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No one enjoys showering in the dark. Fortunately, many RVs have an RV skylight located over the shower to let more natural light in, and provide more headroom, too. Unfortunately, when you’ve owned your RV for any length of time, problems are bound to arise, and the RV skylight is no exception. But, the good news is that if you’re just a bit handy, you can fix many of these issues yourself.
Common RV Skylight Issues
There are several common issues with RV skylights. You may experience one or several of these at a time. For instance, after years in the sunlight, the outer plastic frequently used for RV skylights can start to cloud, yellow, and become brittle. In bad cases, it can even crack and cause leaks.
Another problem could be in the area of the inner plastic liner of the RV skylight. The space between the inner liner and outer skylight can accumulate condensation and dirt, or it can come loose if the adhesive holding the clear section to the opaque outer ring begins to fail.
Regardless of the location, we’re here to tell you how to fix these common problems.
How to Clean & Repair the Inside of an RV Skylight
If you have issues with the interior portion of your skylight, you’ll need to unscrew the interior frame from the inside and remove the entire inner piece. This will allow you to more easily determine the cause of the problem. While the inner piece is off, you can inspect the upper skylight piece for leaks or cracks.
Resticking the Inner Skylight Liner with Double-Stick Tape
If a part of the skylight’s inner plastic layer is separating, the fix may be as simple as replacing the double-stick tape to join the pieces back together. Be sure to scrape off the old double-stick tape, and use rubbing alcohol to make sure the surface is clean prior to applying the new tape. Also clean the edge of the inner liner, being careful not to scratch or damage it.
We recommend using a heavy-duty mounting tape, like this one:
- Crystal clear alternative to nails and fasteners; Won't yellow over time
- Best for projects where typical fasteners won’t work and you need a clear finish; Holds up to 15 lbs
Make sure the tape adheres all the way around the perimeter of the skylight before removing the backing. Line up the liner with the edge of the skylight frame and press firmly from both sides to make a good seal.
Cleaning the Inside of An RV Skylight
Before re-installing the skylight liner, take a damp cloth and wipe both the upper portion of the liner and the inside of the outer skylight cover. You won’t be able to access these once the liner is reattached.
Gently put the RV skylight liner back in place, and start a couple of screws to hold it in the opening.
RV Pro Tip: Use a hand-held screwdriver instead of a powered one, as the plastic frame can be fragile. You don’t want to over tighten and cause a new crack!
To see our step-by-step instructional video showing how to access the inside of your RV skylight and replace the double-stick tape, click on the photo below:
If you already have leaks or cracks in the outer portion of your RV’s skylight, or if it appears they may be imminent, you’ll need to do more extensive repairs to stop the leak or to prevent one from happening.
How to Repair a Leaking RV Skylight
Removing and replacing a leaking RV skylight might seem like a challenging job, but it’s actually quite simple.
Tools You’ll Need
Before you start, you’ll need to have the following tools and supplies on hand:
- Mineral spirits (also available at a local hardware store)
- Nitrile gloves
- A caulk gun
- Surebond SB-140 sealant (you may need 2 tubes for larger skylights)
- A cordless drill
- A putty knife
- A disposable rag (an old tee-shirt works great, too!)
- – The replacement skylight (be sure it’s the same size as the one you’re replacing, check with your RV manufacturer or dealer for make & model of the existing skylight, or see if you can find a matching RV skylight at icondirect.com)
- – A few extra self-tapping screws (depending on how many screw holes the new skylight has -vs- the old one)
Now, put on your gloves, and let’s get to work!
Step-by-Step RV Skylight Removal Instructions
The first step to fixing your RV skylight is to remove the old seal using a putty knife. After exposing the heads of the screws, use the cordless drill to remove them all.
Next, carefully insert the putty knife under the edge of the skylight and slide it around the entire edge all the way around. This will allow you to pry it away from the roof. Use caution, especially if you have a rubber roof, so you don’t slice through it with the putty knife. Remove the old skylight and set it aside.
Next, scrape up any remaining sealant with your putty knife. There will be some sticky residue remaining, even after scraping with the putty knife. This is where mineral spirits comes in. Put some mineral spirits on your old rag and use this to clean up the area and remove as much of the sealant as possible. Again, if you have a rubber roof, use the mineral spirits as sparingly as possible. Be sure not to soak the roofing material too much… you could cause the underlying adhesive to come undone, causing bubbles or other problems with your roof.
Installing the New Skylight
Now that you’ve removed the old skylight and the area is clean and dry, you’re ready to install the new skylight on your RV. To do this, use your caulk gun to run a thick bead of Surebond SB140 over the old screw holes along the entire perimeter.
Next, set your new skylight in place. To spread the bead out and ensure a complete seal, wiggle the skylight gently until caulk comes up through the screw holes. Then screw the new skylight into place. (This may involve creating some new holes if they don’t line up perfectly with the existing holes, but don’t worry about making new holes, or not using the olde ones… the sealant will seal them up to prevent them from leaking).
When you tighten the screws, they should flex the skylight a little but not be so tight that they crack it. After all the screws are in place, add one more bead of the SB140 sealant along the skylight’s edges and over the screws.
Once you finish this, the job is done and your brand new RV skylight is ready to go!
Again, if you’re a more visual DIY learner and would like to follow along with us as we replace our skylight, click on the photo below to access our step-by-step video explaining the entire process:
Simple RV Skylight Repair is Easy to DIY
As you can see, dealing with an RV skylight issue is simpler than you may have initially thought. We’re confident that you can complete this task yourself by following the steps above. With regular maintenance and repair of your skylight when needed, you’ll enjoy the added light of a clean and clear skylight, and save yourself many potential headaches by stopping leaks before they happen.
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Even though we're handy RVers, we're not professional technicians. So although we're happy with the techniques and products we use, you should be sure to confirm that all methods and materials are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.