Pop-Up Campers & Water Leaks: 9 Answers (Explained)

Pop-up motorhomes are compact, lightweight, and streamlined to provide the perfect towing experience.

Yet, if you’re considering one of these motorhomes, you’re likely eager to learn all you can before you buy and one of the common points of contention you need to evaluate is if these motorhomes leak.

Our article will discuss everything you should know about pop-up campers and water leaks:

Here’s When Pop-Up Campers Leak:

Both hard and soft-side pop-up campers leak at some point during their lifetime. In most instances, a soft-side pop-up camper is more likely to leak than a hard-side camper because it is made out of materials that are more susceptible to letting rain inside the camper.

1. Do Hard-Side Pop-Up Campers Leak More?

Hard-sided pop-up campers tend to experience fewer leaks than soft-sided campers. This is because hard-sided pop-up campers are not made with canvas or tent-like materials.

Instead, hard-side pop-up campers have composite walling, usually with an insulation rating. Also, hard-sided pop-up campers usually feature an A-frame shape, allowing water to easily roll off the trailer when pitched.

In contrast, some soft-side pop-up campers will collect water on their roofs or window awnings because it is made out of canvas or a tent-like fabric, which leads to leaks more easily, especially during times of heavy downpours.

If you’re planning on camping during rainy seasons, it might be best to choose a hard-sided pop-up camper as they are less likely to leak during heavy rains. However, this doesn’t mean there isn’t a chance of leaks occurring, as many factors can influence if a hard-side pop-up camper leaks more than a soft-side pop-up camper.

For example, a soft-side pop-up camper could have fewer leaks or an increased chance of not leaking when compared to a hard-side pop-up camper – that’s if the hard-side camper has experienced damaged walling and has been poorly maintained or has deteriorated seals that need new caulk.

Check out these 3 Affordable Pop-Up Campers People Love!

2. Do Pop-Up Truck Campers Leak More?

Whether a pop-up truck camper leaks more than a hard-side or soft-side pop-up camper will depend on many factors. 

For example, if a pop-up truck camper is made with composite panels with some canvas fabric, has been maintained, isn’t too old, and has been used during good weather conditions more often than bad weather conditions, it’s less likely to leak.

In contrast, if a pop-up truck camper has been poorly maintained or damaged, is mostly made with fabric, is old, and has been used frequently during bad weather, it is more likely to leak than some hard-side pop-up camper. 

However, pop-up truck campers generally don’t leak as often as soft-sided campers with plenty of canvas or tent-like fabric for their roofing and walls.

3. When Do Pop-Up Campers Typically Start Leaking?

According to many RVers, when pop-up campers typically start leaking is tricky to determine as it depends on numerous factors, including how a person treats their camper.

Typically hard-side and soft-side campers last a maximum of 10 to 15 years before needing to be replaced, with many not reaching the 10-year mark.

Although they do last pretty long (some tents tend to last longer than this), they can start leaking reasonably soon. Most soft-side pop-up campers can start leaking anywhere from a few months to a few years after being bought.

Most hard-side pop-up campers last a little longer before they start leaking, with most passing between two to five years without showing any signs of leaks.

4. Do Pop-Up Campers Leak More Than Other Types Of Campers?

Generally, pop-up campers with canvas or tent-like fabric tend to have a higher chance of leaking than other campers that only use composite panels or are made out of fiberglass or aluminum.

 Other campers are usually more durably constructed with superior materials, so they are built to last longer, but this isn’t always the case.

5. Where Do Pop-Up Campers Typically Leak?

As with many other motorhomes, there are a few common places where pop-up campers typically leak.

Below are some common areas to know where to look if you suspect a water leak and damage:

Roof leaks: 

Arguably, the most common type of leak is a roof leak, and there are many reasons a roof can leak on a hard-side or pop-up camper.

For example, if there are loose or damaged rivets or screws on the roof, water can leak into your camper through a wiring channel.

Roof leaks can also occur if you don’t level your camper correctly as

Window leaks: 

When caulking deteriorates, window leaks commonly occur on hard-sided pop-up campers.

Additionally, a soft-side pop-up camper with canvas windows could leak because of rips and tears in the canvas.

Seal leaks: 

With frequent use, the seals on a pop-up camper can wear down and crack, which often causes leaking into various parts of a camper.

Sidewall leaks: 

Water easily leaks inside through these damaged places if there are damages to the exterior of a pop-up camper, either to the composite walls or the fabric (i.e., rips and tears).

Slide leaks: 

Sometimes, hard and soft-sided pop-up campers can experience leaks near the slide-outs.

6. How Much Will It Cost To Fix A Minor or Major Leak On Pop-Up Campers?

How much you will need to pay to fix a leak on your pop-up camper will depend on where the leak is located, how severe it is, and how much damage has already been done to your camper.

For example, if you have a small leak on your pop-up campers’ roof, you should expect to pay about $300 to fix it yourself if you have the right materials.

Should you need to repair a larger leak on your roof, you can expect this price to rise, and you should expect to pay roughly $500 to $700 if you have a professional do it for you.

In addition, if you have to replace the canvas of your roof or windows, you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $2,000 and labor fees of about $500. Yet, if you have a hard-side pop-up camper and need to fix a leaking window, you won’t need to pay more than $100 usually if you’re replacing caulking and doing the labor on your own.

Here are 12 Great Camper Vans With Pop Up Roof to check out!

7. How Hard Is It To Fix A Leaking ROOF On Pop-Up Models?

How hard it will be to fix a leaking roof on a pop-up camper depends on the damage’s severity and whether you have a hard-side or soft-side pop-up camper.

Usually, fixing a leaking roof on a hard-side model is more challenging than fixing a leaking roof on a hard-side pop-up camper.

Most of the time, if you understand how roofing on a pop-up camper works, you can do a DIY fix if there is a small crack, a deteriorated seal, or if there is torn fabric or rivets and screws that need replacing.

However, it can become incredibly difficult to repair the roof leak on your own if there is significant damage. This is because you will likely need to replace the roof, which can be very tricky and complicated, not to mention expensive, as we discussed above.

Therefore, if you think you can fix a small roof leak on your own, give it a try, but if you want to ensure the job is done correctly, you should consider hiring a professional RV technician.

8. How Hard Is It To Fix A Leaking WINDOW On Pop-Up Models?

Although fixing a leaking window on a pop-up camper is easier than fixing a roof, it can still be complicated, especially if you have a soft-side pop-up camper.

This is because, with soft-side pop-up camper windows, you have to repair the fabric or canvas to fix a window leak, and depending on how bad the rip or tear is, you will have to replace an entire section of the canvas if not the entirety of the canvas that wraps around your motorhome.

In contrast, if you have a hard-side pop-up camper with glass windows set into the walling, you won’t have as much of a problem fixing the water leak, especially if it is simply a seal fix.

Often if your caulking has deteriorated, you will only have to remove the old sealant carefully without cracking or scratching your window before replacing it with new caulking. This process is usually quick and easy.

Yet, if you have to replace the window, it can be tricky, and in this instance, it’s usually best to get a professional to do it for you.

9. How Do You Inspect A Water Leak On These Models?

Inspecting a pop-up camper for a water leak isn’t as difficult as you might believe, especially if you have maintained it. As with other campers, you can use a few helpful tips to check for leaks.

So, if you want to search for water leaks, you can have a look below:

  • Check all the roof and window seams and seals to see if any undone stitching or caulking has deteriorated.
  • Look for soft spots and discolorations on the flooring, ceiling, and walls.
  • Check for rips and tears in the fabric of your walls or windows if you have a soft-sided pop-up camper.
  • Look for water damage under mattresses and couches and at plumbing fixtures.
  • Look inside cabinets and storage compartments for mold or puddles of water.
  • Listen for dripping water when inside your camper, and also look for condensation.


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