URGENT - When did you last check the moisture sealing on your caravan?

Submitted: Thursday, Jun 06, 2013 at 15:04
ThreadID: 102618 Views:2711 Replies:7 FollowUps:7
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I recently found some damp spots in my caravan, and decided to take it to a repairer to get it re-sealed. This is re-sealing all the joints, screws that hold the van together - anywhere that water can get in. As it turned out, it was too late, water had been seeping in for what appeared to be a long time, and the front section and some of the rear section of the van was rotten. The repair bill is around $15,000, and because of a number of steps in their assessing procedure, it looks very much as though the insurance company is going to leave me to pick up the bill.

This post is not about criticizing the insurance company, or bleating about poor me. Although I thought I had been diligent in having the caravan serviced, as a newbie, and not knowing any better, I don’t think the topic of sealing the van ever came into the conversation when discussing what needed to be done. My van is 4 1/2 years old, is lived in full time, and has done many miles. Not once did I think that a new van would be a leaker. I certainly never saw any sign of it, but then again, I had no idea what I was looking for.

Many of our community service their own vehicles and caravans to save themselves a few dollars, and in most cases are probably extremely competent in what they do.

But have they CHECKED THE SEALS on their caravans. The insurance company told me that a caravan owner should regularly have the sealing checked every twelve months. Beyond that, there is a fair chance that your claim will not be accepted if you can’t prove that regular inspections or maintenance has been done.

My caravan repairer has told me that they have had another two vans brought into his establishment this week, and that on average they are getting one a week.

So there it is. If you own a caravan, and you haven’t had it checked for sealing in recent times, I suggest you do it. $10-20,000 is a lot of money to find if you don’t.

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Reply By: Member - Berylvt - Thursday, Jun 06, 2013 at 16:44

Thursday, Jun 06, 2013 at 16:44
Thanks for the warning!
AnswerID: 512648

Reply By: racinrob - Thursday, Jun 06, 2013 at 17:20

Thursday, Jun 06, 2013 at 17:20
Winnebago recommend re sealing their motorhome roofs etc every twelve months during the annual servicing.......... I always thought it was overkill !!!

AnswerID: 512651

Follow Up By: Member - Laurie K (WA) - Thursday, Jun 06, 2013 at 19:52

Thursday, Jun 06, 2013 at 19:52
It doesn't hurt to check it. That costs nothing. I didn't, and I'm paying the price. At least Winnebago made the recommendation. Most of us aren't told I feel, and that's the point of my post….. to make people aware.

FollowupID: 791121

Reply By: Axle - Thursday, Jun 06, 2013 at 17:30

Thursday, Jun 06, 2013 at 17:30
Good Advice Laurie,..Sorry hear your problem, But unfortunatley in the last decade there's been some pretty shoddy work going on in the caravan industry.Ihad a 8yr old windsor that turned into a sieve, after plenty of attention!, Their been around for yrs, But will never have another while my bum points to the ground. If you Get on the Forums there's been some problems with many different makes, There's no regulation in regard to the construction of the things,Its open slather!!...Hope things work out.

Cheers Axle.
AnswerID: 512652

Reply By: Ian & Sue - Thursday, Jun 06, 2013 at 19:14

Thursday, Jun 06, 2013 at 19:14
Sorry to read about your leak and the problems and cost it has cause. Sometimes you just can't win though. Our caravan has had the go over with sealer etc and we still had a leak, it has taken a long time to find it and we only found it by my husband being outside with a hose going spot to spot. It actually leaks through a join in the cladding where the seam is folded over to the next sheet it has a slight buckle. We went though a very long process of taking bits off and resealing and even removed a window and resealed before we found the final site. A leak can be so frustrating and cause so much damage and shouldn't happen on any new van but we did think that as ours was over $100K it might be better built.

AnswerID: 512659

Follow Up By: Member - Laurie K (WA) - Thursday, Jun 06, 2013 at 20:03

Thursday, Jun 06, 2013 at 20:03
We can blame the build, but vans do flex and if we take them off road, it must have some effect in helping to break a seal if you think about it logically. My van cost $95K, and it has done some rough roads (with much care I might add). I have no complaints about the general build quality, but I should have been more diligent and aware of the leakage potential.

FollowupID: 791124

Follow Up By: Ian & Sue - Thursday, Jun 06, 2013 at 21:45

Thursday, Jun 06, 2013 at 21:45
I would have agreed with you Laurie regarding if our van had been off road but in our case it leaked long before it got off of the bitumen. Still all fixed now and we are enjoying the rain at last.
FollowupID: 791136

Follow Up By: Member - Laurie K (WA) - Thursday, Jun 06, 2013 at 23:51

Thursday, Jun 06, 2013 at 23:51
I have no idea whether mine started before the rough roads or not, but was a comment in general. I have drawers that open on some of our bitumen roads, but stay shut off road. The van still flexes. That was my point, rather badly put I guess. :-)

FollowupID: 791147

Reply By: Member - Wamuranman - Thursday, Jun 06, 2013 at 20:21

Thursday, Jun 06, 2013 at 20:21
Hi Laurie,

This is an interesting thread and I am trying to get my head around it all.
When you say "and the front section and some of the rear section of the van was rotten." are you referring to the inside lining or the frame (was it a timber frame?).
My point is I am not sure how effective an inspection would be if there was a subtle leak somewhere eg. on roof panels.
Moisture could be leaking somwhere and running down inside the lining and the damp spot may be nowehere near the actual leak. I guess to re-seal everything every year should cover it but in reality not too many probably would do that and even a re-seal may miss a difficult section somewhere.
AnswerID: 512663

Follow Up By: Member - Laurie K (WA) - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 09:52

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 09:52
Hi there Wamuranman

The timber frame inside the front and right rear sections of the van have rotted. Nomadic Navara has posted a link in his comments (below this one) which graphically illustrate the damage that can occur. The assessor and the caravan repairer both noted leak trails inside the cupboards as well as above the bedhead, that were dark in colour. This indicated to them, that the leak had been happening for sometime, and the dark colour was the tint from the rotten wood. Inside the boot of the van, if you place your hand around beside the lid and feel the walls is another indicator if the skin crumbles under your hand. My repairer told me on the phone what to look for, and I still didn't find it until he pointed it out.
My point is that an experienced caravan repairer will soon find and show you any telltale signs of a problem, and can soon tell you where the problem may be emanating from. It is well worth spending a few bob on an inspection, if the potential for a major rebuild can be avoided.

FollowupID: 791168

Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 01:29

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 01:29
Quote - "The repair bill is around $15,000, and because of a number of steps in their assessing procedure, it looks very much as though the insurance company is going to leave me to pick up the bill."

Laurie, Water leaks are considered to be a maintenance problem. Insurance only covers accidental damage.

You are far from being alone with this type of problem. There are some notable builders out there that do not take care of sealing their vans. Check these out.

Retired radio and electronics technician

Lifetime Member
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AnswerID: 512687

Follow Up By: Member - Laurie K (WA) - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 01:39

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 01:39
Hi PeterD

Yep, as I said, this is not a critical piece about insurance companies. It was posted purely to bring to the attention of other caravan owners who are not aware, that sealing is something that needs to be addressed frequently BEFORE the major damage occurs.

FollowupID: 791148

Reply By: AlanTH - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 11:45

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 11:45
I've just been reading the horror stories in the van forum blog by a repairer. What a shocking tale of no action by all our hordes of regulators who have no doubt had many complaints made to them.
The answer as to why no action is of course the same old story of the regulators being in the pockets of those being complained about.
We've got an 18 month old van and although we haven't noted any leaks as yet, we've had plenty of other problems.
When going away last July for a month tenting where no van dared go even if it was supposedly an off roader, we took it to the retalier complete with a list of things needing fixing.
Upon our return back we went to pick it up and were told several things weren't covered by the 12 month warranty but anything requiring a blob of silicone had been fixed:
Curtain lining material riddled with holes _ this was said to be insect infestation but no one could find an insect or say what type caused holes in straight lines through the material.
Nearside tyre scalloping badly - said to be wheel alignment so not covered. This is independent suspension and the camber etc is set at manufacture and I could see no visible way of adjusting it so off to an independent to be checked. Nothing wrong with alignment but nearside shock very weak so back to retailer who just ignored us.
I gave them 10 days to come up with new shocks and a replacement tyre. No answer and I contacted Consumer Protection WA who eventually after a bit of prodding wrote to the retailer.
This resulted in new shocks and a new tyre but all came from the manu in the east at their leisure. Bugger us and a van we couldn't use was their attitude.
New curtains were provided after the girls in the retailers service/warranty section pushed our case and they arrived bundled up tightly into a football sized package and were so creased they all had to be ironed before fitting. Shows just what they thought of people who dared make complaints about their product.
But our complaints don't stop there, new tyre fitted and the steel wheel was found to be badly buckled so I took the other 2 to be checked, another was also badly buckled and 1 was "just" within tolerances.
This time I didn't bother with Consumer Protection but wrote a letter stating we wanted 3 new wheels fitted, balanced etc or I'd take them to court. Again no answer except the old bloke whose name is on the company said "inappropriate use" as an explanation for the buckling.
Only gravel road used was the GCR and that at low speed with less pressure in the tyres.
No answer again to our claim so I took out a small claims action through the court and claimed all costs associated with the alignment checking, new wheels, fitting and balancing etc and the manu paid up in about 10 days.
Now we've got a problem with the nearside brake where a part off the handbrake has broken possibly caused by all the shaking and vibration from the original buckled wheel.
Thinking it would be quicker and less hassle to approach the brake manu in the USA I sent pics to them and they quickly agreed to replace the brake via their Melbourne distributor.
And that's where it's at at this moment, at least 3 weeks, a few phone calls and e-mails later (never relied to), many nice words from the distributor who assure us it's been sent (handbrake assembly only) and still nothing. Australia Post isn't that bad at getting things from East to West so it's obviously not been sent.
Methinks there's collusion going on between them and the maker who no doubt they contacted after I'd forwarded the e-mail from the US to them.
The van is not useable as we can't guarantee being able to set up on level ground and taking into consideration the fact that out of 18 months ownership we've only had about 6 months when we've been able to use the van, and all the other problems not listed above, I think court action is warranted to show the thing is not "fit for purpose".
Happy wanderings folks.

AnswerID: 512721

Follow Up By: AlanTH - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 18:58

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 18:58
Just after posting the above we received the replacements for the broken brake part.
The US brake maker said they'd replace the "brake' but I presume the Oz distributor thought that was over the top and un-necessary!
It'll do though to get the thing going so I can sell it.
FollowupID: 791239

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