~ Water Damage ~

A Visual Portrait of How Badly a Poorly Maintained RV Can Rot Out

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"The biggest failure is not failing, but rather failing to try"

Are you ready to embark on a journey of rot, unbelievable water damage and a hopeless mess ? Let's go!!!

Let's go for a walk on the roof before we get into the floor and other innards.... On second thoughts, better not, you'll fall through just like the last sparrow that tried. Browse the pics instead...

Click on Images to Enlarge

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After spending a crazy number of hours getting things apart enough to open it up, the first thing that struck me was the insulation, or lack thereof.... Look at this! This is the front of the trailer. A very thin layer of so-called insulation rolled out over top of the framing and that's it. This has the insulative value of a mouldy old sock! I bet it is no more than R 1/2... I can't believe how cheap these guys were in building this thing. Sure hope they improved as the years went by.

For inquiring minds that want to know, the metal roof is profiled galvanized sheets that are lock seamed together to make a roll out of it. Note in the first pic how poorly they designed it. A piece of flashing, a thin layer of sealant and the roof was stapled down to a board you can't see under the flashing. Then they had a curved plastic cap screwed down over the top of it with butyl tape in between. And to make matters worse, the roof was flat, no slope. There was, however, 2 - 3/4" high strips running down the center.

The underbelly skin is made from the same thing as the roof.

General Coach severely missed the mark on this design...

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Rotten RV Roof 151-5105

Opening the Rotten Roof:

This is the back of the trailer. Once I sneezed and blew the flimsy insulation away, it became very evident that major deterioration has taken its toll on the roof. I can never give this a simple fix - it is too far gone for that. Look at the ceiling panels, they are saturated and hopelessly delaminated.

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Back of Trailer:

Insulation? What a joke this is. Have a look at the ceiling paneling, all blackened and rotten. Note the rows of black holes. That used to be fasteners, holding the ceiling panels to the top of the walls

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Ceiling at Rear:

Closer shot of the fasteners. They had rows of staples from the ceiling panels down into the tops of the cabinets and partition framing. All were hopelessly rotted out.

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Lifting the Roof:

After the painstaking process of removing rusty screws, the roof is lifted up onto blocks. This enabled access for removing partitions and cabinets.

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Ceiling Towards the Back:

Another closeup of the ceiling showing the badly rotted panels and rusted out staples. This area is just forward of the bathroom.

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Front of trailer:

More of the same thing - Roof is rotted out from front to back. The notch in the rafters is where they had a lateral 1X2 to staple the roof down to.

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Curbside - Middle:

No part of the roof escaped the water entry. It leaked everywhere. I'm going to have to rebuild the entire thing.

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More Rotten Roof:

The ceiling panels were mush. Didn't take a whole lot of effort to just push them off the rafters.  I could easily poke a finger right through the ceiling here.

Poor Design:

What a horrible design by General Coach. The roof is completely flat, and the corner trim pieces were screwed down on top of the galvanized roof. This whole thing was doomed from the day it left the factory. The failure design allowed for water to flow in everywhere.

Egads, what have I gotten myself into?

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Back of Trailer:

Water has been pouring in here for a very long time, and running down the back wall. See the ceiling panel delamination at the back. Nothing left of it...

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Roof Lifted Up Onto Blocks:

Took a long time to get all the screws out all around in order to disconnect the roof from the walls. I ran a few screws back in to hold it together for the work.

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A/C Opening:

The A/C unit was the only thing stopping the ceiling from caving right in here. Once I removed it, the panel just drooped down. Only the vinyl coating holds it up.

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Main Living Area:

A/C area from the other way. If there was no vinyl coating on the roof panels, the entire thing would be on the floor. Panels were soaked inside.

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Ceiling Panel Removal:

Now that the roof is completely detached from the walls and cabinets, the process begins of removing the mushy ceiling. I started at the front and worked back. I always left some of the roof attached for stability. I would change that as I went along. One way of airing it out!

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On to the Inside Now:

Well, that was certainly a pile of work! Sure glad to get off the roof and into the inside now. Wearing all that rotten paneling and debris was getting old. Easier to bend over to take stuff apart.

Alrighty! Are you ready to come for a walk with me through the old pig? Take a deep breath, it smells kinda funky in there.

Let's start with the storage compartment....

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Storage Compartment Area:

Access door opening on the left. A wood panel sits on the framing above to form the bottom of the bathroom linen / storage area.

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Storage Compartment Area:

Viewed from the outside, and as in the other 2 pics, there is nothing left of the floor here. I used a carpenters bar to easily flip the lino and floor up. Nothing left of the wall at the end of the compartment either. This mess isn't even good for kindling...

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Storage Compartment Area:

Pipe coming out of the wall is the bathroom sink drain. You can see where I cut the grey tank vent pipe off.

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Wall Above Storage Door:

Ugh! Disgusting mess in here.

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Hornets in Wall:

Gross mess from hundreds of dead hornet inside the wall. This was the only place I found bugs in the whole trailer, which was surprising considering how soaking wet the entire unit was.

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Hornets in Wall:

Note the hole in the top left of the wall. Hornets got in and build a nest inside. They never covered the hole. Looks like there used to be an antenna or something there.

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Wall Area of Storage :

I removed the partition wall to get at the inside here. This wall is also the face of the linen cabinet. Once I grabbed a handful of wall it just crumbled to little shards

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Storage Compartment:

Wide open after totally removing the wall, shelves and everything of the linen and storage area accessible from the bathroom. The sink and vanity is still there, for now....

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Overall View:

Stepped back a ways for this.

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Storage and Bathroom Floor:

I ran a sawcut by the toilet and out, then across to the outside wall. The floor was mush, it took little effort to pull it up.

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Bathroom Floor and Storage:

Water leaking down the walls has sure taken its toll here. Should have stopped here and hauled it to the dump....

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Storage and Bathroom:

Same as previous picture from a pace back further.

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Top of Storage Area Wall:

Well, this section is toast too.

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Opposite back corner:

This is the other rear corner, directly above the bathtub. Marginally better condition that the other side, but not by much. Still going to have to do a bunch of surgery in here.

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Bottom Corner of Bathroom:

Looks pretty sorry in here too.

Pause for Some Notes:

A lot of the focus here has been on the mess and rot found after removing numerous cabinets, sub walls and such. I have not detailed any of the actual process it took to get all this stuff out of the way. So let me offer a brief explanation:

Different manufacturers have differing build methods. Here is what I found in this unit. Anything that was against an outside wall was screwed in place from the outside prior to putting the siding on. And further to that, anything touching the ceiling was screwed in from above prior to putting the roof skin on. This presents a whole set of challenges to get things apart and removed.

In order to remove the furniture, partitions and more, I had to strip the whole outside. This entailed removing all windows, trims, access doors and the entry door. Only then could I gain access to the screw heads. One option is to get a metal blade in a recip saw between the wall and whatever you are removing, and saw through the screws. Very difficult to do without damaging the area.

And! Here is another one: At the factory the entire roof goes on last in one piece, lowered on top of the walls with a crane. All the inside walls and partitions are already in place. They are screwed to the floor and to the roof. Good luck getting them out without detaching and jacking up the roof to allow enough wiggle room to get them out of there. When I removed all the interior stuff, I literally removed the entire back wall, jacked up the roof and pulled everything out the back. I re-assembled in the same manner.

Much of what you see here is after removing things like the fridge, stove, hot water tank. That stuff is easy to get out, so I did not document it. If anyone needs to know how to do this, feel free to contact me for help.

If you notice that some of these pictures appear out of order, they are. Some things just suited being pulled from earlier or later in the project, and went well with the pictures they are grouped with.

OK, Lets get back to work now!

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Floor - Midship:

A puzzler here. The floor is basically dry in the middle of the trailer. When I ripped the lino up I found this peculiar stain. The  bed is on the right.

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Front - Street Side:

That cavity at floor level is where the hot water tank was. Floor was soft and spongy so I ripped up a big chunk of it to have a look inside. It too is in pretty rough shape and needs a lot of work.

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Curbside, Behind Door:

This area is under the fridge and clothes storage closet.  The furnace goes on the floor close to the wheel well. Rotten like all the rest of it.

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Substantially Gutted:

I now have most of the inside torn out and stored away inside the garage in preparation for rebuilding the floor. There is not much of it that is intact.

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Rear Wall:

After removing the corner moldings and the bottom piece of siding, it was very evident that the entire back was pretty gruesome in there too.

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Rear Wall:

I pulled the next piece of siding off and the insulation - Yup! It's a goner too. Going to have to rebuild this whole section along with the rest of it.

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Right Rear:

Lovely.. Rot is extensive here. Is there any part of this old heap that isn't rotten?

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Back Corner:

The body is literally sinking down over the frame. Note the blackened wood compressing from the rot.

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Back End:

Well, I do see some dry wood! That's a plus I guess. But it still has to come out to be rebuilt.

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Back Wall:

Well, there's the back wall out, or should I say whats left of it. Look at all that nasty white mold growing - Ugh!

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Back End Rot:

Bathroom on left, storage compartment on the right. Very extensive structural damage is evident here.

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Back End Rot:

Closer shot of whats left of the floor in the storage area. There is nothing left of it - floor joists, everything gone.

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Tub and toilet area:

Think back to the home page. ....and a soft spot on the bathroom floor.... ya right. Soft spot in my brain for fixing it!

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Main Floor Support:

Severely blackened from wet and rot, this main floor joist is mush and really isn't holding up much.

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Main Floor Support:

Right rear, same as last pic from further back. Blackened and rotten all the way along the side.

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Back Corner "Support":

I left this piece of the floor there for now because there is nothing else holding the entire corner from falling down.

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Front Corner:

Let's move around to the front now. The severe window leak shows on the wood, all darkened and soft.

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Hot Water Tank:

After removing the tank, I found this mess, closer shot of the pic on the left. Window leak went unchecked for years.

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Furnace Vent:

Pulled the siding off the bottom and saw the floor here is gone too. Note all the black rotted out wood.

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Furnace Vent:

Same as last pic, but after giving it a shove with my foot. Didn't take much for it to just collapse. More mold....

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Curbside:

Same as last 2 pics, but back further. All that mold - gross. Fridge vent just behind the door.

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Entire Curbside:

This thing is so far gone. Looking back I wonder what possessed me to ever consider fixing it.

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Entry Door Area:

Bottom of the wall doesn't even exist any more. I removed it with a broom. And again, more mold.

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Streetside:

Shore power opening. Floor was done when I took this pic. Bottom of wall is rather rough. Not bad, but not great.

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Fridge and Furnace Area:

Once I got the fridge, its cabinet, the clothes closet and furnace out here is what I found. Again, all rotten

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Furnace area:

One would think that the heat from the furnace would keep this area dry. Not so. And the only area with white fungus.

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Front Streetside:

Close to hot water tank. After pulling the cabinets out and removing wood, all rotten here too.

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Front Corner Inside:

Remember up a few rows the bad stain on the outside corner? This is the inside of the same one after one whack.

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Front Corner:

Same as last pic from back further. That thing on the front is a junction point for a bunch of 12V electrical connections.

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Wall Rot:

This was taken after the floor was done when I started pulling the walls apart. All that white mold, very disgusting.

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Front Corner Closeups:

Once I pulled up the rotten plywood, again, the floor is very badly compromised here. There is more rotten wood in this whole trailer than there is good.

Definitely should have scrapped it before I ever got this far. But if I did that I wouldn't have a subject for this website!

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Well, there you go for a visual ride of one of the worst cases of RV water damage I have ever seen. Pretty nasty stuff! I can't believe anyone could let something go this far before selling it to some poor sucker.... Oh wait! That's me!!

OK, Where shall I take you next? Now it's time to get into some of the good stuff, the rebuild!

Next up, we will get into the floor repair, the beginning of a total transformation of "This Old Heap"