If you’ve been RVing for a while, you know that your RV’s roof vent covers take a beating from the sun and elements. Over time, the plastic or metal can become brittle, crack, and leak. Replacing an aging, damaged vent cover is crucial to prevent leaks and maintain proper ventilation. In this guide, I’ll walk you through the full process of replacing an RV vent cover, from choosing the right replacement to proper installation.
When Is It Time to Replace Your RV Vent Cover?
Your RV’s vent covers play an important role in ventilation and preventing leaks. Here are some signs that it’s time to replace your vent cover:
- Cracks or breaks in the plastic or metal material
- Brittleness or deformity showing the cover is sun-damaged
- Leaking around the edges of the vent during rain
- Mildew or moisture buildup around the vents
- Difficulty opening and closing the vent
If you notice any of these issues, it’s best to replace the vent cover sooner rather than later. Driving with damaged vents can lead to expensive water damage or mold in your RV.
Types of Replacement RV Vent Covers
There are two main material types to choose from when replacing an RV vent cover: plastic and metal.
Plastic Vent Covers
Plastic vent covers are the most common type of RV vent cover. They are typically made of impact-resistant polypropylene plastic.
- Easy to install
- Prone to sun damage
- Can crack and deform over time
Plastic covers are affordable and a good option if you’re on a budget. Just keep in mind they’ll likely need replaced again sooner than a metal cover.
Metal Vent Covers
For a more heavy-duty and durable option, choose an aluminum or stainless steel vent cover.
- Withstand sun exposure better than plastic
- Long-lasting if cared for
- Sturdy and impact-resistant
- More expensive upfront cost
- Heavier than plastic covers
Metal covers are a smart investment if you want something that will last for years. They are more resistant to sun damage and wear from the elements.
How to Remove an Old RV Vent Cover
Before installing a new vent cover, you’ll need to fully remove the old one. Here are some safety tips for getting up on your RV roof:
- Use a sturdy ladder that reaches above the roofline
- Have someone there to assist and spot you
- Wear rubber-soled shoes to prevent slipping
- Tether yourself to the roof as a precaution
You’ll also need the following tools:
- Adjustable wrench
- Replacement sealant, like dicor self-leveling lap sealant
Follow these steps to remove an old cover:
- Remove the interior vent components like the crank handle and screens. This gives you full access.
- Using a screwdriver, remove the screws around the edges of the old vent cover.
- Carefully lift the cover away and disconnect it from the hinge mechanism.
- Use a wrench to fully remove the hinge from the vent if it doesn’t lift off with the cover.
- Thoroughly clean the opening with rags, removing any old caulk or sealant residue.
- Remove any remaining screws, seals, and old adhesive until only the vent opening remains.
Now you’re ready for the new replacement cover!
Choosing the Right Replacement RV Vent Cover
To select the best new vent cover, be sure to:
- Accurately measure the vent opening size. Even a 1/4 inch difference can prevent proper fitting.
- Match the new cover to the existing hinge style and mechanism.
- Choose a color that matches or complements other accessories on the roof.
- Look for insulation features if you camp in very hot or very cold weather.
- Verify compatibility with your specific RV make, model, and year.
Take your time selecting the right replacement cover for your needs and RV setup. Don’t just default to the same thing you had before. Assess if you need different features or materials this go around.
How to Install a New RV Vent Cover
Once you’ve selected the new vent cover, it’s time for installation. Here’s how to safely and properly install your RV’s new vent cover:
- Clean the vent opening again with alcohol to remove any debris or dirt.
- Apply a fresh bead of sealant around the entire vent opening. Use a sealant like dicor that is specifically made for RVs.
- Remove the new cover from its packaging. Place it over the opening.
- Follow the hinge or screw instructions to securely attach the new cover. Make sure the hinge opens and closes properly.
- Install screws around the edges of the cover, adding sealant under the edges if needed. DO NOT over tighten.
- Allow the sealant to fully cure per the product instructions.
- Test for leaks by spraying the cover with a hose on both sides. Apply more sealant if any moisture comes through.
- Replace the interior vent components once fully sealed.
Taking your time during installation prevents leaks and other issues down the road. Make sure the cover is securely attached but do not overtighten the screws.
Caring for Your RV’s New Vent Cover
To get the longest lifespan from your new vent cover:
- Park in shaded spots when possible to prevent sun damage.
- Periodically clean the vents with mild soap and water to prevent dirt buildup.
- Inspect the cover closely during routine roof inspections for any new cracks or deterioration.
- Replace any dried out or cracked sealant immediately to prevent leaks.
- Travel with vents closed whenever possible to prevent flying debris damage.
With proper care and maintenance, your new vent cover should last for many seasons of RVing before needing replaced again!
Replacing an aging or damaged RV vent cover is crucial maintenance to keep your rig safe from leaks and other water damage. While removing the old cover and installing a new one requires getting up on your roof, taking precautions makes the process safe and straightforward.
Choose a durable replacement cover that fits your specific RV model and matches your existing hardware. Carefully seal and install the new cover. And be sure to care for it properly moving forward. Following this vent cover replacement guide helps ensure your RV’s roof vents remain functional for years of adventure on the road!