I don’t need no stinkin’ dealer

Ever since we brought our house truck home from San Diego last year I have been struggling to locate a water leak coming in the slide out when it rains. It would be a huge understatement to say this has been a bit frustrating. There are two main things that can destroy an RV: sun and water. The closest Monaco (the manufacturer) dealer to me is 1.25 hours away. We have made at least 6 trips back and forth to this dealer and spent over $2000 in the past 8 months; each time coming home with the assurance that “this time” they had found the leak and fixed it. The last time I left the dealer I was not convinced and knew that what the service manager was claiming to be the issue was not the issue…but I gave him the benefit of the doubt once again.

Well, yesterday I picked up the RV from storage to bring it to our house to continue prepping it, cleaning it, and stocking it for travel. Again: water! I was beyond discouraged this time. I brought it home and like many times before stood and stared at the slide-out hoping the solution would magically pop into my non-technical brain. And, like every time before, nothing happened. I knew one thing: the dealer was looking in the wrong areas because his explanation did not explain why it would leak with the slide in or out.

The problem with dealers is that they do not care about your investment as much as you do so they are less prone to think subjectively about your issue and tend to use a broad stroke when fixing things like this. I can’t really blame the dealer–their goal is to get units in and out quickly. If they really put the time into finding the problem they would have spent hours upon hours to do so, as I did, and at $100/hr labor rate I and most people are happy to have them tell me after 2 hours of labor that they found and fixed the problem.

So, I decided to focus my attention on one of the roof top a/c units. I completely removed it and examined the gaskets to see if there were any signs of water coming in. I did this at the advice of some well-meaning RV owners at irv2.com. The whole time I was doing it I told myself I was wasting my time because I knew there was no water coming in there. Reason told me that if there was water coming in the roof a/c unit then I would see at least some moisture inside when removing the interior a/c cover…and it is bone dry. So, after spending a few hours wrestling with the a/c I confirmed my instincts: no water was coming in through the roof a/c.

So, I stood and stared at the slide out for a while longer. And I stared. And I stared. I climbed on top of the RV and stared some more. And I stared. And I…wait, what is that canyon-sized gap under the slideout awning? It’s 36″ long and wide enough to slide 10 sheets of paper in it! That’s it! (As if I hadn’t said this before when looking for the leak). And it absolutely could be letting water in with the slide in or out. How the dealer missed this is beyond me. The problem was, that gap was under the slideout awning and I did not know how to remove the slideout awning. Nor did I want to. So I made a contraption…something long enough to reach under the awning and wipe silicone along the gap. I know, genius, right!? Not so much.

It was now about 5:30 and I knew I had to do something because it had been raining all day and the forecast was more rain today and rain for the next 5 days straight. So, I decided to tackle the awning. To make a long story short, removing the awning proved to be a pretty easy thing to do. I removed it and thoroughly caulked where the long gap was. I used 3-hour-ready silicone and half heartedly asked God to hold back the rain for a while. Lisa told me I actually asked him to hold it back until midnight.

It is now about 11:15 pm, job is done, I’m feeling like I won one, and I am relaxed in my recliner flipping channels. The RV is parked in front of our house. We live on a public street. An RV looks really out of place here but I was willing to leave it on the street for the night to monitor the leak in the morning. City ordinance allows us to leave it on the street for 12 hours but, since NASCAR is in town along with thousands of other RVers, I figured the police had more important things to do than ticket me. About 11:20 I flip to this show “parking wars”. I’ve never seen it before but in my 11 o’clock trance decided to leave it there for a minute. Wouldn’t you know it shows “the ticket man” ticketing a motorhome $100 for parking on a public street. I looked at Lisa…Ok, guess I’ll be driving the RV back to storage tonight. I’m not superstitious, but I know when not to press my luck. I drive the motorhome to the storage unit and pull in just as the heavens open up! It started raining cats and dogs. I nervously laughed at the whole situation. If the leak is not fixed, I’ll surely know it in the morning.

I got home and opened the door to a smiling wife. “Do you see what time it is?”, she asked with a grin. “Yeah, so?”. “You asked God to hold back the rain until midnight”. It was 12:01.

I am quickly learning that owning an RV is a huge investment in learning to maintain it. Dealers aren’t going to help me like it’s a car…there are just too many moving parts and unknown variables with each unit. But, I’m okay with that. Most people would  never buy one for this reason. An RV is not a great financial investment. But, that’s not why we bought it. We bought it as an investment in life!

Now, to go check that leak this morning…

UPDATE: I went out to check this morning and there was no water. Dare I celebrate?

UPDATE 5/21: Still no water after a heavy day of rain y’day…I’m calling it fixed!

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7 responses to “I don’t need no stinkin’ dealer

  1. I have an extra caulk gun I could give you. LOL Enjoying your Blog and the struggles of RV ownership from a distance that is.lol Hope you got it fixed. TC

  2. Thanks for the offer Tom. Does the caulk gun have a 3′ ‘go go gadget arm’?
    A lot more maintenance than the tent, this RV is!

  3. Great story…sounds very familiar. We are still battling a leak…but I’m going to have my husband check that out on our slide out. I’m crossing my fingers. (bad part its at the shop as we speak trying to locate the leak)

  4. Bruce Coulson

    I just found your site while reading the forum at RV Dreams. As I began reading your post I was thinking you should look by the awning. Our Monaco just came back from the shop this week because of the rear slide leaking. They did have to remove the awning to fix it and after a couple of heavy rains it’s all dry. This was one of those deja vu moments. Glad you found the problem!

  5. libertatemamo

    GOOD job finding the leak! That’s no easy matter.
    You might want to look at using Eternabond to fix it. Fabulous stuff and absolutely rock solid. You can use the same tape to re-seal all your other seams. Nina

  6. Thanks Nina–I use Eternabond and love it! In fact, I used some today to patch a spot on my house. Can’t use it on this RV seam though as it is on a painted side panel. Enjoying your blog.

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