December 22, 2021

How To Replace the Run Channel in Your RV Sliding Glass Windows

How To Replace the Run Channel in Your RV Sliding Glass Windows

If I’m honest, there’s nothing I love more than opening our windows on a cool summer evening. The fresh air, cool breeze, supper’s going on the stove and we’re listening to a little Hank Williams – what a great night.

But what if it isn’t summer and I’m trying to keep out the cold? The last thing I want is a chill in the air disturbing my cozy couch time. You know what I mean?

Whether you’re a weekender, or live in your RV full time, dealing with drafty windows is frustrating! When window seals fail or go bad, the results can be costly and likely ruin the RV experience. So, what can you do to prevent draft?

In this post we’ll outline the steps for replacing the sliding glass window seals in your RV – ensuring you’re a happy camper no matter the season.

Where do I start?

Before we get into the details on replacing the run channel of your RV sliding windows, there are a few things I want to share to clear the air (hah!).

First, what is a run channel?

Run channels are flexible pieces of rubber used in RV sliding glass windows. Run channels reduce friction, secure glass and allow it to slide quietly and smoothly. Run channels are great for eliminating glass rattle with the added benefit of preventing draft.

Some other things of note:

  • A “Run Channel” can also known as “U-Channel” and “Double U-Channel” depending on the shape
  • Run channels can be flexible or rigid (we’ll cover that more below)
  • Some run channels come flocked – or hair lined. (Pros refer to it as fuzzy – just kidding)

Most run channels are made from a flexible EPDM rubber, but there are a few styles of run channel that are made out of metal. You’re more likely to run into a metal run channel when you get into older vehicles like a GMC Motorhome from the 70s. The metal channels that were used back then were rubber coated mesh metal. The metal run channels you find on the market now (like this one) are direct replacements for that type of run channel. These replacements hold up a lot longer.

That said, you’re most likely going to have a flexible rubber run channel (unless you do own one of those fancy GMCs from the 70s).

Unlike stationary glass window seals, sliding glass windows come in pre-cut lengths. This means that you have to buy the length offered 74-96 ft. However, the piece can be cut down to the size you need and meet the shipping requirements. Before buying a pre-cut length seal, we recommend calling in or opening a Live Chat with a product specialist to get the piece cut to your desired length.

Example outlining where the “beads” would be located in a “beaded” run channel

Another term you might be unfamiliar with is “beaded”. What does “beaded” mean? If a run channel is referred to as “beaded” it means that there is a metal bead that runs the length of the channel. You will find the “beads” in the elbow of the seal. When a run channel is beaded it isn’t flexible. If you’re looking for a flexible seal, make sure that the seal descriptions says it’s flexible or un-beaded.

If you’re only replacing the fuzzy channel filler, you can buy those without having to buy a full run channel. Channel fillers add extra protection for the window when sliding. There are some channel fillers made of cork or dense rubber to prevent the window from sliding and hold the glass in place. For most sliding windows you’ll use the fuzzy kind.

What Tools do I Need?

Before we get to replacing your seal, the are a few extra tools you’ll want to make sure you have on hand. If you’re missing something from this list you can find it at your local hardware store. You can also find them on our website under the “Tools & Adhesives” section.

  • Scraper/Tuck Tool – a great tool for removing the old seal and pressing the new seal in place
  • Sturdy shop scissors – you may need these to cut the seal and fit it in the channel
  • Cleaning rags – when you remove the old seal, you will want to wipe out the channel of dust, dirt and grime

You are not going to work with any chemicals like adhesive or adhesive remover, so you don’t need eye and hand protection for the install.

How do I Replace the Seal?

To install the window seal, start where the window would slide over, and work your way around the perimeter of the window.

  • First, remove the old run channel. You can use your scraper tool or any tuck tool you might have to pry the old channel out of place. Be careful during this process as the glass won’t have anything to secure it in place once the seal is gone
  • Along with removing the seal, you will remove the “bumper stops”. The stops prevent the window from sliding too far back. They aren’t necessary to hold the window in place so putting them back in place at the end of the install is up to you
  • Take a note of any drainage holes in the original run channel. You may want to cut these back into the new run channel. If you decide to cut drainage holes, you can do so as you’re working along the seal
  • After removing the seal, clean the area of any dirt and debris. We recommend using a damp shop rag to pick up the dirt or using a handheld vacuum
  • Once you’re ready to start the install, start where the window slides over. Push the new run channel into place sliding it as close to the center of the window as possible (this is to hide the seam)
  • You can choose to leave room for the bumper stop or continue to work around the perimeter of the window. When you get to the end, cut a little extra length to create a tight seal. You can then run your window back and forth to help make sure the seal is completely in the track

Here is a video demonstration of this process:

Final Thoughts

With the right tools, patience, and the right parts – replacing your RV’s sliding window seals is a breeze! But not literally breezy – that’s why we replaced the seals in the first place.

Steele Rubber Products offers premium stationary & sliding glass window seal replacements. From U-Channels to Gaskets and everything between, we are here to make sure your project is a success.

If you need help finding the right window seal for your RV, or need help installing the seal, contact one of our Product Specialists over the phone (800-230-6752) or on Live Chat.

*For more help check out our How To series on YouTube!

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