“HELP — water is leaking into my tent!”  A Guide to Troubleshooting Canvas Tent Leaks

“HELP — water is leaking into my tent!” A Guide to Troubleshooting Canvas Tent Leaks

No one wants their glamping nirvana to turn into a rainforest every time more than a small shower descends. It can really put a dampener on a holiday! As glamping gurus, we want you to know that leaks in canvas tents are usually fixable and more importantly: preventable.

Because these tents are made from the wonderful, breathable, eco-friendly, fibrous material that we all love — cotton canvas — they might need a bit of attention to make sure they stay completely waterproof.

It’s important to remember — canvas is a naturally water repellent material — a properly maintained canvas tent can survive just as well as, if not better than, a nylon tent in wet weather.

 

Follow this guide to know how to solve your leaking problems and when you need to contact your tent manufacturer for more advice.

 

  • Did you properly weather your tent when you got it?

We mean properly – unfortunately, a quick run over with the hose will not do the job. You have to get the tent completely soaking in heavy, prolonged rainfall and then let it completely dry in order to weather it. Sometimes this cycle needs repeating a few times. Not properly weathering the tent before use is the number one cause of leaks: so, make sure you’re getting it right! To make sure you know what to do, follow our guide to canvas tent weathering:

 

  • While you’re camping: is anything touching the sides of the tent?

Keep everything inside the tent away from the sides, anything touching or putting pressure on the canvas from the inside may cause water to be wicked away from the canvas.

 

  • Have you put the plastic caps on top of the A-frames?

…and are they outside the tent? All glawnings come with round plastic rain caps that slide onto the ends of the poles that slot into holes in the canvas at the top of the doors. If your canvas tent uses poles that poke through holes in the canvas to hold it up, then your tent should come with some too! Without these caps, water may find a way through the eyelet. If you’ve lost these, order some new ones: here.

James pointing at the rain caps on the top of the glawning a-frame

Rain cap

 

  • Are the edges of the groundsheet tucked in by the doors?

Make sure you’re not creating a little funnel for rainwater by keeping the edges of the groundsheet at the base of the doors tucked in towards the middle of the tent rather than folded out.

Groundsheet flap tucked in

 

  • Could it be time to reproof your tent?

Have you had your tent for a while, and has it seen its fair share of rainfall before water has started to seep through the canvas? — Well, it might be time to reproof your tent. To find out more about when your tent needs reproofing & how to do it, follow the link: here.

 Canvas absorbing water

 

  • Do the seams need resealing?

Is the leak coming from a particular place that falls along the seam of the tent such as between canvas panels? — This could mean that your problem would be easily remedied with some Seam Guard. Paint this directly onto the seams of your canvas tent, let it completely dry, and you should find this solves your leaks.

Glawning with clougazer windows

 

  • Is there damage or a fault with your tent?

Sadly, sometimes tents get damaged and need a little TLC to get them fixed. Also, on rare occasions, tents can have manufacturers’ faults that mean that leaks can’t be fixed using the typical methods. In this case we suggest you contact your manufacturer directly, or us if you have one of our glawnings. In most cases, the tent just needs to be properly weathered; but, in some cases a repair will be necessary to fix the problem. Our team are more than happy to advise!

 

One of our lovely customers created this handy flow chart to guide you (thank you Helen!): 

Flow chart about solving leaks in a glawning

 

Watch our comprehensive video guide for all you need to know about weathering your canvas, how to know when it needs reproofing, and small tricks to help fix leaks. 

Here are timestamps so you can skip to the exact point you want:

Intro to Waterproof Materials 00:09

Breathability 01:34

What is Weathering? 02:51

How to Weather a Tent 04:53

When to Reproof 06:25

 Solving Leaks 09:40

 

Let us know in the comments below if you’ve got any handy tips (besides drinking a bottle of wine and waiting for the rain to end) to help prevent or solve leaks…

 

Sarah Martin

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