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An RV vent can help keep the air well circulated inside your recreational vehicle, but sometimes they need replacing. What types of RV vent covers are there?

Without a way of venting the air inside your recreational vehicle, the air quality would deteriorate quickly. The air would grow stale and mildewy, creating respiratory illnesses for your occupants. Like everything else on a recreational vehicle. It is an excellent idea to inspect your RV vents regularly. Should a repair be needed, it is crucial to know what type of hinge cover your particular camper or self-contained RV has.

RV vent covers allow fresh air to circulate inside the trailer, which keeps the atmosphere inside your counter from getting stale, mildewy, or filling with foul odors. The vent cover keeps debris and water from entering and protects the opening mechanism, either manual or electric.

Owning a recreational vehicle is more than parking it when not used. Regular maintenance can ensure that the vehicle is functioning correctly and free of damage from the elements. The last thing you want to do is a broken vent cover hinge and not be able to allow fresh air into the home. The moisture that collects inside an RV can make it unbearable between uses.

So what is an RV vent cover, and how do the hinges that come with it work exactly? This article will explore everything related to RV vent covers to help you maximize your time on vacation without inconvenience.



What is an RV Vent Cover?

Installed on the roof of your recreational vehicle, a vent allows fresh air to circulate in and through the interior space of your camper. The cover protects the exhaust fan if one is installed or just acts as a barrier to debris, water from rain and storms, and even smoke from an overzealous meal from ruining your experience. If you burn the newly caught trout you just cleaned and were looking forward to eating, a vent can be handy to get the fishy smell away. A proper working vent even releases excess humidity from a shower inside your RV on a cold morning.

Most RV vents are about 14 inches in size and move manually or electronically. The longevity of a vent cover is about five years, but regular inspection and cleaning (yes, you should periodically clean the roof of your RV) will keep them separately effectively.

Most RV covers wear down over time. The pounding on your RV's roof takes daily from harsh sunlight, wind, and rain, and just exposure to debris like bugs (if you think your windshield gets bombarded a lot, just think about the roof of your RV).

RV Vent Types

There are a variety of types of covers that have been used on the roofs of recreational vehicles over the years.

Passive Vents

A passive vent is a unit that allows for an opening on the roof but does not work with the aid of a motorized fan. Simply open or close the vent manually to allow the fresh air to circulate through the interior cabin. Most passive units open and close with a crank or other mechanism that must be engaged by the owner to be opened or closed.


A cowl vent protrudes from the roof vent area with a taller cover that maximizes airflow. The cowl can act like a scoop bringing a lot of air in - or wholly turned against the wind-force a trailer makes going down the highway to aid in the drag coefficient.

Powered Vents

A vent that opens with the aid of a motorized unit is powered and operates through a switch. Many RV owners are replacing manual vent covers with motorized ones, which prevents having to get on a stepstool in the middle of the night because the temperature drops suddenly and the interior of the RV is getting too cold for comfort.


A skylight is precisely what you would expect, a large opening in the roof of an RV that can open or not. The larger area is covered by clear plastic for the most part and allows for warm sunlight to filter into the RV during the day.

RV Vent Covers

Vent covers range from basic, manually operated covers to more motorized covers that open with the flip of a switch. The most common form of the motor is an outward fan, designed to vent air from the inside out, although occasionally, a two-way motor allows for airflow either way.

Even vent covers with rain-sensing applications can close automatically if it drizzles on your camper when you are away.

Most vent covers are made of plastic and come in white or black so that they can match your RV. They make transparent covers with various colors, so many options are available.

RV Vent Cover Hinge Types

If an inspection of the roof vent cover may show that it is not sealing correctly, or is damaged, consider replacing the hinges as well. The hinge is the working unit of a cover and is likely why a cover is not sealing correctly. The hinge assembly should match whatever cover you are removing from the camper and be in the color you want: white, gray, or black.

Four Point Hinge

A basic four-point hinge is a flat or relatively flat cover secured to the vent opening by four distinct hinge assemblies, usually plastic.

Three Point Hinge

This is a primary hinge that is secured by three separate hinge assemblies.

Plastic Continuous Hinge

Yep, you guessed it. A continuous plastic hinge is a plastic rod secured through assemblies attached to the vent and the cover.

Metal Continuous Hinge

And finally, a continuous metal hinge is found on older RVs and applies to vent covers secured by a metal rod placed through metal rings on the vent cover and the side of the vent opening.

Why are Vent Cover Hinges Important?

The hinge is the working part of the vent cover and, without a doubt, gets the most use of any component of a vent cover. Just like the hinges on a typical door will often need attention from rust and use, the hinge mechanism of your vent cover needs regular inspection and attention. Since the hinge assembly is the mechanism a cover uses to connect to your RV's roof, you must select the right cover and hinge assembly before installing a new cover.

When inspecting your vent cover hinge, look for cracked, faded, broken, or worn plastic connections. The constant exposure to UV light, rain, and elements can lead to the deterioration of plastic vent covers. (The manufacturer probably installed the cheapest vent cover possible - so knowing that should spur you to do regular inspections).

If you have an older RV with a continuous metal rod and hinges, rust can also be a factor. Some RV owners have had luck spraying a bit of WD 40 onto the crank to get it to operate correctly. However, this should be considered a temporary fix and is not a substitute for a complete rooftop inspection.

If your inspection shows that the vent will not raise even with the manual crank, then more than likely, the gears inside the unit may have stripped, which is another reason to replace the entire vent unit.

If you are unsure of the type of hinge assembly, take the cover to your local RV retailer, and have them match the correct vent cover. Your owner's manual should also have the necessary information.

Where to Get Replacement Vent Cover Hinges

Most RV retailers have helpful parts guys who have a lot of different vent covers in stock or can order the correct piece for your RV within a day or so. I prefer to go to my local retailer (mainly because I like having another set of eyes on my project). The parts guy can also give me a couple of options so that I don’t end up paying more money than I have to pay for virtually the same product.

Online retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and most national recreational vehicle manufacturers have websites that allow customers to purchase directly. While this is much more convenient, since the part gets shipped directly to your home, it may not ensure that you have ordered the correct part. Ordering the wrong thing and fighting with an online giant to get an exchange or refund can be a hassle.

What about an Additional Vent Cover - Are they Worth it?

Many RV owners have purchased cowl-shaped RV vent covers that cover the entire vent and allow the interior cover to open and remain open even on rainy days. MAXXAIR is a primary maker of these kinds of vent covers, and the cost is minimal - about $30. The additional cover can extend the life of the regular vent cover. However, it will require additional work anchoring and sealing the new cover over the old one.

How Do I Keep My RV Vent Covers Clean?

Most RV vent covers can be removed with a standard screwdriver. Once removed, they can be cleaned with a solution of soapy water and then allowed to air dry before being reinstalled. Don’t forget to clean the interior of the open vent, as sometimes mold, mildew, and dust can accumulate. If you have a circular vent with flaps, either pry the flaps loose with a screwdriver or wipe them down thoroughly to remove any grime. (I prefer an anti-bacterial and ecological cleanser for use around pets and humans).

With the RV vents secured in the down position, climb onto the roof and inspect for missing components, cracks in seals, or openings in joint edges that might be allowing moisture to enter. If there is evidence of separation or excess wear, chances are you need to recaulk around the fixtures that are protruding from your RV. There are various compounds that you can purchase and use, but be sure that you use a sealant or caulk that is rated for outdoor use.

Depending on your RV's roof, be advised that some roofs can be very slick and hazardous to stand on. Fiberglass roofs are hard, smooth, and very slippery when wet. Be sure to wear shoes with no-slip soles, or at the very least, exercise extreme caution when mopping your roof down with soapy water.

The hardest stain to remove is tree sap. If you notice that the RV is being stained by tree sap, it is advisable to find a separate storage area for your RV. Many self-storage lots have open-air secured locations to store your RV or Camper when it is not in use.

Is It Possible to Replace my RV Vent Cover Myself?

Yes, it is a fairly simple DIY project, depending on the type of roof and vent cover you own. The

The job can be relatively time-consuming and may require additional sealing or caulking around the outer edges of the vent assembly. It is generally considered an easier task to replace a vent and vent cover than repair a cracked or torn hinge. Many Youtube videos exist, and most manufacturers' websites have explanatory videos and blogs with detailed pictures demonstrating the procedure.

Installation usually requires simply removing an old vent cover and securing the new cover to the existing hardware of the vent. To remove a vent cover from the roof of an RV, follow these simple steps.

  • Disconnect the cranking mechanism from the cover if possible
  • Secure a ladder and climb onto your RV (Many RVs have ladders attached already)
  • Locate the vent cover that needs replacing
  • Remove the connecting rod or plastic connectors attaching the old lid to the vent base. (some vent hinges have tabs or screws on the end that hold the hinge in place, you will need to loosen these screws to create enough play in the hinge to remove it.
  • Snape the new hinge in place and reverse this process.
  • Inspect to ensure that there is a tight seal
  • Reconnect the cranking mechanism (it may have to be done inside the unit).