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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Here's how I fixed the leak at my refrigerator vent, "the second time."

Being totally frustrated at still having a wet floor under the refrigerator I decided to get serious. I've been chasing leaks on all four slides of our 2006 Montana 3500RL since we bought it in November 2005. The only remaining wet spot is under the refrigerator.

I had just attempted a repair that I had found in one of the forums at the Montana Owners Club (MOC) and thought it had solved the problem. No such luck! It took a few days to get the floor dry after I did the work, and I looked forward to the next rain event to prove my work. We got close to 3 inches of rain in three days here in Oregon and the floor was wet again. What was a good thing was that it took longer than usual for it to get wet and it wasn't as wet as it usually gets. I must be on the right track! As I looked at my previous repair job I noticed that the sealer I had put in place had not totally cured in the two weeks since I put it there. This meant that water had gotten on it and prevented it from curing and since it wasn't cured it allowed rain water through, just not as much or as fast as before.

Today I decided to dig a little deeper than I did last time. I totally removed the outer flange that holds the vent cover in place. This was easy to do since it's held with ten screws. Four in the bottom, four in the top and one on each side. The top picture shows what I found. The outer wall board is dark and wet the full width of the opening. You can also see wet debris stuck to the bottom of the flange in the bottom corner of the picture. This means that a ton of water was getting in there. The top of the flange was dry and dusty meaning that the upper vent is probably not leaking. I had sealed it at the same time I did this one.

To fix this thing for real (I hope) I cleaned and dried everything really well. Then I put a bead of sealer on the aluminum frame under the flange next to the screw holes. I extended this up the sides of the frame a couple of inches too. I also filled the screw holes with sealer. Then I put another bead of sealer on the bottom of the flange and put it back in place. I had made a 1 inch by 21 inch piece of angled aluminum by cutting a strip from a piece of roofing, clamping it between two boards and using a rubber mallet to bend it over like a piece of angle iron. I slid one side of the aluminum under the flange and into the sealer and squeezed it up tight to the vent flange. Then I added more sealer in front of the aluminum and the flange. Once this was well sealed I put all the screws in place. As a touch of "good measure" I put another bead of sealer at the back of my home made metal angle too. Finally re-sealed the outside of vent flange where it comes against
the outside wall.

Since rain water had prevented the sealer from curing last time, I knew I would need to keep the whole project dry for as long as it takes to cure this time. I happened to have a small piece of clear plastic on hand just large enough to cover the entire vent. I used duct tape to hold this in place over the vent. I cut a slit in if for the drain hose.

I don't intend to remove that plastic cover anytime soon so I won't really know if my repair works for awhile. If the floor stays dry while it's on there, I will know that I am on the right track. I'll add a new post to this blog about whether or not the repair worked as soon as I know. That will most likely be next January since we will be leaving our present location and traveling down the Oregon Coast then. I'll have to remove that piece of plastic for sure before we start pulling.

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