Every Airstream is crafted with care and attention to detail, using the finest materials and time-honored techniques. During production, each Airstream goes through a 30-minute water booth test, where an Airstream associate inside the travel trailer looks for leaks around the doors, windows, and seams. In the rare case that a leak is found, it’s sealed and the Airstream undergoes the water booth test again before it progresses to the next stage of production.
Once your Airstream leaves the factory and hits the open road, the harsh sun and extreme temperatures that your travel trailer experiences during your adventures eventually wear down the sealant, causing it to degrade. As time passes, water can seep into the cracks of old sealant and leak into the interior of your Airstream. If you suspect a leak from the exterior hull, there are a few things you can do to identify the problem and rectify the issue.
How often should my Airstream’s exterior sealant be inspected to prevent leaks?
The caulking and sealant used in external seams and joints, such as end-shell segments and around window frames, light bezels, beltline and rub rail molding, etc., should be checked once a year. If this material has dried out and become cracked, or if a portion has fallen out, it should be replaced with fresh sealant to prevent possible rain leaks.
How do I know if I have an exterior leak or plumbing leak?
There are two main types of water leaks you might experience in an Airstream: a rainwater (exterior) leak or a plumbing leak. How can you tell the difference between a rainwater leak and a plumbing leak?
Rainwater (exterior) leaks:
- Rainwater leaks often present themselves inside the trailer above the counter line.
- If water is dripping inside your trailer on the walls or from the ceiling, it’s likely a rainwater leak.
- What were the recent weather conditions?
- Did it recently rain?
- Did snow melt on the roof?
- Was there heavy dew?
- Did you just wash the exterior?
- If the leak has occurred on a dry day, or the leak stops when the water is shut off, you are likely looking at a plumbing leak.
- If the leak presents itself as a puddle on the floor, it may be a plumbing leak.
How do I find out where the exterior leak is coming from?
If you are experiencing an exterior leak in your Airstream, you first need to determine where it is coming from. This can be a tricky process because of the double wall construction and curved exterior of Airstream travel trailers. The water may not be leaking from where you are able to see the evidence. If the leak is on the roof, water can sometimes travel through the interior wall and start dripping far from where the leak originated.
First, ensure that the water isn’t coming from an open window, vent, fan, or door.
If possible, it’s best to inspect the roof first. Check the sealants on all of the roof vents, skylights, and around the exhaust fan. If the sealant looks dry, cracked, or is missing, reseal it with a product such as AdSeal .
Next, check to see if a rivet has come loose that may need tightened. If you find a loose or missing rivet, the Rivet Kit from Airstream Supply Company has everything you need to make routine rivet repairs. You can also contact an Airstream dealer for assistance in the repair.
While you are investigating, keep in mind the tilt of your travel trailer if it isn’t perfectly balanced from front to back or side to side, as the water will always travel downhill.
If you are unable to find the leak on your own, visit a Five Rivet Dealer. Their expertise will help you determine where the leak occurred and how to remedy the situation.