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Old 01-09-2021, 08:34 PM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: California
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Default Hidden leaks/sour smells - How far to look?

Has anyone with an older Roadtrek experienced a leak from the fantastic fan that wasn't obvious and accumulated behind the vinyl ceiling? Just curious. Or has anybody else had an unexplained sour odor that turned out to be a hidden leak from - say - the kitchen window (ours is fixed and you can't see if there is a leak without doing a lot of tear out)? I'm trying to figure out how much tear-out to do to hunt down a sour odor that I know isn't the grey tank or the black tank. I'm not finding any wet spots anywhere that I can see. Who knows - maybe it's the occasional spicy stuff we like to cook in the evening that's finally built up to critical levels. Any deodorizing tips are much appreciated, especially wood treatments. Thanks Forum!!

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Old 01-10-2021, 03:50 PM   #2
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Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: PHX, AZ
Posts: 1,716

after being caught "tornado adjacent" and water POURING in the top of our pleasure way....

I scraped/ removed everything and resealed.

the antenna crank may have been an issue.

easiest was to remove vent/fan and standing on stool in van was able to reach almost every one of the penetrations -preferable to standing on ladder outside and constantly reposition myself and ladder.

2 day project

also resealed gap at top to van, I found some areas there which were weak


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Old 01-10-2021, 04:18 PM   #3
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 4,301

Yes, periodically checking your roof for leaks is a very good idea.

In Sprinters, roof leaks often end up flowing onto the front overhead lighting console, just over the windshield. This is NOT just a light--it contains a $400 electronics module which very commonly fails due to repeated moisture exposure. Happened to me recently as the result of a leak in the TV antenna penetration.

The best thing to do is to periodically get out the ladder and a water hose and check each penetration for leaks. Under high pressure, they are usually quite obvious.

BTW: another possible source of a strange smell is a dead rodent.
Formerly: 2005 Airstream Interstate (Sprinter 2500 T1N)
Now!: 2014 Great West Vans Legend SE (Sprinter 3500 NCV3 I4)
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Old 01-11-2021, 12:10 AM   #4
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Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: Ontario
Posts: 83

You have to service the caulking for all of the roof penetrations every couple years. If your Roadtrek has the roof windows with the rubber frames around them those are a nightmare.
The servicing is basically pulling it all off from the roof vent, removing the screws, recaulking the screws, and recaulking the vent.
I like to use LePage Quad calking in Canada but I'm not sure what is available in the US.
It is nice and stretchy plus it adheres well. Do not use silicone as it's pretty much junk.

There is also RV specific sealants that you can pour over the vent seams but I've never used them.
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Old 01-15-2021, 07:46 AM   #5
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Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: British Columbia
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There are extremely accurate moisture sensors that the check moisture without using a puncture probe. They were to be quite expensive to buy but RV dealers in Europe and New Zealand have them. I have never checked in North America.
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