Most modern RVs have fiberglass siding because it is lightweight yet durable. Unfortunately, even a durable material isn't immune from damage. The following guide can help you prevent some damage, while also giving you the tools to locate damaged siding early so you can get it repaired.
Common Causes of Damage
While exterior trauma, such as backing into a pole or getting hit by a rock, is a major source of damage, there is also a hidden source. Fiberglass RV siding is made from layers of fiberglass that is fused to an insulation layer and finally to interior plywood with the help of special adhesives. This means that bubbles can sometimes form, causing the layers to separate in a process called delamination. Delamination may show up as a wavy area or bubble on the siding, or you may see cracks begin to form.
So what causes delamination? Moisture is the main culprit. Somehow moisture gets into the plywood inner sheathing, and from there into the insulation. This moisture then weakens the adhesives.
Plan for Regular Inspections
Your goal is to hopefully catch delamination early before it affects the entire RV. You can do this by inspecting the RV siding regularly. When you are on the road, perform an inspection each time you fill up the gas tank. Monthly inspections are probably sufficient when parked.
You are looking for signs of damage. First, site down the sides of the RV and make sure the panels aren't wavy or bubbling. Next, check stress points for cracking. These points are typically near the corners of windows or doorways. Finally, make sure no holes or other road damage has occurred. This includes checking to make sure no caulk has come loose, since this can allow moisture into the siding.
Act Quickly If You Find Damage
Small cracks and holes, along with loose caulk, needs a quick repair so moisture doesn't get into the walls. You can remove any old caulk and then apply new caulk to the area. Caulk or a siding patch can also be used for road damage cracks and holes.
If bubbling or delamination cracks are appearing, take the RV to a repair center. There are two fix options. The first means removing the damaged panel, replacing the plywood, and then replacing the fiberglass. This repair is visible, but it is also inexpensive. The more costly yet better look and more durable option is to have the siding completely removed and replaced with new siding.
For RV repair, contact a company such as Auto-Truck Services Inc.