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Leak test

I am in a large part governed by the weather. The last week of dampness and gray was beginning to annoy me, but the weather changed in the middle of the night and suddenly everything was different. I could feel it even in my sleep.

Cool, dry air slipped in the open windows of the Airstream and the moldiness was swept away. The sheets of the bed became crisp and dry, and I rolled over just to feel them against my legs. I lay there for a while, looking up at nothing in the dark, just reveling in the thrill of the refreshing night air, and then turned back to dreams filled with fantasies of exploration.

Lake Champlain ferry Safari roof.jpg

It has been a beautiful day. I got up early and hitched the trailer and then loaded it up on the Charlotte-Essex ferry for an absolutely gorgeous ride across the lake to New York state. My mission today was to visit GSM Vehicles, where Colin Hyde and his elves work magic on Airstream trailers.

I had only two things on my list: First, to replace the standard plastic RV toilet with a new Dometic Sealand china toilet. The one that came with the trailer has had an intermittent issue where it lets sewer gas into the bathroom. In other word, it stinks. We've never been able to figure out exactly where the gas was leaking in, and it turned out to be easier to swap the whole unit for an upgrade than to fix it.

Plattsburgh leak test fan.jpg

The second item was to leak test the trailer. Colin says, "They all leak" and I tend to agree with him. There is no such thing as a trailer that has never leaked, despite what sellers claim on eBay. What they really mean is, "I don't know where the leak is." Even if your trailer doesn't leak today, after a year or two of bouncing down the road things can be different, so it pays to preventively check.

The machine above is a big fan that sucks air in the roof vent and lightly pressurizes the interior of the trailer. The guys close the doors and windows, and then go around the trailer spraying a soapy water solution on everything and look for bubbles. It's simple.

Plattsburgh step light leak.jpg

Our trailer did pretty well on the test. We found several places which formed bubbles, but some of them are not really leak points and so we ignored them. Three "real" leaks were found. The worst was on the plumbing vent (on the roof), and repairing it was a matter of removing the vent, trimming the vent's gasket, and re-sealing it. The other two were on the patio light and the step light. They only needed re-caulking.

Plattsburgh patio light leak.jpg
Colin marks a leak at the patio light

The guys said our trailer was the least leaky one they've tested so far ... remember, they ALL leak eventually. If you haven't done a leak test, I recommend it as relatively cheap insurance. Just because you can't see a leak doesn't mean it isn't rotting out your Airstream's floor!


Yep, our beloved Airstream leaks too. We've found and solved for the biggest leaks but still have a few little ones. This is why we built our "Airstream" barn when we moved to New Hampshire a few years ago - storing her in the barn keeps her in good shape even if we cannot uncover and fix every leak.

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