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technomadia

Leak around the Vent Fan

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Ever since we picked up our Oliver back July 2008, we've had a leak around the vent fan. It's had several attempts at being fixed. Unfortunately, we've been in mostly desert climates with little rain to test the fixes out. Once at the factory when it was discovered during our shake down camp out (thank goodness for a rainstorm!). And then back in the fall we tried resealing around the fan ourselves, and months later when we had rain again discovered it was still leaking. So Oliver arranged for us to take it into a RV repair shop in the San Francisco area to be resealed 'professionally'.

 

We just hit our first rain today now that we're in Austin.. and it's leaking worse than ever before.

 

 

Considering the vent fan has been resealed on multiple occasions, I'm finding it difficult to believe that there's anything left unsealed up there. Could it be possible something else is leaking and it's just coming in that way? Could it be a leak in the fan contraption itself, and not the seal around the fan?

 

Anyone else having/had leak problems? Any suggestions or advice?

 

 

This has become beyond ridiculous, and I'm tired of having to be trapped inside my house when we're at a place day and night during rain storms to prevent the place from being flooded. We have to mount towels held on by suction cup clips around the fan. (We're also of course working with Oliver to diagnosis this.. but thought we'd ask other Oliver owners too).

 

And.. of course.. we have Dell (the computer company) planning to come over this week to photograph our technomadic home for an upcoming article on their DigitalNomads.com site they host to profile us and the Oliver! How great will it be to have them see it leaking all over their heads when they visit?

 

Not the happiest of campers,

- Cherie

 

 

Ps. GREAT! Now the leak is working its way around the shell and into our electronics bin!! GRRRRRRRRR

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Cherie,

 

Could you describe exactly where the water is appearing inside your trailer? For example, is it coming through the inner edges or the outer edges of the fan housing? Another useful bit of information would be to know how much rain leaks in: is it enough to suggest a large opening with a steady flow, or is it a slow drip. Please forgive me if I am going over territory that you and Chris have already considered, but is there any other hole (in addition to that for the fan/vent) through the exterior shell of the trailer--such as the mounts for the solar panels--that would be a little higher on the shell and, therefore, provide a path for water to flow and then drip to the interior shell where it could come through the fan? What about the air conditioner?

 

I would tend to agree with you that with all the work that has been done to seal the fan, the problem probably lies elsewhere and the water is just finding its way to fan to come through.

 

We have not had a leak that we identified as coming from the fan/vent, but we have had water appear in the bottom of the closet, and we cannot figure out where that came from. Seems like it may have come under the interior wall of the closet from an area at the front that we cannot access. Anybody got any ideas on that?

 

Steve

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Thanks for the reply Steve.. I'm curious as well as to if there's any other small holes up there on the roof. Unfortunately, we're currently without a way to get on top and look at it. The folks at Oliver have a local RV shop calling us in the morning to see if they can help us diagnosis it and possibly fix it. For now, we have a tarp pulled over top to help prevent further leaking in that area, if that's where it's coming from.

 

The water is actually coming from the plastic frame of the fan and either overflows the frame and/or comes through the screw holes that hold the fan in place. It's coming in on the streetside (not door side) side, front and back (which may just be because of our leveling.. but it's been consistently on that side). It's somewhere between a slow drip and steady trickle, depending upon the rain flow. It's enough that during a day long of rain, we can easily soak 2 or 3 hand towels in a day. Today it got heavy enough that it started coming in upper cabinet in front of the stripper.. err.. chrome pole.

 

Oliver suspects that it might the sealant used.. that it's drying and cracking, and causing the leaks. But they'll help a RV dealer do a series of tests to isolate where it's actually coming from. (We may wait until we get to St. Louis next week to work with a shop we know and trust.)

 

 

We've not experienced water in the closet.. but it seems that water will flow somewhere, and it's not always obvious. Is is possible it's condensation?

 

- Cherie

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Glad you guys are working towards a solution. There is nothing more exasperating than not having a possible solution looming on the horizon, that you are working towards. I have a kind of hopeless feeling when I find myself in that predicament.

I have heard it said on other forums ( he, he, now, you know what that's worth ) that there is only one caulking available that won't ever leak. It has been some time now, and I can't remember what the name brand was. Can that really be possible ? You know, with the constant heating and cooling, expansion and contraction, air pressure changes, ect..

Hope you have a solution soon !

Say, I just thought, when in St. Louis, the President of the ORCC, Off Road Camping Club, Alan Young, lives there and he has lots of RV contacts in the area. I have his cell number if you want it.


I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth 08' Oliver Legacy Elite HULL NUMBER 0003(sold)

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Just an update...

 

We managed to find a way to put a tarp on top of the roof for last night's storms, and that has kept the rain outside where it belongs for now, so we got to sleep last night. We've not yet heard from the Austin RV Repair place that Jake called in for us last night.. but we are leaning towards contacting our RV guy in St. Louis and just planning for that. We were planning to stay at Chris' folks guest room anyway, so being out of our house for a night or two won't be as traumatic as it would be here in Austin.

 

Thanks Mountainborn.. if for any reason our guy can't help us out, we'll definitely be in touch for recommendations in the area.

 

If anyone thinks of anything else that might be a culprit .. please do keep the comments coming. :)

 

- Cherie

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Cherie,

 

I just went out and studied the fan/vent in our trailer. I'll suggest one more possibility for your leak problem: perhaps the plastic cover over the vent is cracked. I can see that if ours were cracked in a particular area, water could leak down and come in along the frame and through the screw holes, as you describe.

 

Good luck getting this fixed!

 

Steve

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One rule I have found to work with leaks is if I have spent the amount of time on one possible source to no positive conclusion, then that is not likely the source of the leak. It sounds like the vent has been studied to the limit that you may be able to eliminate it. If there are not cracks in the cover and the sealant has be reapplied and there are not obvious extra holes or cracks in the vent frame, then I would move onto something else.

 

In the case of the Oliver the only other thing at that roof hieght is the A/C. I think your solar panel mounts are lower on the roof and since water can't travel against gravity very far they probably are not the problem. We did have trouble with leakage around the A/C. Water came through the interior A/C cover onto the bed, but maybe yours is running along the inside of the upper shell until it encounters the vent fan.

 

If the RV dealer that is going to look at this suspects the A/C make sure they are in close contact with Oliver. You can't just crank down on the A/C more, it will require something to back up the inner and outer shells, other wise the fiberglass or at the least the Gelcoat will be damaged. I posted something on an A/C leak that gives more details.

 

Good luck. Leaks are frustrating but at least the fiberglass make up of the Oliver gives you a chance to fix it without resulting in serious damage to the RV.

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Cherie & Chris,

 

I sympathize with your frustration over this issue. Fortunately, this appears to be an isolated case, unless there are others afraid to speak up. I have not seen any water in my Oliver, even when the entire roof was covered in snow and started to melt sometime in March. But outside of the bath fan and plumbing vent, we don't share any rooftop equipment in common. Any attempt to help you diagnose the problem would be pure speculation, so I'd rather not do that. I'm sure there's nothing I could add that you haven't already considered yourselves.

 

However, if I were in this situation and needed to pinpoint the source of a leak, I would start by performing a hose-stream test over specific areas of the roof. For example, to test the vent fan, I would tarp off areas to either side of the fan (making sure the edge of the tarp or plastic sheeting was watertight with the roof), and then sprinkle water over the roof with a garden hose. Eventually, you should be able to narrow it down to the source of the leak. Perhaps there's a better way, but that's the first thing that comes to mind.

 

As to the comment regarding type of caulk/sealant, I really think just about any sealant should hold up one year. More than likely the sealant is missing or poorly installed in just one small area. With all the goodies on your roof, you probably have a lot more penetrations and therefore opportunities for leaks to exist. Have you already checked the wiring penetration for the solar panels yet?

 

Good luck, and please let us know when you determine the cause.

 

Herm

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Thanks for the advice everyone.. really appreciate it.

 

Unfortunately as we don't have the luxury of a ladder (haven't found one small enough to stow in the Jeep), we've had no way to check out the roof ourselves. Getting the tarp up was a challenge enough with ropes. So, that's one reason to get in somewhere that they're set up to really inspect the roof and work with Oliver to diagnose where it might be coming from.

 

As we already have plans to visit Hohenwald in late May/early June.. if anything drastic needs to be done, we'll likely just take it in to the factory to repair.

 

- Cherie

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