In Part 1 of this article, the basics of RV awnings was discussed. In this segment, we will delve into a few maintenance tips. Note that this segment does not cover “bag” or “box” awnings such as those installed on pop-up and other small trailers and the advice offered is not exhaustive.
As mentioned in part one of this article, there are two primary causes of awning damage, these being wind and rain. If you have a manual awning, it is a good idea to close it if it is windy. Motorized awnings normally have a wind sensor that cause the awning to automatically close the awning if it becomes windy. If awnings are left open during the wind, the fabric can act as a sail. If the wind gusts high enough, the fabric will lift and drop with enough force to damage the awning components and/or RV.
If it’s raining, be sure to lower one end of the awning below the other so the water runs off that end. This prevents water from pooling on the fabric, which can stretch the awning material, add extra weight to the supports, and/or allow accumulated water to randomly waterfall off the front of the awning. Whenever possible, let the awning dry before rolling it up, and if it’s not possible, open it during the first dry day to allow the awning fabric to air out and dry.
It is also important to remove as much debris as possible from the awning before you close it. Although many of us enjoy camping among the trees, trees have a tendency to drop twigs, leaves, and other detritus on RV awnings, especially when it’s windy and/or raining. My preferred method of cleaning the awning is:
- Beat the bottom side of the awning with a broom, starting at the top and moving across and down. This forces much of the debris down and off the awning.
- Lower the awning all the way and sweep off whatever remains.
- Sweep across the top of the roller tube, since some debris will settle there. Ensure the awning is as clean as possible prior to rolling it closed, otherwise staining, marking, creasing, or even damage may occur.
Awnings are pre-treated to resist mold, mildew, water, fading, and staining. This generally lasts the life of the awning, but you may choose to re-spray it occasionally. It is completely optional and usually not required unless the awning is exposed to excessive and prolonged rain or sun. Prior to doing so, be sure the awning is clean and dry and leave the awning open long enough for the spray to fully dry.
Stay tuned for additional information on maintenance and repair issues related to awnings.
About the Author:
Steve Froese, an avid RV owner, traveler, and Coach-Net member since 2013, is the principal of “A Word to the Wise Technical Communications”, a published RV author, certified RV technician, and licensed Professional Engineer. He frequently collaborates with the “RV Doctor”, Gary Bunzer, and has worked with the RVIA/RVDA as a technical and training writer and consultant. Professionally, he works as a quality engineer and musician. Watch for more of Steve’s work in upcoming Coach-Net publications.
Steve S. ~ “We were stranded in our motorhome along I-75 in south Georgia. I called Coach-Net and the representative went to work arranging a tow and a repair shop. Both the tow and repair went smoothly and made a very unpleasant situation as good as it could have been. Thank you!”