Slide out Leaks

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Fixing Slide Out Leaks

A couple days back, a thunder storm rolled through, with that storm came rain, and more rain, about an inch in 15 minutes. Normally a good thunderstorm with rain is quite enjoyable, but this time, not so much. The rain poured into the front room of the RV, just like it did a year ago, in Lancaster Pennsylvania, this time however it was more worrisome as we do not plan to head south this winter. We are wintering in Western Oregon, the rain capital of the USA. So how do you fix a leaky slide? Why do slides leak? I had no idea, so I did hundreds of searches on Google and came up empty handed! Athena being the smart one of the two got the garden hose out and found the source of the leak, the rubber gaskets did not flip as intended. If we manually reached in and flipped the rubber seals (Which were perfectly pliable and not weathered) the leak vanished. We were perplexed as to what to do. I went hunting for an answer.

Here is the problem, hard to see I know, but if you look hard, you will see the gasket is twisting toward the bottom of the image here. If the gasket bends inward, water goes in, and if it bends outward, the water is guided out.

This is the bottom corner of the slide when things are going well, but notice the seals do not completely touch the slide out box. So it is time to seek advice.

I first seek the council of the great wise Sarah. Her Great answer is “What do I look like? A sun goddess or something? Lets play air hockey, the club house is nice.”

I then asked the wooden lady, but she was unresponsive

So, I decided to play a game with Sarah and Gave up on the quest for the night. The next day we went to look at some RV’s at Camping World, just in case we may want to upgrade to an older large diesel.While wondering around looking at the RV’s I began noticing that all their rigs have a drip rail coming out from behind the slide seal and running at least half way across the side of the slide. This was something to make a note of, all their rigs had these drip rails and I had never see one before.When we arrived back to our space in Silverspur RV Park in Salem, I walked around and looked at everyone else’s rig, nope, not a single drip rail. It turns out Camping World does not like wet RV’s and they install these on every rig they get in on trade. Hmm… The wheels turn, how do I duplicate this, and is it enough?My dad shows up for our Tuesday coffee time, and he takes a look at my slides. One that rarely ever leaks is different from the others,

1. the seals are facing outward on the whole slide.

2. There is a black rough strip on the slide. That is interesting, I bought the rig new, why is there a black strip on this slide and none of the other two?

After a little deductive reasoning, we determined that the slide had probably leaked at the dealer, they determined the gasket was not flipping when the slide went in and out. They placed the strip of material there to drag the rubber seals into position, and it was working perfectly and does not appear to be harming the rubber seal. We figured out they were using 2″ step tape!

I went shopping! Two Boxes of door jam seal. $10.00 Ended up only needing one box, but this stuff will wear out quickly, so another box around will not hurt. We will cut one side of the seal strip, to make it form a channel that rain water can flow in. After buying this, I needed some sealant, and a few other parts for another project, so we stopped at Wagers Trailer Sales in Salem Oregon. They are some of the nicest people we have run into in the RV field. They told us that they sell Drip rail by the foot, it runs about $3.00 and it would for this project as well. They were a little worried, that their drip rail being a hard plastic product might damage the seals on the slide, and like my idea of using door trim. The downside to my solution, is that the glue is sub standard and the trim may fall off. They advised finding a 3M product. For now I will use what I bought, but I may opt for their drip rail later, it has smooth edges, so it will likely work out real well. For now, we go with the door trim. If you need service and You are in Salem Oregon, go to Wagers Trailer Sales, they will treat you right. They are not the cheapest place in town, but I am convinced they are the best.

The next product, “Out Door Tread” comes in 2″ wide rolls. Took one roll per slide, just doing the two sides. $9.00 a roll, is sure an inexpensive way to fix the slide.

Here you have it, the perfect solution to staying dry. The black strip properly seats the slide seal every time the slide is moved in or out, drip rails in place so as the water runs down the slide, it is moved away before it hits the bottom. If your coach is designed like our the underside of the slide is in the living room. Without these drip rails the water runs down the slide, then in behind the bottom rubber seal, which causes water to go in the coach. This is a bad thing, so here is one idea for curing the problem. Like I said earlier, it is only a big deal now that we are residing in a wet climate.

This crude drawing represents a common slide out. We are interested in the slide frame. The frame is like a picture frame on a wall, only the wall does not exist in the framed area. The slide out slides through the frame into the RV, this is how a nice-looking edge is formed. Keeps you from seeing the cut-out paneling.

Where the outside slide housing frame meets the rigs outside fiberglass wall, is the sneakiest place for water to come in by the gallon. It is also the last place most people look when they have a leaky slide. They do all the things we did, but in the end the slides still leak. Turns out this is the simplest of the fixes to make. The slide in the picture above has a rubber strip covering the slide frame and going up the side of the RV. 90% of the time, sealing the outer edge of this rubber strip will stop water from entering the RV, and all the previous work though helpful, would not be required. The point is, seal the frame of the slide before you look at the condition of the rubber wipe seals. Turns out the slide seals clean debri from the slide, but the water will enter from the edges of the slide box. Most service techs seem to be surprised by this. Test it for yourself, bad seal on the outer rim of the slide box will dump water in your rig. Win this battle, and you have solved 90 percent of slide leaks. The frame is sealed in with silicone sealant with a very short useful life compared to the other seal. Two of my RV’s have been worked on at length by dealers fixing everything except the silicone sealant around the slide frame, this cost me thousands in labor to no avail. I learned about the slide frame from a dealer who was performing warranty work for me. We sealed the frame, and we have been dry for over a year.

What we also learned from this, is there are thousands of RV’s that have seals wearing out, typically just the silicone seals where parts of the rig meet. They should be checked and resealed as necessary, usually at the bi-annual washing. Problem is many of us can’t get on ladders to do this. Read up on sealing of rigs and washing of rigs, (get a book on each roof type “TPO” EPDM rubber” and “Fiberglass” they all have different requirements), there is lots of work to be had doing this. One can make good money never leaving the park. Look into liability insurance in case of accidents. Sign “I will wash wax and seal your rig $300.” You will probably be busy until death!

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