Dry rot is a fungus that begins in wood when it is exposed to sitting water for long periods of time. For RV owners it can be the beginning of a nightmare, as the fungus will spread from the point where the water leaked to other parts of the frame. The roof is the most common place for dry rot to begin. You can stop dry rot by removing and replacing that section of the roof as soon as you notice the problem. Better yet, you can fix a rotten RV roof from the inside, so you don't have to remove the roof itself.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Things you need
- Flat head screwdriver
- Small pry bar
- Box knife
- Boric acid fungicide (like Bora Care)
- 3/4 inch plywood
- Circular saw
- Metal mending plates (straight, not angled)
- Drill with screw bit
- 1/2 inch brass screws
- Insulation (if needed)
Remove the finish ceiling panels from the area you need to fix. The finish panels are attached to the plywood of your roof by a type of nail that is usually covered with a decorative head. Use a flat head screwdriver to pry the nails out and remove the finish panel to expose the insulation and roof behind it.
Remove the insulation. Cut it out of the area with a box knife so you only remove the insulation in the area that needs repair. Discard any insulation that is water-damaged.
Score around the area to be removed with a box knife. Use a ruler to keep your cuts straight and cut into the wood, just beyond the area with dry rot. Keep cutting along the same line until your cuts are almost deep enough to go through the wood. This is easier than it sounds because the dry rot will have significantly weakened the wood and you will find it easy to make the cuts with a box knife.
Pry the section your just scored out of the roof using a small pry bar. Set the tip of your pry bar into the mark you scored and tap the bar with a hammer to drive it completely through the wood before prying. Work slowly and carefully; you want to pull the damaged piece of the roof out without ripping off parts of the rest. Remove all of the damaged wood.
Apply your boric acid fungicide to the edges of wood around the section that you just cut out. This will prevent any further dry rot fungus that may have begun to infect other areas from developing.
Cut a piece of 3/4 plywood to fit in the repair area.
Attach the metal mending plates to the new piece of plywood using a drill and wood screws. You want to line the plates up so half of the plate is screwed to the new wood and the other half of the plate extends beyond the edge (and will be screwed into the wood surrounding the repair area). You should have at least one plate per side, but two (one placed near the corner of each side) are better.
Raise the new piece of plywood into place and attach it to the roof by screwing mending plates into the existing roof.
Replace the insulation in that area. If you have problems getting it to stay up by just tucking it into the existing insulation, place a screw or two to hold it in place. Reinstall your finish ceiling panels, and you are done.
Tips and warnings
- Check for dry rot at least once a year. Walk over your roof and press on the sides of the walls from the inside while listening for any type of "crunching" noise and feeling for any type of unusual "give" in the wood beneath. If you find an area that crunches or is spongy to the touch , you have dry rot there.
- Dry rot can seriously damage the structural integrity of your RV frame. Repair areas with dry rot as soon as you notice them or the dry rot will spread and you will have to repair and even rebuild the entire frame for your RV.
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