Waterproof Testing

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Waterproof Testing

Postby GarthB » Sat Aug 28, 2021 7:43 am

Since recently completing my build, we've had fairly rainy weather and the water-tightness of my teardrop has been on my mind. I gave it the ol' garden hose test to check for any leaks around doors and hinges with fairly good results. However, I'm wondering if anyone has any other techniques that they have used for waterproof testing the areas that may not be as obvious?

I'm aware that at some point, you've just gotta have faith that you did a proper job. It would just be nice to catch any potentially hidden issues before it is too late to fix them. :D
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Re: Waterproof Testing

Postby TimC » Sat Aug 28, 2021 8:21 am

There's nothing like a real world test. Hook her up when you get the next downpour and give her a real test at highway speeds.

If you can do so easily, remove the mattress and any other items that might soak up water. Then let her rip. There's nothing worse than a surprise leak when you are depending on using it when you arrive at the campsite. Getting a leak on a test like this will give you time to investigate the sources and then let things dry out properly.

BTW, your build looks great!
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Re: Waterproof Testing

Postby Philip » Sat Aug 28, 2021 11:18 am

What TimC said. A towing test drive in the rain is you best way to test. A wind driven rain will tell you if there is a problem real fast.
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Re: Waterproof Testing

Postby halfdome, Danny » Sat Aug 28, 2021 3:22 pm

Driving next to a 18 wheeler trailers wheels in the rain will be a great test.
:D Danny
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Re: Waterproof Testing

Postby Tom&Shelly » Sun Aug 29, 2021 7:55 am

TimC wrote:There's nothing like a real world test. Hook her up when you get the next downpour and give her a real test at highway speeds.

If you can do so easily, remove the mattress and any other items that might soak up water. Then let her rip. There's nothing worse than a surprise leak when you are depending on using it when you arrive at the campsite. Getting a leak on a test like this will give you time to investigate the sources and then let things dry out properly.

BTW, your build looks great!


Our first real world test came driving during a thunderstorm induced downpour, then again later that night while parked. Results were actually much better than the "hose test". We were a bit perverse with our hose test, aiming it in all the worst places.

Nature is not evil, but it is terribly unforgiving of carelessness, incapacity, or neglect. (Read as: close the windows and vents when leaving camp for the day!)

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Re: Waterproof Testing

Postby pchast » Sun Aug 29, 2021 8:32 pm

One poor idea found all my leaks..... A solar vent fan drew in water through
some door seals with a clearance gap. The solar vent is now gone.
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Re: Waterproof Testing

Postby Shadow Catcher » Mon Aug 30, 2021 6:09 am

Leak testing is really the only way to find leaks. Positive pressure inside and spray the outside with soapy water. I use the bilge blowers I use for the AC but have seen Youtube examples with lief blowers and shop vacs.

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Re: Waterproof Testing

Postby working on it » Mon Aug 30, 2021 7:16 am

Tom&Shelly wrote:...Nature is not evil, but it is terribly unforgiving of carelessness, incapacity, or neglect. (Read as: close the windows and vents when leaving camp for the day!)....


* I built mine as waterproof as I could, even against sideways-driven rain, and tested it with a high-powered jet stream of water, but it still leaked, though it passed the test...but, I was careless, just once.

* I wandered-about camp all day, once, never going back to my trailer for a minute, until just before bedtime, during a day of constant rain (actually midway thru a three-day monsoon campout). When I got there, I noticed that my streetside door was slightly ajar, and there was a constant stream of water off the canopy offset overhead (offset, to cover the 4x8 cabin, plus a 4-ft area "porch" sitting/cooking area outside the curbside/main door); when I opened the main door, I could see that the rear of my cabin was full of water, after entering thru the ajar seal on the other door.

* I always tilt my trailer about 5 degrees back at camp, to keep water from pooling on the flat roof (there are 16 bolts thru the roof), even though all holes are sealed with PL adhesive. So, the rear inner wall had about 3-4 inches of standing water, tapering off to just soaking wet carpet at the nose/front. After sealing-off the partly open door with foil tape, as I was unsure if the seal was at fault or just the partial-open position was the sole cause, I spent the next three hours trying to dry-out my cabin.

* I was fortunate that I had used a "mattress bag" on my 4-inch Ikea foam mattress, and neither mattress nor pillows had gotten wet, but much of the bedding was, as was the entire carpet (actually the carpet was made of floor-runner material, with rubber backing). I bagged the wet bedding for drying at home, and used towels to try to sop up the remaining water, after tilting the trailer the other way, and draining most of the water out my main door.

* Eventually, I gave up, and used my back-up sleeping bag (on the dry, plastic-covered mattress), while running my A/C (for de-humidification), the 11-inch main fan on high speed, both computer case fan vents on high, and two Lasko My-Heat 200 watt heaters while I slept. It was in the low 50's or high 40's that night, so I was slightly damp and cold all night. I got the interior more dried-out for the next night, so it wasn't too bad.

* Back at home, I tore out the carpet/mats, and let the inside dry thoroughly. I was glad that I had used so much polyurethane and PL adhesive, as nothing suffered any water damage. But, after I re-installed the carpet/mats, I made a 1" high platform (from unused plastic shelving units) to elevate the bedding for insurance against another rainday accident. After several more years of camping in the rain (it T-storms at least once during every trip), there have been no further incidents of leakage (I'm always cognizant of doorseal status!), and my overhead canopy is placed a few inches away from directly dumping water on a door.
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Re: Waterproof Testing - best weatherstripping?

Postby DoctahDeane » Tue Sep 14, 2021 11:38 am

I did a driveway wash this morning, did not use much water but afterwards the sheets, mattress wet - all on door side. Opposite side with window OK so I think it's the door weatherstripping. This part of the build was done before I took the project on. The weatherstripping seems a little wimpy to me. Can anyone recommend a good door weatherstrip product/treatment/replacement? Would really appreciate any suggestions, thank you. While doing general cleanup today, the welded jack broke off, so I ordered a bolt on replacement and was hoping to leave this outside until the jack arrives but now I see clouds rolling in. Mama mia.

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Re: Waterproof Testing

Postby Graniterich » Tue Sep 14, 2021 6:31 pm

halfdome, Danny wrote:Driving next to a 18 wheeler trailers wheels in the rain will be a great test.
:D Danny
Funny you should say that. After six years of most fair weather camping and sleeping on a basic four inch foam bed I got a nice six inch memory foam mattress. Gently used for a month, retail $360, slight chunk missing way down, for $40. Struggled to get in the door. Go camping on Wednesday, been following the weather, all good. Friday at midnight it starts pouring. Pull out and head home. Lots of water on I84, pass many trucks! Get home open my door and mattress is soaked! I can see all the first rain in a while road grime heading up from the bottom of the door, four inches down the mattress. Took everything out, washed quilted mattress cover that got the most wet.
My homemade plywood doors had a 1/2 door jam lip with 10mm D weather strip. Because my new mattress is so high, I added a 2 1/2 " board with two routed 5/8 inch wide, 3/8" deep chanels. Installed 14mm D in each. Also add a L shaped piece to all original 1/2" jams so the weather strips sit in a channel.

Probably never be in a situation like that again, but I feel much better ImageImage

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