Exterior Roof, doors, windows, awnings, etc
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Old 12-04-2017, 01:53 PM   #1
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Default Aluminum Roof Holes

Posted this in another thread, but needs it's own.

My used camper has what I thought was a minor water damage spot. I keep taking more ceiling out. I have about 1/4 of the ceiling out.

Found the leak, it is holes in the actual roof, like decayed spots. Ceiling is wet, but not rotted. Pulling out all ceiling below the foam and will install new ceiling in front half. Metal frame is very rusted in spots and in spots I can punch through with the putty knife. Ideally I would pull entire roof off, new metal framing, and redo it all, but that is more than I want to put into this used camper of 20 years. Plan to fix the minimum.

What is the best fix for these holes? Most of the roof does not have them, but will eventually I am sure. Rubber coating? I am thinking maybe just lay new aluminum sheets over the roof at the bad half. Best glue?


Patched with duct tape for now.


Pictured next to roll of tape.


Holes are the black spots.
I assume this is an aluminum roof. Not steel???
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Old 12-04-2017, 04:32 PM   #2
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That appears to be galvanic corrosion, caused by contact between dissimilar metals. I think you'll find steel screws or nails underneath the corroded spots? I've not had to repair any of these holes in my roof but others have used Bondo to fill them. Then, since you have a painted aluminum roof, I'd coat it with two coats of white elastomeric roofing paint.

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Old 12-04-2017, 05:27 PM   #3
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There is the square steel tubing glued directly to the roof, but that might be insulated enough with the glue between, assuming there is glue. However, the holes are not along the steel frame area, but are all over. Mostly concentrated in a small area. I am thinking maybe it was parked under a low-touching branch at one point, keeping the roof wet.
I am wondering if these corroded from the inside or from the outside.

Possible the holes are not the source of the water originally.

Has anyone seen water come in at the wall/roof corner and run uphill along the slanted roof? That would be called capillary movement or something…. Which would mean possible leak at the top of wall.
But then how would it get from ceiling to roof???

Main question is still, what is best to fix? A paint on rubber coating?

Bondo, or maybe fiberglass epoxy I am thinking also of possible hole patches before the coating.
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Old 12-04-2017, 06:50 PM   #4
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As a corrosion control team member in aviation, I can tell you this: galvanic (dissimilar metal) does NOT require an actual metal to metal contact. As the trailer is used, humidity turns to condensation. The moisture is everywhere, trapped in the ceiling, this causes a tiny electrical current, just like a battery. This moisture does not have to "flow", it's just there. Therefore, the pinholes are formed from the INSIDE and WILL continue to get larger, regardless of what is done to the outside, short of cutting out each affected area, patching and sealing.
I ground mine with a wire wheel with a vacuum attached, used a magnet after, patched and Eatherbonded over it, and told the buyer what I had done.
One last note, An RV dealer/repair shop in GA is said to have replaced an aluminum roof with a rubber roof. I'm sure it can be done.
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Old 12-04-2017, 06:54 PM   #5
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OOPS! Sorry, that was Eternabond tape
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Old 12-04-2017, 07:03 PM   #6
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I had the same problem when I repaired mine in 2012. Holes in the aluminum scattered throughout the right rear quarter of the camper (passenger side). From what I could tell the roof is made of from outside in, aluminum skin, 1/8 inch sheeting, One inch styrofoam, and the 1/8 inch ceiling panels. I repaired mine by scabbing right angle metal on the 1 inch tube where needed. Then I bought a roll of eternabond tape and from the top put patches on all the holes. Then I coated it with 2 coats of white elastomeric paint. Summer of 2017 five years later I could see where the roof was starting to form some rust spots so out came the eternabond tape and then 2 more coats of the elastomeric paint. I caught all the rust spots before they had time to cause a problem and in the summer of 2018 I'm going to put 2 more coats on. Here is the video I made when I repaired mine in 2012 if your interested.
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Old 12-04-2017, 07:37 PM   #7
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Nice vid and renno.
How do the cabinets bolt in? I can see the screws around the door opening, but others are covered going to the wall.
What adhesive are you using to glue the foam? I see a big bucket.
Liquid Nails will melt the foam, as LN heats up when curing, but I guess you got enough bonding somewhere in there for it to work.

So, galvanic corrosion started because of humidity inside? The roof is aluminum, right, what is the magnet for, the frame?

I was hoping the foam bonded to the roof directly, but sounds like there is another plywood bonded to roof. So, the plywood bonded to the roof is wet and will continue to corode the roof?
It won't dry behind the foam, so the foam needs to come out, but will the plywood then dry enough to leave it or needs to come out? I have a heater in there helping dry things out right now. I am worried about tearing the roof if I try to remove the plywood that is glued to it.
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Old 12-04-2017, 07:57 PM   #8
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Marininn, The cabinets have a false bottom in them. Inside you will see staples holding the bottom down. Liquid Nails will not melt the foam as it isn't made from the same stuff it was made from years ago. I used more than 20 tubes of Liquid Nails. It doens't stick as quick as the stuff that was made 30 years ago, but it also doesn't smell (low VOC). You may find the plywood between the aluminum and the foam will have delaminated if not it will dry. Anything that is rotten needs to come out because of possible mold. BTW just tear the plywood out that is loose.
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Old 12-05-2017, 02:05 PM   #9
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Thanks, I see the bolts on cabinet now.

I pulled all the styrofoam out of the ceiling where it was wet. Fortunately it is only the front 1/4 needing work. I still need to get a bit of it under the to-be-removed cabinets, but hoping it is just a few inches.

Neck tired from looking up, so taking break…

In year 2001 Liquid Nails would melt the the foam, now you are saying it will not. Is the cheap $1.44 "construction adhesive" just as good for foam?

I am also considering using Glidden's Gripper paint as it is some sort of styrofoam based paint, and works to stick it together well, at least for other projects Ive read about.
Hoping someone has tried this for ceilings.

garyk52, why did the holes come back? Was moisture still getting up there?
How did the rubber do over time sticking to the eternal tape? I have some tape like that I planned to use to tape solar panels on, but can use the extra to tape my 28 holes.
Gary, you had "carpet" bucket there, was that the glue for ceiling?
How are the angle irons holding up? Mine is not cracked, but very thin and I pushed a hole in it in a place. Worried to drill a hole like u did to bolt in angle iron. The factory holes for the wiring, too big for one, and stupid for factory to put a hole through the vertical part of tube two. I am thinking maybe gluing it on. I have a gap above, probably since metal frame droops now, and can put one angle above the frame, that might help to hold it all.
Gary, you build wooden rectangle frames, what is purpose of those?

If I wanted to spend $1k and had a barn to work under and more time maybe I would just re-do the entire roof and make it right. I just need it to stay dry and look nice.
My theory is that the couple living in the camper 6 months right before I bought it exhaled moisture, and the one on the bunk had head under where the water damage is. Seems like moisture would go everywhere,but this is just a thought why damage is just in one spot. Maybe they showered and didnt vent or let the water dry before closing it up. I want to make sure this does not happen again… Maybe rain water entered at the metal seam, as there is a hole at the seam too.


Wall with all but the last ply stuck to wall. Rusty metal.


Ceiling, I have since pulled out the foam and most of the plywood glued to the roof. Leaving the plys that are not buckled away. I think they will dry and be fine.
More pics to come…
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Old 12-05-2017, 03:50 PM   #10
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eternabond tape over seams aluminum Patches on big holes and elastomeric paint
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