Art & Freedom On The Road

Fitting Our Roof Vent

By Joe On 25th November 2018

This is something I put off for longer than I should. In fear and avoidance of cutting a giant whole in the roof of the van I pretty much did this last, including after putting up the ceiling!

I’ve put together this guide of what I did when fitting our vents, this only applies to the vent I used though – Fiamma 28, so if you have a different kind of vent check the instructions before you fit.

Before we start I’ll show you a diagram of how our vent fixes on. As it happens our vent needed the ceiling to be installed so it has something to clamp onto after installation.

Fiamma 28 Vent Diagram

Now, Heres how we did it

  1. Firstly, we had decide where we wanted the vent. Our Sprinter roof wasn’t flat annoyingly, and had raised runners going down the length of the roof, luckily the runners had gaps in various places so we had to position the vent between the gaps to get a flat surface. You can see these runners in the picture at the top of the page.

  2. Next, we had to draw out a 28 inch square in the centre, we used the base of the vent as a rough guide and measured the whole around it. We just checked it by eye and it looked straight, then drew out the hole with a sharpie.

  3. We then needed to drill a hole in each corner big enough to get the jigsaw blade into (around 3/8”) to start cutting. We used a metal bit to do this.

  4. Now came the point of no return, using a metal blade on the jigsaw I started cutting! I did one side at a time keeping the jigsaw as steady as possible. The last side was tricky because the square flapped about loads and started to bend the remaining attached side, so I cut it quick. There was plenty of leeway, so the fact the square was pretty wonky didn’t matter.

  5. Using a metal file, I took off any rough bits of metal edges before placing the top of the vent in the hole to make sure it fit, the vent had to be facing so it opened out toward the back of the van. I had to file a few jagged edges of metal off, but it fit pretty well, you can also carefully take a bit off with the jigsaw.

  6. Here’s when it came in handy having the ceiling up. We now had to cut a hole in the ceiling in the right place for the base of the vent to slot in. So, from the roof of the van with the top of the vent firmly in place, we drew out the hole using the vent as a template that we would need, then took the section of ceiling down to cut the hole (same procedure as the roof) and put it back up again with the hole in the right place! To test the base fit we put it through the hole and it worked!

  7. Now to make the top of the vent watertight. I did it wrong the first time – it leaked after 2 months. The best way we found was to use putty to make a line around the centre of the outer edge of the vent on the roof about 1cm tall. That way when you clamp the vent down (by attaching and screwing the base in) it’ll close any gaps my matter how minor they were.

  8. After we clamped down the base by screwing each of the 4 screws in to the top, we then screwed the mesh cover on with another 4 screws.

  9. Finally, we used Sikaflex to cover the edge completely, including all the putty, this gave us the first layer of protection against water, the putty was there as a backup. Before we sealed it, we used rubbing alcohol to clean the surface of the roof and vent so the Sikaflex had the best contact possible.

  10. We left it to dry for a day, and then there it was!

After realising it was actually pretty easy to fit the first vent, we decided to get a second vent but this time a Fiamma 28 turbo with extractor fan! I followed the same procedure as the first, but the extractor fan just had to connect the 2 wires (positive and negative) to my electrical system and it was good to go (extractor fan is really powerful and worth having btw).

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