Your RV Vent: What You Need To Know

RV Owners

An RV ceiling vent helps to increase airflow in your motorhome, and keep the air fresh. You can use it when you’re parked and have the windows open, to keep the air circulating, but you can also use it while you’re rolling down the road. It may not seem like an important component of your RV, but without an RV vent, the air inside your home-on-wheels can get stale pretty quickly. It also helps eliminate cooking odors, humidity from the shower, and other odors.

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You can see the RV vent cap open on the roof of this pop up trailer. (Wikipedia)



Most RV vents are pretty similar: a fan in the roof, with an RV vent cap that either cranks up, or in newer models, goes up electronically. Just like any other piece of your RV, the vent and its cap will eventually wear out, and need to be replaced. Think about it. It’s up there on the roof, exposed to the sun, and just about any type of weather you can think of, so it’s going to become less efficient over time. Here’s what you need to know about replacing your RV exhaust vent, and putting in an RV vent hood: 

RV Vent Replacement: A Brief How-To

Replacing the RV air vent is a bit time consuming, but it’s also fairly straightforward. The great news is that almost all RV vents are 14-inches square, so there’s very little chance of purchasing a new vent that won’t fit your current vent’s opening. The cost of an RV vent replacement can vary wildly, with basic models running around 30 bucks, and more powerful ones costing upwards of $200.

To get started with your RV vent replacement project, you’ll first need to remove the old vent. Start by disconnecting the power inside your RV, and disconnecting the vent’s wiring. When you do this, take note of how it was all wired up — you’ll need to know how to wire in the new vent. Then, take off the flange on the inside of your RV and remove a few screws (this should cause it to slide right off).

Once you’ve got the interior steps taken care of, you’ll need to carefully get up on the roof. Obviously, this should not be done on a rainy or overly-windy day. Before you can take off the old vent, you’ll need to gently remove the old sealant, taking care not to do damage to the roof. After the screws are exposed, unscrew them to take off the unit. This is easiest with an electric screwdriver, though an old-fashioned one, and a bit of elbow grease, will also work.

Pull out the old vent, and then use some denatured alcohol to clean all the sealant and debris off the opening. This is also a good time to check that all the roofing and insulation is in good shape, and that no water is leaking through. If you need to make any repairs, do it before you put the new RV vent in — otherwise, you’ll just have to take it out again.

Before the new vent gets placed in position, cover the interior screw holes with some butyl tape. This will help you get a really tight seal. Once the tape is on, put the new RV vent in the opening, taking care to install it in the proper direction. (The opening of the vent should face the back of your vehicle.) Put the screws in tightly, but take care not to over-tighten them. When they’re all in, clean up any butyl tape that squeezed out. The next step is to seal in the new vent. Cover all the screws with sealant, then run a line of sealant all around the edge where the RV vent meets the roof. This helps to prevent leaks.

Now, it’s time to wire in your new RV ceiling vent. Make sure that the power inside your RV is still disconnected, as you definitely want it off, before doing any electrical work. Connect the new wires; they should go in the same way as the old ones you disconnected. Refer to your new vent’s installation manual for complete instructions, on how to do it properly and safely.

Once your new RV vent is hooked up, reconnect your power source, turn it on, and make sure it’s working. If it is, great! Put the interior flange back on, and you’re good to go!

Even this Lego teardrop trailer has a vent! (Bill Ward via CC)


RV Vent Hood Installation

A vent cover, or RV vent hood, allows your vent to work, and allows the air to circulate, while keeping dirt and debris from getting into your vent or RV. Plus, it allows you to use the vent in wet or inclement weather. Installing an RV vent hood is pretty simple, as it just attaches to the RV vent with some brackets and screws.

When you’re buying an RV vent hood, you’ll want to think about the size you need. You don’t necessarily need a big one. Though if you have a strong fan, you’ll want a taller, and more sturdy hood. Installation instructions should come with your hood, but basically, you’ll need to measure where the attachment brackets go, screw them on, and then slide the vent hood over them. The hood affixes to the brackets with a few nuts and bolts.

Air it Out!

Your RV air vent is an important part of keeping your motorhome’s interior environment fresh and healthy. Replacing the vent is a simple task that anyone with some confidence, time, and power tools can tackle. Installing an RV vent hood is also easy. You’ll want to keep an eye on your vent, and replace it when it no longer works well. This will ensure that odors and humidity are vented, and it will keep the air in your RV circulating properly.