The Ins And Outs Of An RV Window Replacement
An RV window replacement isn’t as big of a project as you might think. Whether it’s for a broken window or removal for upgrading, an RV window replacement is a project most RV owners can complete themselves.
The process will vary slightly depending on if your RV has framed or frameless windows. Here is a detailed look at how to replace an RV window.
Framed RV window replacement
Framed windows are the traditional windows used in RVs. The window glass is held within a metal frame that is attached and visible on the wall of the RV.
This job is relatively easy but having a helper to handle the window removal is a good idea.
In most cases, the window will be high enough off the ground that it will require a ladder or safe raised surface to stand on. If it is an opening window, having it in the open position will give you a better grip on the window.
The window frame will be secured to the RV wall with screws mounted from the inside of the RV. The first step will be removing the window valance and blinds to get them out of the way. Next, the many screws holding the interior frame to the RV wall will be removed.
Before removing the last couple of screws, make sure to have a helper on the outside of the RV to support the window from falling from the RV.
Ordering new windows
If you need to order a new window, you can now with the interior frame removed, take a measurement of the window, and then reinstall the interior frame until you have your new window and are ready to replace it.
The window frame will have some sort of seal that will likely hold it in place even after all of the screws are removed. In some cases, the sealant between the window frame and the exterior RV wall may have to be cut to allow the window and frame to be removed. This can carefully be done with an X-Acto knife by running it around the perimeter of the window frame.
With the seal cut and screws removed, you can now lightly push and wiggle the window and exterior frame to free it from the RV wall. If any tool is required to pry the frame to start the removal, use caution not to bend the frame or damage the RV walls.
With the window and frames removed, there will likely be some sealant residue left on the RV wall surrounding the window cut out. Adhesive removal products are available to help with the removal of any residue. Use plastic tools or items for removal to reduce any scratches or damage to the RV.
Installation is essentially the opposite of removal. With the surfaces of both the frame and mounting surface on the RV cleaned and free of debris, the window and frames are ready to be reinstalled.
The seal that was discarded during removal has to be replaced before the window and frame can be reinstalled. The most common type of window frame seal is butyl sealant tape. This is a soft tape-like seal that will come on a roll. It should be applied to the exterior window frame in a continuous strip. Make sure to start and stop the seal on the bottom edge of the frame so the joint is at the bottom and less likely to be a possible leak location.
With a helper in place, insert the window and exterior frame into the window opening on the exterior of the RV. Care should be taken not to damage or move the new seal applied to the window frame.
If butyl tape sealant isn’t available or an RV weatherproof sealant is preferred, it should be applied to the exterior frame where it will contact the RV wall. Again, a continuous seal is required.
Frameless RV window replacement
Some modern RVs use frameless style windows where the frame is not visible. This gives the windows a clean, modern look. The replacement process, however, is basically the same.
With a frameless style window, you will most likely have a window surround on the inside made of wood. This will have to be removed along with valences and blinds if equipped. The window surround will be attached with finish nails and it will need to be pried away from the wall. Check for screws attaching it to the wall and remove them before you begin prying it loose.
From here, the process is the same as with a traditional framed window.
Many frameless windows do not slide open, instead, they tilt out at the bottom so they can be more difficult to grip and handle. Again, have the help of a second person and have a safe place to stand the window once removed.
Some windows will have spacers attached to the frame. When removing the window, be careful not to lose these. Also, take note of the location of the spacers for reinstalling.
The installation process is the same as framed windows with the exception of the added window surround to reinstall.
You will likely notice that RV windows when installed, don’t fill the entire window opening. This is normal and the use of spacers can help center the window in the opening if needed.
When installed, the new window should not be tight in the opening. The frame should extend beyond the opening on all sides so that the mounting surface of the frame is fully supported by the RV wall and the seal area is in full contact.
Should you find yourself in the position of having to replace an RV window, it is a DIY project that can save you money for a minimal amount of your time.
Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool such as RV LIFE Maintenance. Not only can you keep all of your documents in one place, but you’ll also receive timely reminders when maintenance is due to help you avoid costly repairs and potentially serious accidents.