Floor Problems

We had a number of soft spots that crept up in our floor. We talked to the factory about taking the camper up there – but the fuel costs alone of driving it there and back were going to be $600+. So we decided to start taking the camper apart and to cut the vinyl floor carefully and peel it back . As part of disassembly I used blue masking tape and sandwich baggies to tag and mark where everything went. Take lots of pictures and label any wires.

Here is what we found:

As near as we can tell the issue stemmed from the slide not sealing 100% when the trailer was at an optimum angle for water to drip in and collect near the door. The osb flooring absorbed the water, stayed wet and quickly lost its strength.

I picked up a small 4″ hand held circular saw to start the process of removing old flooring. I felt a regular circular saw would have been to large to cut in the confined space of the trailer. This one was under $60 and was purchased from Home Depot.

We cut the flooring out – leaving the insulation and black screen as intact as possible. The flooring had to be chiseled out of the area under the walls, and there are screws from the factory that held the original board down – those has to be removed as well.

We choose an A/B grade 5/8 plywood for the repair. Its stronger that the osb and would be more resistant to any more water intrusion. I had to buy it from a local specialty lumber supplier that none of the big box stores carried that size or grade. A 4×8 sheet was $60

The new floor was in two pieces – with the seam under the kitchen vanity. It was screwed down to the frame using 1/4″ stainless sheet metal screws and I installed a galvanized plate on the bottom of the board where it met the original OSB. This would prevent the two pieces from moving independently. Any place there was a visible seam – I went over it with a flexible joint compound for subfloors. I finished everything off with a coat of Kilz to address and lingering mold and protect the wood from moisture.

For reassembly I acquired a few things that were needed to make sure it wall went back together smoothly:

  • New seals for the water lines, did not want to risk a leak after it was all put back together.
  • New screws. some of the wood screws were rusty from bing explosed to moisture. I bought a bag of 100 and have some left over.
  • Belly sealing tape. This is an 180 foot roll, 4 ” wide. I taped all the edges of the new floor boards and used it to patch any holes in the skirting under the camper.
  • New propane/co detector. These need to be replaced every 5 years, while I had it all apart I installed a new one.
  • 6″ magnetic extension for my impact driver, made it a lot easier to get to some of the fasteners – and I used a square bit instead of a phillips.

The staple on the top is what the factory used 3/16″ narrow crown 23 gauge. I ended up going with an 18 gauge 1/4″ narrow crown, both are 5/8″ long. It was less expensive than the 23 gauge stapler and the larger staples held a little better. Here is the stapler I got from Harbor Freight, it was $40

In order to reconnect the sink drain, I went with a rubber clamp as opposed to trying to weld the abs plastic back together. Given the drain is a no pressure connection with light flow, this connector would be more than adequate. Given the wrestling that it took to get the drain pipe back in – this was a huge grief saver. I was $5 at Lowes.

The camper is now all put back together, tested and ready for use. The project was a pain but not overly difficult. I added some wood trim pieces to cover where we cut the flooring, and it’s not as tight as it was before. But I am sure in time it will lay flat again. Our total cost for the repair including tools was about $350. The local dealer quotes $1800 and the factory was about $1200 (plus travel expenses) Hopefully this repair holds up and we have no future problems with soft floors.