Under Pressure - RV Enthusiast Magazine

Under Pressure

by | Aug 25, 2023 | Pro Tip, RVEXPERT

Creating nominal positive pressure inside your RV can reveal all of its possible weak spots where water incursion can lead to expensive repairs.
Since this week’s newsletter carries a tip on locating and eliminating an LP-gas leak, we thought we’d also revisit the best way we know of for locating potential water leak points for your RV itself.

The value of knowing this can’t be overstated. It can be argued that an RV’s greatest enemy is water. RV owners are always deeply disappointed and surprised when they’re told by a service provider that the damage they’re seeing is from a leak, which is not covered by warranty or insurance, and will cost thousands of dollars to repair.

Just about all RV manufacturers limit their liability when it comes to leak damage. Some RVs even have stickers reminding the owner that the roof and body seals must be inspected and maintained at least every few months.

However, if climbing atop the roof of your RV and examining virtually every square inch for possible water incursion is not how you want to spend an afternoon, one of the easiest ways to find leaks in an RV is with a Sealtech 430-AL leak-testing unit. The compact system pressurizes the interior of the RV body and, with the use of a soapy solution sprayed on the exterior, creates bubbles where air is escaping from the RV. It’s a simple but effective system, which draws outside air into the RV through the roof vent, where it’s then dispersed to create nominal positive interior pressure. The Sealtech product (which pulls just 4.9 amps during operation) is designed to create the right pressure for locating leaks without building too much pressure (which can force air through seams that might not otherwise leak).
the Sealtech system components lay on a table beside a parked RV
The Sealtech system features a patented fan unit with pressure gauge, plenum and roof vent attachments. The technician will use a sprayer with a mixture of Dawn dishwashing soap and water to spray around potential incursion points, documenting any leaks found by taking photos with a smartphone. You can then either reseal the suspect leak sites yourself or consult with your service provider.
the Sealtech unit set up under a 14 x 14-inch roof vent in an RV bathroom
The Sealtech unit is usually set up under a 14 x 14-inch roof vent. It brings in outside air to pressurize the RV body.

Meanwhile, a technician sprays a soapy solution around all potential leak points, from roof-mounted components to windows and even taillight assemblies, while looking for tell-tale bubbles caused by leaking air foaming around the solution.

close view of an external reflector on an RV covered with soapy solution with bubbles forming along the top and side
Once sprayed, the bubbles show where air is escaping, indicating a possible leak. Not all bubbles will be a leak in need of repair — and don’t be surprised to see bubbles in places you might not expect. This marker light might be a concern and should be looked at more closely, although the air may be passing inside the fixture from the lamp base and/or wiring run, which may not be a cause for worry.
While no RV is airtight, your service provider can make a judgement call as to the extent of the leak and whether it will lead to damage — or if repairs are needed. Either way, keeping your RV sealed up is essential for a long and healthy service life. Depending upon the size of the RV, the process takes only 1-2 hours and will cost $200-$400. Go to rvleaks.com to find a Sealtech testing location nearest to you (or during your journey).
Sealtech testing facilities location map
This map shows the locations of Sealtech testing facilities; red indicates a testing site while blue denotes a mobile leak-testing unit. You can probably locate a test site during your travels. If you and your friends want to pool your money and purchase the Sealtech 430-AL, it will set you back $4,695 — though you could probably make it pay for itself by testing neighboring RVs at the local campground.
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