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I recently purchased a used REI 3+ quarterdome tent (I think a 2012 model) through a friend's friend. The seller mentioned the tent seams along the floor and corners (it's a bathtub design) likely needed waterproofing. Upon setting up the tent, I noticed a clear, tape-like material along the seams (especially on the inside of the the corners) peeling off. The material is a bit sticky and tears into small pieces, which makes it exceedingly difficult to remove given the fabric of the tent -especially on the inside of the fly- is already slightly sticky (assuming this was the style of waterproofing treatment back when this tent was manufactured).
My question is: What solution is there for me to treat the seams and remove the residues from what I believe is the previous waterproofing tape? The material is flaking off badly and I'm worried that every time I use the tent, my gear will get bits of it stuck everywhere (this happened to my clothing in the ~30 minutes I spent trying to clean it off.
Without seeing the tent for myself it is pretty challenging to diagnose the problem, but what it sounds like is an issue we see sometimes when the tent left pitched in the sun for extended periods of time or is stored somewhere (like a trunk of a car) that gets really hot. Basically the seam sealing tape heats up and can delaminate, lose its stickiness, and/or become brittle and flake off. I recommend using a light application of rubbing alcohol on a rag to clean the seams and help take off some of the pieces. When you are finished you can apply a seam sealer to the tent. Make sure you look for a polyurethane based sealant (not silicone) as that is more than likely the original sealant used. There is a lot more info located in this Expert Advice article for you to check out.
Best of luck and I hope this helped!
On one of the tent waterproofing product videos (here) it said that the tent could be soaked in a solution of water, dish soap and isopropyl alcohol to remove the sticky residue. Do you have any advice regarding this? I'm still struggling with removing the flakey bits of tape and the tent floor is very tacky as the video mentions.
@awalter_outside I think you should be okay with that process. I would recommend trying it on a small piece of the tent to see how it reacts and then doing the entire tent if it works well for you. Best of luck!