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Old 01-24-2017, 04:50 PM   #1
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Darco Questions

What would happen if a camper didn't have a Darco membrane underneath?

The reason I ask this is because I wonder if it sometimes does more harm than good. My old 89 Coleman pop-up didn't have it, and that floor was solid as a rock when I sold it (27 years old).

We looked at a 3 year old R-Pod before buying our T-1700 last year and the whole floor was pretty much rotted out. That's telling me that wherever it leaked, the water had laid in the membrane to cause all that rot. Maybe I'm wrong.

When we first started looking at travel trailers I noticed they all have some form of it. Some seemed pretty cheap (unlike our Sunline) and I thought maybe it was just to hide the shoddy workmanship

Or maybe the floor in my old pop-up was marine grade (it was OSB) and manufacturers today can't afford to use it.
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Old 01-24-2017, 07:51 PM   #2
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My son has a Coleman PU and it too has no Darco. He keeps it garaged but do not know what the prior owner did. I do not recall the exact year I'm thinking something like a year 2001 model and the floor is bare OSB and still good. However he rebuilt a older StarCraft and the floor and walls were sog city.

And your right, Darco is a double edged sword. Once water gets in, it stays in. The problem was, water got in in the first place.

On a TT they have insulation under the floor and many use fiberglass batt insulation like in your house. The Darco keeps the insulation from getting wet. And they also do not use water grade OSB. I can attest to, if the OSB gets wet, it starts swelling. If it stays wet then the glue goes and all you are left with is chips falling to the ground.

What I have learned along the way is to learn how water gets into a camper and kills it. Once armed with that info, then you need to be very vigilante in constantly being on the look out for tiny splits in the caulking or sealing tape. Those tiny splits are benign at that stage and can easily be fixed. Let go, they turn into full blow cancer cells.... and it is down hill from there.

Water in the walls, ceiling or floor is bad news even if there was no Darco on the bottom. There is still insulation in the ceiling and walls and it soaks up water like a sponge and many times will not dry out until you find you have a problem.

If you are considering buying a used camper, let's talk on what to look for. We really need a good post on how campers get water infected and how to spot it when buying a used one. We really do not have a post like that, yet anyway, and we have plenty of good camper folks on the forum who have lived through repairing water damage to help contribute to it. If someone needs that info, maybe now is the time to ask.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 01-26-2017, 05:10 AM   #3
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I didn't realize we have insulation in the floor, so the Darco makes sense.

My old pop-up spent its entire life outdoors. Though I can't remember many rainy days of coming and going. I resealed the roof on it once in all those years.

How terrible would it be to skip the floor insulation and Darco? I've lived in plenty of houses with no floor insulation. What if that R-Pod I previously mentioned had been built that way and the water leak was from, say a water connection. At least the entire floor wouldn't have rotted out assuming the owner caught it soon enough. And then it would be a minor repair.

I wonder if the sealants used today are what they once were. The EPA is constantly tightening the VOC laws and just because a product has the same name doesn't necessarily mean it's the same product.

An acquaintance of mine bought a brand new Cherokee 3 years ago and it started leaking like a sieve last summer. Of course he knew nothing about keeping an eye on his roof, etc.

The roof on my '96 T-1700 looked like it had been spot resealed once in its lifetime before I did it this past summer. Though it should have been sooner at some point in its life as it had some rear water damage that the previous owner repaired.
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Old 01-26-2017, 09:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnybgood View Post

How terrible would it be to skip the floor insulation and Darco? I've lived in plenty of houses with no floor insulation. What if that R-Pod I previously mentioned had been built that way and the water leak was from, say a water connection. At least the entire floor wouldn't have rotted out assuming the owner caught it soon enough. And then it would be a minor repair.

I wonder if the sealants used today are what they once were. The EPA is constantly tightening the VOC laws and just because a product has the same name doesn't necessarily mean it's the same product.

An acquaintance of mine bought a brand new Cherokee 3 years ago and it started leaking like a sieve last summer. Of course he knew nothing about keeping an eye on his roof, etc.
Hi John,

The floor could be made to not have a vapor barrier and no insulation. This works for a summer only camper assuming they at least used some type of treated flooring to not rot from moisture and road water spray. And then on TT's they use 2 x 4's or 2 x 3's laying flat or standing up to create a floor structure. They too need to be treated against rot. The cost of the floor would go up. Non moisture rated OSB and standard wood is cheap as compared to water treated wood. I would not be shocked non moisture rated OSB and the membrane is cheaper then the marine grade plywood or OSB if they make it. And then the rot treated 2 x 4 or 2 x 3's. And in the RV world, keeping costs low are a big deal. The membrane is cheap in the big picture.

The popup, on the ones I have seen, the floor rested right on the PU steel frame. There was a steel runner right out at the wall of the PU frame. The TT's is 8 feet wide and the frame is made different. It needs the 2 x 4 or 2 x 3's to span the frame to screw the floor to and to hold up the walls and the roof that comes down through the walls. The amount of weight in walls above the floor and the roof transmitted to the camper floor and then to a TT frame is very different then the PU. This is not to say you could not build a TT with a very different steel frame to hold up the walls. The frame then would get more expensive as it needs more steel.

What would be ideal to make what we have better, is some simple type of drain tube or tubes. Water can flow out, but not up and in. While this may not totally solve all water in the camper, it helps on those few conditions it can.

The broken water pipe you mentioned is real. We had a forum member have his hot water heater fitting crack and he woke up to a water soaked carpet. He can tell you the major effort he had drying that camper back out after he went into the underbelly. The good news, he was on top of it and the water did not fester for months and years.

To your friends new Cherokee, 3 years, ah yeh. Dicro is in the splitting stage after 3 years if you are not after it vigilantly. We bought our first Sunline new when the factory was still in business. I was on the hunt for the Dicor and kept looking. At the start of year 4, I had to start caulking any little split when I saw it. They are very fixable in the hair line stage. A roof inspection ideally is 4 times a year while you are washing it. A bare minimum is, (and I do not recommend this) once before winter storage outside and then come spring after being stored outside. Winter with freeze and thaw is bad news for sealing caulks. Water gets in a tiny split and freezes. Then tiny splits get bigger. After a few freeze and thaw cycles, a little split can be a gusher in the extremes cases.

To the changing regulations. Yes, that is part of the problem, but maybe not the biggest. There is a choice on what types of sealants that can be used. The better ones, cost more. And then there is the methods on manufacturing. The RV industry knows how campers die a death from water entry. They tell you, you need to keep up with the sealants as a maintenance item and all warranties are void if you do not. I wish they told everyone that before the bought one and what it means.

We are back to the cost to produce. And then there is the sale price. Good folks starting out do not always know the down side of cheap campers until they have lived it. They cannot afford a higher end camper with better methods as a starter camper. So the industry offers less costly campers. Labor to produce is the most expensive product in the camper, then materials. In order to lowers costs, those 2 areas have to be lower.

The sad part is, even very high end campers still have some of the same issues as the entry levels ones, they just may take a little longer to get infected. We need an RV that does not leak with very little maintenance and one we can afford to buy. That combination has not come together well yet.
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Old 01-29-2017, 03:43 PM   #5
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What would be ideal to make what we have better, is some simple type of drain tube or tubes. Water can flow out, but not up and in. While this may not totally solve all water in the camper, it helps on those few conditions it can.




Something like this....





John, thank you for taking the time to explain all this to me. I have a much better understanding now.
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Old 01-30-2017, 02:03 PM   #6
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Hi John,

H'mm, I have seen them. A very thin rubber tube with a flat tipped end that is split. It does not take much effort to squeeze open the flat tipped end. It may even be molded slightly open. Now... to remember where I saw them... It had nothing to do with a camper. Actually I think there is one in my diesel tractor air cleaner housing.

Where did you get yours to take the pictures?

That simple concept is pretty bullet proof for letting water out of the underbelly of a camper. After I figure out where I saw them.... can research more into if you can buy them and how they mount.

Thanks for sharing

John
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Old 01-30-2017, 04:06 PM   #7
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Hey John, they are in my Ford Transit van. There are 2 mounted to the underside of the hood and one shorter one mounted under the fresh air intake just before the firewall. All 3 have to do with the fresh air coming into the cabin. The Transit (full size) has what looks like 2 air intakes mounted in the top of the hood, while it's actually only one on the drivers side, as the other one's a dummy. You can imagine all the water that must come through there so that was Fords answer.

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Old 01-30-2017, 06:11 PM   #8
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You can imagine all the water that must come through there so that was Fords answer.
Gee, Ford must remember what their Ag division did eons ago on how to let condensation etc out of an air cleaner. They sold out the Ag equipment to New Holland a number of years ago. I think later 1980's early 90's.

Now to hunt and see if they are commercially available short of the spare parts dept at the local Ford dealer....

Thanks

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Old 02-08-2017, 07:45 AM   #9
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Duck Bill drain

https://www.farmandranchdepot.com/fa...ill_Drain.html
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Old 07-01-2017, 03:12 PM   #10
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Is there a way to repair the Darco if one were to slit some openings to allow the underside to dry out more quickly?
My project is going to be sitting still for a couple weeks and I will be out of town so letting it air out may be a good plan?
Very leery of it however as I understand the importance of that barrier.
Considering cutting some of it and replacing with something that breathes but doesn't let water sit in place or penetrate when driving??
Any ideas??

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Old 07-01-2017, 04:22 PM   #11
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They use a product called "Flexmend" belly repair tape. The mobile home industry uses lot of it.

I have used it and it does work. Not as thick as I would like but once bonded it seals well.

They now sell it on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&ke...l_54wjjlia9s_e

You can find it at mobile home repair places too.

This is what it looks like up close


I used it on my slide floor to create a seam patch.




Dragging in and out on it, it is still holding up since those pics. Here is the repair. This link will drop you in the middle of the fix but where the Flexmend is used Slide Floor Water Damage

Here is a help if you can, slit the Darco down the center of a floor joist if possible. Then when you repair it you have something to press firm too. It is key that you can press it hard to set the adhesive. Adding a small amount of heat and pressing really sets it permanent if you can press hard against it. If you are out in the open with no backboard etc, then you have nothing to press against. Maybe if you can, slide a board in, press and then take the board out. That would work until you get to the last piece.

The Darco is a double edged sword. On most all the other Sunlines, they use batt type insulation in the floor, walls and the roof. If that gets wet it is sog city and it is not drying out short of opening up the camper. In your case you have foam board, but it may not be totally water proof like closed cell foam. I do not know if what you have is closed or open cell foam. But still better then batt insulation for water resistance.

Point being, we really do not want to let any water in from the outside which is where the Darco does very well at. The issue is, once water is inside, it cannot get out. The ideal is, create roof and wall seams that never let water get in the first time. Then the Darco is not an issue.

Regardless of what the bottom membrane is, there is not much inside the camper that likes water getting into the camper where it is not supposed to be. A product that can let water out but not in and live in all the environment issues of a road salt in the spring, below zero in the winter, 110 in the summer, be flexible and still have some level of UV resistance would be the ideal. Even the Darco is not totally UV resistance. I know after 10 years exposed to the elements there are some areas not as flexible as when it was new. It is more brittle.

I have not heard yet of someone finding a replacement that is better.

Sunline use to use aluminium sheeting as a bottom cover. It worked, was a real pain to get off and road salt eats holes in it.

There may be an option, maybe. The RV industry uses it and so did Sunline in some small cases. Coroplast sheeting. This stuff Manufacturer of Corrugated Plastic Sheets | Coroplast

Sunline used it on the bottom of my enclosed tank compartment. It is about 5/32" thick. Not quite 3/16". You can get it as wide as the camper and in a roll longer then the camper. I had to gorilla tape the edges to stop water getting in the flutes, but it does not rot or leak. It is not very heavy either in weight. This post will show it on my camper. I had the cover off this winter. I have added Reflectix insulation attached to the bottom of it to help the cause. I also had to add cross supports as it does sag in the center as it gets older.

This link will drop you into the middle of my frame repair post where pics of the Coroplast cover are. Scroll down a bit.
A Winter Project - Slide Opening, Frame Repair (Picture heavy)

Hope this helps

John
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Old 07-01-2017, 04:36 PM   #12
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The Coroplast is a good idea..and while keeping moisture out is the answer that is not 100% possible.
What is good is that the luaun foam panels are not moldy at all! The luaun ply is falling apart where it sat in the water on top of the Darco. That is now appearing to be a relatively small area. And everything else seems to be drying slowly.

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Old 07-01-2017, 05:21 PM   #13
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..and while keeping moisture out is the answer that is not 100% possible.
There are ways and materials to build a better leak proof RV. And last part of that sentence sounds like an oxymoron.... Leak proof and RV that is...

I have been working on trying to get to the 100% mark. Not an easy task... and first it to learn all the ways campers die a death from water intrusion. A lot of rework and constant attention to detail as things fail, but so far it has payed off if one wants to keep any camper a long time.

At the OEM level, first is learning and accepting some of the older methods have design life flaws. Every day the RV industry pumps out brand new campers with the same design flaws that will let water in several years down the road. It is not a simple process, and it will cost a little more to make them last longer. While we as owners of the camper want to have our camper last as long as a house, we also do not like to pay for a camper like we do a house. But, with a little more cost, a much better waterproof camper could be made.

And to add to that, is educating the camper owner on what they have to do annually to ward off water intrusion. If RV dealers really explained all the needs to keep a camper water intrusion free at the time of sale, I think they would not sell as many.... It's work and it costs some to do it. The rewards are good, but many folks just never knew they had to do anything for their camper against water intrusion. If they do not see any leaks inside, they feel they are good to go. And by the time the leak shows up, the damage is done a long time ago.

With all that, we like to go camping It's fun and very addicting! Especially in a camper. And some of us enjoy fixing these things.... we can rebuild it and make it better... not mentioning anyone inparticular...

I'm working on the leak proof concept, next is how to let the water out once leak proof falls short. Want to head that one up? I can use it on the T-1950 I'm rebuilding and you on your Advancer.

Thanks

John
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Old 07-01-2017, 06:48 PM   #14
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Head it up? I do enough prototyping at work thank you!
LOL.. actually now that my brain has bit into that particular problem I probably won't stop brainstorming the ideas for a good long time.
Was thinking of a Tyvek like material with a landscape fabric as a bottom/outer layer. Both available and relatively cheap and durable. The landscape fabric would last for years buried in dirt letting water percolate slowly through. So it should last as long as it not exposed to UV.
Okay now you got me thinking....won't be able....to....stop.....

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Old 07-01-2017, 07:06 PM   #15
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Head it up? I do enough prototyping at work thank you!
LOL.. actually now that my brain has bit into that particular problem I probably won't stop brainstorming the ideas for a good long time.
Trust me, all that stuff you do at work will come in real handy around the camper.... Just wait, you will see.

Oh and now not being able to let go of how to do this, well it is curse of the job.

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Old 07-01-2017, 07:10 PM   #16
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Never saw that but yeah... that's one knack I am stuck with..the burdens we bear eh?

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Old 07-01-2017, 07:12 PM   #17
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Oh..and work comes in handy for sure..the drop off bin had some nice little angles I could bring home and will use to reinforce the new floor as I go...

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Old 07-01-2017, 10:37 PM   #18
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Mobile home flex mend under belly repair tape.
And little trick to drying it out is to put the exhaust hose of a shop vac into a slit in the underbelly. The heat from the running vac blowing in there drys things out quickly.

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Old 07-02-2017, 07:40 AM   #19
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Excellent ideas!

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Old 07-02-2017, 10:56 AM   #20
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I ordered some flex mend .. different brand name but same/similar product it appears. I am going under the trailer as soon as I can and will likely do some slits where I can.
There is a steel pan under the backend I'm guessing that is a fail safe in case of a black tank or water heater leak?

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