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Ask Dave: How difficult is it to remove RV ceiling panels to access wiring?

Dear Dave,
How difficult is it to remove RV ceiling panels to access wiring in the attic? I ask, as mice have chewed through two A/C-related wires. Our RV has two Dometic A/C units. They are controlled by their “Comfort Control Center 2” thermostat, which can control two zones. One damaged wire is a 4-conductor telephone-style cable that daisy chains the thermostat’s control from one A/C unit to the other. The other wire is a temperature sensor for zone 2 (bedroom). I cannot use the old wires to pull in new ones as the mice severed them. —Mike, 2018 Keystone Alpine 3400RS

Dear Mike,
The roof construction of your 2018 Alpine fifth wheel is a sandwich design. It has a rubber membrane outer skin, lauan paneling, aluminum framework with block foam insulation embedded, another lauan panel and interior material, which is either a padded vinyl or hair cell fabric. The wires are typically routed into the block foam during construction and they come out of the ceiling at a point where there is a hollow bath or bedroom wall so they can be pulled down and attached to the thermostat or temperature sensors.

Really no ceiling panels to remove

So there are really no RV ceiling panels that you can remove, but rather 4’x8’ sheets of the lauan.

Typically, these are not easy to pull even if they are severed due to the tight channel and curves or corners that are involved. I would first try to use a “fish tape” to see if you can follow the channel. Some manufacturers actually have a piece of conduit. However, if the mice chewed the wires, they were probably just in the insulation, which will make it more difficult. I have found the best fish tape or wire is the soft fiberglass version rather than the hard wire type. I get mine at Harbor Freight.

An option is to run new wiring

An easier option that I have done with not only wiring but coax cable is to just run new lines either inside the cabinets or go up to the roof outside. You should be able to take the panel wall off where the thermostat and temperature sensors are located so you can identify where the wires go. Home improvement stores carry electrical raceways that are decorative enough to run along the top inside cabinets, or on the roof.

Another option would be to go down into the basement. Your fifth wheel should have a wide open underneath compartment that would be easy to run wire in some automotive tubing. It could be fastened to the floor or risers/outriggers and come up inside the wall that has the thermostat or temperature sensor.


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Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”

Read more from Dave here

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Steve W.
1 month ago

Since Mike has enough access to see which wires were chewed, why not just cut out the chewed portion and butt-splice a short section of wiring. A lot easier than trying to fish an entirely new wire.

Snoopy
1 month ago

I was messing around trying to add better & more ceiling speakers & just gave up trying to use those supposed runways in the ceiling! So I was thinking of a work around using decorative wire runways, still thinking of how to do it. Going to look into wireless systems!
Snoopy

Joe
1 month ago

The flexible fiberglass fish is good however it is flexible and can bend when trying to punch through insulation, even fiberglass insulation in a house. What can work better is stiff fiberglass fish rods, they come in a pack of 3-4, each rod is about 4 foot long, screw together to make one long rod, have an eyelet on an end for attaching new wire, and can push through stubborn areas much better than the flexible fish tape. Either way trying to route wiring through the walls and ceiling of an RV is extremely difficult.

Thomas D
1 month ago

I needed to run coax for my satellite dish.
I used 1/2″ pvc electrical conduit and 2 hole pvc straps. After hooking up the dish, i drilled a hole from below to the roof in the back of a cabinet then fished down the wall. I applied a lot of Dicor self leveling sealant. Never a leak in over the 1 5 years it’s been up there.
You could also use self sticking covers made by Ideal or wiremold available at big box like lowes or Home Depot. For on the ceiling

Tom
1 month ago

Designed to build, not repair.

Roger B
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom

More like designed to be thrown together and not to be repaired. You really can’t blame the dealers for not wanting to repair them. Nothing is easily worked on.

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