3 Ways Water Can Damage an RV or Motorhome


Imagine investing in an RV or motorhome only to be looking at a potential insurance claim after your first season. Why? Water damage. That’s not a good thing, but it could be made worse if the damage isn’t covered by your insurance. Avoiding all of this is as easy as learning what causes water damage and taking the necessary steps to prevent it.

Some people speak of RV water damage as though it is inevitable. It is not. Motorhomes, fifth wheels, and trailers are not purposely designed to have water problems. In fact, they are designed to withstand normal amounts of water. Still, it is up to RV owners to know what they can do to prevent damage in the event things can go wrong.

There are essentially three ways water can damage an RV or motorhome according to AirSkirts, a Connecticut company that specializes in inflatable RV skirting. Here they are:

1. Routine Condensation

Condensation can occur inside a motorhome whenever the internal and external temperatures vary significantly. It is no different than condensation forming on the windshield of your car. Unfortunately, routine condensation can damage the interior of an RV if it happens frequently enough. Condensation can be caused by a number of things:

  • Cooking
  • Showering or bathing
  • Leaving windows uncovered.

The best way to fight condensation is to make proper use of ventilation at appropriate times. Of course, that means ensuring that your ventilation systems are working properly. Assuming they are, turn on the vent fan when you are showering. Turn on the hood when you are cooking. The minute you see any condensation forming, open some vents.

2. Water Seepage

Water damage can be caused by seepage around ventilation, windows, and doors. This type of damage is problematic because it often cannot be seen until it is quite extensive. For this reason alone, having your motorhome undergo an annual inspection is a great idea. An experienced technician can check for signs of seepage or excess moisture.

Preventing seepage is usually a matter of making sure all access points are properly sealed with a waterproof caulk. This includes windows, doors, vents, AC units, etc.

3. Burst Pipes

Finally, burst pipes cause all sorts of water damage. They speak for themselves. Unfortunately, most RVs – particularly fifth wheels and trailers – are not built with extra protection for the plumbing. It is just assumed by manufacturers that owners will either not use their units in cold weather or, if they do, take extra steps to protect the plumbing.

The big problem in cold temperatures is frozen pipes. When water freezes, it expands. That’s why frozen pipes have a tendency to burst. How do you prevent burst pipes in cold weather? RV skirting.

RV skirting that creates an airtight seal around the unit does a couple of things. First, it prevents cold air from circulating underneath the rig. Second, it creates an insulating layer that allows the air under the RV to stay warmer than ambient air. This combination can help prevent frozen pipes. Insulating pipes and installing a floor heater also help.

Protect Your Rig

In closing, understand that RV insurance policies with water damage coverage only offer limited protection against such damage. Very few policies cover burst pipes, so do not expect that when you buy your insurance.

Your best bet for protecting your rig against water damage is learning how to maintain it. Proper maintenance goes a long way toward keeping your RV or motorhome in like-new condition. The more you take care of it, the less likely you will experience water damage.

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