Many RV issues ultimately have the same source: water. Your RV is a home on wheels, which means the construction is dissimilar in many ways from a traditional vehicle. This unique design means that you get a comfortable, homey living space wherever you go, but it also means that it's much harder to keep the structure sealed against the elements.
Your RV, like a house, isn't genuinely waterproof. Instead, its design helps keep water away from vulnerable areas while providing extra protection if some water makes it through. Unfortunately, traveling at highway speeds or parking in torrential downpours can push water into damaging locations, leading to problems such as roof bubbles.
What Causes Bubbles?
There are two primary underlying causes for bubbles on a rubber RV roof. The first is arguably not a problem, while the second is a sign of more severe trouble. Manufacturers install rubber roofing using an adhesive that workers spread evenly across the roof's surface. This adhesive dries and cures with the cover in place, and the manufacturer removes bubbles and imperfections during this process. Installation or manufacturing problems can potentially lead to wrinkles or bubbles in your roof. If the adhesive doesn't correctly bond to the roof, the off-gassing that occurs as it dries will cause bubbles to appear. These problems can be unsightly, but they typically don't threaten the overall structure of the RV. They also shouldn't get worse over time.
On the other hand, bubbles can also form if water or moisture seeps under the roofing material. The water will cause the adhesive to detach, creating areas where the rubber cover appears to delaminate from the roofing deck. These bubbles are a much more significant concern, and you should take note if you spot bubbles or wrinkles that seem to be expanding.
What Should You Do?
A good rule of thumb with roof bubbles is to inspect and observe. If the bubble or wrinkle seems relatively static, it may not be an issue that will get worse over time. Always avoid cutting or attempting do-it-yourself repairs on roof bubbles. Although you may improve the roof's cosmetic appearance, you risk creating a gap where water can leak between the roofing deck and the rubber cover.
However, you may want an RV repair shop to examine new bubbles or other defects that suddenly appear or are now growing. These bubbles may be a sign that you already have a leak, and there might be more substantial damage elsewhere on your roof. An experienced shop can examine the roof to determine the underlying cause and help you decide on what, if any, repairs you should make.