After many weeks of daily shammy wringing to eliminate water that had been collecting at the front of our fifth wheel in a very difficult-to-get-to area, I had had enough.
With travel right around the corner, I considered calling a mobile RV tech, but I didn’t want to look foolish — like the time we called an RV tech to fix a leaky gray wastewater tank valve, only to learn we had two gray tanks.
Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
I decided to take things into my own hands to see what I could see. Ascending our adjustable ladder at its shortest configuration, I crammed myself into the bunklike top storage compartment at the front of our rig and maneuvered into a sitting position, my feet dangling. (So much for not looking foolish.)
A thick layer of (mostly) puffy fiberglass insulation blocked my view. I couldn’t even see past the flatter insulation, the fibers of which had been broken down by water steadily seeping through it.
Not willing to deal with any more water torture, I determined to get a better look. Clad in long sleeves, gloves, and an N-95 mask, I engaged our trusty channel-lock pliers to grab the cotton candy-like substance and remove it. A metal beam forming the floor of our bedroom prevented me from sticking my hands in very far to get to the stuff.
Able to grab only a small portion at a time, the pliers made for a slow removal process. Taking a break, I noticed a full edge of insulation sticking out on the left side. I grabbed hold of it and, sure enough, was able to pull out a whole chunk — and then another chunk.
This left the most compromised portion due to water damage. Little by little, piece by piece, opening and closing the pliers, I yanked it all out. I finally had complete visibility of the plywood forming the compartment ceiling.
Finding the Culprit
Shining a flashlight across the exposed plywood revealed a clue as to the root of the problem. The passenger side of the compartment clearly showed water spots. I pried myself out of the bay, eager to tell Bob of my findings.
As it turns out, red and blue PEX pipes run along that side of the rig from our basement to the washing machine hookups in the bedroom. Opting to forgo an onboard washer and dryer leaves water in those pipes with nowhere to go.
We had checked the pipes on more than one occasion. They looked fine and showed no signs of leakage. Yet, every indication pointed to them being the issue.
With the sun dipping close to the horizon, I stuffed shammies between the front compartment’s plywood and silver bubble wrap floor to catch any remaining water drops. We headed to The Home Depot to get some shutoff valves for the cold and hot water pipes leading to the laundry hookups. We should have listened to fellow full-time RVer friend Alan when he had suggested that.
A Long-Term Solution
The next morning, much to my delight, I opened the front compartment and found absolutely no water — for the first time in numerous weeks. This confirmed our theory that the insulation had been slowly wicking away the moisture.
We decided to install the valves anyway from our basement as a safety measure. With the city water to the trailer turned off, Bob drained any remaining liquid from the pipes, cut and secured them to the valves, and attached the valves to the rig so that they wouldn’t dislodge the lightweight PEX when Gulliver pulled Tagalong down the road.
This is the travel blog of full-time RVers Bob and Lana Gates and our truck, Gulliver, and fifth wheel, Tagalong.