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Old 05-27-2010, 02:16 PM   #1
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TPO EPDM Roof Care

This is by far the best article I have read on roof care:



Keep in mind that your roof does NOT have to look like an operating room at the hospital! It functions quite well with a few spots or a pluthera of stains!

From "mydrv.net" One of the better articles I've ever found regarding EDPM and TPO roofing!

"This article will focus on two types of roofing materials – EPDM and TPO. The two leading distributors of these rubber roof systems are Dicor Corporation and Alpha Systems, both located in Elkhart, Indiana.

EPDM stands for Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer. This type of rubber roofing membrane is made to last 20 years and has a 10 to 12 year guarantee, depending on the brand. EPDM is one of the most versatile and long lasting materials ever manufactured for outdoor exposure. Most RV industry experts consider EPDM the most dependable, most cost effective and easiest to maintain roofing material. EPDM is described as “ideal for outdoor applications because of its excellent resistance to ultra-violet light, ozone, oxidants and severe weather conditions”. EPDM roofing membrane oxidizes slowly. In a dozen years it may only oxidize 10% of its thickness. This oxidation is what causes the white-gray or gray streaks that run down the sides of RV’s – especially in heavy dew or light rain. EPDM also becomes very slippery when wet.

TPO – Thermal Poly Olefin – was introduced to the RV and Marine Industries in 1994. It is resistant to algae, mold, fungus, and other biological agents. The chemistry of TPO allows for no chalk residue or degradation of the membrane through its useful life. The TPO membranes are non-skid when wet and therefore are used frequently as floor covering in the pontoon boat industry as well. The chemical additives used in TPO for protection from UV light are not self-sacrificing. Instead, they operate in a regenerative fashion as they interfere with the degradation reactions that occur from UV light exposure. Some features of TPO are the advanced polymer technology, weight reduction and easy installation due to its soft and pliable nature. TPO carriers a 12 year manufacturers’ warranty.

There are different opinions when it comes to cleaning and protecting rubber roofs, but everyone agrees that EPDM’s solvent and oil resistance is poor. Care and maintenance instructions from both manufacturers have the following warning: “DO NOT use cleaners or conditioners containing petroleum solvents, harsh abrasives or Citric based cleaners. You may cause irreparable damage to your roof”

The percentage of petroleum distillates doesn’t matter. THERE IS NO LEVEL OF PETROLEUM DISTILLATES THAT IS RECOMMENDED. Laboratory tests conducted evaluated the effect of a leading RV ‘roof treatment’ product on EPDM roofing membrane using standard sunlamp and immersion testing procedures. The ‘roof treatment’, which contained petroleum distillates, caused a 63% mass change (swelling). Petroleum distillates soak in and cause the adhesive to loosen and the membrane to balloon. Then, when the ballooning goes down, the rubber roof may never again adhere properly or completely. Don’t be fooled by names such as “organic solvent”, “hydrocarbon carrier”, etc. Petroleum distillates by any name should NEVER be applied to EPDM. If you aren’t sure about a product, contact the manufacturer and request a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Look under the section entitled “Hazardous Ingredients”. If it lists any petroleum distillates, do not use it on EPDM.

To maintain your warranty, all that is required is periodic cleaning at least 3 to 4 times per year. What you use is wide open as long as it does not contain petroleum distillates, harsh abrasives, or delaminane (citrus based cleaners). Dicor recommends a non-abrasive type cleaner such as RC 100TM, Borax or DawnTM and a medium to stiff brush. Alpha Systems recommends using a household cleaner such as CometTM, Spic-N-SpanTM, Ajax TM, etc. They say to use a medium-bristled scrub brush in place of a sponge because the EPDM rubber roofing material is not smooth like fiberglass. For more stubborn stains, i.e. oak leaves, pine sap, mold or mildew, the use of a kitchen cleanser with bleach, such as TilexTM or Soft ScrubTM can help. Monoethalomine is also very effective, non-abrasive and minimizes the effort in removing oxidation, pitch, sap, mold and mildew, as well as berry stains from birds and trees. A quick rinse with chlorine (bleach) is necessary to kill the mildew spores and retard their regrowth. Caution should be exercised when washing your roof to prevent cleaners from running down the sides since this could cause streaking. Always pre rinse your RV sides before you rinse your roof. On TPO roofing, Alpha Systems suggests using Murphy’s Oil SoapTM with a soft nylon brush or sponge. DO NOT USE SOLID OR GRANULATED CLEANERS on TPO, AS THEY WILL MAR THE NATURAL FINISH. A good thorough cleaning with some elbow grease, along with the oil soap should keep your roof looking good and remove most stains. Again, any non-granulated, non-abrasive cleaner may be used as long as it does not contain petroleum distillates or delaminane (citrus).

Protecting rubber roofs is s topic of great debate. Per Dicor’s web site, “the guarantee does not require the use of any protective ‘roof treatment’ or ‘roof protector’ product and recommends only cleaning”. This is consistent with both Dicor and Alpha Systems. However, Dicor states that when the roof no longer looks good to “clean the area and treat it with a product that will repel soiling and is safe for EPDM”. Both Dicor and Alpha Systems stated that they have never had issue with any protectant provided that it contained NO PETROLEUM DISTILLATES."
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Old 08-07-2012, 07:03 PM   #2
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Alpha Roof?

Hi all you wonderful Sunline folks,
I am looking at a 1993 T-2590 that has some bubbles on the roof. I was thinking of using Liquid Rubber on it to help keep it in good shape. NO Leaks and it looks awesome inside. Can anyone tell me if Sunline used Alpha rubber roofing? It makes a difference as to how I proceed with or without primer (and less or more pocket change afterwards).
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Old 08-07-2012, 07:50 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by janepete View Post

I am looking at a 1993 T-2590 that has some bubbles on the roof. I was thinking of using Liquid Rubber on it to help keep it in good shape. NO Leaks and it looks awesome inside. Can anyone tell me if Sunline used Alpha rubber roofing?
Hi,

To my understanding Sunline did not use TPO. I do not know this to be 100%. I do know my camper EPDM is a Dicor product. Dicor Corporation | The Dicor Corporation | Official Website

I know Jayco started using TPO several years ago and lost track if they still do. TPO on RV roofs has not been around as long as EPDM from what I have read.

Maybe Sunline Fan can help on if Sunline ever used TPO roofing. I thought they went from aluminum to EPDM.

Hope this helps.

John
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Old 08-08-2012, 04:46 AM   #4
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Thanks John. If I am correct, Alpha made EPDM and TPO products. I know my roof is EPDM but just don't know if it is made by Alpha. Side note, any experience out there with using the Liquid over bubbles? Do I have to fix them?
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:04 AM   #5
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Wow... a picture is worth a million words. I have never seen that many bubbles before like that. The bubble is a lack of adhesion generally or a loss of adhesion between the rubber and the bud board on the roof under it. The bubble, if still intact, does not leak as it is still a totally sealed area.

I have seen small ones, maybe only 1 or 2, just not as many as you have. On very large ones (many inches in size, 4 to 8" plus) I have read they use a needle to poke the bubble and shoot adhesive under it and re-glue it. Then Eternabond over the needle mark. I do not know if that is practical in your case or even needed. Yours do not look super large, just a bunch of them.

The question that is still in my mind is, how did it get that many? “Some” possible causes.

1. A leak that has wicked across the heavy corrugate bud board under the rubber creating loss of adhesion.

2. An actual adhesion failure. Something with the install process did not go right.

3. Somewhere in the life of the camper a prior owner used some type of petroleum based product while cleaning the roof. It soaked through and made the rubber gooey and lifted the adhesion.

If water entry is a problem, you will be smelling it soon even if you do not see it. If you take down a light fixture or a radio speaker they sometimes give access to sniff and look up there. Wet will smell moldy/mildew and a smell once you sniffed it in a camper you will never forget. They now have inspection cameras on a flexible shaft with a light on the end to look down pipes and other long cavities. Some tool rental places may have them.

So now what does one do with this? Good question. The liquid rubber treatment of various products I cannot see hurting this providing the materials you use are compatible. WHich is where you are now. It will make a coating over the bubble however the bubble will still remain. It would be water tight, just an appearance issue whic you cannot see from the ground.

Do you have any idea how long it has been this way? The bubbles themselves as long as they are still sealed intact with no holes, it does not leak. Most times they are talked about to just leave them and keep and eye on them they are not spreading or growing in size.

If the bubble is growing where you can see ¼” and ½” more in size in months of time, then what ever detachment process is occurring is still on going. If there is wet under the bubble and on the bud board doing the needle trick witrh glue will not help as the soggy bud board will not hold it. Need to figure out if the bud board is wet or not before doing this.

If this camper is new to you, this may be one of those, clean the roof carefully as the bubble is loose and may get stretched from a bristle brush. Make 100% sure all the caulk around the seams, vent covers and vent pipes etc is totally intact and no slits or cracks. If so repair them. You use Dicro self leveling sealant for this. Then monitor the bubbles and even measure some and record the size. Wait and see if they change.

Again if you want to do the liquid rubber treatment I do not see that hurting, it will help create a known barrier over everything. The roof is almost 20 years old now and the oxidation may be close to the refinish process anyway.

If this is a 93 camper, odds are high the bubbles have been there a while now.

Best of luck to you. Please let us know how you make out. This one is a new one in this magnitude.

John
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:57 AM   #6
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Thanks for your detailed note John. This camper is amazing. I looked it over very carefully and there has not been one leak inside, apparently ever. The floor is solid, ceiling and lights are great. The thing looks very well cared for. Nicer than any I have seen. We are trying to decide whether to buy it and I am leaning towards yes because of it looking basically new inside and there are no leaks. I know everyone says their camper is like new, but this one really is.

I am working up some questions for the owner. I'm sure he can tell me about how long they have been there, size etc. Thanks for the smell test. I will remove a light and check. I suspect they are water tight.

I got a quote for $3500 to replace the roof from the original dealer. I am asking him to quote how much it would take to repair and if it needs repair. He really liked Sunline and was sad to see them go. Had nothing but good to say-except that there wasn't much under that roof.

My thought is the Liquid Roof will buy us possibly 4 years with the existing roof. Then maybe replace it if we choose later. I'll update on the results and our decision.
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Old 08-10-2012, 02:10 PM   #7
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Well to update, we decided not to buy the camper. The thing that got me was when we asked the owner how long the bubbles had been there, he said he didn't know. He hadn't really noticed them. He had seemed up front all along, but that seemed like an odd answer given the multitude of bubbles. We walked. I loved the immaculate interior, but the 20 year old roof was too iffy. We'll keep looking for our next Sunny.
BTW, we called the 2 local RV dealer/service centers and neither will recoat rubber roof RV's. They said it just doesn't last. They said it peels off after a couple of years. Both dealers have good long reputations. They will recondition and fix caulk but said not to waste time with the stuff. Hmmm... More stuff to think about.
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Old 08-10-2012, 06:37 PM   #8
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Are any RVs going back to metal roofs? Seems the rubber is a bigger pain than it is worth. almost places a lifetime on the campers regulated by the roof.
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Old 08-10-2012, 07:26 PM   #9
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Jim, Since yours is a '91 I assume it has a metal roof. I have a T-1700 with metal roof. My '85 5th wheel had one too. No problems with leaks on either. We took care of the caulking and they were fine. You probably wouldn't see any campers from the 60's on the road if they had rubber roofs.
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Old 08-10-2012, 07:35 PM   #10
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Bring it to Good Ole' West Virginia, I bet our rv repairman would put an aluminum roof on it.

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Old 08-10-2012, 09:43 PM   #11
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Janepete, that for reporting back. Your decision I can agree with. I really do not know if the owner knew what the bubbles mean.

Good luck in your search

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Old 08-11-2012, 04:51 AM   #12
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Kitty, the thought has crossed my mind! I saw your post and pictures. Looks like he did a good job on your camper. Think he makes house calls to Maine?
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