Rain can be a cruel enemy to many campers. For RV owners, rain not only puts a damper on a vacation but it also threatens to damage their vehicle. Many older models of RVs do not come equipped with gutters already installed on the vehicle. Some newer RVs do come with gutters but some of them can buckle under strong rains.
If proper gutters are not in place, you risk staining to the outside of your RV and water damage to the inside. To avoid expensive repairs and diminishing the value of your RV, it is a good idea to install some gutters. The good news is, buying and installing new rain gutters is not expensive or difficult.
You can buy plastic gutters or you can even make DIY gutters out of PVC pipe. In this article, we will give you some instructions for both of these options. For each option, we will give you steps on how to install these gutters to prevent expensive damage. We will also give you some tips for cleaning your new gutters and maintaining the beauty of your RV.
Let’s take a detailed look at the two methods for how to install rain gutters in an RV
Make DIY gutters out of PVC pipes
This DIY method will only work if your RV has a groove for a gutter on its roof. If it does, you should be able to go with a DIY gutter system. You can buy PVC piping from most home improvement stores.
You will want to make sure you have a PVC pipe cutter or another tool that will efficiently cut the pipe. The first step in the DIY process will be to measure your RV’s length so you know how much material you need to buy.
Then you’ll measure out your PVC pipe so you have enough to cover the length of your RV. We recommend getting a PVC pipe that is between ¾ inch and 2 inches in size. Once you’ve measured the length that you need, you will need to cut the PVC pipe in half vertically. This creates the standard gutter shape that catches the water.
At the end of your DIY gutter, you will need a piece of whole PVC pipe (that is not cut in half) to use for drainage. Once you’ve measured and cut your entire pipe, place the pipe into the grooved area on the roof. Use a drill and screws to attach it to the RV and remember to attach the section of full pipe at the end for drainage.
Voila! You will now have a homemade and low-cost drainage system for your RV.
Install plastic gutters
If you’d rather go an easier route and buy pre-made RV gutter piping. RV gutters tend to be a bit more expensive than the DIY option but this method is much more convenient. If you go this route, you will still need to measure the length of your RV to get the right gutter length needed.
Once you have the length you need, be sure to clean the sections on your RV that you will be attaching the piping too. The best cleaning solution to use is equal parts water and rubbing alcohol. It is a good idea to place removable tape along the path that you will be applying the piping to. This will help you to know exactly where to adhere to the pipes as you go along.
Now you should be ready to stick the gutter to your RV. Peel the protective paper off of the piping in sections as you go along. you only want the amount of adhesive you are using exposed so you can avoid touching the sticky parts. This will help to preserve the adhesive and keep it from losing its stickiness as you work.
Once you’ve applied all of the piping, rub each section of pipe in quick and firm motions to create some friction. The heat helps the glue to stick better and results in a firmer hold. At this point, you’ve finished applying your rain gutter. Allow the glue to dry for a few days before exposing it to rain. Then you’ll be good to go!
Add spouts to existing gutters
Rainwater tends to cause ugly black marks on the outside of your RV if the water is left to its own devices. This is why it is so important to have a draining system that directs water away from your RV.
If you already have gutters, it is a good idea to makes sure the rainwater is running off far enough. This way you can veer it away from your camper to avoid damage. Add extending spouts to prevent this kind of damage.
After installing your new gutters, you will need to be sure you are maintaining them as well. If not maintained, gutters can become a problem since neglect keeps them from doing their job. If they’re not doing their job, you risk a lot of damage to both the inside and outside of your RV.
Clearing your gutters of leaves and debris is important as well as fixing leaky areas. This will help to prevent discoloration and water damage to your RV.
Clean your gutters often
There are two simple and safe methods for cleaning out your gutters. One is to use a hose with an extending attachment. The attachment will allow you to reach the full length of the gutter and wash out dirt and debris.
If you’d rather not use water to clean out the gutter, you can also use a method that uses simple air. An air or leaf blower can also accommodate an attachment. Then you can use it to blow out leaves and dirt to clear your gutters.
If you find that your gutters are very clogged and neither of these methods work, there is a last resort option. You may need to get a ladder and pull the debris out by hand. Make sure you’re careful up there, though!
Using alligator clips to divert excess water
You may find that there are certain places on the length of your gutter where water still seems to drip onto your RV. Have no fear! There is a quick and cheap DIY method that might be able to help you.
Some RV enthusiasts call this the “Alligator Clip Hack.” Buy some alligator clips at a hardware store or online here. Also, get some standard flexible wire. First, you’ll cut small sections of wire that are between a few inches and several inches long. Their length will determine how far away from your RV the water will runoff.
Next, you will want to crimp the wire into the back end of the alligator clip and secure it so that the wire doesn’t slip out. Now clip your new contraption on an area of your gutter that water tends to drip off of. You will find that the water will run along the length of the wire and away from your vehicle.
Remove black streaks easily
If you are still getting black streaks on your RV even after installing a gutter system, don’t worry. You didn’t do anything wrong and you can’t keep all water away from your vehicle. Rain and water can still happen even if you’ve done everything right. When exposed to the sides of your RV, moisture tends to cause these black streaks on your RV’s materials.
Luckily, there are removal methods that can clean those black streaks right off. There are some commercial cleaners that can do the job like this one. This is probably the easiest and safest method.
You can also create a DIY solution by simply mixing a gallon of bleach with some spurts of dish soap. Use a car brush to scrub off the black grime and you will soon see a clean shiny surface.
You can also use the same solutions to clean the roof of your RV periodically. This will help to prevent future black streaking since the water is coming from the roof.
Why installing gutters on your RV is an investment
Rain and moisture are inevitable. Keeping your RV locked away in a garage kind of defeats the purpose of owning it, though. The above methods will help to combat moisture and preserve your vehicle so you can actually use it.
Whether you go with pre-assembled gutters or the DIY route gutters is a great first step. This will keep large amounts of flooding away from your RV and prevent immense damage. Cleaning out these gutters often is also as important. A buildup of gunk can damage your gutter or actually render it useless.
If you do start to see black streaks or discoloration on your exterior due to moisture, don’t panic. Make sure you are scrubbing your roof often to reduce this headache. You’ve put a lot of money into your vehicle so you should take steps to protect that investment.
These steps will give you years and years of traveling enjoyment.