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Water damage can easily kill your camper if you do not resolve the issue immediately, but how much water damage can an RV take before it’s totaled?

Taking care of an RV is a never-ending chore and it requires constant upkeep and maintenance to keep the vehicle operational. Water damage has been a notorious issue for a lot of RV owners, as even a small leak can wreak havoc on your camper.

You can determine if your RV is totaled due to water damage if the cost of the repairs are more than what the vehicle is worth. You need to get a quote on your repair costs, as well as the dollar value of your RV to determine if the vehicle is totaled.

If you want to get as many years out of your RV as possible, you should take the time to give your vehicle the attention that it deserves. Buying an RV is a major financial investment and if you can take care of your camper from the very beginning, it can last for decades. While mechanical issues are generally the priority when taking measures to keep your vehicle operational, you should make sure that you do not overlook the significance of water damage. A lot of RVers are often surprised to find that even a small leak can result in their camper being totaled. Water damage is an RV killer and it can lead to a huge mess of other issues down the line. If your vehicle already has serious water damage, you may be wondering whether the RV is worth repairing at all. To help you understand this further, we are going to take a closer look at how much water damage is needed to total an RV.

After extensively researching RV maintenance and repairs, I have been able to gather enough information to determine when an RV is totaled due to water damage. My research has indicated that to figure out how bad water damage to an RV actually is, you need to conduct a thorough inspection of the vehicle to determine the total repair costs of fixing the camper.



How Do RVs Get Water Damage?

Water damage is one of the most common issues that RVers run into over the years and if you want to prevent it, you needed to understand what causes it in the first place.

RVs are complex vehicles that require a lot more attention to detail than a standard car. Your camper is likely equipped with a water heater, shower, toilet, air conditioner, and an entire plumbing system, which implies that there are a lot of components in your RV that directly involve water.

With that said, the size of a standard RV is also quite large and you have to consider that you need to maintain the roof, ceiling, floors, vents, covers, and so many other areas of your vehicle to keep water out. Let’s break down the most common ways that RVs get water damage.

Movement & Vibrations

When you drive your vehicle, it constantly absorbs impact from the road, which results in the RV vibrating and moving quite a lot.

Over time, these movements and vibrations will cause sealants to separate which results in exposure to moisture and eventually, leaks.

Water & Sun Damage

RVs are exposed to elements such as water and sun that will damage the vehicle’s exterior.

There are a lot of different ways that water and sun will affect the integrity of an RV such as deteriorating the body and cracking seals. All of which can cause water damage.

Punctures & Scrapes

Punctures and scrapes, regardless of size, can be catalysts for serious water damage later on - especially if not treated immediately.

Whether you clip a tree branch or get dinged by a piece of gravel, this can easily be the starting point of water damage to your RV.

Plumbing Issues

Your RV has a pretty complex plumbing system, much like your home. There can be any number of things that can go wrong with it that will result in water damage.

  • Sinks
  • Shower
  • Pipes
  • Hoses
  • Water Heater
  • Tanks

Plumbing issues can be some of the most costly and tedious repairs that you have to deal with in your RV. If you are able to spot these early on, they can generally be stopped before they cause irreversible damage.

How to Prevent RV Water Damage

The best way to keep your RV from getting totaled is to take preventative measures to ensure that it stays operational. RV maintenance is time-consuming, but it’s ultimately what makes the biggest difference in how many years you can squeeze out of your camper.

Routine Inspections

Any experienced RVer will tell you that routine inspections are the key to maximizing the lifespan of a camper and preventing water damage from occuring.

You should be inspecting your vehicle regularly, especially while you are on the road and it is being actively used. While a thorough inspection of your RV and all of its components should take place at least once a year, you should really be checking up on your camper every 3 months or so.

Fix Leaks Immediately

The worst thing that you can do when you spot an issue with your RV is brush it under the rug - especially when it relates to leaks. Water damage gets exponentially worse the longer you leave it unattended.

You have to consider that every second that you do not treat a leak, it’s causing water damage to your camper. That is why hopping on leaks immediately is absolutely vital to prevent your RV from getting totaled.

General Upkeep

When you inspect your RV, you should also be fixing it in the process. During your inspection, take note of anything that you see that is out of place or needs to be tended to. This means that you should be patching things up with the following supplies:

  • Plumbers putty
  • Plumbers tape
  • Calk

You may not see a physical leak yet, but you can often spot the area where it will occur ahead of time.

How to Determine if Water Damage has Totaled an RV

As we have covered, water damage is an RV killer and it can easily total your vehicle if you do not take immediate action to resolve leaks. There are a number of things that can total a camper but water damage is hands down one of the most common reasons.

With that said, not all water damage is going to total your RV. Isolated incidents that are taken care of swiftly should never total your vehicle - especially if they are not related to critical components of your camper.

If your RV has some serious water damage, you need to consider whether the vehicle is worth repairing at all, as it could be more trouble than it is worth. In general, if the cost to repair the RV is more than what it’s worth, you can consider it totaled. Let’s break down how you can determine if your RV is totaled due to water damage.

RV Inspection

The first thing that you need to do when evaluating water damage is to inspect your RV. Take a close look at your vehicle as a whole and identify exactly what has been damaged by water.

You should be able to trace the water damage back to a source(s) so that you can see what areas of your camper have been affected. If the leak wasn’t too bad, then the damage should be minimal and isolated.

However, if you are dealing with a large leak or even multiple leaks, the damage can be more widespread, which will require a more thorough inspection. While you can certainly handle most of the inspection yourself, you may want to consider getting the vehicle checked out by a professional RV service station.

Repair Costs Assessment

If you are not an experienced RV mechanic, figuring out exactly how much your repair costs are will be challenging. Naturally, if you are dealing with a small leak that has only affected a minor component of your RV, you should be able to simply replace a specific part or fix the affected area.

However, if you are legitimately concerned about your RV being totaled, odds are that the damage is severe and, potentially, in more than one part of your vehicle. With that said, I would recommend that you get your RV looked at by a professional so that they can give you a legitimate figure for your repair costs.

RV Valuation

The biggest determining factor for figuring out if your RV is totaled due to water damage is if the cost of the repair is more than what the vehicle is worth.

At the end of the day, if it costs more money to fix your RV than what it’d sell for, there is very little incentive to get it fixed, as you might as well just buy a new one. You need to figure out exactly how much your RV is worth so that you can make some important decisions regarding the fate of your vehicle.

Often times the shop that gave you an estimate of your RV’s repair costs will also be able to tell you the dollar value of your vehicle. If you are not convinced by their estimate, you should take the vehicle to another professional that can evaluate it and give you a quote.

DIY Repairs (Optional)

If you want to save your ‘totaled’ RV without paying the excessive costs of fixing the water damage at a repair shop, one alternative is to roll up your sleeves and do the work yourself.

One of the biggest costs associated with RV repairs is the labor that goes into it. If you are able to cut this out, you can essentially save yourself a ton of money and prevent your camper from going to the scrap yard.

With that said, attempting to fix water damage in an RV that would, by professional standards, be considered totaled is no easy feat. You should be very competent with tools and well-versed in RV maintenance to make the repairs worth your while.