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Old 06-01-2020, 09:22 PM   #1
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Water Damaged and/or Rotting Wood in Entry Stairwell. What Now? (2019 Isata 5 35DB)

I am doing a little remodeling in the ole’ bunkhouse I5 and one of the items on my list is carpet replacement. In and effort to make things match a little better, I yanked all the carpeting off the sides of the entry stairwell. I then noticed the wood backer board (for lack of a better term) behind the stairwell (on the front side) was severely water damaged and coming apart on me. This is only on the leading side (the side that faces the direction of travel), so my assumption is that it’s getting the brunt of any/all water that gets thrown up when driving in wet conditions. Question now is, how does this get fixed. I am under 2 years since my in-service date, so I guess it could be a warranty issue, but even if I trusted any dealer to tackle something like this, what would they do? Pull the entire stairwell and replace the wood?

Is that what I should do?

If so, how does one go about preventing this from happening again in the future?

I’m not even sure I know how that stairwell would come out of there. I can see screws AND nails that appear to be holding it in from the inside, but why is there both? ….and once I get the screws and nails out (assuming I can), does it come out the bottom?


Any suggestions????

The red arrows point to the area in question:



Closer up:






The wood on the other side for comparison (looks perfect):

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Old 06-02-2020, 09:44 AM   #2
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That's a bummer. The only two things I can offer you would be one look underneath where water might come in and seal. Also, can't tell from the picture of your rig if you have these, but I added Duraflap mudflaps. They stopped all the spray I was getting on my sides. They are solid mudflaps and install with no drilling, EASY They have them specifically for the Dodge chassis. I got the extra wide and long model.
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Old 06-02-2020, 09:51 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Tmrut5 View Post
That's a bummer. The only two things I can offer you would be one look underneath where water might come in and seal. Also, can't tell from the picture of your rig if you have these, but I added Duraflap mudflaps. They stopped all the spray I was getting on my sides. They are solid mudflaps and install with no drilling, EASY They have them specifically for the Dodge chassis. I got the extra wide and long model.
Well, the funny thing is that I never saw actual water intrusion into the stairwell. So, it has to be coming from underneath, but not actually making it into the stairwell. I see that as a blessing because the wood sub-floor above seems un harmed.

....and yes, I have had extra wide and extra long Duraflaps installed for quite a while now. The only trip we have made in this coach WITHOUT Duraflaps was the trip home from the dealer. I like them a lot.
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Old 06-02-2020, 09:58 AM   #4
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Wood rotting

You might check under the bottom step...ours felt spongy and it turned out the plywood had delaminated. Easy fix with treated plywood.
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Old 06-02-2020, 10:01 AM   #5
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I will be monitoring my stairwell
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Old 06-02-2020, 10:03 AM   #6
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That stairwell is not coming out. Its a metal stair well that goes in from MORryde. Best bet is just to seal from underneath. Could be that where the wall meets the floor/junction...something is riding up that face and into that corner.

You can tell better than I, but does it seem to be worse the closer to the wall? Seems like there is a seal void or maybe the foam spray has a void? I'll look at one in process and see if I can get a better pic of assembly.
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Old 06-02-2020, 10:07 AM   #7
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There has been a posting where the carpet in the stairwell walls was replaced with ceramic tile. I know that doesn’t solve the plywood issue, but since you have the carpet off, something to consider.

If the plywood can be accessed for replacement, maybe Hardy board which is used in water prone bathroom areas would be a better material? I am going to crawl under my Isata 5 and see if the plywood is exposed. If it is, an epoxy coating is in my future.
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Old 06-02-2020, 11:05 AM   #8
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I went out and looked at some on the line. Most of them fit tight, but I found one where there was a gap between the step well and the floor. (similar to I think yours). That gap would let the foam expand, so it looks like what they do it put in a "cleat" for lack of a better term, so close that gap off. Then we spray foam from underneath.

So likely, water is getting past the spray foam...but the only way to get to that area is from underneath and its tight.

The other possible scenario, though I'm not sure if its as likely. Since that area is not as insulated...if the A/C is on inside the metal trim could get cold and sweat in that area that would be closest to an "air gap" or un-insulated corner.

In any event, I showed this to the guys and we think we can apply an anti-wicking material to the wood in the step well area. So in either case, it would dry up without damaging any wood.
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Old 06-02-2020, 11:36 AM   #9
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I went out and looked at some on the line. Most of them fit tight, but I found one where there was a gap between the step well and the floor. (similar to I think yours). That gap would let the foam expand, so it looks like what they do it put in a "cleat" for lack of a better term, so close that gap off. Then we spray foam from underneath.

So likely, water is getting past the spray foam...but the only way to get to that area is from underneath and its tight.

The other possible scenario, though I'm not sure if its as likely. Since that area is not as insulated...if the A/C is on inside the metal trim could get cold and sweat in that area that would be closest to an "air gap" or un-insulated corner.

In any event, I showed this to the guys and we think we can apply an anti-wicking material to the wood in the step well area. So in either case, it would dry up without damaging any wood.
Funny, we were both looking into it at the same time…..I was just outside looking at it from underneath and found myself scratching my head as to why that piece of wood exists in the first place because I cannot see it at all from the bottom side…..but if you are saying that it is acting as a “filler” or “cleat”, that would make sense. So, I am envisioning it now as NOT running the full length of the stairwell.

To answer your original questions:

yes, I do have a substantial gap between the door and metal stairwell. Measuring with a digital caliper, I am seeing about 0.880” between the doorframe and vertical metal wall of the stairwell. By comparison, it’s about 0.438” on the other side (rear). Looking down that gap, I can easily see daylight and the ground.

Yes, the board is most certainly exhibiting more moisture damage on the outside (towards the door). About halfway into the living space, the damage is non-existent.

The gap out by the door had been filled with black silicone, but the silicone had been applied AFTER the carpet install. I know that because the carpet extended into that 0.880” gap mentioned above. When I removed the carpeting, most of the silicone came out with it because it was adhering to carpet fibers. Just sitting here thinking about it out loud, it might make sense that the carpet, extending into that gap with daylight visible, could have been collecting moisture and wicking it inside….just a theory though.

What do you think about me sealing up that gap BEFORE installing carpeting? That seems a tad more logical to me, but I thought I would ask before doing something stupid……which is NOT the normal approach for me BTW. :-)

Another scenario that’s sort of the opposite approach of you’re A/C scenario: Camping in cold weather (yes, we do that) and the uninsulated metal is cold due to expose to the cold air. Then we heat the living space and moisture condense on the metal as a result of that. Again, I (we?) are reaching, but we’ve actually spent more time in temps below 40 than we have in temps above 80-85-ish where we’d crank up the A/C.

Here’s a mediocre picture of that gap that I just took (you can even see some carpet fibers leftover inside the gap, but the carpet was actually extending further into the gap than that). The second picture is of the gap on the other side of the stairs for comparison:
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Old 06-02-2020, 11:42 AM   #10
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You might check under the bottom step...ours felt spongy and it turned out the plywood had delaminated. Easy fix with treated plywood.
The stairwell itself is a big metal box. There isn't any plywood under the stairs. This piece of plywood that I am seeing that is damaged is just at the top. It doesn't even appear to run the full length of the stairwell.
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Old 06-02-2020, 12:00 PM   #11
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There has been a posting where the carpet in the stairwell walls was replaced with ceramic tile. I know that doesn’t solve the plywood issue, but since you have the carpet off, something to consider.
Yeah, I have seen some pretty nice stairwell renovations. While I like the look of tile, I just don't think I am going to do it. Since that metal stairwell box is not insulated, I'll probably go back in with carpet to get any amount of noise and temperature insulation I can. I'd actually love to install carpet on the steps themselves, but it would get punished by all the foot traffic it sees and I think moisture retention would be an issue as well. Looking at other options

Quote:
Originally Posted by milkman55 View Post
If the plywood can be accessed for replacement, maybe Hardy board which is used in water prone bathroom areas would be a better material? I am going to crawl under my Isata 5 and see if the plywood is exposed. If it is, an epoxy coating is in my future.
Yeah, I just don't think I am getting that piece of wood out of there. Hardy board would be a nice change for that location for sure.
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Old 06-02-2020, 01:02 PM   #12
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Yes, I think pushing some sealant from the top-out, would be a great idea. Then, maybe have a light inside and from the outside, see if you can shoot any spray foam in there to protect the bottom.

As a side note....that is one the differences between US and others. (earlier metion of spongy step), all of our step wells are metal. MANY OEM's, including some that made an Isata 5 competitor, frame the sides out in wood and cover it in carpet. In fact, I didn't want to install carpet in the area for that exact reason, but it does soften up the area and dust shows like crazy on the black paint. So the carpet just hides the dirt better. I think we are running lino on some now, which serves the same purpose, but maybe not as insulative (if that is a word).
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Old 06-03-2020, 07:33 AM   #13
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Ben,
Thanks for sharing. Gives a heads up to other owners to look at this area but also let's the factory know so they can make changes to avoid this on future units.

I added this to my check list of things to look at before the next trip.

Looks like you caught it early enough that not a big problem and can be fixed.

Thanks again

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Old 06-03-2020, 09:05 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BLT4SPD View Post
I am doing a little remodeling in the ole’ bunkhouse I5 and one of the items on my list is carpet replacement. In and effort to make things match a little better, I yanked all the carpeting off the sides of the entry stairwell. I then noticed the wood backer board (for lack of a better term) behind the stairwell (on the front side) was severely water damaged and coming apart on me. This is only on the leading side (the side that faces the direction of travel), so my assumption is that it’s getting the brunt of any/all water that gets thrown up when driving in wet conditions. Question now is, how does this get fixed. I am under 2 years since my in-service date, so I guess it could be a warranty issue, but even if I trusted any dealer to tackle something like this, what would they do? Pull the entire stairwell and replace the wood?

Is that what I should do?

If so, how does one go about preventing this from happening again in the future?

I’m not even sure I know how that stairwell would come out of there. I can see screws AND nails that appear to be holding it in from the inside, but why is there both? ….and once I get the screws and nails out (assuming I can), does it come out the bottom?


Any suggestions????

The red arrows point to the area in question:



Closer up:






The wood on the other side for comparison (looks perfect):

Hey here's an idea for extending the life of the affected plywood piece....
Use a marine rot fix and wood repair product. Here is just an example:
https://www.defender.com/product.jsp...999&id=3895640
Good luck with your repair and I'll be checking out the stairwell on my I5.
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Old 06-06-2020, 05:45 PM   #15
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I’m about to take delivery of an I5 4x4, and would love to install those flaps! When I checked the Duraflap website, though, I didn’t see the Ram 5500 versions. Can someone point me to the ones they know fit?

Thanks,

Erik
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Old 06-06-2020, 05:54 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Ekg View Post
I’m about to take delivery of an I5 4x4, and would love to install those flaps! When I checked the Duraflap website, though, I didn’t see the Ram 5500 versions. Can someone point me to the ones they know fit?

Thanks,

Erik

https://duraflap.com/truck-model/dod...005500-dually/
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Old 06-07-2020, 05:38 AM   #17
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I'll absolutely second what dbaction said a few posts ago...get some type of rot repair compound in there. Dry rot/brown rot is a living organism and simply drying it out doesn't always end with the desired results. Treat it AND seal it from further moisture would be my recommended course of action.
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