Rain clouds coming — should you put in your slide-out?

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    By Russ and Tiña De Maris

    You have your rig settled down in a wonderful camping spot. Your camp chairs are set up, and music is softly rolling out the door. But, uh-oh – look out there. Here comes a nasty looking rain cloud. Do you immediately jump out of your camp chair, head inside and push the switch to roll in your slide-outs?


    motorhome slide out
    Bill Ward’s Brick Pile on flickr.com

    Some RVers are puzzled why anyone would even ask such a question. Bring the slide-outs in because of a bit of rain? For others, it’s a hands-down automatic reaction: Rain means slides come in. One RVer even points to his coach’s owner’s manual. “Conditions such as high winds or heavy rain may cause damage to an extended slide-out.”

    Slide-outs and weather could be put in the “great ongoing RV controversy” file. What makes the discussion all the more interesting are add-ons, like, “I have toppers (awnings) over my slide-outs. That ought to take care of any rain!”

    Here are some things to think about.


    First, it just seems that some slide-outs do leak in some conditions. They may be just fine with an average shower, or even fairly steep “Pacific Northwest gully washer.” But add a few straight-line winds to the mix and water can come into your RV slide-out unbidden. One RVer for a “test,” as he called it, left his slide-outs deployed while he had his rig in storage. He later paid $350 to repair carpet damage when his unit leaked.

    Slide-out toppers can minimize some leakage. But, beware, basically all slide-out toppers, regardless of the material they’re made from, stretch over time. Add a puddle of rain to the fabric and the stretch factor can bloom quickly. Stretch enough and the fabric can actually be damaged. To keep rain from collecting in a saggy topper, RVers have a host of tricks. Some take styrofoam blocks and stuff them between the slide-out and the topper. Only trouble is, forget to remove the styro before you retract the slide-out and you can create a real mess. Others take a similar but less damaging approach by stuffing a few partially-inflated beach balls in the space. Forget to remove them and the worst damage suffered is by ruptured beach balls.

    Most agree, if you’ve left your slide-out deployed and you do get some rain in your topper, it’s easiest to simply begin to retract the slide-out. As the topper reels back in, the excess water will dump itself out. Just give fair warning to anyone who might be in range of the unexpected “shower”!

    A general agreement on weather conditions is this: Don’t leave your slide-out deployed in snowy conditions, especially if you plan on going anywhere soon. One RVer left his slides out on a snowy night and found there was no way to retract the slides the next morning. The snow partially melted and formed a perfect ice-block on his slide-out roof.

    On our “big rig” trailer, we’ve left our slides out for extended periods. It doesn’t seem to contraindicate the manufacturer’s instructions, and so far, even with monsoonal rains, we’ve “gotten away with it.” But there’s always that first time for becoming a “sadder but wiser RVer.”

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    Mike & Cathi Stark

    The only time we have been axious to bring in the slides was in 2018 in Colorado when LARGE hail had happened previously and was expected again. No leaks in our 2016 Class A

    Walt

    leaving water on the slide toppers put a strain on the stitching that could weaken and pull apart, plus the stretching of the fabric. Also I also always pull in the slides during a hail storm.

    Sharon B

    Being an alone camper I don’t even want a slide. If I am boon docking or even at a campsite with hook ups I still want the least amount of potential issues or problems. When looking at other larger rigs for a potential purchase the one thing I eliminate is the slide out. I can just imaging me being out in the boonies with a stuck out slide.

    Ray Gregoris

    Closing your slides in the rain is a concept that anyone who lives in the Pacific Northwest would not even consider, as we would never get to use our rv’s.

    Howard

    When operating slide outs in motor home some instruct slide out operation in travel mode- need to start engine and put in travel mode -otherwise may save a topper and damage a slide

    Robbie

    We spent 5 months without a slide topper because the Carefree spring was broken. We had several severe rain storms and never had a drop of water enter inside. The trick is to keep the seals healthy and in contact with the slide. Slide toppers are way overrated and can be a real pain and maybe not necessary.

    Technobody

    We have a 2005 Artic Fox with two slides. We have been in numerous rainstorm and heavy thunderstorms with 60KM winds lasting several days. To date, we have never had a drop of water enter our slides..
    We owe our good fortune to a well built RV and the fact that I put seal conditioner on all my slide seals every six months which keep them very soft and flexible.
    So to that end I poo-poo the notion of bringing slides in at the appearance of a rain cloud.

    Marcel Ethier

    We have always left our slides out without any problem, even in torrential rain. We always have a bit of a tilt when set up for a long period of time. That way the water simply rolls of the slides.

    Leslie A-J

    We have a small slide-out (18“). Since we can`t get into the bathroom if it is in, I`d never have considered bringing it in during a rain. We don`t camp often, but have been in a few heavy rains and so far, so good.

    Clay Causey

    The comment regarding snow to ice also look out for rain during warmer daytime temps then night time freeze. The ice will force a slide out of position while retracting causing damage. I know, I’ve learned the hard (block ice) way!

    Electricbuzz

    Good reason to keep my old class A with no slide outs.