When it Rains? It Pours! … One Wet Day

Water is a very important resource. We saw this firsthand while driving the motorhome back through Fresno, Bakersfield and Las Vegas/Hoover Dam.

Without water crops dry up and things become complicated fast.

We also learned while boondocking that water usage in a motorhome is very important to monitor/ration.

And we had read about how water is the RVers worst enemy. Leaking from pipes that are constantly put under pressure from movement, and leaking from the roof which seems to some how always be in need of repair.

But when we bought our motorhome while it had stains from previous leaks there was no structural (wood) damage, and the dealership had poured on some really impressive caulk all over the roof. I inspected it myself and there was a ton of caulk up there.

No way was water going to get past that stuff!

* * *

Hold that thought

* * *

It was Thursday afternoon. I had caught up with my work and had only one phone call to make in the morning on Friday. The Grandparents were planning on taking the kids for the weekend so Becky and I could reconnect. It was a rare opportunity and we wanted to enjoy every moment of it.

We had planned this weekend months before and had no idea that we'd own a motorhome at the time. But now we do and boy did we want to get going on the remodel project. In fact when we had spare time we were either tearing something out of the motorhome or researching stuff for it.

Our addiction to RV remodeling is so bad that one date night was spent in the RV measuring, talking and drawing up plans. Yup, that's how we roll. No kids for 4 hours and we drive the motorhome to a bedding store to research options and draw up plans.

Our planning had brought us to a crossroad in the remodeling project. We needed to decide where Becky and I were going to sleep. We could sleep on a pull out couch in the living area but then we'd have to make our bed every night and there are no jacknife sofas made that big (queen size). Alternatively we could sleep in the back room with the kids, but not only would we have to make our bed every day we'd have to figure out where to store it and it just got really complicated moving forward until we solved this dilemma.

The store that we figured would have the solution was IKEA. They make all kinds of stuff for apartment (small space) living, so we knew the next step was to go to IKEA. While there we'd love to research a table replacement for the dinette and replacement for the storage.

Since we live almost 3 hours from the closest IKEA it's not really a calm relaxing peaceful day trip. So going without the kids on the weekend would ruin our relaxing weekend just the two of us.

Becky stepped into the office Thursday afternoon to present me with this dilemma: We'd love to work on the motorhome this weekend but we cannot until we visit IKEA. So we could visit IKEA this weekend but we wanted to visit there  with the kids. So Becky threw out the idea, what if we went today? We talked about it and I had one hour's worth of work to finish, it'd take her an hour to pack the kids and the motorhome up for an overnight. And then we could drive to IKEA, be there by 7pm and have 2 hours to research/shop by the time the store closes at 9pm.

When you don't have to worry about the cost of a hotel last minute trips like this are possible. Our chosen lifestyle is all about freedom, and so we were like "Lets do it!"

However it had been raining most of the day.

We failed to recall that this was the first rainstorm this RV had been in for a couple years.

And so as we had the kids run back and forth bringing stuff into the motorhome and as Becky and I bring the mattress back in from the house (we had been sleeping on the queen sized mattress that came with the RV, but we ended up buying another from the mattress store). We saw the rain water coming in.

Not just dripping.

Pouring in.

Water is an RV's enemy.

From what we could tell we had 5 leaks. Two in the back bedroom, two in the bathroom and one over the dashboard on the passenger side.

But off we went. With extra towels and a spirit of commitment.

Once the motorhome started moving the leaking stopped. So we figured wherever the water pooled on the roof. If we didn't stop driving we'd be okay, right?

We drove through the rainstorm and onto the other side. Things were going well until suddenly they weren't.

We heard a loud hit followed by banging coming from the middle of the motorhome. The engine lost power for a minute and then came back.

It was so strange, so we pulled over, I got out and looked around. Nothing, nothing was wrong. The engine was running great and there was no damage to the motorhome.

Back. in and off we went. About 10 minutes down the road it happened again, this time Becky caught on that it was the engine backfiring.

And then we lost power.

Again tons of stuff runs through your head. But we were able to re-gain power and get it going. Becky got on the phone with a nearby RV shop though despite being closed for the day a gentleman took her call and said it sounds like bad gas. I was at 1/8th of a tank and the guy on the phone said never let it go below 1/4 (a whole lot of good that did us right now) and at that moment I lost power again. The engine stopped and we were slowing down.

We had already turned off of I-96 onto M-23 and were hoping to coast off the expressway into a gas station. While we were going in neutral I was trying to start the engine but it would not start.

50 feet short of the end of the exit ramp we lost all momentum and were dead on the side of the road. There were two gas stations right there, but yet here we were about 100 yards away from one. There was no way to push this beast of a motorhome to the gas station. So off I went to buy a gas can to fill the tank with. I was hoping for a 5 gallon can so I could get enough in there to overpower the bad gas.

These two gas stations however only carried 1 gallon gas cans.

In hindsight I should have bought one and gone back and forth a dozen times to get enough gas to overpower the bad gas in the tank.

However I didn't I went to Cosco, asked how to get to Meijer. It would have been a 30 minute walk to Meijer. A guy offered to take me and 30 minutes later I got to WalMart. Got two 5 gallon cans, and the guy who took me there made a good observation and told me to get some gas treatment. I got three bottles of gas treatment. Just in case.

Thirty minutes later I arrived back at the motorhome. The whole ride the guy was suggesting that it's gonna take a ton of turning over the engine to get the bad gas out of the line.

If indeed that was the problem.

So 10 gallons of gas, three bottles of gas treatment and a whole ton of prayers.

Turned over the engine and it fired right up on the first try.

No backfiring.

We drove to the gas station and filled up the rest of the way.

Turns out, it was bad gas.

However the two hour delay of all that meant that we parked the motorhome at IKEA 10 minutes before it closed. So we ran inside to find a couch/sofa bed and figured we'd do some research quick before it closed.


It took a long time, but we finally made it to IKEA!

What we found was a really friendly staff member who assisted us and stayed 10 minutes later to help answer our questions.

We then boondocked at a nearby Sams club (oh and don't boondock by the loading docks, there are a ton of bread truck like trucks that start arriving at 4am.).

Friday morning we were able to shop, by a bed and head home.

However we haven't been able to move forward until we fix the leaks. We have taken out a much more stuff trying to find the leaks. From what we now know it's 3 leaks.


Can you find the leak? This is over top the dash on the passenger side (fiberglass front meets rubber roof). The black caulk was the first attempt to fix the leak, it was unsuccessful. There were more holes.


A little closer


There they are, three "tiny" holes in the caulking.


This is the skylight over the shower. It's begun to crack so the dealership caulked around it and up the cracks. You might be able to see both layers of caulk on this (plus I sprayed it with a sealant too.)


Can you find the leaks now? There's a bunch of bad spots, but which are actually leaking?


There they are. Two spots that when I had a hose on them the water poured in and I could see air bubbles come out. Lets just say I'd like to put caulk over EVERYTHING up here. Or use the Eternabond stuff.


Trying to find the leaks we tore the TV out and now have wires hanging in the front of the RV.


We took the inside of the Skylight out to find a lot of rust, but it's from the cracks on the outside of the skylight. As best we can tell we found the current leaks.

So everything has been re-caulked, re-sealed and now the rain is on it's way.

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Will it stay dry inside?

Only time will tell.

Paul Kortman

Dad of 4, husband, blogger, digital marketer, follower of Jesus. I podcast at nomadtogether.com and own connexdigitalmarketing.com We're on this crazy journey to travel the world as a lifestyle. Looking for help in how to live as a digital nomad family? Join this Facebook Group!

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