Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Seeing more and more RV roofs ‘ballooning’ during travel

I’m concerned because at our shop we keep seeing a bunch of RVs coming in with damaged roof membranes and roof ‘ballooning.’ I’m also seeing a bunch of Facebook posts from other owners with this same issue.

An RV roof ballooning
I do not even see any glue on this roof surface!

From what I can tell, more RV roofs are ballooning because the roof glue is failing to adhere and is not holding the TPO roof material in place.

The issue is mostly at the front cap because, while in motion, the unit air is coming up under the trailer and fifth wheel front caps and causing the roof membrane to balloon up. (Now this could be another issue?)

Today in the shop we are working on a 2022 Grand Design Reflection 260RD where the roof membrane surface started lifting in travel! I’ll show you what it looks like on the road, before photos of the roof, and what we do to fix this issue.

This is NOT only a Grand Design problem either. I’ll touch on why we’re seeing more and more of this each day.

If you’re able to check your roof yourself, I would do so as soon as possible.

If you are not able to inspect it, I would contact your local dealership or repair shop and double-check that everything is secure and see if there is a second molding in place on the roof.

I hope you take my recommendation seriously and check it soon as you can.

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We try and help as time allows to answer questions and problems. We encourage others to share their experience so we can build a resource page to help everyone.

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Please feel free to share your stories, problems, and upgrades with us so we can build a resource page to help others.

Thank you,

More from Dustin

Read more of Dustin’s articles here.


Dustin Simpson
Dustin Simpsonhttps://calrvspecialists.com/
I have worn many hats in the RV industry through the years. From an RV Technician, Warranty Administrator, Parts Administrator, Parts Manager, Service Manager and now Business Owner. I have even been deemed an RV Expert by the California court system, working on behalf of the customers, dealers, and manufacturers. My repair facility has been servicing customers at the same location since 2003. What sets us apart from the dealerships is we are here to fix and maintain what you have, and not sell you a new one. Whether you own a million-dollar unit or an entry level, my message to you will be the same, it needs to be maintained.


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Thomas D (@guest_240941)
5 months ago

Poor sucker thar owns an rv that’s a day out of warrantee. Because he’ll be paying for the manufacturer screw up. Different formula= cheaper. If I had that there would be an attorney involved real quick.

Pat (@guest_240874)
5 months ago

This happened twice on our camper. The second failed less than a year from installation. So me and a few friends replaced the rubber membrane with a roll of aluminum meant for semi trailers. Slightly noisy when it’s raining, but it’s not much more as for weight and somewhat permanent.

Thomas D (@guest_240944)
5 months ago
Reply to  Pat

My 1985 Coachman had an aluminum roof. Full of pinholes caused by acidcrain and or electrolysis. Replaced it with rubber

Dan Holmes (@guest_240812)
5 months ago

Hey Dustin. Great video on the ballooning roof issue. It brought to mind my 2012 chaparral 278RLDS 5th wheel. On this unit the front cap and EPDM roof met and were sealed together by two parallel screw strips and decor self levelling caulk. My RV tech, not the vendor, was looking over my new unit and commented that he didn’t really trust this system. He covered this double seam with a continuous strip of Dicor roof patch. He finished the job with a bead of self levelling caulk on all sides. Never had a problem there. The validation of this preventative fix came a couple of years later when despite careful inspection and touch up of the caulking on my roof before putting the unit away for the winter, a pinhole developed, water got in and rotted a corner of the roof deck. He repaired the damage and did the same tape and caulk trick across the back and around the corners past the drip extensions. Seems like an ideal way to spread out the stress on the caulking caused during travel.

Cal20Sailor (@guest_240701)
5 months ago

It’s truly awesome to see how poorly RVs are manufactured here in the Good Ol’ USofA! Really? Pressboard and plastic sheeting for an RV roof?!?!?! Yeah, that’ll stand up to hurricane force winds typical of a drive on the freeway and overhanging tree branches in a campground… To hell with pride of workmanship and concerns about professional reputation — it’s all about rolling around in stinking lucre! With these “modern” values it’s a small wonder this nation is circling the toilet bowl…

Last edited 5 months ago by Cal20Sailor
Roger B (@guest_240685)
5 months ago

As the manufacturers try to cut a corner to save a buck that there is not enough glue being used. Just wondering, since I keep seeing the posts about poor quality and workmanship.

Stu (@guest_240677)
5 months ago

I would not be surprised to find that the manufacturers are using a new glue that has low or no VOC to meet budget or environmental requirements. I know that solvent based contact cement is far superior to water based contact cement. Thank you California.

Tommy Molnar (@guest_240667)
5 months ago

The problem is, if no one tells YOU that your roof is flapping you’ll never know. I know I can’t see up there as we drive down the road. I’ve got several solar panels on our roof (three in the front) so maybe their mounts are helping the roof stay put. Hey, ya never know . . .

Spike (@guest_240652)
5 months ago

Anyone buying a new or used RV needs to get on the roof and inspect…and do not rely on the dealer. I was looking at a brand new 2022 Alliance 5ver in February with the PVC “canvas” type material on the roof. Climbed up to check the roof and it looked like an unmade bed up there. All the roof material was loose and bunched up like it was just thrown on. And they claim stringent quality inspections. Uh huh. Check yourself or hire an independent certified inspector.

Tommy Molnar (@guest_240670)
5 months ago
Reply to  Spike

Boy, hard to believe a brand new trailer could leave the factory that messed up. But maybe no one got up on the roof before it left. Scary.

Bob P (@guest_240648)
5 months ago

Takes a lot of sealant to reseal a roof, something most RVers don’t realize. Most including me would run a bead along the edge of old sealant and say that’s good enough. I never imagined completely covering the edge of the molding strip.

Jim Johnson (@guest_240647)
5 months ago

A note about Facebook- while there are a lot of readers who use this social media service, I do not. And a recent poll in this newsletter says I am far from alone. This isn’t to argue the merits of Facebook, just a fact. Certainly it is the writer’s choice, but when encouraged to go to Facebook for more information. I suspect a lot of us won’t be doing that.

Since the writer owns the content, has there been any consideration to post the information in a ‘side channel’ to RV Travel?

Spike (@guest_240651)
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim Johnson

Great idea, Jim!

As soon as I see Facebook I move on. Don’t have an account and don’t want to have one.

WilBB (@guest_240658)
5 months ago
Reply to  Spike

I’ll second that, or is it third.

JPM (@guest_240662)
5 months ago
Reply to  WilBB

And I’ll third or fourth it.

bill (@guest_240678)
5 months ago
Reply to  JPM

Fifth for me! You can do it Dustin!

P-squared (@guest_240731)
5 months ago
Reply to  Spike

Absolutely! The closest thing to social media that I have is email.

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