What to Do When There’s a Hole in Your RV Roof

Nov 29, 2021 | Maintenance & Mods

What to Do When There’s a Hole in Your RV Roof

In this installment of RV Mishaps, we learn what to do when you accidentally tear a hole in your RV roof.

By Christy Cutler

Photo: Christy Cutler

Welcome to RV Mishaps, a content series written by RVers about problems they’ve encountered on the road, how they solved them, and lessons learned. Have a mishap story of your own that you’d like to tell? Send us an email at editorial@togorv.com

We were headed into our second year of full-time travel and looking forward to visiting our favorite spots in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. As we ventured north from Florida, we spent some time on Smith Lake in Alabama, toured through Kentucky, and then found ourselves at Turkey Run State Park in Indiana. While there, we met another family and became instant friends, and decided to visit their farm in Illinois before resuming our travels. After a wonderful visit, we hitched back up and hit the road again.

What Went Wrong

As we drove back down their dirt road to get to the highway, my husband Amick and I both noticed a limb hanging low over the road, but we didn’t think much of it because we made it to our new friends’ house with no problems. Looking back now, that moment was our biggest mistake. We traveled most of the day and arrived at our campground in Wisconsin late in the afternoon. We set up our site and went on a walk before dinner. Our campsite was at a low point in the campground, so as we were walking back, we could see the roof of our camper—and that’s when we noticed it. 

There was a large tear in our roof about half the length of our camper. Our hearts sank and we both knew exactly what had happened. 

The questions and frustrations began, and in that moment of shock, it felt as if the 20-foot hole in our roof would be the end of our traveling days. We took a moment to breathe and assess the situation while doing our best to not panic. 

We created a plan with a short-term and a long-term solution. We needed an immediate solution because water damage is one of the most important things to avoid in an RV, and with an exposed roof, the first sign of rain could be detrimental. Thankfully we had a roll of EternaBond tape, and after consulting with an RV tech for advice, we patched the tear to temporarily avoid any water damage. We cleaned and dried the damaged area and carefully applied the tape to seal the tear. With some help from YouTube videos, the process took about an hour and a half.

The roof of an RV parked in a campground
Photo: Christy Cutler
The edge of an RV roofed taped with bonding tape
Photo: Christy Cutler

Due to the size of the tear, unfortunately, a new roof was in our future. We contacted our RV insurance company and submitted a claim. Thankfully the roof replacement was covered and we were only responsible for the deductible. The other good news was that the EternaBond tape had a replacement hold time of about 4 months, so we continued with our summer travel plans. 

Lessons Learned

  1. Know the specs of your rig, especially the height, and route your trip to avoid low clearance areas. Apps like Togo RV and AllStays are great ways to check for low bridges, and an RV GPS will give you approved routes based on your height.
  2. If you’re approaching a clearance area that looks questionable, do not make assumptions. It might take a little extra time, but that extra checkpoint isn’t as inconvenient as a roof replacement. 
  3. Check your RV roof consistently. Had we not happened to see the roof on our walk, we wouldn’t have known about the tear. Make it a point to get up on the roof routinely.
  4. Keep a roll of sealant tape in your RV for mishaps and emergency waterproofing. 
  5. Have a trustworthy RV insurance policy in place that correctly covers your specific type of rig.

Don’t forget that almost every RV mishap has a solution, and chances are everything will work out fine.

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Christy Cutler

We are a full-time traveling family of five living in our fifth wheel and traveling the U.S. We are digital creators, writers, graphic designers, musicians, producers, photographers, influencers, and story tellers.