You’ve seen the streaks running down the side of your RV but can’t figure out what caused them. Black Streaks are caused by time and neglect. While it is impossible to totally eliminate Black Streaks some simple tasks can limit their appearance on your RV.
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What are Black Streaks?
Though they may not be prevalent on new surfaces, most smooth and semi-smooth vertical surfaces will get them. It is simply a matter of TIME. The accumulation of contaminants and moisture on a surface… let’s say the roof of your RV, and you have the perfect formula for Black Streaks. The mixture of airborne particulate, we will call it dust, settles onto your roof throughout the day.
When dew or rain collects over the dust, the second part of this equation is put into place. The mixture of water and dust begins to flow taking the path of least resistance. As the mixture flows some of it is left behind on the vertical surface as it moves toward the ground. Mixed with the dust are remnants of the water. Minerals in the water and air are deposited to the surface as well.
As things start to dry the mixture evaporates ending the process and leaving behind Black Streaks. You may not even notice it at first but a few days into the process there it is. Expect Black Streaks to become noticeable in one to three weeks under normal conditions. Expect them to be glaring in one to three months. Most people let too much time pass between washes.
How do we combat Black Streaks?
Knowing what we now know, prevention is a good place to begin. You can wash the roof of your RV every week and keep it spotlessly clean. But that isn’t practical and most RV parks or campgrounds won’t let you wash your RV on-site. One way to help prevent streaks is to catch them before they happen using gutters. By directing the water away from the side of the RV you can limit Black Streaks.
Sadly, most RVs don’t come with some type of gutter or water diversion system. It is a simple add-on you’ll need to do yourself.
After reading many reviews for different types of RV gutters some with poor reviews we settled on a Canadian brand called RV Gutter Lips. I had to order them through a Canadian distributor, ToilesVR.
The gutters themselves and the shipping costs were fairly high but in my opinion very well worth it to keep Black Streaks at bay. I have since found the Sliding Version I used on our Thor Challenger, on Amazon.ca. And the Self-adhesive version can also be found on Amazon.ca. I’m not sure if you can order these from the U.S. you may need to contact ToilesVR directly as I did.
They make two different types of gutters. One is a 3M Self-adhesive version that sticks directly to your RV. Our RV has channels that hold the slide toppers and awning so I went with their Sliding Version that slides into those same channels. You can also purchase spout gutters that they claim give better prevention of Black Streaks.
Installation is simple and straightforward. It took me about an hour to install the RV Gutter Lips on our 38-foot Class A motorhome. The RV Gutter Lip comes in 4-foot, 8-foot, or 10-foot sections that you cut to fit your RV. I used some utility scissors to cut the rubber material. Sliding the material into the channel on my motorhome was an easy one-person job. Once slid in you install a small screw in one end, pull the material tight and install another small screw in the other end to hold it in place. Then cut off the excess material.
Over the past three-plus years, the RV Gutter Lips have done a great job of limiting the Black Streaks on our motorhome. While they don’t stop all the water running down the side of our motorhome they do direct most of it away. I definitely would recommend RV Gutter Lips if you need something to slow the Black Streaks on your RV.
Other ways to help prevent Black Streaks
So now you have taken steps toward prevention. In addition, some simple tasks can also go a long way toward continuing your efforts to beat Black Streaks. We know that dust and dew settle on horizontal surfaces, so breaking the cycle as best we can, will slow the process. A simple sweep of the roof every month can help a lot.
A good waxing helps to prevent Black Streaks in the first place. The layer of wax will help to minimize the way Black Streaks set into the surface.
Waxing creates a physical barrier across the surface. This barrier helps the surface let the water and dust mixture flow without sticking. A wax that produces a slick, finish, like Wash Wax All, will perform the task of shedding the mixture better than those made solely for appearance.
Once you have a good wax on the surface, check periodically for new streaks. If a reapplication of wax to the affected area does not do the trick then it is time for a Black Streak Cleaner or Remover.
Black Streak Cleaner or Remover is your last resort. These are very strong cleaners and many people find some that do not work completely to remove the Black Streaks. When using a Black Streak Cleaner or Remover use it as directed in the instructions.
The best way to use a Black Streak Cleaner or Remover is to spray the product into a towel and attack the streak directly. This simple action of applying physical contact to the surface along with the cleaner works better than spraying the cleaner on the surface and rinsing it off. After using Black Streak Cleaner or Remover it is important to re-wax the area.
If you still see a bit of the old streaks after using Black Streak Cleaner or Remover it is because the streaks have oxidized the surface. You will need to treat these areas as you would any oxidized surface. There are many products on the market that address oxidation on fiberglass or paint. Be sure to choose the correct product for your surface. Read and follow the directions before you begin to get the best results. Re-waxing the surface after it has been de-oxidized is a must.
Keep in mind that nothing will stop Black Streaks completely but some simple tasks can keep them at bay. The use of gutters on your RV will allow a little more separation in your routine maintenance schedule by limiting the amount of water flowing down the side of your rig. Whatever you do, be sure to wax regularly.
A simple coat of wax done once every three months or so will go a long way toward beating Black Streaks. Only regular and routine maintenance will make them manageable.
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