the ducts by simply removing the outer covering or the plastic shroud of your AC unit.

Remove the evaporator sheet and reach for the drain-pan to clean it. This could be done regularly to prevent the ducts and vents from getting plugged up.

Take Precautionary Measures

So you’ve made a note to keep a check on all of the above in your RV AC Unit. And now, you are wondering when the next leakage problem might start.

Precaution is better than cure. There are a couple of measures you can take to prevent any leakage from happening again.

Firstly, make it a point to have your RV AC unit inspected by an expert AC technician at least once a year. You can do this before the summer arrives or in the “non-peak” seasons.

What you might possibly ignore, the specialist will identify in a matter of moments. He will take care to have a good look at all the AC components, gasket, and problematic areas.

Secondly, check the roof of your RV on a regular basis; let’s say monthly. Most of the leakage problems that arise are not in the AC component but in the roof itself. Inspect the caulking closely and nip the leakage problem in the bud.

How can You Inspect Your RV Roof

It is better that you inspect the roof entirely, check all the seams, rather than checking only the vents, walls, and the AC. The leakage source could be anywhere, and you don’t want to make it any worse for you, right?

Look for any soft spots or discolorations in the roof. Soft spots and discoloration is a clear indicator of moisture presence. There might be some leakage that has caused this.

Check for any wrinkles or cracks in the interior wallpapers. This is another indication of seepage.

Don’t limit the inspection for the RV interior. Conduct a thorough checkup on the exterior compartments and storage trunks.

Final Word

I know how annoying it can get if your RV Air Conditioner unit leaks when it rains. It spoils the fun of setting about for a perfect road trip or a camping plan.

Even worse, there is the fear of your RV interior being destroyed by the water. Who can afford a costly deterioration after all?

My final advice to you would be to keep a regular eye on the condition of your RV Air Conditioner. If leakage finds a way into your RV, you follow the checkup outline to find the exact culprit of leakage.