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Open Roads Forum  >  Travel Trailers  >  General Q&A

 > Lance trailer “flat roof” makes roof water ponds -- problems

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hodaka

Seattle

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Posted: 01/09/18 08:46pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

In August of 2014 my family and I purchased a new Lance 1685 trailer to replace our 10 year old 5th wheel. We liked what we thought was a well designed and built trailer. That is why we bought it. On this forum I previously posted the difficult problems that first came to light in 2015 when we were about 1000 miles from our Seattle home in the Nevada/Utah desert. That being (1) the Norcold refrigerator failed at higher altitude and (2) the slide unit jammed when opening and closing. Eventually, after several months, these items were fixed via the warranty process. But not until after these two problems pretty much ruined our long planned rv trip.

Especially annoying was Lance’s refusal to let me bring the trailer to their factory for them to fix the problems, even though I happened to be not too far from its factory when the problems occurred. I was told Lance was busy making new trailers at its factory and had no time to fix covered warranty problems on a unit it had recently built! Lance advised that I could try to find a “nearby” Lance dealer to fix the warranty problems. That process, it turned out, would take at least a month, probably more, all the while being about 1000 miles from home, at our sole living expense, no help from Lance. Not possible of course. We had to return home as best we could. After getting home Lance took many days to review their construction defects and authorize one of its dealers to fix the issues. After that, I waited for Lance to ship new parts to its dealer, and then get those parts installed.

I concluded then — my opinion only, others may differ — that Lance’s after-sale customer care could be greatly improved. It appeared to me that Lance was primarily interested in building and selling new units to new customers, as compared to promptly fixing its construction defects in its existing customer’s recently built trailers. I believe that was why Lance refused to let me bring the trailer to its Lancaster factory, which would have the needed parts on hand as well as experienced folks to quickly fix the problems. Unlike the situation with the Lance dealers.

But I hoped for the best going forward. No serious problems until December 2017, when a small hole (about 1/4” diameter) appeared for the first time in the Lance selected and installed roof sealant for the front vent over the queen bed. Normally such a small hole would let just a little water through a slightly crowned roof, no big problem, easily fixed. But it turns out Lance chooses to design and build trailer roofs that can pond water, rather than shedding the roof water. Lance calls their roofs “flat roofs”. But the roofs are not truly flat, but instead can pond water instead of shedding all the roof water. What is the purpose of a roof? As I see things, roofs are supposed to shed water, not collect and pond water, much of which can then go through a small hole when/if the Lance selected and installed sealant fails.

Lance tells me:

“… Lance has designed a flat roof on this unit and it has been meet with success. Maintaining the seals are part of that success. Lance can’t recommend a modification to its original design…. I regret to inform you this is not a warrantable situation that Lance can participate in financially…”

I've some pics of the damage to my unit from the ponded roof water, but don't know how to attach them here. Along with pics of some of the roof ponding. I’ve sent these pics, and additional pics, to Lance a few weeks ago. Let me know if you want a look, and I'll email the pics to you. Or you can look at them on the Lance owners website - they are posted there. I offered to let Lance examine the roof ponding on its so-called “flat roof” and the damage to my trailer. Lance declines. Lance says (I summarize) it’s my problem alone.

What’s the point of bringing this experience to this forum? So that others with Lance trailers with so-called “flat roofs” (which actually can pond water, instead of shedding water like roofs normally do) can consider taking steps to avoid possible problems and damage to the interior of your trailer. With the benefit of hindsight now, such steps might possibly include:

(1) consider a trailer with a slightly crowned roof that sheds water, instead of ponding water. A flat roof design that relies solely on "sealant" strikes me -- others may differ of course -- as very poor and very risky for the customer. Nowhere in its sales literature that I have does Lance disclose the fact that its flat roof design ponds water that can then all drop into the interior through a small hole in defectively installed sealant.


(2) consider calling Lance and asking whether you can store the Lance trailer so that it is “out of level” front to back and side to side, so that the so-called “flat roof” then sheds more ponded water. Please note that the Lance Owner’s Manual says the opposite — on page 115, the Lance Manual (in the Short Term Storage section) states: “Park the trailer as level as possible front to rear and side to side.” The Long Term Storage section says the same.


(3) whatever else you think appropriate. For instance, if/when it rains or snows during a camping trip, consider the pluses and minuses of having the trailer “out of level” to a degree that reduces or eliminates roof ponding on your Lance trailer. Keep alert for the possible effect on the refrigerator of course, and anything else Lance suggests.


(4) consider spending quite a bit of money every few years attempting to deal with a so-called “flat roof” design that, in many cases at least like mine, ponds water onto the roof, awaiting even a small hole somewhere, to drain into the interior.


(5) be thankful if your particular “flat roof” happens to shed all the water when the trailer is level, instead of ponding water.

Best of good fortune to all, and happy camping!

rvshrinker

Beautiful Pacific Northwest

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Posted: 01/09/18 10:04pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I’m sorry this is happening. This is one of the reasons I sprung for the new model ORV travel trailers. They have a crowned roof which gives an additional 5” of internal headroom as well as shedding water without ponding.

As a fellow PNWer, we both know flat roofs are a disaster in waiting when it comes to roofs. It’s disappointing to hear lance’s roof allows for pooling.

TurnThePage

North ID

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Posted: 01/09/18 10:13pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

That flat roof is the Achilles heel of the Lance trailers. If not for that, they would be at the top of my list. In this part of the northwest, the snow can pile high. A flat roof could be disastrous.


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mogman

Pitt Meadows, B.C. Canada

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Posted: 01/09/18 10:14pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I store my current Lance, and all the trailers I've owned previously, with a very slight "down at the front" angle.
I also check the caulking at least 3 times a year and have had no water leaks from the roof.


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SoundGuy

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Posted: 01/10/18 12:35am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

hodaka wrote:

I've some pics of the damage to my unit from the ponded roof water, but don't know how to attach them here.


Just upload your pics here, copy the url created, and paste that into your post. It would be helpful if after .jpg you insert "width=600" or some similar number so the size of the pic posted isn't excessively large. For example ...

[image]

path1

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Posted: 01/10/18 01:32am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Something you might want to consider. Look at Inland coatings. Look at "case studies" couple of them are from our area. Look at rc2000. If you want to peruse it further call Corp and get manager for our area. He lives close to Seattle. He offered to show me his RV that he owns. Hopefully he hasn't moved on. I'm very pleased with results on my x rental for many years now. EPDM/rubber roofs on buildings have flat roofs also. If you need other info pm me.

Ralph Cramden

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Posted: 01/10/18 02:48am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

path1 wrote:

S
EPDM/rubber roofs on buildings have flat roofs also.


They're not truly flat as the membrane is put over tapered insulation or the structure itself is designed to a minimum slope of 1/4"/ft. Every manufacturer of EPDM systems, Firestone, Carlyle, etc have warranty reps that inspect new installations and certify the roof for the warranty. If there is standing water they will not certify it.

We had a 2011 Dutchmen Aerolite with a flat roof. It never had a leak but having water on it constantly was always in the back of my mind. Used to be a lot of brands had flat roofs. Certain Rockwood and Jayco lines for sure, but they changed the construction at some point.

From the OP's experience, it seems you get the same build and service issues with Lance as you do with all the others while having the benefit of paying more to get it.I

Lwiddis

El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora Reina Los Angeles

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Posted: 01/10/18 09:01am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

“It appeared to me that Lance was primarily interested in building and selling new units to new customers,“

No kidding? And every other RV manufacturer.


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PaulJ2

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Posted: 01/10/18 10:37am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Travel trailers have had flat roofs for years. It makes little difference if it leaks in from a puddle or from just rain. Cities everywhere have flat roof buildings and have forever. The cure of course is maintenance. maintenance, maintenance.
I'm sure trailer manufactures figure the trailer will be perfectly level one time and tipped one way or the other next time it's parked, so they just don't worry about it much.
Yes, it seems better to have a little slope to it but it's not a deal breaker for me.

TurnThePage

North ID

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Posted: 01/10/18 12:08pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Actually flat roofs are kind of rare now days. My budget 2004 trailer came with an arched roof. My previous trailer did have a flat aluminum roof (which leaked right through the aluminum itself).

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