Here’s a quick and cheap fix/upgrade that you probably need to take care of.
Many RV’s have multiple ceiling vents, each one with a plastic cover that can be opened or closed. There will very likely come a time when those covers break, either from a rock or other road debris striking it, or from UV exposure that can cause the cover to become brittle over time. It’s a lot easier to take care of this quick fix now than to wait until it breaks while on a trip. Not only will you have to deal with the logistics of finding a store that stocks what you need, it will also be more expensive.
For us, our RV was about 3 years old, and we were just pulling into our site for the night when a huge gust of wind blew a vent cover right off the roof. This is why we always travel with duct tape. After taping the remains of the cover in place I quickly discovered that all 4 vent covers were very brittle from baking in the sun, so it was time for some replacements. Here’s what to do:
A quick test
Go up to the roof of your RV and take a look at your vent covers. Do they look worn, cracked or have holes? If your rig is stored or parked under full sun, chances are good that after a few years they’ll become very brittle. (If you can easily break the cover or poke your finger through, then it’s past time to replace). Of course, you may want to have a new cover on hand before you go creating new holes. If you do discover holes or cracks, you may need to patch them with duct tape until you can get replacements.
Switching out vent covers is a pretty easy job, but here are some detailed steps to follow:
Find out what kind of hinge is on your vent
Avoid buying the wrong covers! There are a few types of hinges, so while you are up on the roof of your RV take a look at the style of hinge you have. Here are the options:
Order new vent covers
Once you know what type of vent hinge you need, you can pick up as many new covers as needed for your particular RV. They are easy to install (we’ll go over the installation steps next) and are usually priced for around $10.00 each.
As a side note, Camco offers a couple of grades, “impact resistant” and “unbreakable”. They aren’t really unbreakable, but the “unbreakable” version is a bit thicker. Either way, you’ll likely find that these are an upgrade compared to the stock covers that came with your RV. They’ll also be “UV balanced”, so they should be a bit more resilient to the sun. You can get them in various colors including black, smoke, or white. Ours were originally white, and we like white because it lets more natural light in.
Removing the old vent covers
Ok, the next step is to remove your old vent covers. Grab a screwdriver (usually a phillips) and a drill with a phillips bit. You’ll need both because some screws can’t be reached very easily with a drill, unless you have a long bit driver.
Some models may vary, but here are the next steps for common models. First, go inside the RV and crank the vent open all the way. Next, from inside the RV, reach up to the ceiling (grab a step stool if needed) and remove the four screws most visible to you, which hold the trim around the vent. By the way, as you remove screws place them in a safe place so that you can easily find them later when you reassemble everything. Then remove the trim piece.
Remove two more screws which hold the screen in place.
At this point you’ll need to remove the crank handle by removing the small screw holding it in place.
The trim, screen and crank handle should all be removed at this point. The last thing you need to do from inside the RV is to remove two more screws that hold the crank mechanism in place. Once these screws are removed the mechanism will come loose and the vent cover will close again. You want the mechanism to hang from the vent’s track, or from the cross bar… in other words make sure it doesn’t drop onto the floor as you’ll need to access it from the roof later.
Repeat the above steps for each vent you want to replace. Now it’s time to climb back up to the roof.
From on top of the RV, you can pull the vent cover up, then slide the crank arm off of the vent track while being careful not to let the crank arm and mechanism fall to the floor. Now the vent cover should open all the way and you can then completely remove the vent from the hinge.
Installing the new vent cover
Now that you have completely removed the old vent cover, you can slide the new vent cover onto the hinge. Next, insert the crank arm into the vent track and slide it up on the track a bit so that it stays attached. You can all allow the vent cover to close again, grab the old vent cover and head back inside.
From inside the RV, push the crank mechanism up and reattach the two screws that hold it to the cross bar. Now replace the screen with the two screws you removed earlier, and also replace the crank handle. You can now crank the vent cover closed, verifying that it works properly.
You’re almost done! Place the final trim piece back into its spot, tighten the four screws and you are finished.