Water intrusion

Vic Harder

Doctor Electric
Site Team
Nov 14, 2015
Calgary, Alberta
My favorite topic. Not.

We're back from 64 days on the road all over the NW & SW. On the way down the west coast from Vancouver, BC to Montery Bay, California we were in that atmospheric river that was washing down the coast in late January and early February. It rained, a LOT.

We had water intrusion at the front of the camper. Luckily we had planned to stop at ATC on this trip, and when we did so Marty and crew promptly went to work on the camper (without being asked to!) and we had much less of an issue for the remainder of our trip, which was also MUCH less rainy, so it was hard to tell if all of the fixes Marty and crew did fixed all the issues. What did they do?

- Ran a "miracle bead" (Marty's term) of silicone along the bottom of the top black trim piece across the front of the camper. (might not have worked?)
- Took all the camper jacks off and cleaned up underneath them and applied fresh sealant on them.. Marty says water runs down the trim and siding and gets behind the jack mounts, and can travel great distances from there. We were trying to stop water from getting into my propane compartment, which it appears to have done... that compartment is dry.
- Inspected roof screws, he was happy with what I have done, which is to remove each screw and neoprene washer, clean up the area and generously apply 3m4200 to the screw hole and put the screw/washer back on.
- Cleaned up the back door and applied silicone to the window seals. There were stains on the door from water dripping/condensation. Marty figured that this is where MOST of the humidity was getting into the camper.

Did this solve the water intrusion & Condensation issues? Nope. A lot, but not all. Condensation seems less, but without the hypervent under the mattress it would be soaked daily. The hypervent has been brilliant at keeping the mattress dry.

So, what's the issue?

I have the top of the camper popped, and an electric heater running full tilt. It is -5*C outside, _25*C inside. One window is slightly cracked.

All of the vinyl and the felt around the base of the soft top has dried, except for at the front of the camper in the cab-over area. This is where most of the water was noticed before we visited Marty. And I am not sure where/how the water is getting in.

The truck and camper are out on the street, parked on a slight angle so that the passenger front side is probably the low point. Water/ice is pooling there.


Front of the camper.... BUGS... and ice/water

Notice the water standing on the lower seal



Water (and ice) pooling in the front pax corner

You will notice the Reflectix. It worked great! Normally the campers have a long strip of carpet in that space. It was soaked, and very effectively wicked water from below the hypervent up to where the mattress could touch it. That carpet is not a good idea, at least for us.

In contrast, the Reflectix kept the water away from the mattress, so it stayed dry. Mission accomplished for a simple field repair. However, the area behind that reflectix is wet now. So, not good longer term.


In this picture (upside down) you can see the needle holes in the vinyl soft top material. We sealed those seams when we got the camper a few years back, and that has meant that we dont need to use the "Storm Flaps" that ATC still uses on their builds. That said, the felt directly below this seam is wet now on both sides of the camper. Have to recheck that sealing job!

That said, the vast majority of the moisture seems to be in the front corners and behind the Reflectix.

I have a short video I made that shows off the situation a bit better. You can see that here (note, you do NOT need to sign up for Dropbox just to view/download the file!)....

As I say at the end of the video, we could use some help figuring out this puzzle!
newer Cougar (two years old). Sealing the windows is a seemingly never ending battle. I have decided to take the window covers and USE them when in heavier rain to help out with that situation. Did seam seal inside and out, but with all the flexing not sure how long it actually is good for. Replaced the carpet up front with closed cell foam to not have the carpet retain moisture, that works well. We use a Paco pad so when it does get wet underneath (in winter conditions) it is easy to wipe dry. Might still try the Hypervent. On our old Ocelot I did reseal all the roof screws and around the door and that helped. Have not heard about the jack brackets so will check those when i have the camper off for plywood painting later this spring. Good luck!
Water getting in onto siding while the top is down?
Maybe has a path ingress around the windows and seams?
The interface between lower siding and base has a path for water?
"- Ran a "miracle bead" (Marty's term) of silicone along the bottom of the top black trim piece across the front of the camper. (might not have worked?) " How about a bead on the top where water could trickle in with gravity?

Thanks for the suggestions. I may take that black trim out and reseal all the screws, and once it is dry again use a hose to make sure the previous seam sealing job is still working before check out the roof screws (again, the roof/ceiling seems dry) but thinking the water is coming in either via simple condensation (there could have been a pretty thick layer of ice on the area where the carpet normally sits).

I think we forded the same atmospheric river in January and thanks for your suggestions on my post about my leak on that trip.

This post offers several more suggestions that I will implement in the last half of April.

I'm not sure this is your issue, but I will just post what I figured out on mine. I pulled the black vinyl trim off, which exposed the screws holding the trim to the camper. I took out the screws and then pulled the trim. It appeared that water was getting in-between the trim and the aluminum siding, and then going into the holes that attach to the aluminum frame.
I applied a strip of butyl tape along the trim and reinstalled it. It appears to have worked, but mine was coming in from the corners and pooling on the side wings.
Wouldn't explain water in the cab over mattress area, but when we were driving through a severe rainstorm at high speeds a while back, the window frame around the front window was full of water, and it had leaked down onto the bench cushions. I thought the window seal had failed. I spoke with FWC and they knew what it was. There are weep holes in the window frame so that water can escape. In heavy rain at high speeds, water will actually be forced up these weepholes and into the window frame. FWC offered to seal the weepholes, but I declined.
Andy, thank you. No I want to check my window and seal those holes if I have them.
You know, it's funny. Our Hawk is on our truck right now, but I was thinking of this thread yesterday, so I took a look at the front window. Hard to see because it is on the truck, but I don't see any weepholes in the window trim. The weepholes are clearly visible on the side window (slider). I wish I remembered more about my exchange with FWC after we had the water issue. All I know is they mentioned the weepholes and plugging them for me if I wanted, which I declined. And we have driven the camper through pretty heavy storms since and not had any water end up inside the front window since. The original storm that caused the issue was intense, and it was basically like driving through solid water for hours at a time, and we haven't been through anything that severe since.
Vic, I had several water leaks on my first trip (some in my bunk area) after receiving my brand new Hawk. I made a video of what I was able to find and the fixes I made. So far so good on the fixes. Here is the initial video but there are a few follow ups as my first repair attempts did not always work. I hope they can help you and anyone else that has leaks.
I hope they do a little engineering analysis on this. Driving into rain is something we all do on occasion. I saw a number of things that are different on your camper than on my old camper. Might be a couple things for them to think about long term.
As much as I like my FWC, I think they could care less about making improvements to their products as long as they have a long waiting list to purchase.
Dean welcome to WTW, and sorry to hear about your leaks. They’re not fun. Please do share your experiences, both good and not so good. We grow or cumulative knowledge from those experiences.

Welcome aboard
It must be some of the people at FWC are very good and some on the assembly line are just slipshod. If you have ever worked in a factory assembly line, you know what I am talking about. Our Hawk was one of the last built in 2019, we picked it up in January of 2020. We have never had a leak and have been in some ferocious rain, both driving and while camping. Up here in Portland Oregon we do get rain.

We do not baby our camper. We bought it to be used and we do. It has the scars and streaks to prove it. There is an old juniper on cedar mesa that tagged my driver's side of the camper pretty well. I am flummoxed when people write about persistent leaks and other issues.

There is a long list of things I check thanks to the experiences of other WTW folks. So far what needed replacing, I replaced (the beeping CO monitor and that darn water manifold being the worst.) What needs watching I check, such as loose screws, tears in the door screen, the furnace sail switch. etc. And what needs modifying, I do that, such as nylocks on the turnbuckles, a grab handle just below the sink, etc.

For us the camper has been everything we hoped it would be. A sturdy, lite, warm, comfortable refuge when the elements are raging. I do wish everyone had the same experience with their own campers.

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