Bad leak in 2017 Heartland Pioneer 280RK


I recently bought a 2017 Pioneer 280RK. Loved the floor plan and how nice the interiors look, got a good price on it as it is aluminum sided and I prefer that over fiberglass and cardboard for something I'm going to keep. A few years back I had lived in an 2006 Coachmen 996BH for 4 years that I also loved but was not nearly as "nice looking" although very similar campers. I've worked construction remodeling for a decade as well as on automobiles to the extent of rebuilding engines. So I've had a fair amount of experience fixing things and with campers both.

I am staying in Columbia SC for the time and it's ~90F every day for 4-8 hours. The camper has a 13,500 BTU on it but doesn't seem to be condensing or doing anything funny anywhere else.


VERY bad leak in the bedroom (front) of the camper, I am pretty positive the water is originating at the AC since it hasn't rained in 2 days but I have a steady drip from the bedroom roof of my only 3 year old HEARTLAND PIONEER camper, first noticed in the light cover. First question just a precaution, there isn't anything silly like a water line running through the ceiling is there??? It honestly drains a half a gallon a day from a "weep hole" I drilled in the cardboard roof panel inside when I noticed it sagging from the water weight and it felt like a water bed.

It had rained the night before so I climbed on the roof to check for leaks and noticed a 3-4 ft long and up to 1 ft wide ROTTED ROOF board that was so soft if I had stepped on it I would have instantly been inside the camper. It was incredibly obvious to me at this point that there was a serious manufacturers defect with this unit, and the old man that sold it to my brother had lied through his teeth. The rot is from the front mid seam of the roof all the way to the right side of the camper growing larger as it goes following the front roof seam.

I took apart the interior panels under the AC and saw a bit of moisture so I got on the roof and saw water puddled somewhat around the AC. From here I cleaned out the drain holes and tightened the mounting bolts a bit tighter and the leak had stopped. The AC was draining properly and no moisture was coming into the roof seal. I thought that was the end of the problem.

Another day in the heat and the roof was again dripping water into the pot I placed on the bed. No rain, 93* so any rain was dried up from the day before. I again took the AC panels off the interior of the camper and inspected, no water coming in through the AC to roof gasket. I thought well, I can't see anywhere else the trailer could possibly be leaking. SO I took the AC unit up, cleaned the area and applied butyl tape to the inside edge of the mounting area and plentiful self leveling sealant to the outside rim of the mounting area before placing the fine looking foam gasket and AC back down. None of this area is rotten mind you, only the front roof of the camper. It is now SUPER SEALED and has again zero moisture inside of the AC to roof area from inspection within the trailer, in my opinion no way it COULD get in other than drain pan overflow which is not the case. From inspection outside the water is dripping down by the self leveling sealant and continuing down the roof through the gutter then down the back of the trailer to the ground.

I am now STUMPED and the only even plausible spot for it to leak is maybe the gutter seam, there is a gutter seam about 4" from the front end of the trailer, about where it would be in line with where it is leaking, or in the seams down the side edges of the roof where it looks as if it's split all the way down? With the trailer tilted back slightly now I'm not even sure it is leaking here as water doesn't run uphill and the area now seems dry, maybe the trim over the screws to the gutter. I'm not really sure where to go from here other than to take the roofing panels down and worry about fixing it to look nice again later after I trace the water issue down. I can't let it get any worse and the old man who sold my brother this camper RIPPED US OFF pretty badly. I'm sure he has posted somewhere, maybe I can find his posts and go from there LOL.

Again, there is no water line over the bedroom is there?

I urgently need help as I have a boxer mix that can't be in 90* heat for an extended period so I am forced to run AC. And a front panel of upper roof on top that is badly rotted and if it gets any worse may rip the rubber during a heavy rain. I have the trailer set up at my dads to get straightened out before I travel and now I'm glad I did. If anyone here can offer any help or ideas I am all ears but please do read the post before telling me to check something that I have already addressed.

Thank you sincerely to anyone who may be able to point me in the right direction. I saw a post on sealing the gutters trim area with 3/4" tape and that may be my next move but I want opinions from people who have had similar issues and chased them down in a nearly BRAND NEW HEARTLAND PIONEER with a horrible bad water leak and rotted roof after less than 3 years of age and very little use. There are still a few aluminum shavings in the carpet from the "craftsmanship" it's so new and gently used. Such a distressing problem for such a new travel trailer.


Well-known member

I would say that you have to get the rotting roof members fixed, and all rotted wood replaced. Then I would take the "shotgun" approach to a leaking situation where you can't exactly locate the leak source. I would coat the entire roof with a 100% silicone roof sealant. I had my roof coated with Henry 887 Tropicool White roof sealant by an RV professional in February. See: and/or search this forum for the search term Henrys 887.
Thank you for the reply Bill, I have been looking at roof coating options and haven't decided on one yet. The trailer will be set up under a roof as soon as I buy acreage to put it on so my primary concern is to stop any further damages ASAP.


Well-known member
Because of Bill’s post I coated my 2013 model a week ago. Tough job and messy but I got it done in one day. I would also recommend Henry 887.

on to your problem.

as a temporary measure and maybe to help you find the problem try and build a channel that will direct the water from your a/c another direction than it currently goes. Use tape or caulk to build this channel and once redirected if the leak stops you have bought yourself some time.

if the leak stops you know the problem is not the A/C area but the path where the water drains. If the leak continues then you still have a problem around the a/c unit itself.

another alternative would be to re level the RV such that the water drains another direction......I think a water channel might be the easiest.
Thank you for the reply Gary, I had also thought of a makeshift water channel but with the impending rain in the area I was determined to find the leak.


Upon further inspection of the gutters today after noticing the cheap rotting factory gutter trim, it appears Heartland Pioneer had "sealed" the gutters to the edpm roof with very low quality sealant. That after 2 years of very light use, is cracking all up and down both sides of the trailer. Worse where the gutter seams come together that also seem to have zero additional sealant behind or between the pieces. I'm still absolutely appalled at the build quality of this unit and how it ever made it out the door to a customer.

I'm just glad I've found the problem and wanted to leave that here for anyone else who made the mistake of buying a Heartland Pioneer and finds an unusual water leak in an otherwise nice new Heartland RV.

I bought a couple of tubes of sikaflex from camping world and taped off both sides of the roof until I get a dry day to properly clean and reseal the top gutter edges where it has apparently been leaking since new determined by the amount of roof rot.

Thank you again for the kind replies! If you have opinions or thoughts about the best rubber to aluminum sealant to use I will likely have a couple of days to look into any suggestions before the repair begins. This should hold the 2-3 years I will need to build a house. Most of the time should be under cover from rain.


Well-known member
It would be great if you could post some pictures of what you found. Might help someone else.


Well-known member
I have found about 3 or more roof leaks this way, get someone inside and go on the roof with a hose. spray all areas suspect for a few seconds at a time and have the person inside let you know if the dripping is increasing or decreasing. allow for a few seconds to make its way to the leak point inside and you can probably find the area that way. if its in the AC unit, if there is a way to bring the water hose into the drip pan inside, maybe the same method can help troubleshoot it (small hose like an iv tube or similar)