How to Repair RV Window Seals

Written by christopher jackson
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How to Repair RV Window Seals
A watertight RV is a happy RV. (Trinette Reed/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Perhaps the most important key to keeping an RV liveable and in good condition for the long haul is to keep moisture out. Water is one of an RV's biggest enemies; a leak threatens electrical systems, interior fixtures and the vehicle's structure, and many water leaks go undetected until damage has already been done. As an RV ages, sunlight and temperature degrade the seals, allowing water to seep into the walls.

Replacing window seals can be expensive at an RV dealer. Doing it at home is a relatively simple two-person job that can save a lot of money.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Butyl tape or other RV-specific window sealant
  • Metal and plastic scraping tools
  • Razor blade
  • Screwdriver
  • Black-streak remover or rubbing alcohol
  • Stepladder

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Trim any excess or oozing sealing material from the outside edges of the window frame with the razor blade.

  2. 2

    Remove the screws attaching the frame to the interior wall. Most RV windows use an inner ring that bolts to the exterior frame. It's a good idea to have a partner outside the vehicle on a stepladder at this point, in case the window falls away from the body when you remove the screws.

  3. 3

    Push gently on the upper edge of the window frame to tilt it toward your partner outside. Remove the window and frame with slow, steady pressure. Do not use a hammer or attempt to jolt the window free as this risks breaking the glass or damaging the outside surface of the RV.

  4. 4

    Clean any remaining sealant from the edges of the window opening on the RV with a scraper. Inspect the inner wall and other nearby surfaces for water damage and ensure that the edges of the window opening are free of debris.

  5. 5

    Scrape all sealant from the window frame itself. Clean the surface with rubbing alcohol.

  6. 6

    Roll fresh butyl tape or window sealant onto the window frame. Make an unbroken seal all the way around the window.

  7. 7

    Reinstall the window in the RV. Some of the sealant will be pushed out when the inner frame is reattached; trim it with a plastic scraper or razor blade.

  8. 8

    Test the seal by spraying or pouring water across the outside of the window and performing a visual inspection for leaks.

Tips and warnings

  • Some sources recommend plugging smaller leaks with silicone or similar caulk, rather than removing the window frame. This method is quicker and less labour-intensive, but can have unsightly and ineffective results.
  • Butyl tape and other RV window adhesives work best at temperatures above 21.1 degrees C.
  • Butyl tape is very messy stuff, especially when warm; gloves are recommended.
  • Some RV shops will perform a vacuum "leak test" that can tell you exactly which window seals are leaking.
  • Ensure that the stepladder is on even ground.
  • While not heavy, the windows and frames can be very awkward to handle and may require two people to carry safely.
  • Use a plastic scraper to remove the old adhesive -- a metal one can damage the fibreglass outer surface of an RV.

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