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Old 01-02-2010, 03:50 PM   #1
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Unhappy Leaking Skylight on 05 Wildwood TT - Need Advice

We have a 2005 Wildwood TT parked in the deep woods of Florida far from any RV dealer, with no way to get it to a dealership for service, unfortunately. Several weeks ago, we discovered a little bit of water in the bottom of the tub under the skylight on our 05 Wildwood 37BHSS and after removing the inner dome found that there was minor water leak damage and a crack in the outer skylight. Turns out the skylight plastic outer dome is EXPENSIVE, so we tried using epoxy to fix the crack and added some Dicor sealant on the outer (trailing or lower edge) of the skylight flange, as the sealant had a small crack in it. We thought we did a great repair job - cleaned and dried everything BEFORE the repair, (and it did not leak for a long while), only to have the problem reappear a few months later.

The local dealer says this problem is more common that we know. These skylights, while nice for tall folks like me, are made of inexpensive acrylic or plastic and are VERY prone to cracking and leaking and there are lots of problems with leaks on skylights at the flanges or the surrounding sealant. He says the flanges can buckle or flex which makes the problem worse. He also says that Airstream (a brand which he carries) has switched to a metal framed skylight due to similar problems, plus there are problems with the Salems that they sell, sometimes during year 1 of the trailer warranty. He says he can order an OEM replacement from F.R. and says it is not that hard to replace the outer dome. He is also recommending that we add 1" flat aluminum strips to help keep the flange flat and stable. He can supply all these parts and the sealant and so on.

Right now, we are using several layers of good ol' duct tape to seal the outer flange and skylight from leaking. It's too cold here now to do the repair for a few weeks. And, since we can see at least two cracks in the outer skylight near where the dome meets the flat part of the flange on the side nearest the edge of the roof, it makes no sense to tear it all done and try to REPAIR the existing flange, especially if the Florida sun makes them fall apart anyway.

So, I am asking the advice of forum members regarding skylight repair and replacement. Have you ever done this task? Is it a real pain to do? (I am pretty handy, but am a bit squeamish at tearing off the skylight from the roof.) Also, has your FR TT or 5thWHL had leak problems? Does FR need to do more to make skylights non-leaking, as Airstream is doing now? Finally, if this is a really hard task, should I pay for the RV repair guy to drive 25 miles one way to do this job instead? Or, is it pretty straight forward ?

YOUR HELP AND ADVICE IS GREATLY APPRECIATED!!
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Old 01-02-2010, 04:06 PM   #2
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More info on this problem

Our skylight appears to be acrylic, since it is already yellowing after 3 or 4 years. I note that one website says to use Lexan, which is unbreakable, instead. Our skylight is a flush mount flanged style, not a curb mount.

The install method recommended by the dealer involved using flat metal strips and screws to attach the skylight. (Similar to what is shown here: http://www.taxiroofsigns.com/basicinstallfm.htm )

I think at present, the skylight is held down by sealant only, but I have not removed it to be 100% certain. Any ideas on best skylight material or install method to use? Anybody tried doing a curb mount instead?

Glazed and Confused.
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Old 01-02-2010, 04:17 PM   #3
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I also found this nice skylight online, and it looks ideal. It even has a feature to prevent condensation from getting inside the trailer and boasts a leakproof installation. Maybe this, or something like it, should become the standard for RVs. It would be worth the extra bucks, IMHO.

See: http://www.pellandent.com/RV_Parts_P...ProductID=4601
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Old 01-22-2010, 10:55 AM   #4
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That part about needing advice on replacing a leaking skylight - I meant that. Can anyone provide a suggestion? Three weeks now and no replies.
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Old 01-22-2010, 12:42 PM   #5
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Since you have your trailer Deep in the Woods I would recommend the Lexan since it's much sturdier a product. The cracks may have been a result of something falling out of the trees?
As for how to install it. You state you're squemish about the whole roof thing. If you're not sure about your abilities I'd have someone that has the capabilities do it. You don't want to find out later that all your work didn't give a positive result. Best of luck!
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Old 01-22-2010, 01:36 PM   #6
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Smile More on this...

Thank you for your reply and suggestion.

In addition, I called Forest River Tech Support today, and the rep I spoke with gave me some valuable info. He says that the skylight is pretty easy to replace - it is secured with tape, pan head screws and sealant (Dicor brand is recommended). You carefully take off the old unit using a plastic paint scraper to avoid damage, clean up the area, put the tape on the new skylight, secure it to the roof, insert new screws, then cover everything carefully with the Dicor sealant/caulk.

He said it is not that hard of a job, just messy, and they can provide the part number with the VIN and measurements of the existing unit.

My squeamishness is starting to fade now, so wish me luck!
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Old 01-22-2010, 01:38 PM   #7
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I will also price a Lexan replacement as you suggest, because our greatest fear is that a branch falls on the trailer and does damage when we are not there. We often drive out after big storms, as we did last night, just to check for that kind of damage.

Oh, the joys of RV ownership!
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Old 01-27-2010, 04:50 PM   #8
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I had a leak in my FR 5th wheel. I removed the inside portion cleaned up everything and reattached. I then went up on the roof and removed all the Dicor cleaned everything and put down Eternabond all around the edge as my leak was at the edge. I then put Dicor around the edge of the Eternabond. This resolved my issue.

You may want to consider the Eternabond when you replace.

One other note - It would not have been hard at all to remove the screws and outer dome if I had needed to. If you can get on the roof it only takes time to clean all the old dicor off to expose the screw heads. I would advise new stainless screws when replacing.

Good Luck
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Old 02-22-2010, 02:23 PM   #9
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Leaking Skylight on 05 Wildwood - The Rest of the Story~

After too much research, I decided to order a replacement skylight direct from Forest River Parts department. It was easy to do - just give them your RV VIN number and they look it up... I figured this was the sure bet, and it would be an exact replacment - screw holes would line up and such.

I did get the right size skylight, but the wrong color - it was clear instead of almond/opaque. It appeared to have the Eternabond tape I needed, too, at least at first glance... all seemed good.

So, we waited for a warm dry weekend with temps above 70 to install it. Keep in mind, our TT is parked 40 miles from any major city in the deep woods. We even bought extra Eternabond tape from Walmart, just in case

But, the skylight replacement job was nothing short of a nightmare! A true case of Murphy's law in action. Thanks mainly to FR Parts Dept.

Moreover, the original OEM install of the skylight was done in a shamefully sloppy manner at the factory - the skylight was not installed flush; the screws were zipped in by a gun at crazy angles up to 30 degrees; the skylight flange was forced to bend to meet up with the roof's surface, (which is how the cracks started in the first place), and the hex head screws used were not rustproof and were so corroded that we had to removed them by hand with a nut driver to prevent them from breaking off in place... Both the original Eternabond or butyl tape and the original Dicor caulking did not want to come off, so it was not possible to completely remove all of it - although we tried and got about 95% off.

So, we spent about 3.5 hours removing the OEM skylight on day one, only to run out of daylight and have to temporarily install the new skylight with duct tape until the next day.

Day Two found us back on the roof again, trying to install the new skylight. At this point, we realized that the original install had been badly botched and that the new skylight would not sit flush on the roof. In our TT, our shower stall lines up with a spot in the roof where two sheets of OSB plywood join together, and there is a sag on both the leading and trailing edge of the roof where the skylight meets the roof. Put another way, the long sides of the skylight were mostly flush - the two short sides were way off due to the sag that should have been shored up at the factory.

Luckily, we had a new rubber door sweep that we were able to cannibalize to make some rubber shims so that the new skylight would sit flush.

The Eternabond tape that was included by FR with the skylight was supposed to make the job really easy, once the old skylight, tape and caulking was removed. But, someone at FR Parts made a royal screw-up and sent us the wrong Eternabond tape. They sent SINGLE SIDED Eternabond tape, not DOUBLE-SIDED. Having never used Eternabond tape, we did not know this at first.

So, following the instructions that came with the Eternabond tape, we affixed it to the skylight. We noticed right away that the new tape was nowhere near as thick as the original tape that came with the OEM skylight. To compensate, we decided to use two layers of Eternabond tape where the skylight flange met the roof hole, one on the skylight and one on the rubber roof itself.

This is where Murphy's law came in: Having secured the single-sided Eternabond tape to both the roof and the skylight, we discovered that the white strip still attached to the single-sided Eternabond tape was UNREMOVABLE. I repeat: UNREMOVABLE. No amount of human force would separate this white plastic material from the Eternabond.

We tried to call Eternabond's toll free number, but they were closed on Sunday. Needless to say, we were now in a big jam, with no way to attach our skylight, and rain clouds building in the afternoon sky.

We decided that we would have to find a way to remove the white plastic strip from the Eternabond tape, so we could complete the job before it started raining. Force did not work. We tried ice to see if cold made it peel off, and that did not work, either.

Finally, we used a 1500 watt hair dryer set on high and pulled the white strip with lots of force, while scraping the Eternabond off the white plastic strip wiht our fingernails. One square milimeter at a time. I kid you not.

Unbeknownst to us, we later learned from Eternabond that this is the ONLY WAY to remove the white plastic strip from Eternabond. The white plastic side is NEVER supposed to come loose. It's really designed to be used on slideouts and such, or on the outside edge of a skylight.

To make a long story short, it was a real nightmare install job. My wife was practically in tears. And, it took at least 4 extra man hours to remove the white plastic from the two rings of Eternabond and then get the skylight seated. You cannot imagine the effort involved.

To reinstall the new skylight, we opted for ceramic-coated hex head screws with rubber washers to affix the skylight. These are the same screws used on metal roofing and they allow a small amount of give on the skylight for temperature changes and such. The rubber shims allowed for a flush installation and we added extra caulking in lots of places to ensure that it will not leak. We bought 8 tubes of Dicor, but only used 4.

When it was all finished, we used the hair dryer on a low setting to help the caukling get a "skin" and cure faster, in case it rained that evening.

All total, start to finish, this project took way too long: 2 people x 3.5 hours on day one to remove and temporarily reinstall the skylight, followed by 2 people x 6 hours on day two to install the skylight. But, we are happy that the new skylight is flush-mounted and we think it will be leakproof.

If we had paid someone else to do it for us, we probably would have gotten a sloppy job that would have cracked and leaked again, because most repair guys would not have bothered to fix the roof issues before mounting the new skylight.

I guess in retrospect, I had good reason to be squeamish about this job after all. It was a nightmare I would not have wished on anyone...
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Old 02-22-2010, 02:27 PM   #10
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Correspondence with FR Tech Support RE: Skylight Install Issues

The names have been removed to protect the innocent. I do hope someone in Quality Assurance at Forest River see this:

************************

From: Joe
Sent: Monday, February 22, 2010 1:58 PM
To:
Subject: RE: Skylite Repl. Install Issues & Install Documents


Thanks for the reply and the apology. But some of your comments compel me to set the record straight:

1. We did call both FR Tech Support, and XXX in FR Parts (twice) after ordering the skylight from you.

We also spoke at length with our local RV dealer “J.D. Sanders RV” in Alachua, FL, who sell FR Salem RVs and offered to sell us a skylight, but we opted to purchase directly from you to ensure the proper model and a correct fit.

We even posted questions on the FR forum to make sure we knew all there was to know about this task beforehand.

I don’t know how any RV owner could do MORE than that.

Also, I do not think that FR Tech Support is open on the weekends is it? Please advise if it is and share the phone number.

2. Your comments indicate that we were shipped the wrong Eternabond tape (which is now a given) and that the installation instructions were Eternabond instructions instead, but all came at no charge. That probably saved us $10 or $15. But, it begs the questions:

a. HOW could we have known we were sent the wrong product and instructions? …and…
b. WHY were we sent the wrong products and instructions in the first place? …and…
c. HOW could either situation be considered acceptable by Forest River?

The fact that we were not charged for the Eternabond screwup pales in comparison to the problems created by the screw up in the first place. We would have much rather received the right items and paid for them, than the wrong items.

3. The question of which tape SHOULD HAVE BEEN SENT INSTEAD appears to still remain unresolved. I do hope you follow up on this. I do hope no one else ends up in this same situation. Also, please follow up on why the correct instructions were not included with our order.

It’s done now and over with, and I may be ‘beating a dead horse’ here, but if you care at all about quality, as I do, I still ask that you forward both sets of my comments to your Quality Manager for follow up. This is how quality problems get fixed.


So, please fix this problem. Leaking skylights can cause wood rot in the roof and side walls, mold problems, carpenter ant infestations, etc.
We paid a lot of $$$ for our RV and we expect it to last a long time. Having a leaking skylight is unacceptable.

Thanks for the apology. That’s the least you can do.

*************************


________________________________________
From:
Sent: Monday, February 22, 2010 1:33 PM
To: Joe
Subject: RE: Skylite Repl. Install Issues & Install Documents

Joe after reviewing the info provided you will notice that it does not state anywhere in the papers that these are instructions for installing a sky light. rather these are the instructions for the installation of the eterna bond. and if you notice on the paper work (invoice) that was sent with the items you purchased this is not included in the price of the sky light but should have been charged out to you in addition to the sky light and the butyl tape is a totally different product that should have been used in addition to these items. i do appoligize for any confusion on this repair but in the future you can contact us directly or contact your local rv service center and they should be able to help you out Thanks.


Forest River Customer Service

________________________________________
From: Joe P
Sent: Monday, February 22, 2010 1:12 PM
To:
Subject: Skylite Repl. Install Issues & Install Documents
Dear Chad:

As we discussed, here are the scanned pages of the instructions sent along with the replacement skylite for our 2005 FR Wildwood 37 BHSS. I note that there is no mention of butyl tape, just Eternabond, as detailed on page 2. And, the roll of Eternabond that shipped with the skylite was taped to the bubble wrap that surrounded the skylight. There was only enough provided to do the flange surface all the way around once.

So, anyone who received the same parts we got, would have done just as we did and applied the singled layer Eternabond to the flange, ONLY TO FIND OUT THAT THE WHITE LAYER IS VIRTUALLY NONREMOVABLE.

I spoke also with the Eternabond folks today, who told me the same thing: the only way to remove the white plastic layer (which is not supposed to be removed) is with a heat gun. We ended up using a 1500 watt hair dryer – we had no choice. Also, the double-sided Eternabond is 60 mil, not 35 mil, like the stuff we received.

As to these instructions, I would recommend the following improvements:

1. Correct spelling in 1st paragraph; “Break cleaner” should be “brake cleaner”.

2. Add a warning that acetone (mentioned in paragraph two should not come in contact with the skylight itself – it mars the surface of the plastic – which I found out by accident.

3. Clear up the Eternabond/butyl tape issue and describe it properly in the instructions. If we were supposed to receive two (2) kinds of Eternabond (single and double-sided) this should be mentioned and the use of each described. I say this because what you described to me, using double-sided and singled sided on the outside edge of the flange is the IDEAL installation method. I was also given verbal instructions that differ from the printed ones, in that I was told to flip the skylight upside down, attach the Eternabond tape to the skylight flange, trim, peel and attach it to the roof. (This does seem like the preferred installation method, IF THE RIGHT DOUBLE-SIDED ETERNABOND IS PROVIDED.)

4. A parts list would have been nice, and we would have known that we were missing something, if indeed there were supposed to be two kinds of tape included.

5. The installation instructions were stuck in the outside flap of the shipping carton, which seemed like an afterthought by whomever in Parts Shipping dept. These instructions are important and should be put either INSIDE the box where they can be found easily, or on the OUTSIDE of the box in a clear plastic envelope, like a packing slip envelope.


This was a nightmare install job, and we figure we lost at least 4 man-hours dealing just with the problems associated with removing the white plastic liner from the single-sided Eternabond tape, some of which was attached to the flange as described in the instructions and another portion which was attached to the white rubber of the rough-in hole on the TT roof.

I wouldn’t want any customer to have to go through this, so if you will please pass this along to your ISO Quality Manager, I would be grateful. I assume you are following ISO Quality standards, or have a Quality Manager on staff that is paid to deal with these kinds of issues. I am happy to speak to your Quality Manager about this problem and provide any additional information he or she may need.

Finally, keep in mind that my goal in contacting you with this issue is not to cast blame (although my wife is really mad at you guys and is really physically sore from all the extra work), but to improve the product and the process, and to prevent other customers from having to experience the ORDEAL we endured yesterday.

Thanks for your help.
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Old 02-22-2010, 02:53 PM   #11
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Next time hire it done!
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Old 02-22-2010, 03:00 PM   #12
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Leaking Skylight - Tech Support's Incredulous Reply on the Issue

FR Tech Support follow up comments in brackets and bold italics below. (They make it sound like it's our fault somehow... incredible!)

Then see Wildwood sales motto at bottom for comparison:

**********************

1. Also, I do not think that FR Tech Support is open on the weekends is it? [no it is not]


2. Your comments indicate that we were shipped the wrong Eternabond tape
[no this is correct but you also need butyl tape]
(which is now a given) and that the installation instructions were Eternabond instructions instead...
[there are no specific installation instructions for the sky light]

a. HOW could we have known we were sent the wrong product and instructions?
[you recieved the correct eterna bond tape and instructions for the exterieor application of this product but you needed in addition to this butyl tape to go with it]

3. The question of which tape SHOULD HAVE BEEN SENT INSTEAD appears to still remain unresolved. I do hope you follow up on this. I do hope no one else ends up in this same situation. Also, please follow up on why the correct instructions were not included with our order.
[once again you need them both not just one of them and this should have been evident once you removed the old skylight, that you did not have the same products as the original installation. which dios not come with the new skylight but also needs to be ordered ]




Wildwood Product Line Quality Motto (from FR website):




Wildwood Travel Trailers and Fifth wheels

"Nobody packs in the quality and convenience like we do at Wildwood. From the ground up, every choice we make is decided on the basis of quality because we know that only the finest components and the best design and engineering are what you expect."
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Old 04-04-2010, 08:49 PM   #13
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Leak in ceiling in bathroom

I have an '07 Flagstaff 831BHSS. I have slight water damage in the bathroom above the shower where the wall meets the ceiling. It is close to the rear corner of the TT. I have checked the roof, skylight, and corner and found nothing visibly wrong with the sealant. However, I have noticed a lot of condensation on the inside of the outer skylight. Could the minor damage be coming from the condensation? Is the condensation coming from a damaged skylight? Help me please!
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Old 04-04-2010, 10:06 PM   #14
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Reply to Leak in '07 Flagstaff

Having gone through the whole skylight replacement ordeal, and knowing now that the skylight does not leak, primarily due to our careful replacement and our diligent efforts to ensure that the new skylight sits flush (something the factory doesn't bother to do, I might add), I can offer this advice:

1. If your TT is still under warranty take it to a dealer right away. Water damage can add up fast, and wet wood draws in carpenter ants.

2. In the short run, you can do what we did and buy a small dehumidifier and short drain hose, and stick the dehumidifier in the shower stall itself and let it run whenever the TT (or shower) is unoccupied. The dehumidifier will dry the interior space out really well. It will not resolve internal leak damage however. After my own experience, I realize we could have ended up with the same problem you describe, we just got lucky and the water leaked out through the inner garnish and landed on the shower stall floor instead of running down the wall.

3. Also, you can easily remove the inner garnish and figure out if there is wet wood under the skylight. This is crucial. The inner garnish above the shower stall comes out if you remove the 6 phillips head white screws. We could not really see the extent of the cracking and leaking until we removed the garnish, but after that it was obvious there was a problem.

4. After you get the inner plastic garnish removed, if you can look up and see cracking near the exterior-most edge of the skylight, or water damage to the trusses or wood blocking underneath the skylight, then you know you have a skylight or roof leak (or both). Keep in mind, it only takes a tiny crack in the sealant around the skylight, or small crack in the skylight itself, to let water thru in sufficient quantities to do a lot of damage. For example, a crack in the sealant, possibly caused by a non-flush installation of the OEM skylight itself, would allow water to get down and under the butyl rubber of the roof and it could easily run down the inside wall. The good news is that it sounds like you have caught the problem in time, so it's also possible to dry out the original wood, if it is not rotten, with the dehumidifier running round the clock-if you can also find and fix the leak.

Of course, if it's still under warranty, all of this is best done at a reputable dealer's service department. You might have to give up your TT for a day or two- but it's worth it.

Finally, if you have to replace the skylight yourself, you can order the skylight from F.R. with your FR VIN number. Just be sure to buy some DOUBLE-SIDED ETERNABOND tape from ETERNABOND, or one of their reps, or from a local RV dealer. FR does not supply DOUBLE-SIDED Eternabond tape. FR only ships the SINGLE-SIDED Eternabond tape, which they expect you to use on the exterior side of the skylight flange (where you would normally use DICOR sealant. Not practical. Double-sided Eternabond tape will make this replacement/repair a snap.

P.S.: The root cause of OUR problem turned out to be the fact that the factory did not install the skylight flush to the roof. Apparently, they think hard plastic skylights can bend to fit a curved roof surface. Being an engineer, I can assure you this is a recipe for leaks and warranty problems, especially if the skylight is exposed to temperature changes, so I recommend using some kind of rubber or plastic as a shimming material if this proves to be the case. The skylight should sit as flush as possible.

Also, we used those rust-proof specialty self tapping screws used for attaching metal roofing - the kind with the EDPM washers on them - to secure our new skylight to the roof. Our theory is that the EDPM washers will prevent leaking and cracking around the screwholes of the skylight, and allow some flexing of the skylight during temperature changes without it cracking. So far, so good.

Good luck. Post back what you find out with your leak.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Kstalvey View Post
I have an '07 Flagstaff 831BHSS. I have slight water damage in the bathroom above the shower where the wall meets the ceiling. It is close to the rear corner of the TT. I have checked the roof, skylight, and corner and found nothing visibly wrong with the sealant. However, I have noticed a lot of condensation on the inside of the outer skylight. Could the minor damage be coming from the condensation? Is the condensation coming from a damaged skylight? Help me please!
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