Wednesday, January 26, 2022


Ask Dave: Why does water leak into camper from TV antenna?

Answers to questions about RV Repair and Maintenance from RV expert Dave Solberg, author of the RV Handbook and the managing editor of the RV Repair Club. This column appears Monday through Saturday in the RV Travel and RV Daily Tips newsletters. (Sign up for an email reminder for each new issue if you do not already receive one.) Today Dave a water leak around a camper’s TV antenna.

Dear Dave,

On the crank for the TV antenna inside the camper, there’s a water leak every so often. Does it need some caulking on the roof? Or am I tightening it too tight on the inside? Thanks. —Tom

Dear Tom,

If you are cranking the antenna up, it’s most likely an older Winegard “bat wing”-type antenna that is mounted to the roof. The stem goes through the roof to the handle mounted inside.

I doubt you are tightening it too much. Rather, the sealant used between the antenna base and the roof is likely getting pinched or brittle. There may also be some self-leveling lap sealant surrounding the base on the roof which is not sealing. When you bring the antenna down and it rests on the roof at the cradle, it’s probably flexing the base a little and pulling away from the sealant.

Remove the old sealant

I would recommend inspecting the sealant very carefully and even remove the old sealant and recoat with new self-leveling lap sealant. Make sure you get the type that is designed for whatever roof material you have.

You can use a heat gun and plastic putty knife to remove the old lap seal. Set the gun on low and make sure you don’t get the roof material hot. Keeping it 10″–12” away should provide enough heat to make the sealant soft or pliable enough to scrape it away. Do not use a metal putty knife or razor blade as these could cut into the roof material itself.

Once you have the sealant off, it might be a good time to remove the screws and pull the antenna off and apply new butyl tape (a putty-type material) underneath.

If you go this far, I suggest installing a new permanent mount Winegard antenna. It will get much better reception and you don’t have to crank it up and down.

Read more from Dave here

Dave Solberg worked at Winnebago for 15 years developing the dealer training program, as marketing manager, and conducting shows. As the owner of Passport Media Creations, Dave has developed several RV dealer training programs, the RV Safety Training program for The Recreation Vehicle Safety and Education Foundation, and the accredited RV Driving Safety program being conducted at rallies and shows around the country. Dave is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.


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4 months ago

I had a leak from the antenna in my 5th wheel. When I got up on the roof I found there is a rubber boot from the antenna base around the wire. After a while the rubber dried out and pulled off the base. I put it back on the base then caulked it to the base and the wire.
I check it whenever I’m on the roof and recaulk when needed.

Thomas D
5 months ago

Just because Dave worked at winnebago and developed dealer programs doesn’t make him an expert. He failed to mention the o ring and lubrication needed on a bat wing
I really find his answers incomplete. I’ve flown a piper cub. That doesn’t make me qualified to fly a 747.

5 months ago
Reply to  Thomas D

I completely agree.

Tom C.
4 months ago
Reply to  Thomas D

I agree as well. I’ve been doing RV repair since 1980 and I will never call myself an expert because with technology comes new lessons. No one can ever say they know everything and in my opinion that’s the only way you can be an expert. Every day brings a new lesson. I know a lot but far from everything. Not only that but why invest the time and money on repairing an outdated and inefficient antenna. If you have to remove it or take it apart in general it would be better to just upgrade to a new one. Especially how cheap you can by them online for. Just my 2 cents.

Bob p
5 months ago

You forgot to mention the “O” ring seal inside the lifting mechanism where the shaft turns the elevating gears. Our 2002 motorhome would do the same thing in a heavy rain. I took the whole elevating assembly apart and found a stiff, hardened “O” ring, a fifteen minute trip to ACE hardware and the problem went away.

Royce Hershberger
5 months ago
Reply to  Bob p

I found the same thing on our 2011 jayco.