In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we discovered the basics of RV awnings and how to properly maintain them. The series will conclude discussing some simple repairs for awning issues that may plague RVers.
Among the most common sources of awning frustration are holes, tears, loosening of the tension, and stretching or shifting. The latter usually results in the main arms not closing completely vertically, resulting in a failure to nest with the rafter arms and lock in the closed position.
Holes and Tears
In terms of holes and tears, this is often the result of abrasion against items such as RV doors, trees, etc. Damage may also occur if debris such as twigs are left on the awning when it is rolled up. Therefore, be sure to completely clean your awning fabric prior to rolling it up. You may be able to repair awning tears by stitching and re-waterproofing the area (in the case of a fabric awning) or closing and sealing the rip with vinyl adhesive (for vinyl awnings). Be sure to leave the awning open until the adhesive or waterproofing is completely dry. Waterproofing spray and vinyl adhesive are readily available at low cost from many retailers.
Loosening of the Spring Tension
Loosening of the spring tension is manifested as the awning not properly or fully retracting due to the torsional force on the springs being too low. Occasionally one or both of the springs will break, but this is not as common. The springs are located at each end of the awning roller tube and are attached to the end caps. Re-tensioning is not technically difficult, but due to the high spring force that can easily result in personal injury, self-repair is not recommended. If you suspect that your awning has lost spring force, consult your local RV repair facility. Re-tensioning the springs is not an expensive procedure, as it should take a certified technician only a short time to perform.
Stretching or Shifting of Awning
If your awning arms are not straight when you close your awning and do not properly lock or nest the rafter arms, it is likely that your fabric is not square to the roller tube and RV body. This is an easy fix. The awning fabric should be secured to the RV awning rail by a screw at one or both ends. With the awning extended, very carefully climb onto the roof of the RV and for both the front and rear of the awning, measure the distance between the edge of the awning fabric and awning roof mounting bracket. These should be equal. If not, remove the screw(s) securing the awning to the mounting rail and slide the awning fabric until the previously measured distances are equal. Back on the ground, perform the same measurement between the edges of the awning fabric and the ends of the main roller tube. If these distances are not equal, slide the awning fabric until the distances are the same. This should result in the awning closing squarely and properly nesting and locking.
Although there are other maintenance and repair procedures related to RV awnings, this primer should equip the reader with most of the knowledge required to keep their awning(s) functioning smoothly, properly, and reliably.
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.
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