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Common RV Slide Out Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Slide outs are one of the greatest additions to hit the RV market. They create extra space for comfort, amenities and entertaining. There are two types of slide out systems you will find on an RV – electric or hydraulic. Electric systems are typically used on smaller slide outs while the hydraulic systems are used on larger ones. Each system comes with its pros and cons (including motor failure and misalignment), but the biggest issue you will face is leaking which is where slide out seals come in.

Here are some of the most common mistakes made with slide out seals that we want to help you avoid:



Not thoroughly cleaning & prepping.

After removing all of the old rubber, you still have another important step before putting on your new seal. It is vital that the surface be cleaned and prepped properly before installing your replacement slide out seal, this is to ensure a strong bond with the surface and your adhesive. If old rubber, dirt or grime is left behind the adhesive will not stick properly which can result in a faulty seal and cause leaking in your slide out box.


Not using the right amount of adhesive.

If you purchase a slide out seal with Peel-N-Stick backing, this section won't matter in your installation process. With glue-on seals, the amount of adhesive is extremely important! The most common thought is the more the better, but with adhesive that is not true. Apply a thin bead on the surface as well as your seal and spread that with a popsicle stick. Wait for the adhesive to get tacky, apply a thin bead along either surface and then apply your seal. With slide out seals, you have a lot of ground to cover so with this practice, it's easiest to do 2-3 feet at a time until you complete your install. 


Operating the slide out box too early.

The new slide out seal needs to sit undisturbed with your slide out box open for at least 24 hours to let the adhesive fully cure. If you close the box too early with the adhesive still wet, the seal can move around and end up curing in the wrong position. If you don't have the option of leaving your slide out box open for 24+ hours, we recommend taping every 3-5 feet in position before closing to try and have as little movement as possible. 


Not forming a single wiper all around the slide out box.

Depending on what type of slide out seal you have will determine the best technique for the corners. Commonly, the slide out seal with have a wiper blade and in this case we recommend using the mantling technique for the corners. This process works great at keeping debris from getting in between the wipers as long as the top wiper blade is overlapping the side blade (as pictured below). 



General Operation

Not inspecting seals often enough.

Seals around slide outs become less functional over time which can allow moisture in whether the slide out is extended or not. Checking the health of your slide out seals regularly can save you money and headache by catching a faulty seal before water makes its way into your RV. We recommend checking in the beginning and end of RV season (May-October) or if you live in your RV full time, check every few months. You want to check for cracks, tears and any other potential problems could lead to damage.


Using chemicals on your seals.

Contrary to the marketing scheme of “Seal Protectants”, they actually do the opposite of “protect”. Seal protectants or coatings exposes your seals to chemicals which reduces the efficiency and eventually leads to your seals drying out and cracking. While they sound important, you would just be depleting the life of your seal. Should you apply anything to your seals? That leads us into our next common mistake.


Not keeping the seals clean.

Like anything else, you want to keep your seals clean and dry. Even if your RV is stored inside or under a wrap, dirt will find its way there. We recommend only using soap and water to clean your seals. It’s as simple as that! When cleaning, gently wipe down your seals getting the dirt and grime off, then patting the seals completely dry. Another tip is to use talcum powder in a sock to soak up any extra moisture.


Most importantly - don't rush through the job.

No matter what step you are at in the process of replacing your slide out seals, taking your time during the installation will save you money and time in the future. Whether it's cleaning, prepping, glueing, or the curing process, slow down and take your time. Our replacement seals are made from top-quality materials and should last for years to come, so do it right the first time with Steele Rubber Products and maximize the life of your RV.

*Remember to always brush away any debris from the slide out before closing it to protect the seal from tears.*


Replacing your Slide Out soon? Check out our how-to below! 



Invest in quality seals when it’s time to replace.

Steele Rubber Products offers premium RV seal replacements. If you need help installing any of our seals – contact us. Our Product Specialists can be reached over the phone (800-230-6752) or on Live Chat. We are here to make sure your project is a success.