There’s a good chance you’ll need to access the roof of your RV at some point.
If you bought your RV new, you might even void your warranty if you don’t. Many RVers are asking themselves, “can (and should) I walk on my RV roof?”
Let’s take a look and see!
Why Would You Want to Walk On Your RV Roof?
There are a few reasons why you might want to walk on your RV roof. First of all, most manufacturers recommend or require owners to inspect all of the seals on their RV regularly. A failure to address aging and cracking sealant can allow water to penetrate your RV.
Water damage in an RV can cause extensive damage and be expensive to fix. You’ll want to make sure you’re inspecting all the seals around vents, AC units, and, if applicable, solar panels.
You’ll also need to walk across your RV roof if your RV doesn’t come with slide toppers. You should climb on top of your RV before bringing in your slides at the end of each trip. This is especially true if you park your RV under trees.
Closing your RV slides with sticks, twigs, and pinecones on top of your slides can damage the seals that keep water out of your RV. Climbing up there to sweep them off only takes a couple of minutes but should be a part of your departure checklist.
Finally, you may want to climb to your RV roof to enjoy the view. When you’re parking in an epic location, the roof of your RV is a great place to enjoy a sunset. Some RVers even haul their camping chairs on their roof to enjoy the view.
Check These Before You Climb the Ladder
While we’ve climbed on our RV roof more times than we can count, we aren’t suggesting you go out right now and do it. Here are a handful of things you should check before climbing to the top of your RV.
Most RV roofs have a weight capacity of somewhere around 250 lbs. If you or anyone else tries to climb up on your roof and exceeds this limit, bad things can happen. You can bend the metal on the ladder or break internal structural supports. Damaging your RV’s roof will likely ruin your day and have you visiting an RV repair shop soon.
If you’re unsure of the weight limit for your roof, reach out to your manufacturer. They’ll likely ask for the VIN for your RV to give you the most accurate information.
Age of Your Roof
Your RV roof uses a wood frame that will likely weaken with time. Consider the age of your roof and know that it may not be as strong as it was the day it rolled out of the manufacturer’s plant. If you’re towing an older RV, watch for any signs of weakness in the roof.
A bit of give in the roof is natural. However, if you notice any changes, you should get an inspection as soon as possible to make sure you’re not facing a more significant situation.
These types of problems typically get worse and more expensive the longer you wait.
Condition of Your Roof
If your RV roof is not in good condition, there’s a good chance that there are problems with the integrity of your roof. This is common amongst older RV roofs that have not had regular maintenance or cleanings done on them. However, harsh petroleum-based cleaning products can damage the rubber membranes.
If you regularly use these chemicals on your roof, you could be doing more harm than good. Make sure you consider the condition of your roof before climbing up on it.
Not all roofs are walkable, and you must know what type of roof material you have. You may think your roof looks solid enough to walk on it, but that’s not always the case. Some roofs have a low weight rating. If your RV has a ladder attached to the back, there’s a good chance you have a walkable roof.
If not, you’ll want to verify your roof weight capacity with your manufacturer.
Rubber roofs and fiberglass are the most common roof materials that are walkable. Some RVs have aluminum roofs which may be more resistant to tree branches but aren’t typically safe for walking.
Pro Tip: Want to keep your RV roof in good condition? Find out How Often Do You Clean and Condition Your RV Roof?
Is There a Right Way to Walk On Your RV Roof?
You’ll want to walk in the middle of your roof, where the roof is the strongest. Avoid walking near the edges where the roof may be weak, and there’s a potential to fall off the side.
Be as careful as possible when walking on your roof. If it has rained or snowed recently, it may be best to wait until the roof dries.
Slipping and falling while on your roof can cause severe damage to your RV and your body.
What If Your RV Doesn’t Come With a Roof Ladder?
If your RV doesn’t come with a roof ladder, there’s a good chance your roof isn’t a walkable RV roof. However, you’ll want to verify with your manufacturer before assuming it’s not. Many RVers without a roof ladder need to use a ladder to access their roof for maintenance and cleaning.
While it may be challenging to pack a ladder, there are collapsible ladders. These can be much easier to store and take up less room. If you already own a ladder, you may be able to keep it in the bed of your tow vehicle, a pass-thru storage compartment, or secure it to a bumper-mounted cargo rack.
Tips for Walking On Your Roof Safely
If you have to get up on the roof, we have a handful of tips for staying safe. A fall off your RV will likely result in a broken bone or two, if not worse. Let’s take a look!
Don’t Walk On a Wet Roof
There’s a reason why you see “slippery when wet” signs while you’re out and about. A wet RV roof will most definitely be slippery when it is wet. You can very easily slip and fall on a wet roof.
A fall on your roof can cause tremendous damage to your roof, vent covers, or even skylights. More importantly, a fall could result in a severe injury. Paying a visit to the nearest emergency room is likely not a place you want to visit while you’re RVing.
So stay off a wet RV roof, whether it’s snow, ice, or rain.
It’s a good rule of thumb that if you’ve been drinking alcohol, you should stay off the roof of your RV. You may not realize how much alcohol affects your balance—losing your balance while 8 to 12 feet off the ground is a recipe for disaster.
Not only should you not climb on your RV roof if you’ve been drinking, but neither should your fellow campers. It may seem like a good idea at the moment, but it’s not. It’s always a good idea to have a designated driver at the campsite. You don’t want an emergency to happen and not have a sober driver.
Stay Away From the Edges
The edges are not only the weakest spot on your RV roof, but it’s a long way down. Even a fall from 8’ can cause a severe injury. Stay near the middle of the RV, where your RV roof is strong.
This also helps avoid any potential damage to the supports and the structure of your roof.
Avoid Any Components
You should always watch where you’re stepping on your RV roof. You don’t want to step backward and break a vent cover or skylight. If you’ve added solar panels, you don’t want to step on one and damage it accidentally.
A slight misstep can cause a tremendous amount of damage and require you to take immediate action. You can’t have a hole in the roof of your RV for too long.
Pro Tip: Keep your roof in prime condition with these 5 Simple RV Roof Repair Hacks.
Should You Walk On Your RV Roof?
You should always verify whether or not you have a walkable roof with your manufacturer. If you do, you should walk on your roof regularly. The key to catching changes in your sealant and roof is getting familiar with it. If you’re only climbing up on your roof a couple of times each year, you may miss the initial signs of a problem. A small problem can quickly become a big problem if not addressed.
Safety First When Walking On Your RV Roof
You want to get up on your RV roof regularly. However, you should only do so if you have a walkable RV roof. If you aren’t sure about the weight capacity of your RV’s roof, call your manufacturer.
They’ll likely be able to provide any information you might need. However, you should be as safe as possible when climbing up on your roof.
How often do you walk on your RV roof? Drop a comment below!
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